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ND Baseball: Irish open conference play

Lorenzo Reyes | Thursday, March 20, 2008

After Mother Nature spoiled a two-game opening home stand for Notre Dame, the squad travels to the east coast to face Georgetown in its Big East opener on Thursday.

The Irish will face the Hoyas in a three-game set at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md., with the series finale on Saturday.

Notre Dame will send junior right-hander David Phelps to the mound to start the first contest of the series, as he searches for his third win of the season. Sporting a 4.01 ERA, opposing batters have had their struggles against him, hitting .239 against the junior.

When the Irish bats step up to the plate, they will face right-handed sophomore Tim Adleman, who sports a perfect 3-0 record coupled with a 3.86 ERA. Adleman uses his tall frame at 6-foot-5 to overpower opposing batters.

In the second game of the series, the Irish will hand the ball over to senior pitcher Wade Korpi as he heads to the mound with a 2-1 record. The lefty is looking for his third straight win on Friday, and a chance to improve his 5.01 ERA.

Battling Korpi will likely be lefty senior Michael Gaggiolo, who is in search of his first win all season. Although he hasn’t made his way into the win column, Gaggiolo hasn’t made very many mistakes, as evidenced by his 1.12 ERA.

In the series finale, sophomore Eric Maust will take the mound, as the Irish attempt to close out the series with a win. The righty started his first game of the season against Texas Pan-American, going over six innings and allowing two runs on nine hits.

Facing the Irish will be senior righty Erik Chandler, who has struggled this season with an 0-2 record and an ERA of 8.53.

Sophomore A.J. Pollock is building off his solid freshman campaign, leading the Irish with 20 hits this season. His eight RBIs are tied for fourth highest on the team, but it is his base running that has been helpful in creating runs for the Irish. Pollock is perfect on all seven of his stolen base attempts this season.

Brett Lilley has also been a solid run-producer this season. The senior is second on the team in hits with 16, but leads all Irish batters with 12 RBIs on the year. Lilley has done some run scoring of his own, crossing the plate for a team-high 15 times, six more than the closest Notre Dame player.

Junior Jeremy Barnes completes the three-headed offensive monster for the Irish with his team-high .333 average that has seen him pick up 15 hits, and 11 RBIs, which are second best on the squad.

The Irish had a frustrating past couple of days this week that saw two games suspended, including the home opener on St. Patrick’s Day. Although the second game against Xavier was not even started, the first contest was six innings through before the wintry weather forced umpires to stop play.

Both Central Michigan and the Irish are still awaiting word from the NCAA as to the proper ruling from the suspended contest, but the makeup day of May 12 has been scheduled. After the series against the Hoyas, Notre Dame returns home to Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday for a six-game home stand that starts off against Ball State.