Lane Richards went 4-for-5 with a career-high three RBI

No. 15 Irish Set For Showdown With No. 10 Louisville

March 28, 2013

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Matchup
#15 Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (15-6, 2-1)
#10 Louisville
Cardinals (19-5, 1-2)
Louisville, Ky.
Jim Patterson Stadium (4,000)

Probable Pitchers
Thursday (6:00 p.m.)
RHP Sean Fitzgerald (1-2, 3.75 ERA) vs. RHP Chad Green (3-2, 1.96 ERA)
Friday (6:00 p.m.)

RHP Adam Norton (6-0, 1.44 ERA) vs. RHP Jeff Thompson (5-0, 0.46 ERA)
Saturday (1:00 p.m.)

RHP Pat Connaughton (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Anthony Kidston (3-0, 1.83 ERA)

Game Coverage
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IN THE BATTERS BOX — No. 15 Notre Dame opens its BIG EAST and road portion of the schedule this weekend with a three-game series at #10 Louisville. The Irish and Cardinals open the series at 6:00 p.m. Thursday. Friday’s game time is also scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and Saturday’s is slated for 1:00 p.m. Notre Dame (15-6) is ranked among the top-25 in all five major polls. Notre Dame is ranked No. 15 by both Perfect Game, No. 16 by Baseball America, No. 17 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 19 by NCBWA and No. 21 by the USA Today Coaches.

THIS WEEKEND’S STORY LINES — Notre Dame will look for a BIG EAST road opening series victory for the first time since 2008. The Irish dropped two of three to Pittsburgh (2009, 2011) and USF (2012). Notre Dame was swept by the Bulls in 2010.
– Louisville owns a 13-8 series edge over Notre Dame, including a 6-1 mark over the last seven meetings. The Irish are 5-6 in the 11 games with the Cardinals in Louisville.
– This weekend’s series pits the top-two pitching staffs in the BIG EAST. Louisville ranks tops in the league in ERA (2.07), opposing batting average (.218), strikeouts (220), wins (19), earned runs allowed (49) and home runs allowed (two). Notre Dame leads the conference in fewest hits allowed (167), fewest total runs allowed (63), fewest walks allowed (45) and fewest wild pitches (seven).

PLAYING THE BEST — Notre Dame has already played six games against top-25 opponents (No. 25 Virginia Tech, No. 7 UCLA, No. 10 Oklahoma and three games at No. 20 Cal Poly). The Irish have captured four of those six meetings.
– Notre Dame also defeated unranked Florida Gulf Coast, 6-5, in 10 innings in the season opener and the Eagles have since moved into the top 25.
– The Irish will play nine top-25 foes over their first 25 games when you include this weekend’s series at No. 6 Louisville.

LOOKING BACK — Notre Dame took two of three from Seton Hall last weekend. The Irish dropped the series opener, but rebounded with a doubleheader sweep. All three games of the series were decided by a single run and 11 of the last 13 meetings between Seton Hall and Notre Dame have been decided by the slimmest of margins.

WHO NEEDS THE OPENER? — Notre Dame has taken at least two of three in every weekend of the season to this point of the year. In fact, the Irish have done so each of the last three weekends (Dodgertown Classic, Cal Poly and Seton Hall) after dropping the opening game of the weekend.

TOP-20 SHOWDOWN — No. 15 Notre Dame heads to No. 10 Louisville for a top-20 showdown. It marks the first top-20 matchup for the Irish since 2003. Notre Dame and Rutgers were each ranked in the top 20 entering that May series. The Scarlet Knights took two of three from the Irish.
– Notre Dame has taken a road series against a top-20 foe since the 2002 Super Regional at No. 1 Florida State.

BIG EAST ROAD OPENERS — Notre Dame is playing its 18th year as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish are 9-8 all-time in its BIG EAST road openers.

– Notre Dame has opened BIG EAST road play on four different occasions with Pittsburgh (2-2), twice with Boston College (2-0), West Virginia (2-0), Villanova (1-1), Georgetown (1-1) and USF (1-1), as well as Seton Hall (0-1), Connecticut (0-1) and Rutgers (0-1). The Irish have never opened the conference road season against this weekend’s opponent Louisville.
– Notre Dame’s opening BIG EAST road trip has been to USF twice over the last three years. The Bulls swept the Irish in 2010. In fact, USF and Randy Fontanez no-hit Notre Dame in the series opener in ’10.

BIG EAST ROAD OPENING WEEKENDS — Notre Dame is 24-26 overall in BIG EAST road opening weekends. The Irish have never opened with Louisville.

