February 28, 2001
REPACK THAT BAG: The 10th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team (5-1) is back on the road for the third straight weekend, travelling to St. Petersburg, Fla., for an exhibition game versus the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Thursday, March 1, 1:00 p.m.) before serving as the host team for the Devil Rays College Invitational (March 2-4) … all games will be played at Florida Power Park (Old Al Lang Field), which serves as the Devil Rays’ spring training facility … Friday’s schedule includes ND vs. Florida Atlantic (1:00 p.m. eastern) followed by South Florida vs. Western Michigan (4:00) while Saturday’s action will feature ND-South Florida (5:00 p.m.) and FAU-WMU (8:00) … the tournament concludes on Sunday with ND-WMU (11:00 a.m., moved up from earlier noon start) and FAU-USF (4:00) … the Irish opened play on Feb. 17-18 at the Bank of Commerce Classic, losing a tough 7-6 game to New Orleans before twice knocking off the host team and 16th-ranked Mississippi State (7-5, 4-2 in 11 inn.) … the Irish then swept all three games in San Antonio last week at the Alamo Invitational, beating Texas-San Antonio (8-3), Texas-Pan American (14-9) and Sam Houston State (7-4) … the well-travelled Irish will have spent 13 of 17 days on the road from Feb. 16-March 4 (all but Feb. 19-20, 26-27) and will be away from home during 19 of 27 days from Feb. 16-March 17 (ND will spend the first six weekends of its 2001 season away from home, before a March 31-April 1 series with Seton Hall at Eck Stadium).
RADIO COVERAGE: South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM) is scheduled to carry live broadcasts of Notre Dame’s entire 56-game schedule in 2001, including the Devil Rays exhibtion (plus all postseason action) … a real-audio link to internet broadcasts of the games may be accessed at www.und.com.
IN THE POLLS: Notre Dame moved up slightly in two of three national polls while remaining 11th according to Baseball America … the Irish jumped from 12th to 10th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll (the highest ranking in that poll during the seven-year Paul Mainieri era), with Clemson and Alabama slipping behind ND … the Irish also moved up from 12th to 11th in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
STANLEY, TAMAYO RECEIVE WEEKLY BIG EAST AWARDS: ND junior CF Steve Stanley (Upper Arlington, Ohio) was named the BIG EAST Conference’s co-player of the week while senior RHP Danny Tamayo (Miami, Fla.) was tabbed the BIG EAST pitcher of the week, in recognition of their performances during last week’s three wins at the Alamo Invitational … Stanley led an ND offense that hit a combined .369, posting a team-best .583 batting average (7-for-12) in the three games (with 4 runs scored, 2 RBI, 3 stolen bases, 2 walks and a sacrifice bunt) … Tamayo was the winning pitcher in the 7-4 game versus Sam Houston State, outdueling Bearkats ace pitcher Joe Fowler (who beat Texas A&M earlier in the week, 2-1) … Tamayo posted a career -best 10 strikeouts, including five straight at one point and five “looking” during his six-inning outing (94 pitches) … he allowed just three hits and one walk in the shutout stint while facing 20 batters (two over minimum), thanks to pair of double-play balls … Stanley currently ranks second among ND regulars with a .407 season batting average, trailing only the .650 mark owned by sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (who last week was named the BIG EAST player of the week and national player of the week by CB) … Stanley’s other season stats include seven runs scored, three RBI, a double, two walks and 3-of-5 on stolen base attempts … Tamayo’s two starts in 2001 have yielded a 1-1 record and 1.64 ERA, plus 13 Ks, one walk and nine hits allowed in 11 innings pitched … Stanley’s big game last week was a 4-for-5 effort in the 7-4 win over Sam Houston State, helping put the Bearkats away with a single and run scored in the 7th inning (for a 5-1 lead) and an RBI single in the 8th (7-4).
INJURY REPORT: Notre Dame sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.)-who earned national player of the week honors for his 9-for-13 effort at the National Bank of Commerce Classic-will not play in the exhibition game versus the Devil Rays and remains doubtful for the weekend, due to a hamstring injury suffered late in the 14-9 win over Texas-Pan American on Feb. 24 (he did not play the next day versus Sam Houston State) … the 6-3, 220-pound lefthanded hitter was one of two ND players that appeared in (and started) all 64 games during the 2000 season.
