May 15, 2008
IN THE BATTERS BOX – The Notre Dame baseball team (33-16-1, 16-7 BIG EAST) closes out the 2008 regular season this weekend with a three-game series at conference rival USF. All three games can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.
THE BIG EAST RACE – The Irish trail league leader St. John’s by 1.5 games heading into this weekend’s series finale. The Red Storm travels to Villanova. Notre Dame must win two more games than St. John’s this weekend to win the regular season title outright. The Irish hold a slim half game lead over Cincinnati for second place. The Bearcats host West Virginia. Louisville stands in fourth place, 2.5 games behind the Irish, and play at Rutgers.
- Notre Dame secures no worse than the third seed in the BIG EAST Tournament with one victory this weekend.
- Notre Dame secures the second seed in the BIG EAST Tournament with two victories and one Cincinnati loss this weekend.
- Notre Dame secures the top seed in the BIG EAST Tournament with two or three victories combined with two or three St. John’s losses this weekend.
USF INSIDER – The Bulls, led by second year head coach Lelo Prado, enter the game with Notre Dame owning a 26-25 overall record and 11-13 mark in the BIG EAST. USF dropped two of three games last weekend in a conference series against St. John’s (1-8, 3-4 , 9-2). The Bulls have dropped five of their last six games.
USF, who owns a 16-14 record in home games this season, is averaging 6.5 runs per game and hitting .297 with a .399 on-base percentage. The Bulls have also totaled 41 stolen bases in 63 attempts.
USF has a quartet of players that are hitting over .300, but leading hitter Ryan Lockwood may miss the series after suffering a hand injury earlier this week against Florida. Lockwood, the conference favorite for freshman of the year, leads the attack with a team-best .415 batting average, 12 stolen bases and 37 RBI. Addison Maruszak is hitting .354 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 28 RBI. Stephen Hunt is batting .323 with two triples, three home runs and 35 RBI. Joey Angelberger rounds out the foursome. He is batting .323 with seven homers and a team-best 42 RBI. He also leads the Bulls with 19 doubles. USF has hit 34 home runs this season as a team.
The pitching staff has a 4.91 ERA and .286 opponents’ batting average along with 365 strikeouts and 197 walks in 458.2 innings pitched. Shawn Sanford is 5-4 with a 4.72 ERA and 11 saves in 31 relief appearances over 40.0 innings, while Zach Pietrzyk (2-2, 5.49), Stephen Hunt (0-2, 4.60), David Torcise (1-0, 9.00) and Kyle Eastham (1-0, 7.97) are other options out of the Bulls bullpen. Sanford has struck out 40 in his 40.0 innings of work, but has also allowed 47 hits and issued 21 walks. USF is fielding at a .962 clip as well.
NOTRE DAME-USF SERIES HISTORY – USF took two of three from the Irish in Notre Dame last year. Notre Dame captured the opener, 1-0, before the Bulls rebounded with victories on Saturday and Sunday (10-13, 1-9). Junior David Phelps tossed a complete game, three hitter in the victory in the opener. He struck out 10 and walked just one.
- Notre Dame swept the series at USF in 2006 (9-6, 10-4, 10-1) and then beat the Bulls in the first game of the BIG EAST Tournament (3-1, in Clearwater).
- The Bulls won the only other previous meeting (6-1, in a 2001 game played in St. Petersburg)
- Current Notre Dame players Brett Lilley (.625, 10-for-16, 2 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 3 BB, K) and Jeremy Barnes (.471, 8-for-17, 6 RBI, 3 R, 2 3B, 2B, 3 BB, 2 Ks) combined with departed All-American Craig Cooper to put up big numbers against USF in 2006.
- Senior LHP Wade Korpi beat the Bulls in the 2006 BIG EAST Tournament opener (6 IP, R, 4 H, 3 BB, 11Ks) and then beat Louisville in the title game to earn tournament MVP (current USF coach Lelo Prado was the UL coach in 2006).
— ND —