March 9, 2005

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2005 NOTRE DAME BASEBALL Week 4 – Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic (March 9-12; Wolff Stadium; San Antonio, Texas)

ALAMO CITY RETURN – The Notre Dame baseball team (4-5) continues its Spring Break trip in the state of Texas by playing host to the Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic on March 9-12 at double-A park Wolff Stadium in San Antonio (schedule below) … this marks the 9th time in the 11-year Paul Mainieri era that Notre Dame has played in Texas … ND owns a 23-5 all-time record as the host of tournaments in San Antonio during the Mainieri era, winning the event in ’96, ’99, ’01, ’02, ’04 (Baylor won in ’95 and Creighton in ’97 while the ’98 IBC was rained out) … the Irish are 14-1 in their past 15 Irish Baseball Classic games (17-9 loss to UTSA in ’04) … ND went 3-1 in Orlando during opening week (18-3, 4-3 vs. Florida A&M; 1-2, 4-2 vs. host Central Florida) before going 1-2 in a series vs. Dayton, played at HoHoKam Park (Chicago Cubs spring training home) in Mesa, Ariz. (10-2, 9-13 in 11 innings, 10-11) and then losing twice at the Round Rock Classic (5-13 vs. Texas A&M, 5-10 vs. Texas State; game vs. Rice called due to rain) … the Irish stranded 25 runners in the Round Rock losses (while scoring just 10 runs) … sophomore RHP Jess Stewart is ND’s probable starter in the first game vs. Texas-San Antonio … Stewart was an all-tournament pick in the 2004 ACIBC after pitching in relief vs. UTSA (IP, 2 H, R; 9-17) and then beating the Roadrunners in the title game (5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R/3 ER, 3 Ks, 2 HB; 13-5) … other all-tournament picks included C Javi Sanchez, SS Greg Lopez , OF Steve Andres, 1B Matt Edwards, LHP Joe Thaman.

Oral Roberts ¬- Dennis Bigley, RHP, Sr. (3.38, 2-0, 4 GS, 24.0 IP, 17 H/.200, 22 Ks, 9 BB)
Southwest Missouri – David Smith, LHP, Sr. (’05: 7.88, 0-1, 2 GP/1 GS, 8.0 IP, 14 H/.400, 5 Ks, 3 BB)

Game 2 (Wed., March 9, 7:15 CST)
ND – Jess Stewart, RHP, So. (’05: 2.35, 1-0, 2 GS, 7.2 IP, 8 H/.267, 4 BB, 2 Ks, 3 HB … ’04: 3.39, 7-1, 40 IP, 41 H/.263, 20 Ks, 8 BB)
Texas San Antonio – Josh Ruffin, RHP, So. (’05: 6.17, 0-2, 5 GP/2 GS, 11.2 IP, 14 H/.292, 12 Ks, 10 BB)

Game 3 (Thur., March 10, 1:30 CST)
ND – Jeff Samardzija, RHP, So. (’05: 6.00, 1-0, 9 IP, 12 H, 4 BB, 4 Ks … ’04: 2.95, 5-3, 64 IP, 50 H/.209, 17 BB, 42 Ks)
Southwest Missouri – Brett Sinkbeil, RHP, So. (’05: 5.12, 1-2, 3 GS, 19.1 IP, 22 H/.286, 19 Ks, 6 BB)

Game 4 (Thur., March 10, 5:30 CST)
Oral Roberts ¬- Taylor McIntyre, LHP, Jr. (2.45, 1-3, 4 GS, 22.0 IP, 17 H/.221, 27 Ks, 14 BB)
Texas San Antonio – Aaron Rodriguez, LHP, Sr. (’05: 4.11, 1-3, 5 GP/4 GS, 30.2 IP, 36 H/.316, 20 Ks, 11 BB)

Game 5 (Fri., March 11, 1:30 CST)
ND – Tom Thornton, LHP, Jr. (’05: 5.51, 1-1, 16.1 IP, 20 H/.299, 7 BB, 6 Ks … ’04: 3.88, 9-2, 99.2 IP, 95 H/.251, 24 BB, 77 Ks)
Oral Roberts – TBA

