Notre Dame 5 – Cleveland State 3

The first home game of the Dave Schrage era was won by the Fighting Irish today in South Bend. This is not the same Irish team that was on this field last year. All three of the weekend starters are gone. That number includes Jeff Samardzija who is playing baseball in the Cubs organization. Six of the nine everyday position players are also gone. This is a very young team that is having trouble at the start of the season. Five freshmen started today’s game for Notre Dame. Since 1987 Notre Dame has won every Big East Championship but one. They will have to really gel quickly if they want to get another one. They beat a team that was 2-12 coming in to get their record to 9-9 for the year.
One of the most impressive returnees is Junior Brett Lilley. He is the leadoff man, and the spark of the offense. In his short career he has already been hit by pitch 60 times. That is good enough for 10th in NCAA history. He is solid in the field as well, but switched back to shortstop this year. That is what makes what happened today so hard to believe. He made 2 errors in the first three innings. He also bobbled the ball on a sure double play that cost the Irish another run. The Irish defense settled down after that, and watched the Vikings commit 5 errors. Freshman Brayden Ashdown drove in two runs for the Irish, and got in a rundown that allowed another run to score. He was caught trying to steal in the 2nd, but stayed in the rundown long enough for Ross Brezovsky to score from third. The flags were blowing in very hard today, but Ashdown hit a long bomb down the left field line that was just foul. He is not the biggest guy on the team, but he looks like he can hit. These freshmen will be fun to watch as they develop.
Weather permitting I will be back at Eck Stadium tomorrow to watch the Irish take on Western Michigan. Today’s weather was beautiful. I got to the game a little early to watch the pregame, and sat back and had a hot dog. The temperature was in the low 50’s, and the sun felt great. The problem with baseball this early in the year though is that when the sun starts to go down it gets cold quickly. By the time I left, the combination of wind and cold was starting to get to the crowd, and it appeared the players as well.


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