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Irish return home for non-conference game

Deirdre Krasula | Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Notre Dame is hoping its luck will return at home today as the Irish take on Oakland at 5:05 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish enter the non-conference matchup on the heels of a two-game road sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh this weekend.

The set against Pittsburgh proved to Notre Dame that there are many holes in the defensive lineup that need to be worked out. The Irish have struggled recently, allowing opponents the advantages of what Notre Dame coach Dave Schrage calls “freebies.” On Saturday, the Irish aided Pittsburgh in its 5-0 shutout with 11 of these freebies – two walks, three hit batters, three errors and three stolen bases allowed.

In the second game of its home series against South Florida on March 24, Notre Dame allowed eight walks, two hit batsmen, four passed balls and three errors.

Junior shortstop Brett Lilley noted that the finger can’t be pointed at one person for the combined easy bases for – and losses to – Pittsburg and South Florida.

“It’s a group effort, its not one person’s fault when we lose,” Lilley said. “When we give up a lot of freebies it’s the whole team giving them up.”

Even though the team has struggled to come up big in conference play, Lilley noted that there is still a lot of baseball to be played.

“As a team we really have to bounce back,” he said. “It’s very early on in the season still.”

The game against Oakland will afford Notre Dame the opportunity to smooth out some mistakes before heading to Cincinnati for another Big East series.

The Irish and Oakland last faced off in April 2006. Notre Dame had little trouble with the Golden Grizzlies, cruising past them in a 15-1 decision at Frank Eck Stadium.

Oakland heads into South Bend after sweeping Rochester in a two-game series this weekend.

Senior Drew Jenison led the Golden Grizzlies’ offensive drive in Saturday’s 16-3 victory over Rochester. The outfielder drove in a career high five RBIs while going 3-for-4 from the plate with three runs scored and two walks. Sophomore Justin Wilson followed in Jenison’s footsteps, leading the team to an 18-5 win Sunday. The outfielder posted home runs in two straight at bats and finished 3-for-4 at the plate with a career-high five RBIs.

The Irish will look to cut down on Oakland’s offense as they attempt to put their mistake-filled weekend against Pittsburgh behind them. Lilley said the team is ready for the challenge.

“We definitely have the ability to win these games,” he said. “It’s just right now things aren’t really working out in our favor. … We really just have to start performing more consistently.”