Game 6 (Thur., March 10, 5:30 CST)
Southwest Missouri – Paul Marsala, RHP, Jr. (’05: 6.57, 0-0, 3 GP/2 GS, 13.1 IP, 15 H/.326, 7 Ks, 9 BB)
Texas San Antonio – TBA

Games 7 and 8 (Sat., March 12; noon consolation game and 4:00 p.m. title game, CST)
Probable starting pitchers TBA (UTSA-junior RHP Ryan Crew, 6.61, 0-2, 4 GP/3 GS, 16.1 IP, 17 H/.270, 14 Ks, 7 BB)

INJURY UPDATE – Junior DH and Notre Dame’s 2004 RBI leader (58) Matt Bransfield remains out indefinitely with a hand injury suffered in the season opener (he had hand surgery on Feb. 24 but is on the Texas trip) … two pitchers who have returned from reconstructive elbow surgery – senior John Axford and sophomore Jeff Manship – continue to be eased back slowly and each made his debut earlier on the Spring Break trip in Round Rock.

RADIO, LIVE-STATS & HOTLINE – All of Notre Dame’s 2005 regular-season and postseason games again will be broadcast by South Bend-based WDND 1580 AM (and its sister station, WNDV 1490) … the broadcasts are available via the internet at (College Sports Pass subscription required) … also provides links to livestats on the website’s main page, for all home games and select road games (including all of the Spring Break games in Texas) … call the ND Sports Hotline at 574-631-3000 for schedule and result information for all varsity sports currently in season (from the main menu, select “4” and then select “1” for baseball information).

SERIES NOTES – ND and UTSA have split four previous meetings, with UTSA winning in ’95 (10-5 at Wolff Stadium) and in the ’04 ACIBC opener (17-9) while the Irish won a 2001 game at Keefe Field (8-3) and the ’04 ACIBC title game (13-5) … ND split a doubleheader at Southwest Missouri State in 1983 (1-13, 9-7), the only previous meetings in the series … Oral Roberts holds a 9-3 series edge vs. ND, with the Irish winning a 12-3 game (at Tulane) before the Eagles won nine straight from ’73-’85 (including games in ’83 and ’85 as foes in the Midwest City Conference) … the 1996 Irish Baseball Classic at Wolff Stadium saw ND beat ORU 6-2 and again in the 10-6 title game.

ND IN TEXAS – Notre Dame now has made 19 trips to Texas in the past 28 seasons (see pp. 93-94 of media guide for full list), with a 71-49 all-time record in Texas during those games (.592) … the Irish now have posted a 36-18 combined record (.667) in nine Texas swings during the Mainieri era, with all of those games in San Antonio except for the 2002 and ’04 Round Rock Classics (4-5 combined record) … ND has played in San Antonio during all but two seasons (2000 and ’03) of the 11-year Paul Mainieri era.

TOURNEY-TESTED – Since opening 0-2 at the 2003 Minnesota DQ Classic (ND’s only 0-2 start in the past 25 regular-season-tournaments), the Irish have gone 18-2 in their past 20 games at regular-season tournaments … that run includes a win over Wake Forest to close the ’02 DQ Classic, a 6-1 showing at the ’03 Kennel Clubs Classic (in Jacksonville, Fla.), unbeaten ’04 efforts at the USC (2-0) and FAU (3-0) Classics, a 6-1 swing through Texas during 2004 Spring Break (3-1 at Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic, 3-0 at Round Rock Classic) and the 0-2 record earlier in the trip in Round Rock … the first two losses in that stretch came in ’03 vs. homestanding Jacksonville (extra innings) and vs. the local team Texas San-Antonio at the ’04 ACIBC.

