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Baseball: Irish host last-place Georgetown

Chris Khorey | Friday, April 13, 2007

Two teams desperate for conference wins will face off this weekend at Frank Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame (15-16, 2-6 Big East) will host Georgetown (12-21, 2-7) tonight at 6, Saturday and Sunday in a three-game series that is crucial for each team’s chances to climb back into the conference race.

“I think it’s going to be a very spirited weekend because both teams are fighting for their lives,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said.

The Hoyas are at the bottom of the Big East standings, with the Irish just a half game ahead of them.

In its last conference series, Georgetown was swept by Seton Hall in a three-game set in South Orange, N.J. The Hoyas’ last conference win was an 8-3 decision over Cincinnati March 30.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame dropped two of three to the Bearcats last weekend and was swept in a two-game series with Pittsburgh the weekend before.

Schrage said both squads have had the same problem – defense.

The Irish have made 52 errors in 31 games this season, and unearned runs were the difference in both of their losses to Cincinnati.

“The times we’re making the errors are hurting us,” Schrage said. “We’re making errors that are causing unearned runs.”

Georgetown has been even worse. The Hoyas have made 78 errors this season, including 15 by shortstop Matthew Bouchard.

Schrage changed his pitching lineup last weekend against the Bearcats, moving former closer Kyle Weiland into the conference starting rotation in place of junior lefthander Wade Korpi. Weiland is scheduled to start Sunday’s matchup.

Weiland, who made 16 saves last season, has only appeared in six games this spring because Notre Dame hasn’t had many save situations. Schrage said he will be more valuable as a starter.

“We felt like he was one of the best pitchers in the league, and he wasn’t getting on the mound,” he said.

Korpi switched to making midweek starts and will be available out of the bullpen during conference series. His scheduled start this week, against Bowling Green, was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Schrage said Weiland may still come in to close if necessary today and Saturday, and, in that case, Korpi would start Sunday’s game.

“We’ll have some depth this weekend,” he said. “If we have to use Weiland [today and Saturday] we’ll start Wade on Sunday.”

The forecast for this weekend is cold with scattered showers. Schrage said that makes pitching and defense even more important than usual.

“You have to pitch and play defense on cold weather days, because it’s hard to get a lot of hits,” he said.

The bad weather also increases the chance of rainouts, which would be frustrating for a team that has already had three this season.

“The players get up to play,” Schrage said. “Anytime you show up to the park and don’t play, it’s frustrating.”