The Irish will host Illinois Chicago at Frank Eck Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM. Notre Dame comes into the contest at 24-19, including 8-9 in league action. The Irish started the Big East at 1-6 but are now playing their best baseball of the season. In addition to the Rutgers series win over the weekend, Notre Dame jumped up a spot in the conference standings to sixth, tied with Cincinnati. Just a half game ahead of these two teams is South Florida at 10-11, who has the upcoming weekend off. The Irish host Seton Hall for a three-game series. The Pirates are just 5-10 in league play.
First things first, Notre Dame will have to continue its momentum against UIC. The Flames come to South Bend with a 23-15 mark and 14-4 in the Horizon League. UIC has won 17 of their past 20 games, including last weekend's sweep of Cleveland State. In the last three weeks, the Flames have a .303 team batting average to go along with a staff ERA at 3.34. One negative for UIC: all-time, the Flames are only 4-25 against the Irish.
Notre Dame will be ready for Larry Gempp, Jr. The senior outfielder leads UIC in hitting at .396, RBI's with 35, home runs with four (tied with two other players) and slugging percentage at .563. Gempp, Jr. was just named the Horizon League Player of the Week after hitting 8-for-16 with seven RBI's and five runs scored in four games. Nick Rainwater adds a second-best .343 average with 24 runs scored and a .441 on-base percentage. Chad Schroeder leads the Flames with 39 runs scored and has drawn 48 combined walks and hit by pitches on the year. It accounts for his .506 OBP. Micky Pingree is second on the team with 29 RBI's.