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup * – lefthanded hitter, # – switch hitter
Pos. … Player … Yr. … Ht./Wt. … Hometown … 2001 Stats … Notes
DH … Ken Meyer … Jr. … 6-0/210 … Fort Myers, FL … .133 (2-for-15), 2 RBI, R, BB, 5 K … Hit .478 in 2000 BIG EAST games
or … #Matt Bok … Jr. … 5-10/190 … Akron, Ohio … .200 (2-for-10), 3 RBI, 2 R, BB, 3 K, 0-1 SB … Hit .348 w/ runners in scor. pos. (2000)
CF … *Steve Stanley … Jr. … 5-7/150 … Upper Arlington, OH … .407, 3 RBI, 7 R, 2B, 2 BB, 3 K, 3-5 SB … BIG EAST co-player of the week (2/26)
SS … Alec Porzel … Sr. … 6-0/195 … Lisle, IL .185, 3 RBI, 6 R, 3 2B, 2 BB, 6 K, HBP, 1-1 SB … Preseason BIG EAST Player of Year (CB)
RF … *Brian Stavisky … So. … 6-3/220 … Port Allegany, PA … .650, 6 RBI, 6 R, 2 3B, 2 2B (.950 slug.), 6 BB, 2 K, 2-2 SB … National Player of the Week (CB, 2/19)
C … *Paul O’Toole … Jr. … 6-2/215 … Lakewood, OH … .227, 6 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 3 HBP, 1-3 SB … Nation’s No. 2 prospect among catchers (BA)
LF … Kris Billmaier … So. … 5-9/195 … Woodinville, WA … .364, 9 RBI, 6 R, 2 2B, 2 B, 2 K, 3 HBP, 1-1 SB … Team-best 8-for-19 (.421) at 2000 NCAAs
3B … *Andrew Bushey … Jr. … 5-10/190 … Boardman, OH … .304, 2 RBI, 7 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 1-1 SB … Team-best 18.9 plate app. per K in 2000
1B … *Joe Thaman … Fr. … 6-4/205 … St. Louis, MO … .350, 5 RBI, 2 R, 6 2B, 3 BB, 5 K … Six of his seven hits have been singles
2B … Steve Sollmann … Fr. … 5-10/180 … Cincinnati, OH … .391, 4 RBI, 5 R, 2B, 5 BB, 4 K, 2-3 SB … Brother of former Irish OF Scott Sollmann
3B … Javier Sanchez … Fr. … 6-2/190 … Miami, FL … 0-for-1 … Attended same HS (Columbus) as Paul Mainieri
OF/1B … Matt Strickroth … Jr. … 6-5/230 … Mission Viejo, CA … 0-for-2, K … Team-best .435 w/ RBI opp’s (2000)
UTIL … #Ben Cooke … Sr. … 5-9/175 … Bay Village, OH … .500 (3-for-6), RBI, 2B, 2 BB, K … Started at 3B vs. UNO, UTPA
1B … Mike Holba … So. … 6-7/225 … Lansing, IL … 1-for-1, 2B, BB, R … Tallest player on Irish squad
C … Soran Leahy … Fr. … 6-1/180 … Buffalo Grove, IL … 0-for-0, R, BB … Converted middle infielder
Probable STARTING ROTATION (in order, vs. TBDR, FAU, USF, WMU)
RHP … Peter Ogilvie … So. … 6-4/210 … Buffalo Grove, IL … (injured in 2000)
RHP … Aaron Heilman … Sr. … 6-5/225 … Logansport, IN … 1.50, 2-0, 2 GS, 12 IP, 14 K/3 BB, .191 opp. avg. … Winningest pitcher at ND since 1924 (30-7)
RHP … Danny Tamayo … Sr. … 6-1/240 … Miami, FL … 1.64, 1-1, 2 GS, 11 IP, 13 K/1 BB, .237 opp. avg. … BIG EAST pitcher of the week (2/26)
RHP … Matt Buchmeier … Jr. … 6-0/190 … Greenwood, IN … 2.70, 0-0, 2 GS, 10 IP, 5 K/ 3 BB, .270 opp .avg. … Team-best .190 opp. avg. w/ runners on (2000)
RHP … J.P. Gagne … So. … 6-0/200 … Bloomington, MN … 4.26, 0-0, 3 GP, 6.1 IP, 2 K/3 BB, .304 opp. avg. … Opened his Irish career 5-0
RHP … Matt Laird … So. … 6-0/200 … Bellaire, TX … 0.00, 1-0, SV, 4 GP, 4.0 IP, 2 K/1 BB, .091 opp. avg. … Picked up save and win at MSU
LHP … Mike Naumann … Sr. … 6-0/180 … Tucson, AZ … 6.75, 0-0, 2 GP, 2.2 IP, 0 K/1 BB, .462 opp. avg. … CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2000
RHP … Brandon Viloria … So. … 5-11/215 … Wailuku, HI … 2.08, 1-0, 2 GP, 4.1 IP, 1 K/0 BB, .222 opp. avg. … Has just one BB in 21.1 career IP
RHP … Drew Duff … Jr. … 5-10/185 … Sevierville, TN … 15.43, 0-0, 2 GP, 1 K/3 BB, .400 opp. avg. … ND record for Ks at Eck (10 vs. IUPUI)
RHP … Aaron Edwards … Fr. … 6-2/195 … Chambersburg, PA … 5.40, 0-0, 2 GP, 3.1 IP, 1 K/5 BB, .250 opp. avg. … BIG EAST preseason rookie of the year (BA)
RHP … Michael Morgalis … Fr. … 6-4/210 … Cincinnati, OH
RHP … Nick Colagiovanni … Fr. … 6-1/190 … Garfield Hts, OH … One of eight Ohio natives on ND roster
PRO-GAME HISTORY: The ND baseball record books include mention of at least one previous exhibition vs. a Major League team: March 10, 1993, vs. the Anaheim Angels at Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. (the Angels won that game, 10-1) … the baseball archives also include mention of a 1909 exhibition vs. the Cuban All-Stars (a 6-5 loss) and a 9-5 win over Keio (Japan) to cap the 1911 campaign … Thursday’s game does not count to ND’s season record but does factor into the maximum 56-game schedule that the Irish can play during the 2001 season … ND head coach Paul Mainieiri played in an exhibition game vs. the Chicago White Sox in 1977, while playing for his father at Miami Dade North Community College (the game was played at MDNCC on a special “Bucky Dent Night”).
TOURNAMENT TOUGH: ND is 46-17 (.730) in regular-season tournaments during Paul Mainieri era, including a ’98 win over Florida State, wins in 2000 over Wake Forest, Georgia and Illinois (2) and this season’s pair of wins over Mississippi State.
BEEN THERE: WMU’s Fred Decker (25th season) is the dean of the tournament coaches while each of the other three-FAU’s Kevin Cooney, USF’s Eddie Cardieri and ND’s Paul Mainieri-is in his 19th season as a college head coach.