TEXAS NATIVES – The 2004 Notre Dame baseball roster includes players from 16 states/provinces, with three from Texas: senior RHP Tyler Jones (Arlington/Martin HS), sophomore RHP Jeff Manship (San Antonio/Reagan HS) and freshman RBP/IF Tony Langford (Fort Worth Country Day HS) … 13 other former players join Jones among the program’s 826 all-time monogram winners (from 44 different states) … two of the program’s first all-time monogram winners were Texas natives: LF Joseph Combe (Brownsville; 1892) and 1B Angus McDonald (Houston; 1897-1900) …. brothers Samuel (SS; ’13) and Harry (3B; ’13-’14) Newning then made the journey to ND from their native Houston … other early ND baseball players who hailed from Texas include C/OF William Allison (Georgetown, ’17) and pitcher George Murphy (Oaklawn; ’16-’17), who tossed a no-hitter vs. St. Viator in 1917 … just two Texans lettered with ND baseball in the 72-year stretch from 1918-1989: RHP Leo Linbeck (Houston/St. Thomas HS; ’54) and LH and P John Ebert (Dallas/Marion OH Catholic HS; ’82) … three early-90s players were Texas natives: C Matt Krall (Bedford/Trinity HS; ’90-’91), OF Dan Bautch (Houston/Stanford HS; ’90-’92; 68 career SB) and OF Edwin Hartwell (Forth Worth/Country Day HS; ’90-’93; .354 career hitter, 18 HR, 100 RBI) … recent players from Texas include LHP Pat Davis (San Antonio/Texas Military Inst.; ’96, ’98) and RHP Matt Laird (Bellaire HS; ’00-’03) … Davis – whose father Ben serves as tournament coordinator for the Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic – now serves as the baseball coach and athletic director at TMI.

QUICK NOTES ON THE ROUND ROCK OPPONENTS • UTSA (also see – The Roadrunners hold a 1-13 record after losses to Texas A&M Corpus Christi (0-1, 7-10, 4-8), at Texas (4-8), Dallas Baptist (3-5, 2-6, 4-12), Texas A&M (1-4), New Mexico State (3-5), Texas Tech (7-22), Baylor (2-4), Birmingham Southern (0-2) and Texas Pen Ameican (9-12), with an 8-4 win over Illinois … UTSA returned 14 of 25 letterwinners from its ’04 team that went 27-31 and finished 5th in the Southland Conference (12-14) … UTSA is batting .242 with 50 runs scored (3.6/gm), 2 home runs, 14-of-17 stolen bases, a .956 fielding pct. (24 errors), a 6.80 staff ERA, .306 opp. batting avg., 83 strikeouts thrown and 71 walks.

• Southwest Missouri ( – The Bears are 4-6 with wins over McNeese State (6-), at Kansas (8-4) and Iowa (8-6, 8-7), plus losses to Rice (2-8), Lamar (3-11), Mississippi (4-6), Southern Miss (7-8), Mercer (0-9) and Iowa (1-11) … SMS returned 18 of 26 letterwinners from its 2004 team that went 31-28 and finished 3rd in the Missouri Valley Conference (19-12) … the Bears won on the road in the Regional and Super-Regional rounds while advancing to the 2003 College World Series … SMS is batting .238 with 47 runs scored (4.7/gm), 6 home runs, 9-of-12 stolen bases, .967 fielding (13 Es), 6.28 ERA, .272 opp. batting, 73 Ks and 58 walks allowed.

• Oral Roberts ( – ORU is 6-5 with wins over Missouri Southern (15-0, 8-0, 13-4), at Baylor (9-3), at South Alabama (6-5) and vs. BYU (6-5), plus losses to Baylor (1-2, 0-4), South Alabama (5-6) and BYU (2-6, 4-7) … ORU returned 13 of 25 letterwinners from its 2004 team that went 50-11 and won the Mid-Continent Conference title (21-1) before reaching the final of its NCAA Regional … the Eagles are batting .274 with 69 runs (6.3/gm), 9 home runs, 13-of-20 stolen bases, .968 fielding (13 Es), 3.09 ERA, .229 opp. batting, 84 Ks and 38 walks allowed.

FRIEND OR FOE? – ND senior RHP Tyler Jones and UTSA’s Robbie Jones were teammates at Martin HS in Arlington … ND sophomore LHP/1B Mike Dury and SMS pitcher DJ Roshone played together in the summer of ’04 on the Madison Mallards, as did ND sophomore RHP Dan Kapala and SMS infielder Tony Lewis with the Delaware (Ohio) Cows … ND sophomore RHP Jeff Manship and UTSA pitcher Steven Vasquez also are former teammates.

