For the second time this week, Notre Dame will try to snap a five-game losing streak as they open a three game series against Quinnipiac at Frank Eck Stadium tonight.
The Irish (19-15, 4-8 Big East) were poised to snap that losing streak Wednesday against Bowling Green before lightning and rain forced the game to be called in the fourth inning. Notre Dame held a commanding 12-0 lead when the game was called.
Quinnipiac (10-21) comes into its game against Notre Dame in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. The Bobcats' only win in the month of April came back on Apr. 5 in a home victory against Sacred Heart.
Despite its struggles of late, a series victory against Notre Dame could be a shining moment in an otherwise bleak season for Quinnipiac, Irish coach MikAoki said.
"I think you prepare for [Quinnipiac] the same way you prepare for any weekend," Aoki said. "When you're at a place like Notre Dame, you always have to expect the other team is going to come in here ... and play as though it's the seventh game of the World Series ... You just expect every team is going to give you their very best game and you better be able to counteract that."
Sophomore infielder Scott Donaghue poses the biggest threat in the Quinnipiac lineup. Donaghue is batting .290 this season with two home runs and 18 RBIs.
Sophomore right hander Pat Connaughton will start today's game for Notre Dame. Connaughton is 0-2 this season with a 3.21 ERA.
Aoki stressed the key for Connaughton's success will be limiting walks, which he struggled to do in his previous two starts against Villanova and Pittsburgh. Connaughton walked a combined nine batters in those two games.
"He's got to be in the strike zone more," Aoki said. "His stuff is great ... If we can get him throwing strikes we'll be fine ... Pat's one of those kids who always seems to figure it out. I think we all have a lot of confidence he's going to pitch well and give us an opportunity to win."
Senior right hander Adam Norton will pitch for Notre Dame on Saturday, followed by junior right hander Sean Fitzgerald in the finale on Sunday.
Saturday's game carries an extra bit of meaning for Aoki. The game will be part of a larger event dubbed Strike Out ALS. Admission to the game is free, and fans will be given opportunities to donate funds and raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The event was inspired by Peter Frates, a former player of Aoki's at Boston College who was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2012.
"It's hugely, hugely personal for me," Aoki said. "Pete is an unbelievable kid ... The way he has never felt sorry for himself and dedicated himself completely to raising awareness for this disease has been nothing short of amazing.
"Ever since it was brought to the forefront by Lou Gehrig all those years ago, [the search for a cure] just hasn't made a lot of progress ... That has to stop, and the only way to do that is by getting the word out about it and raising money to find a cure for this thing."
The first pitch of tonight's game is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. Saturday's Strike Out ALS event begins at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday's series finale is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
Contact John Sandberg at email@example.com