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Baseball: Upstart Irish prepare for matchup with Toledo

By John Sandberg | Tuesday, April 23, 2013

With a three-game home sweep of Quinnipiac in the books, Notre Dame hits the road today for another non-conference matchup as it takes on Toledo.

The Irish (22-15, 4-8 Big East) continue to get production at the plate from junior infielders and All-American candidates Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini.

The duo combined to go 12-24 with 11 RBIs over the weekend. Jagielo and Mancini are batting .383 and .319, respectively, and have combined for nearly half of the team’s run production with 71 RBIs between them this season.

“We’ve been able to hit three and four since my freshman year,” Jagielo said. “For the three years that I’ve been here it’s been kind of fun hitting back-to-back with him. … If [I] don’t succeed or get a hit in a particular situation, I don’t feel any pressure because I know most times he’s going to pick me up.”

Jagielo ranks first in slugging and on-base percentage among Big East hitters and sits just behind Louisville’s Ty Young for second place in batting average.

“Coming off this summer [in the Cape Cod League], I learned so much about coming to the park every day and not trying to do too much,” Jagielo said. “When you try to do too much you come out of who you are, and that’s when you start failing instead of doing what you’re capable of doing.”

Irish coach Mik Aoki said Jagielo’s success in 2013 is simply the product of his skill set and work ethic.

“He’s one of the top hitters in the nation,” Aoki said of Jagielo. “He’s a kid who is really talented. … When you combine that [talent] with his hard work, you see what he’s capable of doing.”

Toledo (14-24, 6-9 Mid-America Conference) enters today’s game having won two of three against Central Michigan over the weekend.

Junior outfielder Tyler Grogg leads the Rockets in batting average from his leadoff spot, hitting .370 to go with a .450 on base percentage on the season.

In their lone contest last season, the Irish beat the Rockets 7-3.

“You definitely can’t take these mid-week games lightly,” Jagielo said. “We have to come out and jump on them early and stay aggressive.”

Sophomore right hander Matt Ternowchek will make his third start of the season for the Irish today. Ternowchek is 4-2 with a 4.36 ERA.

Notre Dame has performed well against its non-conference opponents this year, posting a 17-6 record against teams outside the Big East. The Irish will look to continue that trend today against Toledo before taking on another non-conference opponent, Michigan State, at home Wednesday.

“For me, there’s no question that your ability to play well mid-week and keep your team feeling good about themselves leads to a higher level of play on the weekends,” Aoki said. “But they’re all critically important. You just go out with that one pitch at a time, one game at a time mentality.”

Notre Dame will take on the Rockets at 3 p.m. today at Mercy Field in Toledo, Ohio.

Contact John Sandberg at jsandbe1@nd.edu