Valparaiso and Notre Dame meet Wednesday night in what will be a matchup of young left-handed pitchers. Freshman Connor Kaucic (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) will toe the slab in his third midweek start while the Irish will send sophomore southpaw Scott Tully to the hill for his first start of 2015.
Kaucic impressed in his last start at Indiana, limiting the Hoosiers to two earned runs on five hits in six-plus innings of work. While he's allowed 29 hits in 18 innings, the freshman has issued only four walks.
After recording only five innings in his rookie campaign, Tully has seen his workload increase immensely. Serving primarily as a long reliever, the Massachusetts native has logged 27 1/3 innings spanning eleven appearances. He owns a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (27 K, 9 BB) and has yielded fewer than a hit per IP (21 H). Opposing batters have managed a meager .212 average against the sophomore. The Fighting Irish typically run out four or more pitchers in their midweek contests, as evidenced by their last four meetings with the Brown and Gold.
The Notre Dame offense is led by the trio of Cavan Biggio, Lane Richards, and Robert Youngdahl. Biggio, the son of Major League Baseball Hall-of-Fame infielder Craig, has constructed a .316 batting average and a team-high 23 walks. The second baseman is a perfect 10-for-10 on the basepaths. Twelve of Richards' 35 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including a pair of home runs. He owns the team watermark for runs batted in with 23, but he's taken only eight walks in 115 at-bats. Richards, ND's shortstop, has registered nine errors in 30 games. Youngdahl was slotted in the fifth spot of the Irish order in their last game at Pittsburgh. He enters Wednesday's tilt with a .299 average and as many doubles as walks (11). Strikeouts have been Youngdahl's Achilles Heel, though. He's been punched out 34 times in 117 at-bats.
Valparaiso continued to receive strong offensive efforts up and down the order last weekend in Milwaukee. The Brown and Gold overcame three separate deficits on Thursday before notching their tenth win of the season, an 11-10 roller-coaster contest that required 12 innings. Four different Crusaders recorded multiple runs batted in in their first extra-inning affair of 2015. Valpo dropped the Friday contest by a score of 7-6. The Crusaders erased two leads, one of which was fueled by Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC])'s three-run jack in a five-run top of the fifth. After surrendering a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth, Mike Porcaro delivered a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom half. Lodden, Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), and Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) tallied an RBI each in Saturday's 7-3 series-closing loss. Mahoney went 6-for-14 (.429) during the three-game set, while Shea Molitor (Plymouth, Minn./West Lutheran [Des Moines Area CC]) raised his season average to .209 after a 4-for-10 weekend highlighted by a home run, five RBIs, and five runs scored. Palace drew five walks in the three contests, nearly doubling his season total entering Thursday.
WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will carry the broadcast live Wednesday from Frank Eck Stadium in Notre Dame. Video will also be available courtesy of Fighting Irish Athletics. Follow @ValpoBaseball1 for any updates. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 pm ET/5:05 pm CT.