Baseball: Panthers, Pirates, rain await Irish over break
By BRYAN KRONK
Senior Staff Writer
A winning streak must always start at one.
Unfortunately for the Irish baseball team, they'll have to potentially dodge quite a few raindrops to get there.
With the forecast calling for quite a few April showers, this weekend's matches against Big East foes Pittsburgh and Seton Hall at Eck Stadium Thursday and Saturday, respectively, may wind up being a wet way for the Irish to spend a holiday weekend in the dugout.
However, should the weather hold out for the weekend, the Panthers and Pirates present a pair of potential problems for the Irish.
Pittsburgh currently stands at 26-11 overall (7-6 in the Big East), representing by far the team with the best record that the Irish have faced in a long time, while Seton Hall (12-16, 5-7) has won three of its last five games, including knocking off Big East powers Connecticut and Rutgers.
In a wide-open Big East this year, anything is possible in terms of any team being able to beat any other team on a given day. For example, the Irish, who are currently 7-1 in the conference, suffered their only conference loss of the year to date at Villanova, which sports a 2-10 conference record, good for the next to last spot.
However, contrast that with Notre Dame's more recent sensational sweep of St. John's, which is tied for third place in the Big East with a 7-3 record. Given that the Panthers and Pirates are both situated between the Red Storm and Wildcats, anything can happen in a highly-competitive Big East conference.
Heading into the week, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh each owned a .315 team batting average, while Seton Hall sits at .262.
The Panthers and Pirates sit at fourth and fifth in the conference in pitching, with 4.17 and 5.20 ERAs, well below the Irish, who have team average of .354. Pittsburgh's Bryan Spamer leads the team — and is seventh in the Big East — with a .391 batting average as of Monday.
Matt Edwards and Steve Sollmann sat at ninth and 10th, respectively, with .383 and .380 averages.
However, whenever Big East teams bash heads, it helps to expect the unexpected.
Even a pair of rainouts.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, April 17, 2003