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Irish change weekend plans, head to Macon

| Friday, February 27, 2015

Notre Dame can’t get a break from meteorological mayhem.

The Irish (7-1) thought they could head south, away from the snow in South Bend, to the warm weather of Cary, North Carolina. The snow had other ideas.

Due to inclement weather, the third annual USA Baseball-Irish Classic was canceled. Notre Dame was slated to play East Carolina, Seattle and Penn State this weekend, but the cards were simply not in its hands, Irish coach Mik Aoki said.

“Everyone involved tried to do everything we possibly could in order to give ourselves the best chance to play this tournament,” Aoki said. “But for the safety and well-being of all the student-athletes and the people that would be working or attending, it was best to make this decision. We are obviously disappointed, but we will put together a great field next year and hopefully play it in better weather.”

After spending most of last season without a home field due to erratic and unfavorable weather, the Irish are somewhat used to this predicament.

“Mother Nature and Old Man Winter are still undefeated,” Aoki said.

Rather than canceling the weekend altogether, Notre Dame simply elected to head further south to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, to face three different teams instead — Belmont, Mercer and Akron. Aoki said the schedule change will not affect his team’s focus or game plans.

“I think it just comes down to doing the same things we’re doing,” Aoki said. “We’re not going to allow ourselves to get caught up in things we can’t control. Old Man Winter or Mother Nature, those are things well beyond our control. So when we have the opportunity to play, we’re just going to worry about winning pitches, not about who we’re playing.”

The Irish will open the weekend against Belmont on Friday at 2 p.m. The Bruins (2-2) have also been victims to weather this season, with four of their games being postponed or canceled already. Belmont, however, boasts a .329 batting average and .579 slugging percentagein the games it has played.

Notre Dame will have a double header Saturday against Mercer (5-4) and Akron (4-2) at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

The Bears are currently on a four-game win streak, while the Zips will seek to spark their run production after a low-scoring series against Charlotte last weekend.

The Irish will look to continue building on their early season success, as they are currently riding a six-game winning streak. Last weekend, they swept the competition in the Irish Alamo Invitational in San Antonio with a combined margin of victory of 30-6.

Notre Dame has delivered results on both offense and defense, opening the season with a team batting average of .300 and a combined total ERA of 2.92.

“I think our team has done a really good job playing one pitch at a time and just being able to put bad moments behind us and move onto the next thing,” Aoki said. “I think we have some depth in our pitching staff, I think our lineup has been really good, and I think we have some people who can help us off the bench.”

First pitch will be at 2 p.m. Friday, when the Irish take on Belmont to start off their weekend in Macon.

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