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Baseball: Team gets ready for Big East foe

Fran Tolan | Friday, April 20, 2007

After winning its first conference series of the season last weekend and taking its two midweek games in dramatic fashion, Notre Dame heads into a weekend series against West Virginia having won five of its last six contests.

West Virginia comes into the showdown with a 5-6 Big East record to go along with its 21-11 overall mark. The Irish are 4-7 in conference play – 18-17 overall – and figure to battle the Mountaineers for a spot in the Big East tournament May 22-26 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

After taking two of three from Georgetown last weekend, the Irish defeated Toledo 8-7 Tuesday and triumphed over Purdue 1-0 Wednesday, with both winning runs coming in the last Irish at bat.

The Irish rotation for the weekend is set, with sophomore ace David Phelps getting the start Friday. Last week, in a 10-0 victory over Georgetown, Phelps threw seven scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.34 on the season. He also struck out eight while passing out just two walks.

Lefthander Wade Korpi will take the hill for the Irish Saturday. In the win against Purdue, Korpi warmed in the bullpen as sophomore Sam Elam ran up his pitch count in the late innings. But Korpi never entered the game as Elam held the Boilermakers scoreless over nine innings. Korpi takes a 3.99 ERA into the matchup with West Virginia.

“I would have never guessed that Sam Elam would give us nine innings like he did,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said.

Junior righty Tony Langford came in to pitch the 10th against Purdue before the Irish scored the deciding run in their half of the inning.

On Sunday, freshman righty Eric Maust gets the ball for the Irish. Schrage said Maust, also a punter on the football team, was originally scheduled to start Saturday. But Schrage altered the rotation so that Maust could play in the Blue-Gold Game.

The Irish, who are 10-4 at home, are hitting .320 with men on base this season but have struggled badly in losses with runners on.