– Notre Dame owns the following records in BIG EAST opening weekends on the road: Boston College (5-0), Providence (1-1), Seton Hall (0-3), West Virginia (5-0), Villanova (3-0), Pittsburgh (4-6), Virginia Tech (0-2), Connecticut (0-3), Rutgers (0-2), Georgetown (5-1) and USF (1-5).

FAST OUT OF THE GATE — Notre Dame is 15-6. The Irish collected its 15th victory in game-21 of the season. The 2004 and 2001 campaigns are the only in the last 20 years (dating back to the 1993 season) in which the Irish reached the 15-win mark in fewer than 20 games.

NOTRE DAME-LOUISVILLE SERIES NOTES — Notre Dame and Louisville are set to meet for 22nd time in program history in the series opener on Thursday, but six of those contests came during the 2009 season when the two rivals split the season series, 3-3. The Cardinals lead the all-time series, 13-8.
– Notre Dame was victorious in the first three meetings in the series, including a 13-4 rout of the host Cardinals in the first meeting between the foes on April 18, 1922.
– Notre Dame knocked off Louisville, 3-2, on March 6, 1992 in the Big Four Classic in Louisville.
– The Irish took the series opener from the Cardinals in May of 2006 behind Jeff Manship and Jeremy Barnes. Manship, who pitches for the Minnesota Twins, went 7.0 innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts. He did not walk a batter. Barnes went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI.
– Louisville took the final two games of the series, 5-4 and 9-6, but Notre Dame returned the favor in the 2006 BIG EAST title game. Wade Korpi, eventual BIG EAST Tournament MVP, tossed 5.0 scoreless innings and Ross Brezovsky drove in three to give the Irish a 7-0 triumph.
– The Cardinals swept three games from Notre Dame in 2007. Louisville rallied with three runs in the seventh and eighth inning to upend the Irish, 3-1, in the first game of a doubleheader. Current New York Yankee David Phelps took the loss despite 11 strikeouts in 7.2 innings of work. Louisville then slipped past Notre Dame in the nightcap, 4-3, before closing the series with a 7-3 win.
– Louisville has taken six of the last seven meetings with the Irish. The Cardinals swept Notre Dame at Frank Eck Stadium to close the 2010 campaign. The Irish needed just one victory to reach the BIG EAST tournament and took leads into the final inning twice in the series and came away with defeats.
– Notre Dame dropped the first two games of the 2011 series at Louisville, but the Irish rebounded with a 2-1 victory in the weekend finale to clinch a spot in the BIG EAST tournament.

Notre Dame Louisville
Batting Average .275 .307
Runs Per Game 4.4 7.0
Home Runs 12 9
Slugging Percentage .385 .424
Batters’ BB+HBP-SO Margin -77 +37
On-Base Percentage .351 .400
Stolen Bases 21-31 70-91
Team ERA 2.56 2.07
Opponent Batting Average .233 .218
Pitchers’ SO-BB Ratio 3.07 3.73
Pitchers’ SO Per 9 Innings 6.41 9.30
Pitchers’ BB Per 9 Innings 2.09 2.49
Fielding Pct. (Errors) .972 (23) .971 (26)
Double Plays Turned 12 21
Record at Home 2-1 17-3
Record on Road (including neutral) 13-5 2-1
Record in One-Run Games 9-4 3-1
Record in Extra Innings 3-1 2-0

WALKING A TIGHTROPE — Notre Dame has already played in a total of 13 games decided by one run. The Irish own a 9-4 record in those outings. Nine of Notre Dame’s last 12 games have been decided by one run.
– The nip-and-tuck battles are nothing new to Notre Dame. The Irish played 18 games decided by one run in 2012. Notre Dame went 11-7 in those outings. In fact, the Irish also played in 20 such games in 2011 as well (going 10-10).
– In all, Notre Dame has played in 51 different one-run contests since third-year head coach Mik Aoki arrived on campus. That’s 51 of 132 games or 38.6 percent of Aoki’s tenure in an Irish uniform. Notre Dame is 30-21 in one-run games under Aoki.
– The 11 wins by a single run in 2012 is tied for the most in single-season school history (1990, 1981).
– Notre Dame established the school record for most games decided by a single run in 2011. The 2001 squad also played in 18 games decided by the slimmest of margins.
– Here is a look at the top 10 seasons in terms of most games decided by a single run and those teams records in those contests.

