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Baseball: Team looks for turnaround

Michael Bryan | Tuesday, April 13, 2010

After dropping three straight Big East series to open up conference play, the Irish are looking for things to start going their way.

It looked like Notre Dame might finally have its breakthrough Sunday, tied with Rutgers 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth in the deciding game of the series. Junior shortstop Mick Doyle belted a pitch deep to left field, but the ball came down just short of the fence into the hands of a Scarlet Knight outfielder, and Rutgers scored in the 11th inning for an 8-6 win.

After the crushing loss and still trying to find some consistency in Big East play, the Irish will host Chicago State today before traveling on the road for a three-game set with conference rival Seton Hall.

“The guys are feeling snake bitten,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said after the loss. “I can understand that. We need something good to happen to build off of, and we’re still waiting for it. As a coach you’ve got to keep positive and got to keep them thinking they’re going to win.”

Senior pitcher Eric Maust earned no decision after pitching eight innings and giving up five runs. Maust had two strikeouts and did not issue a walk in the game.

“Baseball is a game of a lot of ups and downs,” Maust said of the team’s inconsistency. “Our focus for each day this coming week is to key in on the things we can control.”

While the Irish have struggled through a rough start to their season, their problems seem trivial compared to those of Chicago State. The Cougars will travel to Frank Eck Stadium with a 1-22 record, including 19 straight losses on the road. The Irish lineup, which scored 19 runs against Rutgers, could have a big day against the struggling team.

Senior first baseman Casey Martin and senior outfielder Ryan Connolly have led the Notre Dame offense, with each hitting .354 on the season. Connolly leads the team with six homeruns and 21 RBIs, and senior outfielder David Mills has driven in 20 runs on the year with a .350 average.

The weak Cougars offense will also be a welcome sight for Notre Dame pitchers after a rough weekend against the Scarlet Knights. The issues on the mound climaxed Saturday, when Rutgers roughed up Irish pitchers for 25 runs in a 25-5 pounding.

First pitch today against the Cougars will be at 6:05 p.m. at Eck Stadium.