March 4, 2016
By Russell Dorn
Non-ACC Weekend #3: USA Baseball-Irish Classic
March 4-6, 2016
5 p.m. / 11:30 a.m. / 3 a.m. / 11 a.m. (All ET)
National Training Complex (Cary, N.C.)
Notre Dame: 4-3, 0-0 ACC (37-23, 17-13 ACC In 2015)
`15 Postseason: 1-2 @ ACC Tourney & 1-2 @ NCAA Champaign Regional
#22 Alabama: 7-1, 0-0 SEC (32-28, 12-18 SEC In 2015)
`15 Postseason: 2-2 in SEC Tournament
Brown: 0-0, 0-0 Ivy League (11-28, 6-14 Ivy League In 2015)
`15 Postseason: No Ivy League Tournament
Bucknell: 4-3, 0-0 Patriot League (24-22, 8-12 Patriot League In 2015)
`15 Postseason: Did Not Qualify For Patriot League Tournament
Niagara: 2-8, 0-0 MAAC (13-32-2, 8-16 MAAC In 2015)
`15 Postseason: Did Not Qualify For MAAC Tournament
NC State – Between #8 & 19 across 5 of 6 polls
Alabama – #22 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper
Projected Pitching Matchups:
G1: #22 Alabama – 5 p.m. ET Friday
RHP Ryan Smoyer (1-1, 1.35 ERA) vs. RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (0-0, 1.35 ERA)
G2: Brown – 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday
LHP Sean Guenther (1-1, 2.38 ERA) vs. RHP Reid Anderson (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
G3: Bucknell – 3 p.m. ET Saturday
RHP Brandon Bielak (0-0, 1.59 ERA) vs. LHP Mike Castellani (2-0, 2.38 ERA)
G4: Niagara – 11 a.m. ET Sunday
LHP Michael Hearne (0-0, 4.00 ERA) vs. RHP Zachary Kolodziejski (0-0, 6.75 ERA)
Live Video: None
Live Audio: WatchND / WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Mike Monaco, pbp)
Live Stats: Gametracker (Links on UND.com)
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball
Weather Report (as of Thursday, March 3):
Friday, March 4: 53/33 & Partly Sunny (20% Rain)
Saturday, March 5: 59/39 & Partly Cloudy
Sunday, March 6: 60/32 & Sunny
CARY, N.C. – After three straight wins – including two walk-off victories – locked up the Alamo Irish Classic title for a second year in a row last weekend, the University of Notre Dame baseball team (4-3) continues its preseason travel this weekend with the annual USA Baseball-Irish Classic at the USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, North Carolina.
Despite last season’s version getting snowed out, this year’s edition welcomes an exciting field to the Tar Heel State. The forecast looks clear for the weekend and features eight games at the USA Baseball complex between the Irish, No. 22 Alabama, No. 8 NC State, Brown, Bucknell and Niagara
Here are five things to know before the USA Baseball-Irish Classic begins:
- It’s been 21 years since Notre Dame and Alabama have met on the baseball diamond (1995), but that seems like just yesterday compared to the time that’s passed between the last Irish meetings with Brown and Niagara … Notre Dame and the Bears have played just once – back in 1912, which is the same year the Titanic sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic … the last meeting between ND and Niagara you ask? A more reasonable 99 years in 1917, or the same year that United States president Woodrow Wilson began his second term in office … let us know if you are reading this and remember either of these games … just for the record the Irish and Bucknell have never played baseball against each other.
- Despite suffering the hard-luck loss against Bradley, junior RHP Ryan Smoyer has been Mr. Steady so far this year with two quality starts in two opportunities … the Bowling Green, Ohio native has an impressive 1.35 ERA over 13.1 innings of work and has just one walk to seven strikeouts … he will take the hill against No. 22 Alabama Friday.
- A pair of freshman bats are scorching hot right now for Notre Dame in right fielder Matt Vierling and designated hitter Connor Stutts … Vierling has started all seven games in RF and has been borderline unstoppable over the last five games … since picking up his first career hit in the series finale at Santa Clara, Vierling is hitting .500 with nine hits (2B, HR), nine RBI, two walks and three runs scored … he is tied for first in the Atlantic Coast Conference (T-10th – D1) in RBI by a freshman … Stutts, meanwhile, has started the last four games and has a triple, homer, five RBI, three walks and a .400 on-base percentage.
- While junior catcher Ryan Lidge remains day-to-day with a leg injury, senior utility player Ricky Sanchez has been lighting it up in place of Lidge … the Miami native, who has played first base, outfield and catcher during his time at ND, has started the last five games at catcher and leads the team in average (.400) and hits (10) while totaling three RBI, two walks and five runs scored … he also tallied the walk-off single in ND’s thrilling win over Gonzaga last Sunday to clinch the Alamo Irish Classic in San Antonio.
- A preseason nominee for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list for the nation’s best reliever, sophomore LHP Sean Guenther has instead made the transition to starter and appears to have found his niche … after allowing two earned runs in four innings in his first start at Santa Clara, the Atlanta native came back with a sterling quality start against Incarnate Word in San Antonio … he allowed just one run on 7.1 innings to pick up the win.
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.