Rank Year 1-run Games Record Rank Year 1-run Wins
1. 2011 20 10-10 1. 1990 11
2. 2001 18 9-9 1981 11
3. 2002 17 9-8 3. 2012 11
2009 17 10-7 2011 10
5. 2012 18 11-7 2009 10
1981 16 11-5 2004 10
7. 1997 15 9-6 1999 10
1990 15 11-4 1998 10
1998 15 10-5 9. 2013, 2003 9
2004 15 10-5 2002, 2001 9
1997, 1992 9
1967 9 (9-0)

– Notre Dame played in nine more games decided by two runs in 2012. In all, 27 of Notre Dame’s 58 games were decided by two runs or less.
– Over the last three seasons, 69 of Notre Dame’s 132 games (over 52 percent) have been decided by two runs or less.
– Notre Dame topped No. 20 Cal Poly, 1-0, on Mar. 15. The previous 1-0 victory for the Irish came almost a year to the date. Notre Dame defeated Kansas, 1-0, on Mar. 16, 2012 in San Antonio at the Irish Baseball Classic. Notre Dame has captured 40 games by a score of 1-0 over the 120-year history of the program, including four under third-year head coach Mik Aoki. The Irish have not captured a 1-0 game on the road since Apr. 1, 1989 when Notre Dame upended Saint Louis.

AROUND THE BASES — Notre Dame’s bullpen has been nearly flawless in 2013. Irish relievers have collected a 1.49 ERA in 78.1 innings of work. Junior RHP Dan Slania, freshman RHP Nick McCarty, sophomore RHP Cristian Torres, sophomore RHP Matt Ternowchek, junior RHP Donnie Hissa, freshman LHP Zak Kutsulis and freshman RHP Connor Hale have limited foes to a .204 batting average. They have struck out 57, walked 17 and allowed just 55 hits. They’ve also posted an 8-2 record with seven saves and have allowed just nine runs after the sixth inning this season.
– Due in large part to its bullpen, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents, 28-9, after the sixth inning. The Irish have yet to surrender a lead after the sixth inning (9-0).
– The Irish are 9-0 when they hit at least one home run.
– Notre Dame led the BIG EAST in both fewest walks per nine innings (2.81) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.61) in 2012. Both totals ranked fourth in single-season school history. The Irish also led the league in fewest walks per nine innings in 2011.
– Notre Dame is off to a similar start in both categories in 2013. The Irish not only lead the BIG EAST in fewest walks per nine innings (2.10), but also rank fifth in the NCAA. Notre Dame ranks second in the league in WHIP (1.12), which ranks 16th in the country. Louisville leads the league and ranks ninth in the NCAA in WHIP (1.07). The Irish (3.07), who rank 13th in the nation, trail only the Cardinals (3.73, third in the NCAA) in the BIG EAST for the top strikeout-to-walk ratio.
– Notre Dame committed a season-high five errors in the 4-3 loss to Rhode Island on Mar. 3. The Irish failed to commit a single error over the next three games and actually went 36.0 consecutive innings without a defensive miscue before they recorded an error on Mar. 12 at UC Santa Barbara.
– Notre Dame ranked 10th in the BIG EAST in fielding percentage in 2012, but the Irish have made major improvements in 2013. Notre Dame ranks tied for second in the league with a .971 fielding percentage this season.
– Junior All-American candidates Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini continue to carry the load offensively for the Irish. Jagielo is batting .392 with four doubles, six home runs and 22 RBI, while Mancini is hitting .316 with two doubles, two triples, three home runs and 18 RBI.
– Jagielo leads the BIG EAST in slugging percentage (.689) and on-base percentage (.495). He ranks second in the league in hitting (.392), home runs (six) and total bases (51, tied). Jagielo ranks fifth in RBI (22) and tied for sixth in sacrifice flies (three).
– Mancini ranks tied for first in the BIG EAST in sacrifice flies (five), tied for sixth in home runs (three), tied for sixth in triples (two) and 10th in slugging percentage (.513).
– Notre Dame was the only team in the BIG EAST with a pair of players with 10 or more home runs in 2012. Jagielo (13) and Mancini (12) combined for 25 round trippers. Jagielo was second in the BIG EAST, while Mancini ranked tied for third in the league.
– Jagielo and Mancini form one of the nation’s top power-hitting duos. They are the only returning tandem in the country with 12 or more home runs last year.
– Junior Forrest Johnson ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in sacrifice bunts (six).
– Senior co-captain Frank Desico ranks tied for eighth in the league in runs scored (20 and tied for ninth in stolen bases (eight).
– Senior Adam Norton leads the BIG EAST in victories (six) and innings pitched (43.2). He also ranks fourth in ERA (1.44).
– Junior Dan Slania leads the BIG EAST in saves (seven) and games finished (10).