March 22, 2016

Midweek Game #2: UIC
March 22, 2016
6:05 p.m. ET
Frank Eck Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Team Information:
Notre Dame: 8-10, 1-5 ACC (37-23, 17-13 ACC In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 @ ACC Tourney & 1-2 @ NCAA Champaign Regional

UIC: 9-10, 2-1 Horizon League (29-22-1, 22-8 Horizon In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 @ Horizon League Tournament


Projected Pitching Matchups:
ND LHP Michael Hearne (1-0, 3.18 ERA) vs. UIC RHP Reid Birlingmair (0-1, 5.14 ERA)

Series History: Notre Dame Leads 30-10
Aoki vs. UIC: 1-2 (all @ ND)
First Meeting: 3/20/1977: W, 9-5 – Home

Last Three Meetings:
4/2/2013: W, 6-2 – Home
3/27/2012: L, 8-5 – Away
3/28/2011: L, 5-3 – Home

Game Coverage (Links on
Live Video: WatchND
Live Audio: WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: Gametracker
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball

Weather Report (As Of 12 p.m. ET 3/22):
60/57 Degrees & Mostly Cloudy (SSW 18 MPH)

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team returns home to Frank Eck Stadium at 6:05 p.m. (ET) Tuesday to play the UIC Flames.

Notre Dame (8-10) is looking to keep going the home momentum gained from an impressive 10-3 victory over Toledo last Wednesday. UIC has won two of its last three games entering Tuesday’s game. The Flames started the year by winning three of four games at Texas Southern, a team the Irish beat in walk-off fashion at the Alamo Irish Classic in San Antonio in late February.

Tickets are available at The Eck box office with prices set at $5 for adults and $3 for youth/seniors. Free hot cocoa will be handed out while supplies last.

Here’s what you need to know before the UIC game:

  1. A pair of senior standouts (Lane Richards & Zak Kutsulis) have been scorching hot over the last few weeks … a four-year starter at shortstop and team co-captain this season, Richards has a split of .378/.472/.533 with 17 hits (5 2B, 1 3B), five RBI, eight walks and eight runs scored over his last 13 games to raise his average to just shy of .300 (.295) … Kutsulis, meanwhile, went hitless in the first weekend at Santa Clara but has been downright dominant since by posting a split of .419/.463/.581 with 26 hits (5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR), 13 RBI, five walks and nine runs scored over the last 15 contests … he is 18th in the ACC in average (.361) … the Homer Glen, Illinois native came to Notre Dame as an outfielder and pitcher, but has nearly seamlessly made the transition to first base over the last two seasons … he boasts a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 167 chances so far in 2016.
  1. Just a year removed from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, senior LHP Michael Hearne has turned in a pair of impressive performances so far this season … he opened the year on February at Santa Clara, which was 11 months to the day of surgery … against the Broncos, Hearne hurled five shutout innings, allowing only three hits (0 BB) while striking out three over 61 pitches to earn the no decision … last week he headed to the bump as the starter against the Rockets … in that contest he went five innings and allowed one run, two hits and a walk while striking out a career-high seven batters to earn the win … Hearne is expected to get the start against the Flames Tuesday night and carries a 3.18 ERA in 17.0 innings of work into the game.
  1. Entering the season as a designated hitter candidate in addition to backup work in the outfield or infield, sophomore utility player Jake Shepski has found a home on the mound … a former high school pitcher, Shepski pitched a little late in the fall season and discovered that his arm felt good … in his first 2.2 innings of work on the mound, the Lockport, Illinois native allowed just two base runners to reach base (1 H, 1 HBP) … at the dish, he has three hits, an RBI and two walks over his last two games played.
  1. The two programs haven’t played since 2013, but that’s not from a lack of trying … in each of the last two years, unseasonably cool weather has forced the cancellation of scheduled games in both South Bend and Chicago … Tuesday’s weather looks great though with a high of around 60 expected at The Eck.

For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, 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.