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BASEBALL: Team set for long Texas trip

Tom Dorwart | Friday, March 4, 2005

After a 1-2 series against Dayton last weekend, the Notre Dame baseball team takes its high-powered offense to Texas for spring break in search of a few statement wins against the nation’s elite. The Irish travel to the Lone Star State for seven games in the next eight days. Saturday at 8 p.m. the Irish square off against the No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies in the opening game of the Round Rock College Classic at 12,000-seat Dell Diamond. The No. 10 Rice Owls, who have yet to leave the state of Texas this season, await the Irish for a 7 p.m. Sunday matchup. To finish up the Classic, the Irish take on the Texas State Bobcats on Monday. Tuesday is a travel day as the team makes the trip to San Antonio for the Notre Dame Baseball Classic. The field consists of Texas-San Antonio, Southwest Missouri State and Oral Roberts. , The tourney takes place Wednesday through Saturday at Wolff Stadium. With a close 3-1 loss to Rice and a tough 4-1 victory over Texas San-Antonio, Texas A&M sits at 9-4 and comes off a 2-0 sweep of Evansville. The showdown with Rice (11-2) marks the first time the squads will meet each other since an elimination game in the 2002 College World Series – a game which ended in dramatic fashion on a Brian Stavisky two-run, walk-off home run for the Irish. Notre Dame won the barnburner 5-3, in what was named an ESPN Top Ten moment in CWS history. While Texas State (10-4) might not be a nationally-known powerhouse or have the star-studded lineups of Rice or A&M, the Bobcats are a feisty group. They proved they can compete with the college baseball’s top teams when they knocked off the Aggies last year in College Station 1-0 and competed with Rice and LSU for three straight games apiece. Texas-San Antonio (0-11) poses a threat for an upset. They faced Texas A&M earlier this season and fell short 4-1. The Roadrunners desperately need their first win after playing a brutal early season schedule. Southwest Missouri State (2-5) has struggled early this season, but the Bears look to start a win streak after a win against Kansas and a series against Iowa. SMS went to the College World Series in 2003 following a strong performance in the Missouri Valley Conference.Ranked in the preseason, the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles own a 6-3 record, including solid wins against Baylor and South Alabama. The potent Irish offense averages eight runs per game. Junior shortstop Greg Lopez tops the team with a .421 batting average, and freshman third baseman Ross Brezovsky leads the pack with 12 hits. Freshman pitcher Joey Williamson (0-1) leads the pitching staff with a 1.69 ERA and six strikeouts. Workhouse Tom Thornton has carried the load with 11 innings pitched and a 1-0 record. No game in the next eight days warrants a letdown. Whomever the opponent, the Irish take the field against seven of the toughest baseball teams in the country.The tests for the Irish come over the break.