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Baseball: Irish set for 3-game set in Big East

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 18, 2008

Notre Dame will try to protect its lead in the Big East and keep its 10-game winning streak intact this weekend facing off against conference rival West Virginia.

The Irish (23-9-1, 10-2 Big East) travel to Morganstown atop the Big East standings, one game ahead of Cincinnati and St. John’s. Notre Dame’s winning streak is highlighted by six straight wins in conference play.

Irish junior second baseman Jeremy Barnes said the streak helps motivate the team. “With a 10-game winning streak you have a target on your back,” said Barnes. “Notre Dame is all about pride and every day we’re coming out trying to keep it going.”

The Mountaineers enter the series following a tough series against Seton Hall. The Pirates took two of three of from visiting West Virginia, dropping the Mountaineers to fifth in the Big East with a record of 7-5.

West Virginia will face the Irish with an explosive offense currently tops in the Big East. The Mountaineers are averaging a .364 average as a team, with four starters batting over .400.

Senior Tyler Kuhn leads the team and has been one of the top hitters in the conference this season. Kuhn leads the Big East in batting with a .447 average and has seven home runs and 42 RBI on the year.

West Virginia has averaged 8.71 runs per game, and the Irish have a team ERA of 3.95. Irish starters David Phelps, Wade Korpi, and Eric Maust will have their work cut out for them on the road.

The Irish offense is second in the Big East, batting at a .364 clip. Notre Dame coach Dave Schrage said he was very impressed with his team’s batting lately.

“Everybody’s hitting well and picking their teammates up,” Schrage said. “We really like our lineup all the way one through nine.”

Notre Dame picked up the latest win in their streak Wednesday with a 5-4 victory over Northern Illinois at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. The game against the Huskies benefited the Northern Illinois February 14 Scholarship Fund, which will establish scholarships in the names the students that died in the shooting tragedy at the school this year.

“There weren’t any losers [Wednesday],” said Schrage, who coached for four years at Northern Illinois. 4,600 were in attendance at U.S. Cellular, the home of the Chicago White Sox.

First pitch today is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Hawley Field in Morgantown.