Irish to Host South Florida

The Notre Dame baseball team sat at 2-6 eight games into the season. The Irish were up and down. One day, they could beat ranked opponents such as Nebraska and Texas Christian University. On others, Sacred Heart and Harvard would shut out Notre Dame. However, the team has rallied to get it together and is going into the Big East Conference season on a roll.

The Irish host South Florida this weekend at Frank Eck Stadium for a three-game set. The first contest is on Friday at 5:05 PM followed by a 1:05 PM outing on Saturday and concluded on Sunday at 1:05 PM. Notre Dame is 10-9 on the year and has won six of seven, including a blowout win over Western Michigan on Wednesday. The Irish blasted the Broncos 17-9 behind a 22-hit attack. Freshman A.J. Pollock led the parade with a five-hit performance while Brett Lilley scored five runs.

It's no surprise that these two players are sparking the Notre Dame offense. Lilley and Pollock bat 1-2 in the Irish lineup and are 1-2 in batting average on the team. Pollock leads the Irish with a .390 average and has an on-base percentage of .448. Lilley isn't too far behind, hitting at a .370 clip with a .477 OBP in the leadoff role. These two are 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts and have scored a combined 50 runs on the season. The main RBI force on the team has been Ross Brezovsky. The junior from Naples, FL leads Notre Dame with 16 runs batted in and he's fourth on the squad in batting average at .317. Senior Mike Dury is second in RBI's with 12. Dury is tops in home runs with four round trippers.

Pitching-wise, Jess Stewart leads the Irish in ERA. The senior right-hander has appeared in nine games out of the bullpen and amassed a 0.59 ERA. Stewart has allowed just one earned run in 10 innings of work. David Phelps has been the ace of the starters. The sophomore right-hander has a 3-1 record with a 1.20 ERA. Phelps has struck out 26 batters in 30 innings pitched. Dan Kapala has a 0-1 mark but a 1.98 ERA in five appearances. The senior has started two contests this season and struck out nine in 13.2 innings of work.

South Florida rolls into South Bend with some momentum. The Bulls are 16-7 on the season and have won four of the past five games. South Florida already has kicked off Big East play by taking two of three from Pittsburgh last weekend. Notre Dame better watch out for Walter Diaz at the plate. The junior shortstop was recently named to the conference's Weekly Honor Roll and to the College Baseball Foundation National Honor Roll "Player of the Week." Diaz leads the Bulls in hitting with a .389 average and compliments it with a .516 slugging percentage and 28 runs scored. The leader RBI man is Brandin Daniel, who was knocked in 30 runs and has a batting average of .333. The Bulls have seven players with at least 11 RBI's or more. Dexter Butler is hitting .380 with 16 RBI's and Addison Maruszak hits at a clip of .370 with 17 runs batted in.

The Irish will see all right-handers this weekend. On Friday, Danny Otero (4-3) takes the mound. Otero has a 3.07 ERA and has struck out a team-high 32 batters in 44 innings of work. On Saturday, Notre Dame will see Daniel Thomas, who has a 2-1 record. Thomas leads the USF staff with a 1.27 ERA and has allowed just four earned runs in 28.1 innings pitched. Chris Delaney will close out the three-game series. Delaney is a perfect 4-0 on the year with a 3.86 ERA and has struck out 25 hitters in 30.1 innings of work. Top Stories