SPRING-BREAK PARTIES – Notre Dame now has won 72% of its Spring Break games in the Paul Mainieri era (55-21-1, since 1995), including 16-4 in the past 20 Spring Break games and 10-3 in the past 13 games played in Texas during that span … during the span of the 2002-04 Spring Break trips, ND is just 4-5 in Round Rock but a combined 13-2 in San Antonio (7-1) and Jacksonville (6-1) … here’s a look at the previous 10 Spring Break records (see PDF):

YOUR TURN – Eight different Irish pitchers have accounted for the nine decisions this season, with sophomore RHP Jeff Samardzija, junior RHP Ryan Doherty, sophomore RHP Jess Stewart and junior LHP Tom Thornton picking up victories while sophomore RHP Derik Olvey, freshman RHP Joey Williamson, freshman LHP David Gruener, Thornton and sophomore RHP Jeff Manship have suffered losses.

LOSING STREAKS A RARITY – Notre Dame heads to San Antonio looking to avoid the first 5-game losing streak of the 11-year Paul Mainieri era … the Mainieri era has included five 3-game losing streaks and five 4-game losing streaks … after losing four straight early in the 2003 season (Feb. 22-March 1), the Irish die not lose three straight in a span of 127 games before the pair of losses to Dayton and the loss to Texas A&M … most of the 3- and 4-game losing streaks came in the first five seasons of the Mainieri era … in fact, since early in the 1999 season (Feb. 22-March 1), ND has lost 3-plus games in a row just three times during the past 387 games: at UConn (3) and West Virginia in the 2002 College World Series season (March 23-28), the aforementioned 4-game stretch early in ’03 (2 at ASU, plus games vs. Nebraska and Minnesota at the Metrodome) and the current 4-game losing streak.

Career Spring Break Stats (see PDF)

BULLPEN BLUES – Notre Dame is looking to restore its bullpen to the impressive status from the 2004 season … here’s a comparison of the ’04 bullpen stats and the stats posted by the relievers in the first seven games of the ’05 season:

2004 – 2.97 ERA, 19-3 record, .225 opp. avg., 196 Ks (7.8 per 9 IP), 76 BB (3.0), 20 HBP, 15 WP, 191 H (7.6), 2.6 K-BB

2005 – 5.48 ERA, 1-3 record, .333 opp. avg., 28 Ks (5.9), 24 BB (5.1), 7 HBP, 42.2 IP, 60 H (12.7), WP, 1.2 K-BB

DOHERTY DOMINANCE – Junior All-America closer Ryan Doherty is on pace to set or challenge four Notre Dame career records, including an ERA mark that has stood for more than 40 years (set in 1961 by fellow All-American Nick Palihnich) and two other records that are nearly as longstanding (see PDF):

MILESTONE WATCH Cody Rizzo – needs 1 more run for 100 in his career; his 51 career HBPs rank 19th in NCAA history Ryan Doherty – needs 6 more strikeouts for 100 in his career Matt Bransfield – needs 10 more hits for 100 in his career Paul Mainieri – needs 15 more wins for 800 in his 23-year career Steve Andres – needs 16 more hits for 100 in his career Matt Edwards -30 RBI shy of cracking the ND career top-10 list

STILL GOING – The Irish have extended the program’s second-longest scoring streak to 157 games, trailing only a 231-game scoring streak from 1999-2002.

HIT-BY-PITCH HIGHWAY – Notre Dame players were hit-by-pitch 106 times in the 2004 season (good for 5th in NCAA history) but the Irish already are nearly 30% of the way to a new team record after totaling 28 HBPs in the first 9 games of the ’05 season … the plunk-fest began with 9 HBPs in the opener vs. Florida A&M, one shy of the record set by Washington in a 1998 game vs. Rice … junior LF Steve Andres had 3 HBP in the ’05 opener while Craig Cooper, Matt Edwards, Matt Bransfield, Greg Lopez, Eddie Smith and Ross Brezovsky also were plunked by Rattlers pitchers … ND and FAMU (2) combined for 11 HBPs (one shy of that NCAA record of 12) … freshman 2B Brett Lilley was hit-by-pitch in his first four plate appearances during the final game of the weekend vs. Central Florida, one shy of yet another NCAA record (he now has 9 HBPs) … the Irish are averaging 3.1 HBPs per game and – at that pace – would total 176 in the 56-game regular season.