THE FIELD: ND returns the bulk of its lineup from the 2000 team that posted a 46-18 final record … nine of ND’s top-10 batters are back, as are the top-six ERA leaders from 2000 … the returning pitchers accounted for 35 wins in 2000 while helping the Irish finish 16th in the nation with a 3.93 ERA … Florida Atlantic received votes in this weeks USA Today coaches poll and has reloaded after losing 12 letterwinners (and all but one everyday starter) from the 2000 squad that went 43-19 and advanced to the NCAAs … the Owls have soared to a 10-5 start, with wins over Miami (11-10) and Oklahoma State (9-4) … FAU’s losses have come to Miami (9-3, 4-2), Bethune-Cookman (6-3) and Florida International (5-2, 7-2) … the Owls are batting .273 as a team (10 HRs, 25 SBs), with a 3.95 team ERA and .947 fielding pct. (31 Es) … FAU’s typical rotation includes senior RHP and preseason third team All-American Petersen Benjamin (2-1, 1.53, 32 Ks, 12-1 in 2000), sophomore RHP Danny Core (3-1, 3.09, 41 Ks) and freshman RHP Chris Pillsbury (0-2, 6.75, 12 Ks) or freshman LHP Travis NeSmith (0-0. 2.61, 8 Ks) … South Florida returned 17 of 27 letterwinners from 2000 (29-29, 5th in Conference USA at 14-3) … the Bulls were 4-5 heading into a Feb. 28-March 1 series vs. Michigan, with a .311 team batting avg. (6 HR, 17 SB), a 5.75 team ERA and .960 fielding pct. (14 E) … USF opened at Stetson (6-1, 2-3, 2-6), split at Jacksonville (9-11, 13-8) and beat Bethune-Cookman (7-2) before taking one from Minnesota last weekend (8-7, 4-8, 4-8) … freshman IF Myron Leslie (.469, 10 R) and senior 2B Ben Drawdy (.455, 5 R) have been USF’s hot hitters in 2001 … USF’s anticipated rotation includes (all RHPs): junior John Gorham (1-1, 5.21, 8 Ks), senior John Vigue (0-1, 2.75, 14 Ks) and junior Brendan Fuller (0-0 , 7.45, 11 Ks) … Western Michigan returned 15 letterwinners from 2000 (26-27, 10-18 in the Mid-American Conference) and opened last week with a series vs. Michigan (1-4, 6-9, 4-2) .. for more on the opponents, consult: www.fausports.com … www.gousfbulls.com … and www.wmubroncos.com.
ALL-TIME OPPONENTS: ND has faced 268 opponents in 108-plus years of varsity baseball, with Sam Houston State joining that list last week while Florida Atlantic and South Florida are slated to push that list of all-time opponents to 270 … other potential first-time Irish baseball foes in 2001 include Bucknell, New Mexico and the University of the Pacific … noteworthy teams that ND has yet to face: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, UC Santa Barbara.
THE ND-WMU SERIES: Notre Dame has faced Western Michigan more times (121 games) than any opponent except for Northwestern (130) … the series (WMU leads 62-58-1) includes near-identical run totals (626 for ND, of 5.17/gm, and 622 for WMU, 5.14/gm) … the last meeting saw WMU post an 11-7 win over ND on April 25, 2000, in a game played off-campus at Sutherland Field in downtown Kalamazoo … that game was one of the low points of ND’s 2000 season, as the Irish blew an early 3-1 lead while making an uncharacteristic seven errors led to three unearned runs … current junior RHP Matt Buchmeier (Sunday’s likely starter vs. WMU) suffered the loss in that game (4 IP, 6 R/3 ER, 6 H, BB, 4 Ks), in relief of Matt Laird … Brian Stavisky led ND at the plate (3-for-4, 11th HR of season) … each of WMU’s final five runs was unearned, providing the final margin of victory … the win was WMU’s first over ND in five tries ana first since 1988 … the Broncos surged to a 9-7 lead with a five-run 6th inning, sparked by a first-pitch, two-out home run to right-center from John Toner that plated two runs … Phil Henricksen then picked up three RBI with a shot well into the trees behind the leftfield fence … Keith Perez picked up the win (R, 3 H, BB, 4 Ks), with 6.1 solid innings in relief of lefty Shawn Morrison … the Broncos padded their lead with two runs in the 8th, aided by four Irish errors and a wild pitch in the inning … the only ND-WMU games on record that have been played outside the schools’ campuses include a ’49 NCAA matchup at Purdue (ND won 9-1) and ’63 NCAA action at Illinois (a 2-1 WMU loss) … the teams played six NCAA Tournament games from ’49-’64 (ND won four) … the series is continuous since ’97 and has featured 34 one-run games (ND has won 18).
FL TRIPS: The ND baseball team has made regular visits to Florida, including games in DeLand, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee and Winter Park … the Irish recently have played in the 2000 Kennel Club Classic (in Jacksonville) and played a pair of three-game series at the University of Miami (’95, `98) while participating in the first ACC/Disney Blast-held in ’98 at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando … ND nearly advanced to the College World Series in ’92 and `93, competing in Florida-based NCAA regionals … the ’92 Atlantic Regional saw the Irish upset host Miami (6-3) before losing to the Hurricanes two days later in the regional final (5-1) … one year later, the Irish eliminated host Florida State from the East Regional but were eliminated by Long Beach State on the final day, 13-3 (the Irish nearly upset FSU earlier in the regional, losing 7-3 in 11 innings).
ND TIES: Devil Rays owner Vince Naimoli is a 1959 Notre Dame graduate and a 23-year native of the Tampa area … a native of Paterson, N.J., Naimoli was presented an honorary ND varsity monogram by former A.D. Dick Rosenthal in an on-campus ceremony during the summer of 1999 … Naimoli was a member of the Engineering Honor Society, earned an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the N.J. Institute of Technology, an M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson and completed Harvard’s graduate advance management program in ’74 … his tireless passion helped land major-league baseball in the Tampa area and he oversaw the $85 million renovation of Tropicana Field … Naimoli has received countless community service awards and was appointed to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Baseball Economics … as chairman, president and CEO of Anchor Industries International, he was named “1995 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year” in the “turnaround” category, after helping rescue several companies from multi-million dollar deficits … he chaired ND’s College of Business Advisory Council from ’92-’94 and has served as a member of the ND President’s Development Council and its Subcommittee on Athletics.
POWER TRIO – ND’s starting rotation of seniors Aaron Heilman (1.50, 12 IP) and Danny Tamayo (1.64, 11 IP) and junior Matt Buchmeier (2.70, 10 IP) has combined for a 1.91 ERA through six games this season, allowing seven earned runs in a combined 33 innings.
QUICK NOTES FROM THE ALAMO CLASSIC
ND 8, UTSA 3 – Aaron Heilman (6 IP, R, 5 H, BB, 8 Ks) picked up his 30th career victory at ND while Brian Stavisky continued his torrid start and Alec Porzel delivered two key doubles … ND claimed an early 2-0 lead after Porzel’s two-out double to the left-center gap and RBI singles from Stavisky and Kris Billmaier … Porzel then delivered the big blow in the three-run third, driving a two-run double down the leftfield line.
