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Going Pro

Bill Brink | Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time to ditch the aluminum bats and break out the wood.

Notre Dame takes the field today against the South Bend Silverhawks, the Single-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in the second annual Silver vs. Gold exhibition game at Coveleski Field.

Baseball takes a back seat, however, to an important fundraiser associated with the game’s ticket sales. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which fights Niemann-Pick Type C disease.

“I have some relatives that are afflicted with that, Ara has grandchildren that were,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said.

The Silverhawks defeated the Irish in the Silver vs. Gold game last year, 5-3.

Notre Dame (19-10, 5-4 Big East) just swept Villanova at home this weekend and will face Cincinnati for a three-game road set starting Thursday. The Irish got great outings from sophomores Cole Johnson and Brian Dupra and junior Eric Maust. Schrage said the pitchers played the game at a fast pace, which he liked.

“That’s kind of what we want our pitchers to do is dictate the tempo,” he said.

The pitchers responded well to a meeting held last week that Schrage said challenged them.

“We felt like we’ve had talent on the mound,” Schrage said. “We made some adjustments on some things.”

Notre Dame will send sophomore Todd Miller to the mound to start, but the Irish will rotate pitchers and hitters often, Schrage said, so everyone gets a chance to play.

“Basically we need to get our work in tomorrow,” Schrage said. “We need to keep going.”

The hitters will use wooden bats instead of their usual aluminum because they are facing a professional team.

The professional pitching, Schrage said, will help the players get a taste of the next level, but will be limited at the same time. The innings will have a pitch count.

“You’re going to see some arm strength from professional pitching,” he said. “They have great skill level and a little bit more experience than our guys.”

Schrage said the Irish lineup had started to settle in and was especially pleased the addition of sophomore David Casey in the cleanup spot.

“We had a really nice boost from David Casey in the four-hole in the past two weeks,” Schrage said.

In his last four games, Casey has gone 8-for-15 (.533) with eight RBIs.

First pitch is at 5:30 p.m. For tickets, call the Silverhawks at 574-235-9988.