Baseball: Squad looks for home win
Michael Bryan | Tuesday, April 1, 2008
After dropping two of three in a tough series against Cincinnati this past weekend, the Irish will look to rebound in a non-conference game against Western Michigan today.
The Broncos (12-7-1) suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of Ohio in their first three MAC conference games.
Sophomore catcher Chris Lewis leads Western Michigan in most offensive categories. In 19 games this season, Lewis is batting .403 with four home runs and 19 RBI. The Broncos offense is batting over .300 combined this season, scoring almost seven runs per game.
The Irish will hope for a result similar to last year’s game, a 17-9 Notre Dame win at home. Notre Dame pounded the Broncos for 22 hits – including an eight-run fourth inning – and cruised to an easy victory over a weaker Western Michigan team.
Facing the improved Broncos tomorrow will be an Irish team that has played well of late, winning eight of its last 11. But the team has also suffered several frustrating losses.
Notre Dame is batting .305 on the season, and the team sports a 4.52 ERA. The Irish also lead the Big East in fielding but have yet to see their offensive output translate into as many wins as they would like.
“It’s frustrating to play well as we have and lose some tough games,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “We have to step up and make some plays, hit with men in scoring position, do the little things to win.”
The Irish were unable to do the little things over the weekend, dropping two games to the Bearcats by a total of three runs. Notre Dame lost 5-3 Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader and struggled to score off Cincinnati starter Dan Osterbrock.
Despite tying the game in the seventh, the Irish bullpen was unable to hold the Bearcats late, and Osterbrock retired the last eight Notre Dame batters for the complete game win.
The Irish split the Saturday doubleheader with a narrow 4-3 victory in the nightcap, and picked up a strong performance from senior starter Wade Korpi. The Irish bullpen, led by closer Kyle Weiland, hung on the preserve the win.
In the closing game Sunday, the Irish fell just short in a ninth-inning comeback, falling 4-3. Despite giving up an early 4-0 lead, Notre Dame fought its way back with relievers Weiland and freshman Cole Johnson holding Cincinnati scoreless in the final seven innings. Sophomore David Mills attempted to score on a two-out single in the ninth, but was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
Schrage said the Irish focus on making plays in the non-conference and exhibition games this week in preparation for the Big East series this weekend.
“We really want to get back on track this week and build some momentum before another big series against Rutgers this weekend,” Schrage said.
The first pitch against Western Michigan is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. at Eck Stadium.