Mar 21, 2013, 6:28 PM EDT
Chuck Freeby (’86), the voice of Notre Dame baseball on Harvest Radio (WHME 103.1 FM) and UND.com returns to the blog with the latest “Chuck in the Armour” post previewing the Irish’s series against Seton Hall.
About a week ago, baseball sports information director Michael Bertsch and I were noticing about how some of the players were a little unprepared for the cool night air in Los Angeles. Bertsch said, “When I was a kid and would complain about the cold, my dad would say ‘think warm thoughts.’”
As I look out the window and see a couple inches of snow on the ground here in South Bend, I’m not sure there are enough warm thoughts to make baseball possible for the Irish this weekend, but the Irish need to proceed as though they’ll open the BIG EAST and home seasons anyway. Notre Dame has already moved its games to downtown South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium where they have field turf, so that if we do get above the freezing mark, there will be baseball.
Certainly, after seven games in California, the weather is a bit of a culture shock for Notre Dame. And I can hear Mik Aoki telling his team now “yeah, it stinks, but there’s nothing you can do about, so forget about it.” Actually, it might be delivered a little bit more colorfully, but you get the point – and he’s right. Even in the Atlantic Coast Conference this weekend, they’ll be dealing with cold weather, so that’s the way it is, and you have to play through it.
The Irish showed last week they can handle some adversity. After back-to-back losses against UC Santa Barbara and No. 20 Cal Poly, the Irish road trip was about as smooth as a Carnival cruise (they’re not a Team Notre Dame sponsor, right? Ok, good). But consecutive victories over the Mustangs put the Irish right back on track, and climbing up the national rankings.
Now what Notre Dame must prepare for is a final march through the BIG EAST, and a season where they will wear a large target on their backs. For so many teams – like this weekend’s opponent Seton Hall – this year will be their final shot at the Irish. They’ll want to make the most of it. I suggest Notre Dame does the same.
Need the Irish be reminded of what happened last year in South Orange? Notre Dame blew a pair of heartbreaking, extra-inning games in a Thursday doubleheader, had Good Friday to stew about it, and then came out and dropped a bagel on the scoreboard on Saturday. It stung then. It still stings. Now’s the chance to do something about it.
Don’t be deceived by the 7-10 record and say, “Well, Seton Hall isn’t that good” and start feeling sorry. No, many of the names are the same, including BIG EAST preseason Pitcher of the Year Jon Prosinski, power hitter Sal Annuziata, and veteran middle infielders Mike Genovese and Giuseppe Pappacio. They have started swinging the bats much better, scoring double-digit runs in each of their last three wins. Save the compassion for the Basilica, not the ballpark.
Seton Hall will scratch and claw and never give up, and that’s why Aoki respects the Pirates as much as any team in the league. And those are the characteristics Notre Dame has shown this year. The Irish continue to get contributions from the expected players like Eric Jagielo, Adam Norton and Frank DeSico, as well as the unexpected like Matt Ternowchek and Forrest Johnson. That’s why Notre Dame went 12-5 against one of the nation’s toughest non-conference schedules and why the Irish are fired up to play the Hall no matter what the weather conditions are this weekend.
Forget the warm thoughts. Revenge is a dish best served cold, anyway.
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