Ogilvie Back on Track, Irish Ready for Hokies

<P>The Notre Dame baseball team won their final regular season home game of the year in a 4-1 weather-halted victory over Butler. Senior <B>Pete Ogilvie</B> threw six innings in what could be his final appearance at Eck Stadium. Ogilvie pitched very well throwing six innings, allowing only two hits and giving up a solo shot for the only Bulldog run. Ogilvie's performance is encouraging as the Irish will likely need him for the stretch run. </P>

The game was halted in the top of the eighth as lightening and rain poured from the sky. The umpire called the game after 45 minutes of pouring rain and no sign of the lightening letting up.

Ogilvie (2-3) was awarded the win and freshman Ryan Doherty was given the save for his one inning of work. Doherty has been outstanding as of late. He hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 11 outings—a span of 19.2 innings. He retired all three batters he faced on Wednesday night.

The Irish were sharp at the plate for the second straight game recording nine hits led by Matt Edwards (2-for-3, R) and Joe Thaman (2-for-3, R). Senior Mike Holba and freshman Steve Andres and Matt Bransfield picked up the three RBI for the Irish.

Ogilvie was happy with his performance. "It was just a great game," said Ogilvie. " I thought I pitched pretty well. It was great to go out and give this team one more win here at home."

Ogilvie's command was impressive. Batters were faced with a lot of 0-2 counts throughout the game. "I tried to come out and go after the guys. I was really happy to go out there and pitch effectively today. I just want to help this team and pitch at a level that can give me a chance to do that."

Coach Paul Mainieri was happy to see the old Pete Ogilvie on the mound. "We knew we were thin in the bullpen so that was important," said Mainieri. "More than anything, I was really happy to see Pete Ogilvie give us a solid start and win a game. He's been one of the best pitchers in our program over the last two years. Because of injuries, he hasn't been able to pitch up to his capabilities this year. I'm just really happy that in his last outing at Frank Eck Stadium that he is able to pitch a solid game."

Ogilvie's performance is a good sign because the Irish will likely need him in the BIG EAST Tournament. "If history tells us anything, you go into these tournaments and you need to have more than three starting pitchers. If you get into the losers bracket, all the sudden you are playing a fourth or maybe even a fifth game. I thought it was very important for Pete to pitch well so we can have confidence that we can give him the ball and he can pitch like the Pete Ogilvie of old."

The Irish are nearing 40 victories on the season. That mark is a goal for Mainieri every year and he is pleased they have a chance to continue their streak of 40 wins in 14 years. "That 40 wins a year for 14 straight years is something we all take a lot of pride in," said Mainieri. "There are only three schools in the entire country that have a longer running consecutive streak of 40 plus wins. It means a lot to me."

The question remains; will 40 wins get the Irish in the NCAA Tournament? Mainieri thinks they will have a good shot. "There's only six teams in the country that have 40 wins or more," Mainieri said. "We've got 39 and an NCAA bid is very much in reach. Two are against division II teams so they will be thrown out. If we can win three or more games between this weekend and the BIG EAST Tournament, I would think we've got a good shot at a bid. Hopefully we'll win the tournament and not leave any question to it."

The Irish travel to Blacksburg today for their three-game series with Virginia Tech (33-20, 13-9) this weekend. Notre Dame (39-14, 15-6) is third in the BIG EAST standings and the Hokies are fourth. "Virginia Tech is really an outstanding team," said Mainieri. "They are fighting for their lives this weekend to make the tournament so they'll be highly motivated and they're very tough at home. Their coach has won over a thousand games in his career so they know how to win at Virginia Tech. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for us and get us ready for the tournament next weekend."

The Irish have already qualified for the BIG EAST Tournament but Mainieri knows these games are still important. The BIG EAST regular season standings could hurt the Irish if they finish low in the standings. "I'm concerned about where we finish in the standings as it relates to how the NCAA selection committee would look at us. Our hope is to win the tournament. If you fall a little short of that you want to make sure you have the best possible resume' for the selection committee. I think it's important to win as many games as we can so we have the best possible case for an at-large bid if necessary."

The Irish will use their regular rotation with Chris Niesel (8-1) and John Axford (9-2) throwing the first two games on Saturday. Ryan Kalita (5-1) will pitch the final game on Sunday.


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