ND 14, UTPA 9 – Ten Irish players contributed to a 15-hit attack in a game where final score was not indicative of a tense matchup that stood tied (4-4) after six innings, with the teams then combining for 16 runs over the final three innings (including four by the Broncs in the top of the 9th) … ND faced early deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 before claiming a 4-1 lead in the 5th, highlighted by Paul O’Toole’s two-out, two-run shot over the rightfield fence … UTPA then tied the game with solo home runs in the 6th and 7th Brandon Viloria (1-0) picked up the win in relief of junior Matt Buchmeier (6 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 4 Ks) … Viloria’s two-inning stint included two runs allowed (one earned) on three hits … Joe Thaman was one of the leaders of a balanced Irish attack, collecting two doubles and a single while driving in two runs and scoring a third … the bottom third of ND’s starting batting order combined to hit 7-for-12 (2-for-4 day from Andrew Bushey, Thaman’s 3-for-4 and Ben Cooke’s 2-for-4 … ND broke open the 6-6 game with six runs in the bottom of the seventh (Bushey had the big hit with a two-run single up the middle).
WATCH THAT ARM – Junior Steve Stanley has started ND’s last 131 games at CF while playing nearly every inning at that position from 1999-2001 … Stanley received a rare rest in the 9th inning of the UTPA game, with senior LHP Mike Naumann inserted at CF for the final three outs … Naumann-who had plenty of OF experience as a prep-turned in a play that Stanley would be proud of, sprinting to the warning track and crashing into the wall while holding on to a flyout off the bat of Caleb Schmidt (who had homered earlier in the game).
ND 7, SHSU 4 – Danny Tamayo tossed six shutout innings while the ND offense overcame the absence of injured leading hitter Brian Stavisky (hamstring injury) … ND pushed across three unearned runs in the 4th inning vs. starter Joe Fowler (4 H, 2 BB, 4 Ks), who just five days earlier had posted an impressive 2-1 win over perennial power Texas A&M … Tamayo’s efficient 94-pitch outing included a career-best 10 Ks, with just three hits and one walk allowed … he faced just 20 batters (two over the minimum), thanks to a pair of 6-4-3 double plays in the second and fourth innings … Steve Stanley (4-for-5) led a 12-hit Irish attack and was one of five Notre Dame players named to the all-tournament team, with the others including Tamayo, senior RHP Aaron Heilman, sophomore LF Kris Billmaier (5-for-11 in the three games, with 6 RBI, 3 runs, a double, stolen base and sac. fly) and freshman 1B Joe Thaman (5-for-12, 3 RBI, 2 R, 4 2B) … Stanley batted 7-for-12 in the tournament (4 $, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 BB, 3-3 SB, sac. bunt).
BIG WINS IN THE BANK: ND opened its 2001 season with a tough 7-6 loss to New Orleans at the National Bank of Commerce Classic before posting a pair of clutch victories over host Mississippi State (7-5, 4-2) … the Bulldogs were ranked as high as 16th in the national polls and opened 0-2 for the first time since 1996 while dropping consecutive home games for the first time since midway through the 1998 season, when Kentucky posted 3-2 and 12-9 wins over the Bulldogs.
WE’LL BE BACK: For the first time in its 109-year history, ND opened on the road at the same ballpark where it ended the previous season (the Irish battled MSU in the championship game of the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional before losing 10-9).
WINDS OF CHANGE?: The Starkville area was hit early Friday afternoon (Feb. 16) by a tornado that touched down on the MSU campus, reportedly causing several million dollars of damage while canceling Friday night’s scheduled game between MSU and UNO .. the coincidence of ND’s impending arrival (late Friday night) was not lost on the MSU fans, many of whom were in attendance during ND’s game versus Tulane during the 2000 NCAAs (at Dudy Noble Field) that was halted for two hours-plus due to a passing tornado … the Irish had to overcome several logistical obstacles even before taking the field, including 10 hours of travel (South Bend-Chicago-Memphis-Starkville) that ended with an arrival at the team hotel shortly after midnight … with some of the rooms lacking electricity and heat due to the tornado damage, the Irish also coped with the lack of hot water following a 6:45 a.m. wakeup and team breakfast … Starkville was bathed in 75-degree temperatures Friday at noontime but Saturday’s gametime temperature had dipped to 39, with steady winds providing a chilly atmosphere throughout the day.
RECAPPING THE UNO GAME (6-7): A series of untimely miscues and 13 runners left on base came back to haunt ND, in the 7-6 loss to the Privateers … Steve Sollmann-had an impressive debut (4-for-5) … a pair of Irish errors led to three unearned runs for UNO (2-2), which erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the 5th … UNO then scored three insurance runs (two unearned) in the 9th, as the Irish rallied for three in the bottom of the frame to forge a 7-6 score and tense finish …Danny Tamayo (5 IP, 3 R/2 ER. 6 H, 3 Ks) … UNO’s ace, lefty Tom Lipari, held ND to a pair of runs on seven hits and three walks over 5.1 innings.
RECAPPING THE FIRST MSU GAME (7-5): ND bounced back after the rough UNO loss and a rocky first two innings vs. the Bulldogs, who jumped out to a 5-2 lead after two Irish errors produced four unearned runs … Aaron Heilman (6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB) registered six strikeouts to become ND’s career K leader (320) … and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced, with the lone blemishes being a bloop single and a hit batter … the Irish offense chipped away with single runs in the first two innings and two in the third before surging ahead (6-5) in the fifth, versus LHP Joey Collums … Paul O’Toole’s groundout plated Alec Porzel with the tying run and Brian Stavisky-who had doubled-then scored what proved to be the game-winner on a single from Kris Billmaier … the steady pitching of sophomore Brandon Viloria kept MSU off the board until the 9th, when Matt Laird was called out of the bullpen with runners on second and third and the winning run at the plate … leadoff batter Matthew Maniscalo then hit a dipping linedrive that was snared by the SS Porzel, who stepped on second base for a dramatic game-ending double play.
