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Baseball: Notre Dame heads east needing Big East wins

Michael Bryan | Friday, April 16, 2010

If the Irish are going to have a chance to turn around their season, they’re running out of time to do it.

Notre Dame (12-19, 2-7 Big East) will travel to Seton Hall (13-17, 3-6) for a critical three-game set this weekend in desperate need of a series win.

After dropping two of three games to Rutgers last weekend, the Irish had another sluggish performance this week against Chicago State (1-23), escaping with a 6-4 win.

“At this point I don’t know what to expect,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said after Wednesday’s contest. “We hit too many fly balls and we got away with the win.”

Senior center fielder Brayden Ashdown led the team offensively against the Cougars, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs. The Irish hope Ashdown and freshman infielder Frank Desico, who hit .479 last week, keep up their hot hitting against the Pirates.

While starting to find their rhythm offensively and averaging over six runs per game this year,

Notre Dame has struggled finding consistency in pitching this season. Starters junior Brian Dupra, sophomore Steve Sabatino and senior Eric Maust each have ERAs over 5.50.

The Pirates are just a game ahead of the Irish with a 3-6 record in conference competition, and have struggled offensively with a batting average of just .244, averaging just 3.6 runs per game.

Senior infielder Michael Rogers leads Seton Hall offensively, batting .308 at the plate with 10 RBIs. Sophomore right-hander Benny Mejia leads the Pirates rotation with a 3.50 ERA, and is 2-1 on the season.

Schrage said he was concerned with the team’s recent preparation heading into the crucial series.

“There better be a sense of urgency this weekend, because we have some work to do, Schrage said.

Notre Dame is 3-7 on the road this season, and will look to gain momentum before Big East homestands against Cincinnati and St. John’s the next two weekends.

After that Notre Dame only has two more Big East series remaining.

Today’s first pitch in East Orange, N.J., will be at 3 p.m., Saturday’s first pitch will be at 1 p.m. and Sunday’s action will start at noon.