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Opponent Preview: Notre Dame

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Meet the Fighting Irish...

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Notre Dame

Mascot: Fighting Irish | School Location: South Bend, IN | Conference: ACC

2018 Record: 14-19 (5-10, T-6th Atlantic) | 2018 RPI Rank: 111

2017 Record: 26-32 (10-20, 7th Atlantic) | 2017 RPI Rank: 121

2016 Record: 27-27 (11-17, 7th Atlantic) | 2016 RPI Rank: 96


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park, Raleigh, NC

Game Time(s): Friday, Apr 13 @ 6:30pm | Saturday, Apr 14 @ 6:30pm | Sunday, Apr 15 @ 12:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (Friday | Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh

Live Stats: Sidearm Sports


Tell me about this team

Notre Dame has been the ACC Atlantic Division bottom dweller for four of their five years in the conference, with the 2015 season being the lone exception (that 2015 season, by the way, is Notre Dame’s lone NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006). Even so, NC State is just 5-5 against Notre Dame since the Irish joined the ACC. That’s not good.

This Irish squad is, well, not very good. However, it’s not a team without some solid pieces that make it a thorn in the side of opposing teams. This Notre Dame team has only been swept once this year, and has taken games from Florida State and Clemson. Basically, don’t mess around or the possibility exists that you could lose the series to these guys.

The strength of this team, as you’d probably expect, is in the outfield and middle infield. As a team at the plate, Notre Dame is slashing .267/.367/.388, averaging a little over two extra-base hits and one stolen base per game. They don’t strike out at a very high rate, but they also don’t work many walks.

On the mound, the Fighting Irish pitching staff holds a 5.16 ERA with opposing teams slashing .253/.375/.373 against them. They’re allowing less than a hit per inning, but also allowing right at two walks every three innings, so the chance is there to be patient at the plate with this staff and let them beat themselves. It is a relatively young staff, though. Aside from RS-SR Scott Tully, almost all the other top arms on the Notre Dame pitching staff are underclassmen, so the potential is there for a big turnaround in 2019.

Key Players:

Offense

2B Nick Podkul (JR) - .333 BA, .465 OBP, .525 SLG, 120 AB, 8 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 23 R, 24 RBI, 22 BB, 16 K, 7-9 SB. A three-year starter for Notre Dame who has moved around the infield over that time. He’s swinging a real good bat this year and has cut down on his K-rate from 2017.

OF Jake Johnson (SR) - .326 BA, .417 OBP, .457 SLG, 92 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 17 R, 17 RBI, 11 BB, 19 K, 3-3 SB. Just a solid all-around player. He’s not really going to beat you with his legs or hit a lot over your head, but he’s good with the bat.

OF/DH Alex Kerschner (SR) - .302 BA, .412 OBP, .430 SLG, 86 AB, 7 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 12 R, 12 RBI, 16 BB, 15 K, 0-1 SB. A pretty cool story, Kerschner is an unlikely dude playing a big role for this offense. He’s basically Notre Dame Baseball’s Rudy.

SS Cole Daily (JR) - .281 BA, .359 OBP, .415 SLG, 135 AB, 10 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 26 R, 17 RBI, 16 BB, 25 K, 12-14 SB. Leadoff hitter and primary threat on the basepaths, Daily’s really come into his own at the plate this year. He was key for the Irish in their wins over Florida State and Clemson.

OF Matt Vierling (JR) - .276 BA, .384 OBP, .417 SLG, 127 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 16 R, 25 RBI, 21 BB, 16 K, 3-3 SB. Former 30th round MLB Draft selection in 2015 and Freshman All-American in 2016. He’s slumping a bit this year (he slashed .330/.398/.549 last year), but the clean-up hitter is a still a dangerous bat for the Irish.

Pitching

LHP Scott Tully (RS-SR) - 4-1, 3.02 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .183 OBA, 44.2 IP, 28 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 24 BB, 27 K. It’s really tempting to make the Brian Brown comparison, but the truth is that Brown has better control and has a much higher strikeout rate. Still, Tully - Notre Dame’s Friday starter - has been fantastic for Notre Dame this year. He’s been the pitcher in 3 of their 5 ACC wins. Yeah, this team would be horrible without him.

LHP Tommy Sheehan (FR) - 1-3, 5.97 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, .250 OBA, 37.2 IP, 33 H, 28 R, 25 ER, 30 BB, 14 K. The freshman lefty and Saturday starter for the Irish can miss some bats with his low-90’s fastball, but can and will also miss the strike zone with all his pitches. Be patient and make him throw strikes.

RHP Cameron Junker (SO) - 0-3, 6.44 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, .278 OBA, 29.1 IP, 32 H, 22 R, 21 ER, 18 BB, 35 K. The went from pitching less than an inning as a freshman to being a weekend starter as a sophomore. That’s impressive. His numbers, though, are not so impressive.

LHP Cole Kmet (FR) - 0-3, 6 SV, 3.99 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .263 OBA, 29.1 IP, 30 H, 15 R, 13 ER, 14 BB, 26 K. The freshman Fighting Irish closer has been good this year, aside from a couple poor appearances. Take away his 9th inning implosion at Duke (0.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER) and his numbers are actually really good. He was projected to be a high draft pick in last year’s MLB Draft out of high school, but the 6’5, 250 lbs former 4-star #3 nationally ranked TE’s commitment to the Notre Dame football and baseball teams drive his price too high and teams shied away. Must be nice to be to be great at all the sports.

RHP Zach Martin (SO) - 1-0, 0 SV, 3.51 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .228 OBA, 25.2 IP, 21 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 10 BB, 21 K. Nothing really much to write about Martin other than that he’s been pretty good this year. He did start and earn the win in Notre Dame’s 8-7 win over Michigan State this past Tuesday, going 6.0 innings and throwing 108 pitches. Likely won’t see him until Saturday or Sunday.

RHP Andrew Belick (SO) - 1-1, 1 SV, 3.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .168 OBA, 29.1 IP, 17 H, 16 R, 13 ER, 16 BB, 25 K. Leads the team in appearances with 20 (in 33 total games) this year, including appearances in both of their midweek games this week. Like Junker and Martin, went from a very-lightly used arm as a freshman a year ago to a key piece of the pitching staff as a sophomore.

LHP Cameron Brown (SO) - 1-0, 0 SV, 4.88 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .259 OBA, 31.1 IP, 30 H, 18 R, 17 ER, 12 BB, 27 K. Threw 5.1 innings (81 pitches) of shutout ball on Wednesday in a 2-0 loss to Northwestern, so chances are that he won’t appear until Saturday’s game at the earliest.


Quick! Fun Facts!

NC State holds a 9-5 lead in the all-time series with Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has, hands down, the worst website for baseball of any opponent this year. They have dead links, missing box scores, and outdated stats. Pretty horrible, man. Y’all can do better than this, Irish.

Notre Dame had an impressive six players selected in last year’s MLB Draft, all in the top 20 rounds. Impressive for a sub-.500 team.

Louisville SO LHP Nick Bennett Notre Dame SO RHP Cameron Junker played his prep ball at the storied Moeller High School in Cincinnati, OH, the same high school that produced former Wolfpack greats Andrew Brackman and Eric Surkamp... as well as a few okay-ish players you probably haven’t heard of named Ken Griffey, Jr. and Barry Larkin.


Prediction

State’s Friday woes continue against Scott Tully, but the team bounces back to throttle Notre Dame Saturday and Sunday to take another ACC series.