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Baseball: Ready for more

Michael Bryan | Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Irish will once again look to their seniors to continue their season turnaround today against Toledo, hosting the Rockets after winning their second straight Big East series last weekend against Cincinnati.
Cementing the series win over the Bearcats was senior David Mills, who has led Notre Dame both at the plate and from the mound this season. With the rainy rubber match Sunday tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mills sliced a pitch from Cincinnati closer Andrew Burkett barely inside the leftfield foul pole to give the Irish a walk-off win.
“He’s had some clutch hits,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said of Mills. “I don’t think you can ask much more of a player. He’s done a great job in relief, and now he just continues to get some big hits for us — just having a great season.”
The win gave Notre Dame the series win after winning the opener last Friday 5-2. Junior Brian Dupra allowed just two runs in 7 and 1/3 innings to give the Irish their fourth straight win. The Bearcats rebounded and held onto a 5-4 victory Saturday to even the series before Mills’ heroics Sunday.
After starting the year 2-7 in conference competition, Notre Dame has won five of their last six in the Big East to climb to seventh in the league standings. While the Irish are three games out of a tie for fourth, their recent success gives the team hope for the Big East tournament.
Seniors, Mills, Ryan Connolly and Casey Martin have led the team’s turnaround, with Mills’ versatility standing out. In addition to tying for the team lead with 26 RBIs, Mills has not allowed an earned run in seven straight outings out of the bullpen, and he has not issued a walk against 63 consecutive hitters.
Toledo will be a tough non-conference test for the Irish, with a 23-16 record on the season. The Rockets lineup is batting .324 this season and is averaging almost nine runs per game.
But the Toledo staff has not provided the offense with the same support, with a staff ERA of 8.74. Notre Dame could be in for a high-scoring contest against the powerful lineup but weak pitching staff.
First pitch against the Rockets from Frank Eck Stadium will be at 6:05 p.m. today.