May 11, 2015
Midweek Game #11: Western Michigan
May 11, 2015
3:05 p.m. (ET)
Robert J. Bobb Stadium (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
Notre Dame: 33-18, 15-12 ACC (22-31, 9-21 ACC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason
Western Michigan: 21-25, 13-11 MAC (24-31, 11-16 MAC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: 2-2 at MAC Tournament
Notre Dame: No. 24 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30
Projected Pitching Matchup:
Connor Hale (2-0, 1.08 ERA) vs. RHP Nick Bradley (0-0, 8.71 ERA)
Notre Dame leads 69-66-1
First Meeting: W, H, 6-1 (4/16/1914)
Last Meeting: W, H, 8-3 (3/25/2015)
Aoki vs. Western Michigan: 3-1 (all at ND)
Live Video: Bronco Insider – $ (Link on UND.com)
Live Audio: WatchND (Link on UND.com) &WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: On WMUBroncos.com
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball / @NDsidRuss
Weather Report (as of Monday, May 11):
Tuesday, May 12: 54 Degrees & Cloudy
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Riding the emotional high of sweeping then-No. 20 North Carolina at Frank Eck Stadium this past weekend, the No. 24 University of Notre Dame baseball team closes out its midweek slate at 3:05 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, when the Irish make the quick trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a non-conference meeting with the Western Michigan Broncos.
Fans can listen to the game by tuning into WatchND on their computers, tablets or mobile devices. WHME 103.1 FM will also provide audio coverage in South Bend. Western Michigan does offer a video stream for a cost. A link for both the WatchND and Bronco Insider options are on the Notre Dame baseball schedule page.
The two teams are facing for the second time this season. Notre Dame beat the Broncos, 8-3, March 25 at The Eck on the strength of a pair of monster innings at the plate. The Irish tallied 12 hits and six walks on the night, scoring four runs in the third inning and adding three more in the seventh to surge past the visitors.
Sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge had a spectacular game at the dish, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and three runs scored. Meanwhile, sophomore RHP Ryan Smoyer picked up his second win of the season by allowing just two runs in 5.1 innings of work.
One of Notre Dame’s most played opponents through the years, the two programs have met 136 times since 1914, with the Irish holding a slim 69-66-1 advantage.
Since falling to the Irish in March, the Broncos (21-25) have continued their up-and-down campaign. They are most recently coming off a series win at Northern Illinois. Western is batting .254 for the year and sport a 4.43 team ERA. The Broncos are fielding at a .963 clip.
Shortstop Kurt Hoekstra, who went 0-for-4 with a walk in the first meeting with the Irish, is batting .342 with 65 hits, 14 doubles, six triples, three homers, 33 RBI and 38 runs scored to lead his squad. First baseman Hunter Prince, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk against Notre Dame, is batting just .224 on the year, but is tied for the team lead with 23 walks.
Western Michigan is set to send RHP Nick Bradley (0-0, 8.71 ERA) to the mound. Bradley has started just one other game this year and has appeared in 11 contests (10.1 IP).
The Irish (33-18) are coming off an outstanding weekend that saw them sweep the Tar Heels to move up 13 spots in the NCAA’s RPI report to 35. The series sweep was the third in Atlantic Coast Conference play for Notre Dame this year (at Pitt, vs. then-No. 7 Florida State) and the second against a ranked foe (Florida State). It’s the first time the Irish have swept three conference foes in the same season since 2008 (Georgetown, Rutgers & Villanova).
After displaying clutch offense and then outstanding pitching to win a Saturday doubleheader, 10-5 & 3-1, the Irish saved their best magic for Sunday’s series finale. Trailing 6-0 after the visitor half of the second inning, it appeared that the Tar Heels were set to salvage one game in the series.
However, Notre Dame just wouldn’t give up, as the Irish — led by Zak Kutsulis’ two-homer day — blasted five round trippers in the game to stun Carolina, 8-7. Kutsulis’ first was a three-run blast in the second inning to trim the lead in half, but the most memorable one came off the bat of junior Kyle Richardson. With the score tied at seven and two outs in the ninth inning, Richardson turned on a 0-1 pitch and sent it sailing over the left-field fence for his first career homer to walk-off the Tar Heels.
The walk-off homer to end the home portion of the regular season schedule marked the second time in two years that had happened, as senior Ryan Bull did the same against Pitt last year to end Notre Dame’s campaign.
Notre Dame’s five homers were the most in a single game for the Irish since at least 2007. The total also tied a program record at Frank Eck Stadium, which was originally set against Providence in 2002 and then tied against South Alabama in 2002.
Seven of Notre Dame’s eight runs scored by way of the long ball.
Looking around the Notre Dame offense, sophomore Cavan Biggio hit his eighth homer of the year Sunday. The Houston, Texas native also had four walks on the weekend to up his total to 47 on the year, which sits second in the ACC and fourth in Division I. The total puts him in seventh place in school history in the category. Biggio is just four walks away from moving into a tie for third place in the category, and he has the most walks in a season since Ryan Topham had a school-record 63 in 1994.
Sophomore Kyle Fiala had another solid weekend, upping his remarkable on-base streak to 40 games. The total is the longest single-season streak for Notre Dame since at least 2007 and is the third longest streak during that time when accounting for multi-year streaks. Ryan Connolly had a 47-game streak in 2009-10, while Bret Lilley notched a 41-game streak in 2007-08.
In the field, the Irish sit first in the ACC (9th — Division I) in fielding percentage (.978) and remain first in the country in double plays (64) and double plays per game (1.25).
For their efforts on the weekend, the Irish moved into the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Top 30 for the fifth time Monday, this time checking in at No. 24 after ranking anywhere from No. 22 to No. 26 at other times this season.
Notre Dame will start junior RHP Connor Hale (2-0) Tuesday against the Broncos. Hale has been extremely solid on the mound in recent outings, as he has lowered his ERA to an impressive 1.08. The Carmel, Indiana native hasn’t allowed a run in his last 10.2 innings and is coming off a perfect 1.2 innings in relief Sunday against UNC.
Following the game against the Broncos, the Irish wrap up their regular season with a weekend trip to Boston College.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director