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Baseball

Irish set to renew in-state rivalry with Indiana

| Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Notre Dame will renew one of its oldest rivalries Tuesday night when it squares off with Indiana at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

The Irish (23-15, 9-10 ACC) and the Hoosiers (23-15, 8-4 Big Ten) are set to meet at the neutral site for the second consecutive year after having not played since 1998.

“Last year it was a great experience,” Irish head coach Mik Aoki said. “We had almost 9,000 people at the game last year. It’s a phenomenal venue, beautiful setting to play a baseball game.”

Irish sophomore left fielder Jake Shepski runs past second base during Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over Boston College on April 15 at Frank Eck Stadium. Chris Collins | The Observer

Irish sophomore left fielder Jake Shepski runs past second base during Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over Boston College on April 15 at Frank Eck Stadium.

A year ago, Notre Dame and Indiana renewed the dormant series that first began in 1898. This year’s edition will be the 101st game in the series all time, which Notre Dame leads 67-32-1.

In the game between these teams last April, the Irish entered the bottom of the ninth with a 5-3 lead over the Hoosiers, but a pair of Notre Dame defensive miscues led to three runs and a 6-5 Hoosier walk-off victory.

“I think with all of that last year, I thought about the last three outs of the game where we kind of sealed our own fate with our inability to just convert some balls into outs,” Aoki said. “Everything about it [last year] was really positive, so I know we’re looking forward to being down there, playing against those guys. Hopefully we can turn that score around from last year.”

If their midweek star pitcher, senior right-hander Michael Hearne, takes the bump for the Irish on Tuesday, they should have a good chance at taking one from their in-state rivals.

Notre Dame has won all eight games started by Hearne so far this year, and he has a 5-0 record and a 2.25 ERA in 52 innings pitched. In his last two outings, Hearne has tossed two complete-game victories, combining for just one earned run on 11 hits with seven strikeouts and no walks in 18 innings of work.

Irish senior catcher Ricky Sanchez finishes a swing during Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over Boston College at Frank Eck Stadium on April 15. Sanchez leads the squad with a .345 batting average this season.Chris Collins | The Observer

Irish senior catcher Ricky Sanchez finishes a swing during Notre Dame’s 4-1 win over Boston College at Frank Eck Stadium on April 15. Sanchez leads the squad with a .345 batting average this season.

The Hoosiers will counter with a balanced pitching staff that boasts a 2.83 combined ERA, good enough for the 11th spot in all of college baseball. The team is led by senior left-handed starters Caleb Baragar and Kyle Hart, who hold ERAs of 1.95 and 2.57, respectively, as well as a 0.82 ERA from freshman reliever Pauly Milto.

Tuesday night’s game is the first in a five-game break from ACC play for the Irish. After Indiana, Notre Dame returns home for Wednesday night’s contest against Eastern Michigan before Ohio comes to South Bend for a three-game set over the weekend.

Notre Dame is coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of Florida State over the weekend after having won seven in a row and 15 of its previous 17 games. The team will be looking to get back to its winning ways Tuesday when it faces Indiana.

Indiana, on the other hand, just completed a 2-1 series victory at Michigan State this weekend and has won 11 of its last 13 games dating back to the start of April.

First pitch between the Irish and the Hoosiers is slated for 7 p.m. at Victory Field, home to the Indianapolis Indians of the International League.

 

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