RECAPPING THE SECOND MSU GAME (4-2): Matt Laird served up another clutch double-play ball (in the 10th) and Joe Thaman delivered what proved to be the game-winning double in the 11th … ND claimed a 2-0 lead in the 6th, highlighted by an RBI triple from Brian Stavisky … both teams stranded 12, with the Irish holding a 15-10 edge in hits while playing error-free in the field … Kris Billmaier reached to open the 11th, after his popup down the RF line was bobbled by the 1B … Andrew Bushey then drove the ball up the middle, moving Billmaier to third, before Thaman doubled down the LF line for the 3-2 lead … Matt Buchmeier tossed four shutout innings in his fourth career start (4 H, BB, K).
PRESEASON POLLS: Notre Dame was a consensus top-14 team in 2001 preseason polls: 9th in Baseball America, 14th by Collegiate Baseball and 13th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll … the ranking of No. 9 in the BA poll is ND’s highest rank in the history of that poll (since ’81), at any time in the season … the Irish have been ranked in the BA top 10 once previously, as the ’92 squad was ranked as high as 10th in a two-week stretch in mid-February … the No. 9 ranking is the highest ever in the BA poll for a BIG EAST team, with Rutgers holding the previous best mark after rising to 14th in 2000 (St. John’s was ranked as high as 14th in ’81, four years prior to BIG EAST baseball) … ND has been ranked in the BA preseason top 25 five times previously: 15th in ’91, 11th in ’92, 15th in ’93, 20th in ’94 and 20th in 2000 … ND was one of three “northern” teams on BA’s preseason top 25 (the others were 5th-ranked Nebraska and 24th-ranked Minnesota).
PROSPECTS: ND senior RHP Aaron Heilman is listed seventh on BA’s annual list of top pro prospects in college baseball (14th overall when including high school players, seventh among all pitchers) … Heilman ranks fourth among college pitchers, behind his former Team USA teammates Mark Prior (transfer from USC to Vanderbilt, 2nd) and Josh Karp (UCLA, 3rd) and Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazleton (5th) … other top prospects include: Georgia Tech 3B Mark Texiera (1st), LSU transfer (from Washington) OF Todd Linden (4th) and Auburn OF Gave Gross (6th).
PROSPECTS, PART II: ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky was listed by BA as the No. 17 prospect (8th among position players)-making ND and Georgia Tech (three) the only schools with multiple players in the top 28 … Irish junior C Paul O’Toole checked in at 46th, with ND again joining Georgia Tech (four) as the only school with three-plus players in the top 55 (just four others had two) … position players listed before Stavisky include Teixeira, Linden and Gross, plus Long Beach State SS Bobby Crosby, San Francisco 1B/3B Taggert Bozied, LSU 2B Mike Fontenot and Southwest Missouri 1B Ryan Howard … O’Toole is the 22nd position player and third catcher on that list, behind Georgia C/1B Doc Brooks (21st) and Oklahoma State’s Ryan Budde (28th).
PROSPECTS, PART III: ND’s three top-50 prospects are more than the total from 25 of the nation’s 30 Div. I conferences, with just the ACC (9), the SEC (8), the Pac-10 (5) and the Missouri Valley (4) conferences having more than three … Heilman combined with Evansville RHP Preston Larrison (9th) to give Indiana schools two players among the top 12 (California schools have four players in the top 12 while two currently play at schools in Tennessee, one a USC transfer) … Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) is not the only Indiana native on the list, as Ball State’s Justin Wechsler (Anderson, Ind.) is listed 37th … only four states-Florida (5) and California, Texas and Missouri (3 each)-can claim more than two natives among the top 37 prospects … in addition to Wechsler, five other players from teams on ND’s 2001 schedule were included on BA’s list of college baseball’s top 100 prospects for 2001: New Mexico OF Donny Sevieri (66th), Fresno St. RHP Zach Minor (81st), Mississippi St. RHP Tanner Brock (88th) and St. John’s OF Charlie Bilezikjian (97th).
TOP-FIVE CONFERENCE: BIG EAST baseball heads into 2001 with a prestigious ranking from BA, which rated the BIG EAST as the nation’s fifth-best conference, behind the SEC, ACC, Pac-10 and Big 12 … four current BIG EAST teams participated in the 2000 NCAAs: ND, Rutgers, Seton Hall and newcomer Virginia Tech (formerly of the Atlantic-10) … five other current BIG EAST teams advanced to the NCAAs in the ’90s while the league consistently has produced high draft picks and NCAA statistical leaders … the BIG EAST had seven teams in BA’s preason top 100-ND (9), RU (35), Virginia Tech (40), SHU (69), UConn (86), St. John’s (92) and Boston College (100)-trailing only the SEC (11), Pac-10 (8) and Big-12 (8).
CREAM OF THE CROP: ND joined LSU as the only teams to place multiple players on BA’s 14-player list of first-team preseason All-Americans-senior RHP Aaron Heilman and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky-as selected by Major League scouting directors (LSU junior OF Todd Linden is a transfer from Washington) … Heilman and San Francisco 1B Taggert Bozied were the only seniors on the team while Stavisky and LSU 2B Mike Fontenot were the only sophomores … Heilman was joined on BA’s first-team pitching staff by two of his former teammates from the ’99 USA National Team–UCLA junior RHP Josh Karp and Stetson senior LHP Len Dinardo-plus Mark Prior (Vanderbilt transfer from USC) and Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazelton … Stavisky was joined in the first-team outfield by LSU’s Linden and Auburn junior Gabe Gross … just seven of the 29 other BA preseason All-Americans hit more home runs than Stavisky (14) in 2000 … CB made Heilman one of three pitchers named first team preseason All-America by both BA and CB (which placed Stavisky on its second team for 2001 preseason All-Americans).
