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Host ND looks to end skid

| Monday, March 31, 2014

Notre Dame will try to snap a three-game losing streak Tuesday night when it hosts Valparaiso for the second time in less than a week.

Irish junior pitcher Pat Connaughton stands on the mound during Notre Dame's 12-2 home win over Connecticut on April 26, 2013.Oe Kenesey | The Observer
Irish junior pitcher Pat Connaughton stands on the mound during Notre Dame’s 12-2 home win over Connecticut on April 26, 2013.
Wednesday the Irish (9-17, 1-11 ACC) topped the Crusaders (9-11, 1-2 Horizon), 4-1, behind six strong innings from sophomore right-hander Nick McCarty. McCarty picked up his first win of the season by allowing just three hits and a run while striking out five.

“I think in this game, momentum and all that stuff begins and ends with the guy on the mound,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “Nick did a good job last week of staying in the strike zone and making them earn their way on base. If we’re able to do that, hopefully, we’ll be in a good place.”

The win over Valparaiso was just Notre Dame’s sixth win in March. The Irish are 6-12 in the month.

This time around, Notre Dame will hand the ball to junior right-hander Scott Kerrigan. Kerrigan (0-1, 5.06 ERA) opened the season in the weekend rotation but has not made a start since Feb. 23 against Santa Clara.

“I think a lot of it is that he’s earned his way back into it,” Aoki said. “I think he’s done an excellent job of kind of battling his way back into that role. He’s pitched really well. He pitched well [Sunday] in that first game.”

In his two starts in February, Kerrigan allowed 10 runs (five earned) on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings. Since then, in appearances against Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, he has gone 7 1/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits.

“I thought he pitched really well last week against Virginia Tech,” Aoki said. “I think any intrasquad games we’ve had, he’s worked himself back into it. I think he’s been throwing the ball really well so I think that’s a big part of it.”

Valparaiso will counter with Valparaiso sophomore right-hander Ellis Foreman. Foreman (1-1, 4.24) took the loss against the Irish last week when he gave up four runs on nine hits in seven innings.

Last week, the Irish struck quickly against Foreman in the first inning. Just seven pitches in, the Irish scored on junior first baseman Blaise Lezynski’s RBI single. Four pitches later, they added another when freshman second baseman Cavan Biggio drove in Lezynski with a sacrifice fly.

Freshman third baseman Kyle Fiala, sophomore left fielder Zak Kutsulis and freshman catcher Ryan Lidge all picked up two hits against Foreman.

The Crusaders have had nine games cancelled this season, including two Horizon League weekend series. Valparaiso has played just six games since March 9.

Tuesday’s game, which will be played in Four Winds Field, was originally scheduled for 5:35 p.m. but has since been moved to 8:05 p.m. because of the South Bend Silver Hawks’ media day and practice.

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About Matthew DeFranks

Matthew DeFranks is an Assistant Managing Editor and a senior Finance major and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy minor from Miami. He loves a solid 2-3 zone, Sperry's, fantasy football drafts, How I Met Your Mother, Cuban food, free parking, beaches, good hip-hop and airports. He hates wearing white socks, the Florida Gators, pickles, Shakespeare, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the Patriots, death metal, Ed Hardy shirts and airports.

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