Before league play starts back up with a doubleheader on Saturday against the Scarlet Knights, Notre Dame will host Ball State on Tuesday and Valparaiso on Wednesday. Both game times are scheduled for 6:05 PM at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish have won five straight non-Big East contests, all at home. All together, Notre Dame has been victorious in eight of the past 10 games.
What's been going right for Notre Dame lately? The Irish got some late-inning magic last week in wins over Toledo and Purdue. Against the Rockets, Jeremy Barnes scored from third base on a wild pitch to earn a 8-7 victory. After both starting pitchers, Sam Elam of Notre Dame and Matt Bischoff of the Boilermakers, threw nine shutout innings of one-hit ball, the Irish won it in the tenth inning on Danny Dressman's RBI single. Also the past two weekends, ace David Phelps has been brilliant on the mound to set the tone for the Big East three-game sets.
Statistically, Brett Lilley leads the team with a .371 average. The junior shortstop is also tops in runs, hits and on-base percentage at .500. Third baseman A.J. Pollock is turning in a fantastic freshman season. Pollock's .365 average is second on the team and in Saturday's 17-6 win over West Virginia, he was 3-for-3 with six RBI's and three runs scored. Senior Mike Dury leads Notre Dame in RBI's and home runs. The first baseman has knocked in 27 runs and blasted seven home runs, which is more than his first three seasons combined.
On Tuesday, Ball State will bring a 15-24 record to South Bend. The Cardinals were swept over the weekend by Eastern Michigan and have now lost four in a row. There are only two Ball State players batting over .300. Matt Stoeklen leads the team with a .319 average and also have shown power with four home runs and 26 RBI's. Eric Earnhart contributes a .303 average with 24 runs scored and a .400 OBP. Kory Benbow is tops with eight round trippers. As a team, Ball State has hit 27 home runs on the season. The problem: the Cardinals' pitching staff has allowed 33 to go along with a 5.29 ERA. Conversely, the Irish's team ERA is 3.55.
Valparaiso travels to Frank Eck Stadium on Wednesday. The Crusaders are 14-20 on the year after taking three of four from Centenary. These contests were at home. Away from home, Valparaiso is just 6-13. The Crusaders are led by five players on offense hitting over .300. Michael Arensdorff leads the team with a .357 average and has a .416 OBP. Brian Rzepka is tops with 21 RBI's and adds a .330 batting average. Jeff Rickert's .430 OBP is the best on the Valparaiso team and is third with a .336 batting average.