April 20, 2017
|Game One||ACC Network Extra||WatchND|
|Game Two||ACC Network Extra||WatchND|
|Game Three||ACC Network Extra||WatchND|
By Michael Scholl
Five Things To Know
- The Notre Dame baseball team has won 10 of its last 15 games as the Irish travel to No. 19 Virginia for a three-game ACC series at Davenport Field. The series can be seen on ACC Network Extra and heard on WatchND and 103.1 FM. The series begins Friday at 6 p.m., with Saturday’s first pitch at 4 p.m. and Sunday’s contest beginning at Noon. The series concludes a run of 10 games in 12 days for Notre Dame, as well as the final three contests in a stretch that sees seven of eight games played away from home.
- Notre Dame and Virginia have met on the diamond nine times, with the Cavaliers holding a 6-3 advantage in the series and a 1-2 lead in Charlottesville. The teams have played one series since Notre Dame joined the ACC, with Virginia sweeping a three-game series at Frank Eck Stadium in 2015. The Irish struck back that May at the ACC Baseball Championship, defeating the Cavaliers, 8-2, in Durham. The first meetings came in a three-game series at Virginia in 1991, with the hosts taking two-of three. The teams then played twice in the 1996 NCAA tournament, with the Irish winning the first contest, 12-1, before the Wahoos ended Notre Dame’s run with a 7-1 elimination game victory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
- Contributing to the Irish winning 10-of-15 has been a series of on-base streaks, led by Nick Podkul’s run of 25 games. He is followed by a 16-game streak from Jake Johnson and a 15-game stretch by Ryan Lidge. Podkul is reaching base at a .387 clip over his 25-game on-base streak and has used 21 hits, 12 walks and has 10 times been hit by a pitch. Over his 16-game on-base streak, Johnson is hitting a team-best .400 with four doubles and two home runs. He also carries an eight-game hitting streak into the Virginia series, the longest by an Irish hitter this season. During Lidge’s 15-game on-base streak, the backstop is hitting .320 with seven doubles and a home run and 10 walks. He has caught all 15 games over the stretch.
- In addition to more success at the plate, reliable Irish pitching has helped the club win 10-of-15. Graduate student Michael Hearne has emerged as one of the best strike-throwers in the country. Hearne leads the ACC and ranks 15th nationally with a 0.99 walks per nine innings rate. In addition the southpaw is eighth in the conference with a 4.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio. At the back end of the bullpen, Sean Guenther has become a reliable stopper during conference play. The junior lefty has the top ERA on the team (among pitchers with more than three innings) at 1.47, a mark posted en route to a team-leading four saves. Guenther’s ERA of 1.50 during conference games is third in the league. He has allowed fewer runs in conference play than any conference player and is one of just five qualified pitchers in the ACC to have not allowed a home run in conference play.
- Improvement continues to be the key word for Notre Dame this season. Since a 1-8 start, the Irish have posted a 16-12 mark and have improved in nearly every category, most notably pitching. Over the first nine games, Irish hurlers had a 7.85 ERA while opponents were batting .316. In the 28 games since, the ERA has been 3.52 with opponents hitting just .240. Behind those pitchers, the Notre Dame defense has made 32 errors in the last 28 games after committing 20 miscues in the first nine contests. Things have improved at the plate, as well. After hitting .221 in the opening stretch, the Irish have hit .251 as a team over the last 28, led by Cole Daily’s .313 mark. This weekend, the team will try to reverse another trend, its record against ranked opponents. While Notre Dame is 16-2 against unranked teams over the last 28 games, they are 0-10 against teams in the D1Baseball.com Top 25.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ ND Ã¢â‚¬â€
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.