HBP … PDQ – Junior RF Cody Rizzo already owns the ND records for times hit-by-pitch in a season (28, in ’03) and career (51 – and counting) … Rizzo ranks 19th on the NCAA career HBP list and would move to 13th on that list with 4 more HBPs … former San Francisco player Anthony Hurtado holds the NCAA record with 92 HBPs … Rizzo helped set the team HBP record in 2004 (106), good for 5th on the NCAA all-time list … two newcomers – freshman 2B Brett Lilley (state record in Ohio with 19 HBP in ’03) and junior IF Eddie Smith (team-record 18 HBP at Centralia CC, in ’04) – could help the Irish approach triple-digit HBPs again in ’05 … the departed players combined for 36 HBPs in ’04 (led by 15 from C Javi Sanchez, 11 by 2B Steve Sollmann) … see PDF for list of NCAA career HBP leaders.

WHO’S BACK/WHO’S GONE – The Irish return six of nine position starters but will be looking for others to step into the voids in the lineup created by graduation and the Major League draft … All-America 3B Matt Macri moved on to pro ball after his stellar ’04 season while second 2B Steve Sollmann (the winningest four-year starter in the program’s history) and clutch-hitting catcher Javi Sanchez were the leaders of the ’04 senior class, taking their considerable leadership skills with them on to postgraduate life and their own pro baseball careers … OF rates as the strongest and deepest position for the Irish in ’05, with juniors Steve Andres (LF), Craig Cooper (CF) and Cody Rizzo (RF) the likely starters as opening day approaches … senior 1B Matt Edwards, junior SS Greg Lopez and junior DH Matt Bransfield also add to the veteran core – with the three new starters likely to include sophomore C Sean Gaston and a pair of prep shortstops at 2B (Brett Lilley) and 3B (Ross Brezovsky) .. on the mound, the Irish must replace two frontline starters in Grant Johnson and Chris Niesel (both signed as early ’04 draft picks) but junior LHP Tom Thornton returns after leading BIG EAST pitchers with nine wins in ’04 … three others – senior John Axford and sophomores Jeff Manship and Derik Olvey – could be top members of the ’05 rotation after completing their respective comebacks from injuries that wiped out their ’04 seasons … junior All-America closer Ryan Doherty leads an impressive group of bullpen talent that also includes hard-throwing sophomore Dan Kapala but must replace steady LHP and ’04 graduate Joe Thaman … a stable comprised of several veterans and four highly-regarded newcomers adds further depth to a pitching staff that will be looking to improve on its 2004 team ERA (3.43) that ranked 9th in the nation.

FREE-BASE FACTOR – Junior RF Cody Rizzo already owns the ND career record for times hit-by-pitch (51; 19th in NCAA history) but surprisingly had no HBPs during the opening-week (his teammates totaled 17 HBPs in those four games) before getting hit once in the Dayton series and once in Round Rock… Rizzo has made up for his lack of HBPs by walking nine times in the first nine games, more than doubling his BB total (4) from all of the ’04 season.

SILENT BULLDOG TAKES A BITE – Sophomore RHP Jess Stewart, nicknamed the “Silent Bulldog” by ND pitching coach and fellow Virginia native Terry Rooney, had a noteworthy debut in the 4-2 win at Central Florida (5.1 IP, UER, 5 H, 3 BB, K, HB, 7 groundball outs, 93 pitches) … Stewart became just the third pitcher in the 11-year Paul Mainieri era to not allow an earned run while pitching 5-plus innings during opening week … the others include Scott Cavey vs. Air Force in 2000 (0.00, 6 IP, H, BB, 6 Ks) and Alex Shilliday vs. Florida State in 1998 (0.00, 5 IP, H, 4 BB, 6 Ks; in Orlando).

STEWART SLAYS THE KNIGHTS … AGAIN – Jess Stewart has defeated Central Florida each of the past two seasons, logging 5-plus shutout innings in both outings (3-2 in ’04, 4-2 in ’05) … his combined stats in those two games vs. UCF include 7 hits allowed, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts and a hit batter in 10.1 innings.

