Feb. 21, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane's baseball squad will host their first home weekend series of the 2013 season when they welcome Notre Dame to Greer Field at Turchin Stadium on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday's game - set to start at 6:30pm CST - will mark the first time the two teams have squared off since facing each other in the 2000 Starkville Regional, where Notre Dame defeated the Green Wave 10-6.
"Coach (Mik) Aoki has done a great job with Notre Dame, and there was no doubt that he would," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "He has rebuilt that program, and they are going to be a very formidable foe this weekend. We know they have some big-time arms, and they really swing the bat well in the middle of the lineup. It's going to be a great challenge for us, and weather permitting, it will be a great weekend for our fans."
Tulane is off to a hot start, winning three of their first four contests behind solid starting pitching. Redshirt sophomore Tony Rizzotti will make his home debut on Friday, one week to the day after throwing a complete game, one-hit shutout in Tulane's season opening win over Sam Houston State. The Arlington, Texas, native struck out five and walked only one during that contest. Notre Dame will counter with junior righty Sean Fitzgerald, who has thrown five innings on the season, allowing seven hits and striking out only one.
Saturday's 2pm CST tilt will see senior Alex Byo attempt to match his seven strikeout performance from last week. Byo - a righty from Baton Rouge, La. - led the Tulane squad in wins last season with nine. The Fighting Irish will send senior righty Adam Norton to the mound during the middle game of the series. Despite giving up 10 hits last weekend, Norton was credited with the win during Notre Dame's 13-3 victory over Ohio State last weekend.
The final game of the series - to be held at noon CST on Sunday - will pit Tulane's redshirt junior Kyle McKenzie against Notre Dame freshman righty David Hearne. McKenzie struck out four Missouri State Bears during Tulane's 6-4 win this past Sunday. Notre Dame will rely on freshman David Hearne to pitch against the Greenies. In his collegiate debut last week, the righty struck out eight in five innings, but was credited with the loss when Notre Dame fell to Mercer, 5-4, last Sunday.
Tulane is led at the plate by junior Briggs Barrios, who has collected four hits through the first four games of the season. His .286 batting average leads the team, and his .357 slugging percentage is tied for the top spot with freshman Tim Yandel and senior Brandon Boudreaux. Senior Garrett Cannizaro and junior Andrew Garner both pace the club with three RBIs a piece. Senior Sean Potkay, who was robbed by the wind of two home runs during Tulane's contest against Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday, leads the team with five walks.
As a team, Tulane is batting .219 - mostly due to the first two games of the season, when they only collected seven hits. However, the sticks came alive last Sunday against Missouri State, when Tulane notched 14 hits, followed by a seven hit performance during their win over Southeastern.
The Fighting Irish are led by third year head coach Mik Aoki, who holds a 56-57-1 record as skipper. Prior to joining Notre Dame in 2011, Aoki coached at both Columbia (1999-2004) and Boston College (2007-10).
Notre Dame is batting .324 as a team, led by Eric Jagielo's .545 average. He also paces the club with two home runs and eight RBIs. Frank DeSico has notched seven hits on the season, leading the way for the Fighting Irish. So far this year, Notre Dame has five players with ten or more at-bats who have a batting average above .300: Jagielo (.545), Ryan Bull (.500), DeSico (.467), Lane Richards (.364) and Trey Mancini (.333).
Tulane holds the overall lead in the all-time series against the Fighting Irish, 9-5-1. The Greenies last defeated Notre Dame on March 7, 1994, winning 6-2. In the history of the all-time series, Tulane has never visited South Bend, Ind. In addition to the two games played in Starkville, Miss., 12 of the contests have been home tilts for the Green Wave, and the remaining game was played at the Riverside Invitational in Riverside, Calif., in 1986.
Todd Graffagnini will have the call for Friday's contest on Tulane's new flagship station, WMTI 106.1 FM. Tim Grubbs will handle play-by-play duties for Saturday's tilt, also on 106.1 FM. Graffagnini will return to the booth for Sunday's contest, broadcast solely through TulaneGreenWave.com for All-Access members. Live stats, video and audio will be made available for all three games through TulaneGreenWave.com to All-Access members.
For tickets to the games, as well as future Green Wave events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
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