May 13, 2016
By Russell Dorn
ACC Series #9: North Carolina
May 13-16, 2016
7 p.m. / 6 p.m. / 7 p.m. (All ET)
Boshamer Stadium (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Notre Dame: 26-22, 10-12 ACC (37-23, 17-13 ACC In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 @ ACC Tournament & 1-2 @ NCAA Champaign Regional
North Carolina: 31-18, 10-14 ACC (34-24, 13-16 ACC In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 2-2 @ ACC Tournament
Rankings: UNC: Ranked Between #20 & #22 In 2 Polls
Series Coverage (Links on UND.com/NDBaseball):
Live Video: ESPN3 (Fri. & Sat.) / ESPNU (Mon.)
Live Audio: WatchND & WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball
Projected Pitching Matchups:
G1: ND RHP Brandon Bielak (3-1, 2.38 ERA) vs. UNC RHP Zac Gallen (4-5, 2.59 ERA)
G2: ND LHP Michael Hearne (7-1, 2.00 ERA) vs. UNC RHP J.B. Bukauskas (6-1, 2.85 ERA)
G3: ND TBD vs. UNC RHP Jason Morgan (3-2, 4.06 ERA)
Weather Report (as of Thursday, May 12):
Friday, May 13: 79/55 & Thunderstorms (80%)
Saturday, May 14: 82/49 & Mostly Sunny
Monday, May 16: 72/55 & Partly Cloudy
Series History: Notre Dame leads 4-2
In ACC Reg. Season Play: ND leads 3-0
In ACC Tournament Play: Never Met
Aoki vs. UNC: 4-8 (1-8 @ BC, 3-0 @ ND)
First Meeting: 3/31/1956: L, 14-4 – Neutral
Last Four Meetings:
5/10/2015: W, 8-7 – Home
5/9/2015: W, 3-1 – Home
5/9/2015: W, 10-5 – Home
6/5/2005: W, 3-0 – Neutral
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With just two weeks left in the regular season, a crucial Atlantic Coast Conference series will take place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this weekend, as the University of Notre Dame baseball team hits the road for the final time in the regular season for a three-game series at No. 20 North Carolina.
After a sterling April (12-6), the Irish have struggled in May (1-6) but still control their own destiny when it comes to the ACC Tournament, and this weekend will go a long way in determining their fate.
The series marks the first time in program history the Irish have traveled to Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill.
Here’s what you need to know before the UNC series gets underway:
1. This weekend is critical for both the Irish and the Tar Heels as they fight to secure a spot at the 10-team ACC Tournament … ND sits in ninth place in the league with a .455 winning percentage (10-12) while UNC is tied for 12th with a .417 winning percentage (10-14) … both teams have two league series left … last year the minimum number of ACC wins to make the tournament was 13 … no more than two games in the loss column separates the No. 6 & No. 13 teams in the conference standings heading into the weekend.
2. After an up-and-down season, the Irish pitching unit hopes to carry the momentum gained from an impressive two-game series against No. 11 LSU this past Wednesday into the weekend … entering the doubleheader with the Irish, LSU averaged 10.6 hits and seven runs a game this year … it was a community effort, but 11 ND pitchers held the Tigers to just eight hits and four runs over 18 innings … to put that total in perspective, LSU had only been held below eight hits for one game nine times this season and the fewest hits when combining back-to-back games was 13 … nine of the 11 Irish pitchers used didn’t allow a run and four didn’t give up even a single hit.
3. Notre Dame and UNC met for the first time in ACC play last season at Frank Eck Stadium in South Bend … the Irish played some of their best baseball of the season to post a sweep of the Tar Heels … ND rallied from a 5-1 deficit to win game one and overcame a 6-0 deficit in the series finale to complete the sweep … current seniors Zak Kutsulis and Kyle Richardson aided in the comeback with a combined three home runs, including a solo shot in the ninth off the bat of Richardson for the walk-off win.
4. Junior Cavan Biggio has taken his offensive game to another level over the 16 games, as he has posted a .390/.500/.508 split with 11 walks, four stolen bases and 13 runs from the leadoff spot ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ for the season, Biggio has 57 hits, six hit by pitch, and 50 walks, which places him second in the ACC (6th – D1) in the latter category … he is also second in the ACC (7th – D1) in walks per game (1.04) … with 121 career walks, Biggio sits ninth in school history in the category and is 11 away from moving into the top five … he is one of just two players in school history to record two seasons with 50 walks (Ryan Topham – 1993-94).
5. A year removed from Tommy John surgery, senior LHP Michael Hearne has been outstanding this season for Notre Dame … 11 months to the day of surgery, Hearne allowed just three hits over a clean five innings in relief at Santa Clara (2/20) … he then took over as the Irish midweek ace and was sterling … he was 3-0 against Big Ten foes, 3-0 against ranked opponents and 6-0 in midweek starts before transitioning to the weekend … Notre Dame is 10-1 this year when Hearne starts on the bump … he sports two complete games (Valpo & #21 Michigan State) and one shutout (#21 MSU) … he became the first Irish player since 2009 to hurl back-to-back complete games … for his efforts against the Spartans, Hearne earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors … he leads the team with six quality starts and put together an 16-inning shutout streak from April 19-May 1 … in his last six starts he has a 5-1 record with a 0.89 ERA over 40.2 innings of work … opponents are hitting just .203 against him in those six outings.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball team, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.