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Baseball: Team set for mid-week games

Lorenzo Reyes | Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Notre Dame returns to non-conference action today when Valparaiso visits Frank Eck Stadium looking to end the recent Irish hot streak.

Coming off of an impressive three-game win streak over Big East rival Rutgers last weekend, the Irish (16-9-1) want to continue their winning ways.

In order to take the series over the Scarlet Knights, Notre Dame used both its pitching prowess and its bats to get the job done.

Through the three-game stretch, the Irish outscored Rutgers 29-9, with sophomore A.J. Pollock leading the way. In the series, he went 6-of-11, with six RBIs. As a result, the sophomore was named Big East player of the week Monday.

In addition to Pollock’s hot play at the plate, outfielder Ross Brezovsky had a series to remember – on 12 plate appearances, the senior produced six hits and four RBIs.

Notre Dame also displayed its speed against Rutgers. With sophomore David Mills now batting in the two-spot, the Irish have added another dimension to the top of the order. Between Mills and Pollock, who hits from the three-hole, Notre Dame is a legitimate threat to play small ball and steal bases.

Pollock leads the squad in stolen bases, swiping 12 on his 13 attempts. – four of those steals came against Rutgers.

The Irish have six players boasting hitting streaks of at least three games.

Mills is leading the way with an eight-game streak, followed by Brezovsky’s six-game spurt.

Another hot Irish bat belongs to sophomore Billy Boockford, who is 5-for-12 with three RBIs during his current three-game hit streak.

Despite the hot bats, the Irish pitching carried its share of the load. In the first two games of the Rutgers series, it was the bullpen that rose to the occasion and picked up two solid wins.

Freshman Brian Dupra will take the mound for the Irish against Valparaiso (8-20) today. In his six starts, the righty has gone 1-2 with a 6.94 ERA. However, the freshman has continued to improve throughout the season.

Although he started shaky, allowing 14 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, he has found his rhythm, allowing only four runs in his last 11 frames.

His counterpart, senior right-hander John Snelten, will try to hold the Irish, despite having allowed opposing hitters to bat .354 against him.

The first pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. today at Frank Eck Stadium. After taking on Valparaiso, Notre Dame will host Manchester on Wednesday.