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Irish prepare for 20th annual Alamo Irish Classic

| Thursday, February 22, 2018

This Thursday, Notre Dame Baseball will head to San Antonio to kick off the 20th annual Alamo Irish Classic.

Heading into the tournament, the Irish are coming off of a solid start to their season as they went 2-1 this past weekend in a series against No. 9 LSU.

Following a close loss by a score of 7-6 in the first game of the series, Notre Dame came back to beat the Tigers in the following two games to wrap up the action, winning 10-5 on Saturday and 11-3 on Sunday. Head coach Mik Aoki said he was impressed with his team’s ability to bounce back after the tough loss Friday.

“I don’t think we necessarily made a big deal of it, obviously it was a difficult loss to absorb after having played as well as we did and I think really we played pretty well the entire game,” he said. “We talk all the time about just being able to control what we can control, and I thought that in the areas that we really try to pay attention to in the game, that we controlled those things and did a really good job with them. We talked about how we knew stuff like this was going to come, and that hopefully the culture and the character of this team would shine through, and that win or lose, that we would bounce back and just get right back to playing the very best baseball that our team is capable of. Had we won or had we lost, I felt that we did that on Saturday and Sunday, so I was pleased with the whole way the kids responded.”

Action will kick off Thursday for the Irish when they take on Saint Louis followed by Incarnate Word and Purdue on Saturday. Notre Dame began their season at this tournament last year, going 1-3 on the road. Coming off of the solid start this past weekend, Aoki said he is hoping his team can reverse their fortunes from last year.

“I think that’s really important, but I think that we have to pump the brakes in a really big way,” he said. “This is only the first weekend of 14, and so many different things can happen throughout the course of the season. It’s way better than being [1-8] to start the year last season, for certain. I think that one of the things I was proud of last year was that we battled ourselves back into it in spite of a number of injuries that put guys like [former seniors] Scott Tully and Kyle Fiala on the shelf for the whole season, and there’s so many things that can happen. It’s nice to get off to a good start, but at the end of the day we’ve got 52 more of these games that count against our record.”

If the team is to continue to succeed, they will need to work together as a cohesive unit moving forward, something Aoki believes they have in them with strong leadership that strikes him as eerily similar to the group of players he coached just a few years ago in 2015.

“We have some older kids with maybe a little something to prove and I think that the older guys like Jake Johnson, Scott Tully, Charlie Vorsheck, even Alex Kerschner, guys who have played a lot who are in that junior class. … I just continue to get the sense from them that it’s so important to them for the team to do well,” he said. “I think that’s really similar to the seniors and older kids we had on the 2015 team, that they care legitimately more about the team than their own personal agendas.”

Play in the Alamo Irish Classic will start at 4 p.m. this Thursday when the Irish and the Bilikens square off at Nelson Wolff Stadium.

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