Notre Dame Baseball: Irish Have the Pitching to Advance in Tourney


Irish will need the bats to support the solid pitching

The Notre Dame baseball team was very similar to the men’s basketball team in the ACC this year. The other coaches didn’t think very highly of them in preseason rankings. We know what the basketball team went on to accomplish, now it’s baseball’s turn after being picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the Atlantic Division. Manager

Mik Aoki’s

squad finished 35-19 (17-13 ACC) and has the pitching to make a run in the tourney if the offense can hold up their end.

The Irish rank third in the ACC posting a team ERA of 3.05. The rotation has been one of the best in the conference from top to bottom, led by sophomore Ryan Smoyer with a 9-0 record and a 2.13 ERA. That leads a group of five starters with sub-four ERAs. But as good as the Irish pitching staff has been, the offense can’t be counted on as much. When the Irish hold opponents to five runs or less, they’re 31-9. And this isn’t because they’re outslugging anyone.

Notre Dame has only a single on the roster with a .300 average (Kyle Fiala, .301). If you’re on the lookout for offensive sleepers in the draft, it’s probably not in South Bend. But they aren’t afraid to do the little things, including steal a base, sacrifice bunt and do what’s necessary to scratch out runs. They are capable of an occasional outburst, but there isn’t enough time in the tournament to hope that happens. They’ll need to pitch their way into the Super Regionals.

The difficulty starts in the Champaign region with the No. 6 overall seed Illinois Fighting Illini. They come in with a Big Ten best 2.46 ERA. As well as the Irish have pitched all yer, they’ll need that to continue with a little more success at the plate to have a chance to advance.

Cavan Biggio will play a key role for the Irish, as he needs to be on-base for things to happen. While batting only .254, he carries a .408 on-base percentage, due in part to his team-leading 49 walks. If Biggio can get on base and set the table for hitters like Robert Youngdahl and Fiala, the Irish can make some noise in this regional.

The No. 2 seed Irish will face third-seeded Wright State (41-15) on Friday at 1 pm in the regional opener. Projected starters are Scott Kerrigan (3-5, 3.68 ERA) for the Irish in game one, and Ryan Smoyer (9-0, 2.13) in game two.

Next: Irish Baseball returns to NCAA Tourney