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ND Baseball: Irish gear up for possible weather

Allan Joseph | Friday, February 25, 2011

Looking to build on a strong opening weekend, the Irish might find that the biggest obstacle to earning more wins this weekend is not something they can control — the weather. With three games scheduled in the Pacific Northwest against Seattle University, recent adverse weather conditions in the area have cast doubt over the teams’ ability to play games.

“At this point right now, the whole weekend is up in the air,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “They’re getting some bad weather up there, getting a little bit of snow that Seattle is not really accustomed to. Mother Nature is having her way with us right now.”

Weather aside, Notre Dame (2-1) is looking to continue its momentum from an opening weekend that began with a loss but finished with two big victories, including a record-setting 19-2 victory over Purdue. The Redhawks are a relatively new program, however, which leaves the Irish without much information about what to expect from their hosts.

“I’m not 100 percent sure what to expect from Seattle,” Aoki said. “They’re sort of transitioning their way back into Division I — they had gone pretty close to 20 years without a varsity baseball program there.”

The Notre Dame rotation will remain the same, with a trio of seniors starting on the mound. Brian Dupra (0-1) will open the series, followed by Cole Johnson (1-0) and Todd Miller (1-0).

“If our pitchers pitch to their strengths and pitch to their abilities, I would very definitely expect them to have very good outings and to carry us relatively deep into the game,” Aoki said.

Even though a 19-run explosion carried Aoki to his first victory as Irish head coach, he does not see his squad regularly blowing out its opponents, but rather using smart play to earn wins.

“Nineteen runs in any baseball situation is an aberration, and I think that I would be really pleased with our club if we were able to average 7 or 8 runs a game. I think that probably means we had a really successful season,” Aoki said. “We’re going to have to work for whatever it is that we get. We have to make sure that we’re doing a really good job of playing situationally and understanding that we’re not a team that’s going to be hitting bombs over the fence. We’re not going to be a team that’s putting up 10, 12 runs a game.”

Freshman right fielder Eric Jagielo will attempt to replicate a strong offensive performance in his first series with the Irish, when he scored four runs in two games.

“Eric Jagielo is going to be a fixture in the middle of the lineup,” Aoki said. “I think he’s a really talented player. With young players, they’ll have their times of struggle and they’ll have either times where they do really well for a period of time.”

The most important goal for the weekend will not be to limit the Redhawks’ runs or to have hot bats — it’ll be to just take the field.

“We’re hoping, number one, that we can still make the trip up there and play,” Aoki said.

The Irish travel to face Seattle this weekend for three games. The teams will either play Friday, Saturday and Sunday or, play a doubleheader Saturday and one game Sunday.