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Irish host in-state rival Boilermakers

Chris Federico | Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Irish return home to Frank Eck Stadium today following a three-game sweep of conference rival Georgetown. The perfect weekend left the Irish tied for first atop the Big East conference standings with Rutgers, who also possesses a conference record of 11-2.No. 4 Notre Dame (30-5, 11-2) will play host to in-state rival Purdue (15-17, 6-6 in the Big Ten). The Boilermakers and Irish have a long history of competition, as Notre Dame leads the series 74-37-3, with the first matchup dating all the way back to 1894 – a 3-2 Boilermaker victory.The Irish have a stranglehold on the series in recent history, however, as Notre Dame is 11-2 in the last 13 meetings, including a 5-1 record against Purdue at Frank Eck Stadium. Last season, the Irish took an 8-5 victory from Purdue at the Eck.For the Boilermakers, this will be only their second non-conference game since April 2. Over that span, they split all three of their four-game, Big Ten series with Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern.The Boilermakers are led at the plate by utility man Mitch Helligloss with a .405 batting average, which ranks in the top 50 in the NCAA, even though he has started only 20 of Purdue’s 32 games.Second baseman Eric Osborn, who is batting .336 on the year, leads the Boilermakers in RBIs with 29, and centerfielder Mike Coles paces the Boilermakers with 28 runs scored and is batting .333. As a team, the Boilermakers are batting .296 on the year and average 5.66 runs scored a game.The Irish meanwhile, have posted a .319 team batting average, which is good enough for second in the Big East, behind Pittsburgh. They are led at the plate by shortstop Greg Lopez, with a .373 batting average on the year. Eight other Irish players own batting averages surpassing .300 on the season.Third baseman Matt Macri, who is third on the team in hitting at .357, leads the Irish in runs scored (42) and total bases (73) and is second on the team in RBI (33). First baseman Matt Edwards leads the team in RBIs with 36.Against the Boilermakers, the Irish will likely use a battery of arms, beginning with freshman Dan Kapala. Purdue will likely send right-hander Andrew Groves to the hill. The freshman has started only one game this year and owns an 0-1 record and 7.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched.The first pitch against the Boilermakers is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium.

Notes:u For his play in Notre Dame’s doubleheader split with St. John’s and three-game sweep of Georgetown last week, shortstop Greg Lopez was named Big East Player of the Week. The sophomore went 10-for-18 in the five games with four RBIs and four runs scored. He also recorded four error-free games at shortstop in that span.Lopez’s selection marks the third time this season that a Notre Dame player has won the award, with the other two being catcher Sean Gaston and Macri.