The baseball team will look to continue its hot streak this weekend as it gets set to open conference play against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
After starting the season 0-9, the Pirates will come into the weekend winners of seven of their last eight games, with the bats coming alive. In five of the last six games, the team has scored at least nine runs.
“It’s been a matter of time for us to put it together,” said sophomore first baseman Sal Annunziata after the team’s 10-1 win on Wednesday. “It’s just a matter of keeping it together during the season.”
Head coach Rob Sheppard said that it is important for the team to play consistently in all areas of the game heading into the conference schedule.
“We just need to continue to play good, solid baseball,” he said. “We’ve been getting very good, quality starts, even in our one loss we had a quality start, play good defense and score runs. We’re trying to keep it simple.”
Sheppard said the team is fortunate to have several experienced players who know how serious conference play is.
“They (the seniors) understand that conference play is almost like another season,” Sheppard said. “I think that’s what keeps guys motivated.”
As for looking to Notre Dame, Sheppard said that the Fighting Irish will present a “really good challenge” for the Pirates this weekend.
“Notre Dame is a very good ball club,” Sheppard said. “They’ve got a lot of experience throughout their lineup and on the mound. It’s going to be a really good challenge. They’re one of the teams that are going to be chosen up at the top of the conference. We’re excited to get the opportunity to play.”
The Fighting Irish are 12-5 on the season and are led by junior Eric Jagielo, who is third in the conference hitting .393 in 61 at bats. Jagielo also has shown some power, hitting a Big East-leading six home runs on the season.
Another veteran for the Fighting Irish is pitcher Norton Adam. The senior has a perfect record of 5-0 entering the weekend to go along with a 1.25 ERA.
With the team entering Big East play, Annunziata said the team must continue playing well offensively game, while continuing to play tough defense.
“Our defense was definitely our strong point at the beginning of the season,” he said. “If we can tie it in together the way that we are, we’ll be okay.”
The Pirates have struggled historically against Notre Dame, holding an all-time record of 16-31, but swept the Fighting Irish at Owen T. Carroll Field las season.
The son of former Pirate great and future MLB Hall of Famer Craig Biggio is a sophomore at Notre Dame.
Connor Biggio has not recorded a hit in six appearances, but has scored two runs for the Fighting Irish.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter @BrennansBite