FANTASTIC FIVE: The preseason all-BIG EAST teams released by the conference office and BA included just seven repeat selections, with ND producing five: senior RHP Aaron Heilman, senior SS Alec Porzel, junior C Paul O’Toole, junior CF Steve Stanley and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky … Rutgers (3) and Virginia Tech (2) were the only other schools with multiple players on BA’s 14-player all-BIG EAST team … the 15-player BIG EAST coaches all-conference team included three UConn players and two from Seton Hall (Heilman and Rutgers RHP Bob Brownlie were the only unanimous selections).
TOP FROSH: BA listed three Irish players among the BIG EAST’s top five newcomers: RHP Aaron Edwards (3rd), 2B Steve Sollmann (4th) and 1B Joe Thaman (5th) … BA tabbed Edwards for BIG EAST rookie of the year while Edwards, Sollmann and Thamann were the only freshmen on the newcomers list (the others are transfers).
TOOL TIME: In BA’s annual “best tools” list for the BIG EAST, five Irish players combined for six of 16 citations … C Paul O’Toole, 3B Andrew Bushey and CF Steve Stanley were judged to be the best defensive players at their positions (Stanley as top all-around OF) while sophomore RF Brian Stavisky repeated as the BIG EAST player with the “best raw power,” Stanley was tabbed the “fastest runner” for the second straight year and senior RHP Aaron Heilman again was cited for being the league’s pitcher with the “best control” … BA also lauded Heilman for having college baseball’s “best pure slider” and listed him as one of three pitchers in college baseball with the “best command” of his pitches (the others were South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight and Rice’s Kenny Baugh.
DANGEROUS DUO: ND’s likely No. 3 and cleanup hitters have more in common than hitting in pressure-packed spots, as senior SS Alec Porzel and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky each were tabbed as BIG EAST preseason player of the year by different national publications (Porzel from CB and Stavisky from both BA and the BIG EAST coaches) … Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman-the 2000 BIG EAST pitcher of the year-was picked by CB as co-favorite for 2001 BIG EAST pitcher of the year, along with Rutgers sophomore RHP Bob Brownlie (who got the nod from BA and the BIG EAST coaches).
TOUGH CONFERENCE: ND was picked to win the BIG EAST by BA, CB and the BIG EAST coaches but the preseason picks differed somewhat in forecasting the runner-up (BA and the BIG EAST coaches went with Rutgers, CB with newcomer Virginia Tech).
DOMINO EFFECT: The return of senior RHP Aaron Heilman does more than just impact the top pitching matchup of a weekend series-in fact, the return of No. 22 could leave a mark on nearly every Irish game during the 2001 season … Heilman’s return transforms classmate Danny Tamayo into potentially one of the BIG EAST’s top No. 2 pitchers while helping junior Matt Buchmeier ease into the role of weekend starter in the No. 3 spot (as opposed to breaking in at No. 2) … sophomore J.P. Gagne also now can be used in a swingman role, as a very capable starter and tough long-reliever … finally, Heilman’s return also could impact the role of sophomore Matt Laird-who may have taken on a role somewhere in the starting rotation without Heilman on the staff but instead has turned in a solid two-week debut as the Irish closer.
SCORING STREAK: Notre Dame is on the verge of setting the school record for consecutive games with at least one run scored … the Irish scored in the final 58 games of ’99, in all 64 games of 2000 and in the first six games of 2001, yielding an active 128-game scoring streak that stretches back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 … the record 133-game scoring streak began with the first game of the Paul Mainieri era, a 10-6 loss to Texas at the Anaheim Classic, on Feb. 24, 1995 (the Irish were shut out by Auburn, 8-0, in their final game of the 1994 NCAA East Regional at Clemson, S.C.) … the record streak ended with a shutout loss to another Texas team, 2-0 versus Texas Pan-American in a seven-inning game on March 10, 1997 (at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … just as impressive as those two streaks is the fact that Notre Dame has scored in 98.7 percent of its games in the Mainieri era (366 of 371), with the other three shutouts coming at Seton Hall (16-0, 3/22/97), vs. St. John’s (3-0, 5/9/98) and vs. Rutgers in the BIG EAST Tournament (12-0, 5/16/98) … prior to the Mainieri era, the longest ND scoring streaks were 121 games (April 23, 1930-May 26, 1937) and a 103-game streak spanning May 25, 1907-May 17, 1912.
PUSHING FORTY: Notre Dame has posted 12 straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 48 wins in 1989 and ’92, 46 victories in four seasons (’90, ’93, ’94, ’00), 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … ND’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks fourth in Division I baseball, trailing only Florida State (23), Wichita State (23) and Clemson (15).
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The Notre Dame baseball squad posted a 3.19 team grade-point average in the 2000 fall semester-the program’s best semester in the seven-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4 or higher) in the fall of 2000, with 21 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 13 times since 1982, including a pair in 2000: 2B Jeff Perconte (3.76 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government, now attending ND Law School) and current senior LHP Mike Naumann (3.92, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters, already accepted into and plans to attend Baylor Medical School) … ND was one of seven Division I baseball teams with multiple Academic All-Americans in 2000 and only two of those schools-Notre Dame and North Carolina-participated in the 2000 NCAAs … top Academic All-America candidates for 2001 include Naumann, junior 3B Andrew Bushey (3.33, finance) and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (3.69, Mendoza College of Business).
FAR & WIDE: The Notre Dame list of all-time monogram winners includes players hailing from 43 home states … current sophomore RHP Brandon Viloria (Wailuku, Hawaii) in 2000 became the first Irish baseball letterwinner from the island state while current freshman LHP Cody Wilkins (Hudson, N.C.) could become the first from the Tar Heel state … the only other states that have not produced Notre Dame baseball letterwinners include: Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Vermont.
WORKING OVERTIME: Notre Dame has won its last six extra-inning games, since losing a 10-7 game to Boston College on April 17, 1999 (in a seven-inning game that ended in the eighth) … in addition the 11-inning win at Mississippi State on Feb. 18 (4-2), the extra-inning streak includes wins over Oakland (7-6 in 10, 4/30/99), Villanova (7-3 in 10, 3/25/00), West Virginia (3-1 in 7-inn. game extended to 10, 4/15/00), Michigan (5-4 in 11, 4/26/00) and Pittsburgh (11-8 in 10, 5/6/00) … the VU and WVU games both came on the road while the Michigan win was held on neutral ground, at Old Kent Park (just outside of Grand Rapids, Mich.).
