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Baseball: ND plays host to Chippewas

Michael Bryan | Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Notre Dame will try and recover from a disappointing weekend today, facing off against Central Michigan after losing two of three in their conference opening series against Seton Hall.

The Irish (13-7, 1-2 Big East) will take on the Chippewas (9-12, 1-2 MAC) at 5:05 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium.

Freshman Dustin Ispas will take the mound for Notre Dame, making his third start of the season. Ispas has yet to record a decision and has a 2.92 ERA over 12.1 innings pitched so far this season.

The Irish will be looking to turn things around after dropping the final two games of the weekend series against Seton Hall. The glaring issue that plagued Notre Dame throughout the matchup was the inability of the Irish pitching staff to get out of innings with two men down – in the three games, the Pirates scored 19 runs and batted .458 in two-out situations.

Notre Dame will also look to get their bats going early, as the team is 10-1 when scoring first. Seton Hall starters Joe DiRocco and Keith Cantwell stymied the Irish offense in the final two games of the weekend series, combining to give up just four runs over 15 innings pitched.

The Central Michigan pitching staff may be a welcome solution to the recent struggles at the plate, as the Chippewas have a team ERA of 6.19. Senior shortstop Jeremy Barnes and junior center fielder A.J. Pollock, who have hit .361 and .377 respectively on the season, will look to take advantage of visiting pitching that has struggled so far this year.

The Chippewa lineup will be led by sophomore outfielder Matt Faiman, who is batting .407 on the year with 15 RBI. Redshirt freshman Nate Theunissen is also batting .387 and leads the team with three home runs and 19 RBI.

After Central Michigan, the Irish will again host a non-conference opponent Wednesday when Oakland visits Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame returns to conference play this weekend traveling to Pittsburgh for a three-game series.