Oct. 7, 2013
By: Sean Tenaglia ’16
The University of Notre Dame baseball team will wrap up its busy fall season this weekend with the Blue-Gold Intersquad Series.
The series begins Saturday, Oct. 12, with an intersquad doubleheader. The Irish will play two seven-inning games that day with the first pitch of game one set for 3 pm.
On Sunday, Oct. 13, the team will then play one nine-inning game starting at noon. Immediately following the game, the Irish will host a free 90-minute clinic for children between the ages of 6-12. Interested families should email NDpromos@nd.edu and include name of child, age, school, parent’s names, mailing address, email address and emergency phone number.
Head coach Mik Aoki is a strong believer in the significance of the Blue-Gold Series.
“I think it will be a good way to wrap up a really competitive fall,” Coach Aoki said. “The scrimmages we’ve been playing on almost a daily basis have been extremely competitive.”
Coach Aoki described some of the unique aspects of the series that differentiate the games from the team’s other intersquad scrimmages this fall.
“We try to have a little fun with it,” Aoki said. “We’ll let a couple of the injured guys who can’t play or the seniors draft and manage the teams.
“We as coaches will just step back and observe and let them call the pitches and the plays. They can have a little fun, and I think hopefully it will be a really nice way to end the fall.”
The postgame youth clinic will also provide the players with another opportunity to have some fun while also giving back to the local community.
“I think it’s great for our guys to run around and have to teach the game to somebody,” Aoki said. “I also like giving back and doing anything we can to promote baseball.
“It’s not like it was 30 or 40 years ago where it was football in the fall, basketball or hockey in the winter and baseball was your spring and summer sport. Now there are so many different sports, and so many different options that kids have, from soccer to lacrosse to all of these other things that kids can get involved with.
“I think that if we can plant the seeds to make it fun and give a decent amount of instruction to some youth kids, and they go on wanting to pursue baseball, then that can only help our sport. For us, I think it’s important to reach out into our local community and make ourselves a visible component of that community.”
As for the current makeup of the team, the Irish roster looks significantly different than it did this past spring. The Irish lost six seniors to graduation, including co-captains Frank Desico and Charlie Markson, as well as ace starting pitcher Adam Norton.
The Irish also lost arguably their three most talented players from last season to the Major Leagues. 2013 BIG EAST Player of the Year Eric Jagielo was selected 26th overall by the New York Yankees in the first round of this past June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft. The San Francisco Giants drafted shutdown closer Dan Slania in the fifth round, while the Baltimore Orioles selected Jagielo’s fellow slugger, Trey Mancini, in the eighth.
Despite the major roster turnover, Coach Aoki remains positive about the team’s outlook.
“I think there are a lot more question marks about our team this year than we had last year,” coach Aoki said, “but I also think that while maybe a high-end player like a Jagielo, Slania, or Mancini may not have developed yet, I think we’ve been able to move the average talent level up overall.
“I think we’re a little deeper and a little more talented in spots 1 through 32 on the roster than we were a year ago.”
Coach Aoki is interested to see which members of the team step up to fill the leadership roles left by the graduated seniors and star players.
“I think it’s an ongoing, ever-evolving situation right now,” Aoki said. “We haven’t voted for captains yet. I’ve never voted for captains at the end of the previous year simply because if things are going right in your program, you are losing some of your best players to the draft each year.
“I think that Eric [Jagielo] or Danny [Slania] or Trey [Mancini] may have been very good candidates. Whether they would have been named captains I don’t know, but if they had we would have had to revote after they were drafted.
“I also think that if we vote at the end of fall baseball, the freshmen have a much better idea of what that leadership structure is like. I certainly think that our three seniors are very good candidates for it, but I think there are some kids in our junior and sophomore classes that also might be good candidates for it.
“It’s something that we’ve put some work into and that we’ll continue to put some work into, and I’m sure our guys will do a great job.”
The Blue-Gold Series will conclude what has been a long and competitive fall season for the Irish. With a young group of talented players, look for the Irish to continue to grow and build off the successes of last season when they take the diamond again this spring.