KING K: When Aaron Heilman left the mound at Dudy Noble Field during the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional, his 314 career strikeouts left him one shy of tying the Notre Dame record for career Ks (315), set by David Sinnes from 1990-93 … Heilman returned to Dudy Noble last week and claimed the record with a 6-K outing vs. host Mississippi State … he also owns the top two season K totals in ND history, posting 118 in both 1999 and 2000.
BIG-TIME WINNERS: Aaron Heilman (29-7) ranks as Notre Dame’s winningest pitcher in 77 years, as his .803 career winning pct. stands fifth in the Irish record book and best since Hugh Mageveney’s 18-3 record (.857) from 1922-24 … among pitchers who have logged at least 25 decisions, Heilman is the winningest hurler in ND history … Heilman’s win last week over Mississippi State moved him out of a tie on the winning pct. list with ’93 graduate David Sinnes (32-8) and ’94 grad. Tom Price (40-10).
A LOOK BACK: Aaron Heilman’s 2000 season included a 10-2 record, 3.21 ERA, 118 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 103.2 innings pitched … the 6-5, 225-pound righthander is one of just four Baseball America 2001 preseason All-Americans (among the 15 spread across three teams) who posted 10-plus wins, 100-plus Ks and an ERA of 3.30 or lower during the 2000 season, with the others including Stetson senior Lenny DiNardo, South Carolina senior Kip Bouknight (2nd team) and Rice senior Kenny Baugh (3rd team).
WHO’S THE BEST?: Notre Dame’s Aaron Heilman joined Middle Tennessee State junior RHP Dewon Brazleton and Stetson senior LHP Lenny Dinardo as the only 2001 pitchers tabbed preseason first team All-America by both Baseball American and Collegiate Baseball … Heilman and DiNardo were teammates on the 1999 USA Baseball national team.
TOP TOOLS: Baseball America’s annual college preview edition cited Aaron Heilman for having college baseball’s “best pure slider” and listed him as one of three pitchers in college baseball with the “best command” of his pitches (the others were South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight and Rice’s Kenny Baugh).
FOUR-TIME ALL-AMERICANS: Notre Dame senior RHP Aaron Heilman could post the fourth All-America season of his career, which would place him among an elite group of Notre Dame student-athletes (he already is the first Irish baseball player ever to be a three-year All-American) … just 16 previous Notre Dame student-athletes have been four-year All-Americans, with four coming from team-oriented sports: men’s basketball player Kevin O’Shea (’47-’50) and women’s soccer players Holly Manthei (’95-’98), Jen Grubb (’96-’99) and Anne Makinen (1997-2000) … others include cross country runners Oliver Hunter (’40-’43) and Mike McWilliams (’90-’93), plus men’s fencers Mike Sullivan (’76-’79), Charles Higgs-Coulthard (’84-’87), Yehuda Kovacs (’86-’89), Leszek Nowosielski (’88-’91), Jeremy Siek (’94-’97) and Luke LaValle (’96-’99) and women’s fencers Molly Sullivan (’85-’88), Myriah Brown (’96-’99), Sarah Walsh (’96-’99) and Magda Krol (’97-’00).
EIGHT(EEN) Ks IS ENOUGH: Current Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) tied a BIG EAST record and came just shy of the Notre Dame record with an 18-strikeout effort in a 3-1, 10-inning win at West Virginia on April 15, 2000 (the game was scheduled for seven innings). Heilman seemingly became stronger as the game wore on, spotting his tough slider with regularity while delivering a fastball that still touched 91 miles-per-hour in the lategoing. He retired 15 straight batters from the 5th-10th innings and struck out 10 of the final 12 he faced, including seven straight before yielding a single with two outs in the 10th. Kevin Olkowski-who had two of his team’s six hits-went down swinging on three pitches to end the game. Heilman’s 18 Ks tied the BIG EAST record set by Seton Hall’s Jason Grilli in a 7-2 win over Connecticut in ’97 (Grilli went on to become the fourth pick in the ’97 draft, by the San Francisco Giants). Frank Carpin is the only other Irish pitcher ever to record 18-plus Ks in a game, with 19 in a 10-inning win over Indiana on April 16, 1958 (12-10). Heilman’s memorable day included just two walks, with 11 groundball outs and one flyout. All nine Mountaineers starters-plus reserve Matt McGee-were K victims.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH, TOO: Aaron Heilman’s eight strikeouts last week vs. Texas-Pan American marked his 16th career game with eight-plus Ks during his Notre Dame career (his career average of 10.12 Ks per nine innings pitched is best in the ND record book).
NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) lived up to his preseason hype by earning national player-of-the-week honors after batting .692 (9-for-13) and reaching base on 10 consecutive plate appearances at the National Bank of Commerce Classic … Stavisky was recognized by Collegiate Baseball magazine as the national player of the week while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association tabbed Stavisky as its national “hitter of the week” … the 6-3, 220-pound lefthander also earned the first BIG EAST player-of-the-week award for the 2001 season … his 10 consecutive times on base included hits in his final two ABs versus UNO and a 3-for-3 effort (with 2 BB) later that day vs. host Mississippi State. … in the final game of the NBC Classic, he collected hits in his first three ABs vs. MSU-yielding 10 straight times on base … a strikeout to open the 8th halted Stavisky’s streak (he had hits in eight of his first 10 ABs overall) and his final 1B was a hard-hit lineout to CF in the 11th inning of that 4-2 win … Stavisky’s weekend production from the cleanup spot included three walks, three RBI, three runs scored, two triples, two doubles, 15 total bases, a stolen base and two Ks … current Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named by CB as the national pitcher of the week twice in 2000, following his 12-K game in a 6-4 win over Georgia on March 5 and his 18-K game at West Virginia on April 15 (a 3-1, 10-inning win) … Stavisky’s 10 straight times on base included a wide variety of ABs, with three first-pitch hits (one RBI double, one RBI triple), four hits with two strikes (one RBI triple), two leadoff hits and a two-out RBI double.