BIG SHADOWS – Notre Dame’s 2005 roster includes some big bodies, with seven who are 6-foot-4 or taller: junior RHP Ryan Doherty (7-1, 255) and LHP Tom Thornton (6-6, 220), senior RHP John Axford (6-6, 160), sophomore RHP Jeff Samardzija (6-5, 215), senior LHP Scott Bickford (6-5, 170), sophomore LHP/1B Mike Dury (6-5, 230) and sophomore RHP Dan Kapala (6-5, 225).

THREE NEW STARTERS AROUND THE HORN – Notre Dame’s 2005 lineup includes three first-year starters around the infield: sophomore C Sean Gaston, freshman 2B Brett Lilley and freshman 3B Ross Brezovsky … that’s the first time the Irish have fielded three or more first-year starters (i.e. not including players who started previously for ND at other spots) in the infield since the first season of the Paul Mainieri era, when sophomores Randall Brooks (2B), J.J. Brock (SS) and Mike Amrhein (3B) each moved into the 1995 lineup after playing sparingly in ’94.

MAINIERI NEARING 800th WIN AS COLLEGE HEAD COACH – Notre Dame’s Paul Mainieri, now in his 11th season at ND and 23rd overall as a college head coach, heads to San Antonio with a 785-456-2 career record (.632) that include a 454-177-1 record (.719) with the Irish … Mainieri recently was honored with a 25-year coaching certificate at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention and was voted as the ABCA’s chair of Division I Baseball Coaches … three weeks later, he returned to his hometown of Miami to be honored at Christopher Columbus High School with the Explorer Diamond Award – a prestigious alumni honor … then, just days prior to the ’05 opener, outgoing Indiana governor Joe Kernan bestowed the state’s highest honor (the Sagamore of the Wabash) on the ND baseball head coach … his 2000-04 teams had combined for the nation’s 2nd-best win pct. in the 2000s (.752, 244-80-1) … the 47-year-old Mainieri – who in ’02 became the nation’s only coach to repeat as one of eight ABCA regional coaches of the year – continued the program’s standard of excellence in his first 10 seasons, with: seven conference titles, seven trips to the NCAAs, 450 wins, 40 players who were drafted or signed free-agent contracts, and 14 selected in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Draft – with his Irish players combining for 12 All-America and nine Academic All-America seasons … his squads have extended the program’s string of consecutive seasons with 40-plus wins to 16 … Mainieri’s ND teams have combined for a 100% graduation rate (59 of 59), among players who completed their eligibility (11 who signed professionally after their junior year have returned to complete or near completion of their degree) … ND is the only Div. I baseball program to produce Academic All-Americans each of the past five years, with two honored every season from ’00-’03 … the current squad combined for a 3.07 team GPA in the 2004 fall semester, led by 17 players with a GPA of 3.0-plus and seven at 3.4-plus … two of Mainieri’s former Notre Dame assistant coaches – Brian O’Connor (at Virginia) and Cory Mee (Toledo) – were named Division I coaches within weeks of one another, during the summer of 2003 … in nine seasons of BIG EAST play, the Irish have won more league games (157-54, .744) than any other team in the conference, which has sent five different teams to the NCAAs since 1999 … Mainieri ranks 2nd on the Notre Dame baseball career coaching wins list (454), behind Hall of Famer Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … his 2001 team claimed the program’s first No. 1 national ranking, the ’02 team made the program’s first College World Series appearance in 45 years, the ’03 squad became the first to repeat as BIG EAST Tournament champions since 1986, and his ’04 team turned in an historic 51-12 record while becoming the first two win three straight BIG EAST titles .. .highly-regarded prospects and diamonds in the rough have comprised the recent Notre Dame incoming classes – highlighted by the nation’s top-ranked freshman class in 2002 and the No. 7-rated class for the prospective 2006 freshmen … all told in the Mainieri era, eight of 10 Irish players who were drafted out of high school have gone on to be drafted in a higher round at Notre Dame while 19 who were undrafted as preps went on to be drafted as members of the Irish program … three of Mainieri’s former ND players – Brad Lidge (Astros), Aaron Heilman (Mets) and Christian Parker (Yankees) – have pitched in the Major Leagues, with Lidge emerging as one of the game’s elite closers in 2004.

NOTRE DAME 2005 NINE-GAME UPDATES – see PDF for ND player’s career stats and bullet notes.

NOTRE DAME BASEBALL 2005 ROSTER (as of Feb. 23; see PDF)