DOUBLE YOUR DP PLEASURE: Sophomore RHP matt Laird (Bellaire, Texas) recorded four outs on his first seven pitches of the 2001 season-thanks to pair of clutch double plays in the wins over MSU … Laird took the hill on Feb. 17 with runners on first and second, one out and ND leading 7-5 … he worked to a 1-2 count on his first batter before Matthew Maniscalco send a dipping line drive, with SS Alec Porzel snaring the ball and stepping on second for the game-ending DP … the next day, Laird took the mound again with runners on 1st and 2nd (in the 10th) and induced pinch hitter Brad Rutto in to a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning (on a 2-0 pitch).
30-30: Senior SS Alec Porzel is on the verge of becoming the first Irish player ever to reach 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in his career … Porzel has 29 HRs and 27 SBs in 182 GP, leaving him on the doorstep of the 30-30 plateau … junior C Paul O’Toole (17 HR, 29 SB, 121 GP) likewise has a shot at the 30-30 distinction.
CAPE COD’S BEST: Three ND baseball players made big names for themselves as participants in the 2000 Cape Cod League-the nation’s premier wooden-bat summer league for college-age players … all three Irish players-CF Steve Stanley, OF Brian Stavisky and C Paul O’Toole-were selected as starters for the 2000 Cape Cod League all-star game (only Georgia Tech, with three, could match the Irish) … Stanley led the Cape with a .329 batting average as leadoff man for the Brewster Whitecaps, playing alongside Irish classmate O’Toole. Stanley also ranked second in the Cape for runs (31), third in on-base percentage (.429) and fourth in stolen bases (20-of-27, in 43 GP) … O’Toole hit .273 and impressed observers with his wooden-bat power, tying for fifth in the league with four home runs, plus three triples, three doubles, 24 RBI, 26 runs, 18 walks, 27 Ks and 13-of-18 SBs (41 GP). Stavisky-who finished second in the Cape batting race (.324)-saw his Hyannis Mets fall to Brewster in the title game, 6-2, while O’Toole combined with Stanley to help the East all-stars rally past the West, 7-6. Stavisky hit three home runs in the Cape (one coming as co-MVP of the all-star game) while ranking fifth in the league in slugging (.453), fourth in RBI (26), second in doubles (14) and first in hits (55), plus 19 walks, 30 Ks and four SBs (44 GP) … several players from teams on ND’s 2001 schedule were teammates of the Irish players in the Cape, including Fresno State 2B Tom Creighton (Brewster) and three players from Hyannis: Florida Atlantic RHP Dan Core, Virginia Tech RHP Jason Bush and Connecticut OF Mike Scott.
JUMPIN’ JAYHAWKERS: Three other Irish players also experienced summer success on a high level, as member of the Hays (Kansas) Larks team that advanced to the championship game of the annual National Baseball Congress World Series (held in Wichita) … current junior RHP Matt Buchmeier was named all-Jayhawk League, after posting a 1.75 ERA and 6-3 record in 70 IP during the summer of 2000 … Buchmeier handed the potent Santa Barbara Foresters an 8-1 loss in the late rounds of the NBC World Series (7-inning CG, 7 Ks, BB, 4 H, UER) … current junior 3B Andrew Bushey also was named first team all-Jayhawk League after leading the Larks with a .346 batting avg. (62-for-179) … Bushey likewise was named to the NBC World Series all-Midwest Regional team (he hit .308 and scored seven runs) … junior RHP Drew Duff did his part as well, posting a 4-1 mid-tournament win over the Santa Maria Indians (9 IP, R, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks) and turned in a solid outing in the 3-1 title-game loss to the Liberal (Kansas) Bee Jays.
GAME-ENDING HOME RUNS: Senior SS Alec Porzel has made a name for himself when it comes to game-ending home runs … in addition to his 10th-inning blast vs. Pittsburgh (11-8) on May 7, 2000, Porzel also beat the Panthers with a first-pitch, walkoff home run to cap the ’99 Pittsburgh series (3-2, in the ninth) … as a freshman in ’98, he ended the longest game in Eck Stadium history with a 15th-inning homer vs. West Virginia (5-3) … most recently, Porzel’s first career grand slam broke an 7-7 tie in the eighth inning of the 15-7 BIG EAST Tournament win over Pittsburgh in 2000.
REVERSE TRANSFORMATION: During the previous six seasons of the Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame, several prep shortstops have been converted into Irish outfielders … current ND freshman Steve Sollmann has completed what seemingly has been a seamless transition in the other direction, by moving from his typical outfielder position to second base for the Irish … Sollmann has filled one Mainieri staple, as the team’s No. 9 batter (providing a “second leadoff hitter” in hopes of jumpstarting big innings).
YOU THE MANN … SORRY THE MAN: You’ll have to forgive those close to the ND baseball program for causing confusion over the proper spelling of Irish freshman 1B Joe Thaman’s last name … Thaman’s last name is of the one-n variety-putting him in the lofty company of three-time All-America pitcher Aaron Heilman but leaving him another “n” short of his rightside infield partner (freshman 2B Steve Sollmann) and senior LHP Mike Naumann … three other regulars in the Irish lineup have similarities to their last names: junior DH Ken Meyer, junior RHP Matt Buchmeier and sophomore LF Kris Billmaier.
AYE, CAPTAIN: ND’s tri-captains for 2001 are senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.), senior SS Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.) and junior 3B Andrew Bushey (Boardman, Ohio) … Bushey-whose .273 career average at ND includes 9-for-25 in the NCAAs (.360)-is just the fifth junior to serve as an Irish baseball captain since ’91, the others: Heilman, SS Brant Ust (’99), C Bob Lisanti (’94) and 1B Joe Binkiewicz (’91) … Heilman joins Binkiewicz (’91-’92), Lisanti (’94-’96) and IF J.J. Brock (’97-’98) as just the fourth multi-year captains at ND in 22 years (Lisanti and Brock both were five-year players).
THE SKIPPER: Seventh-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 590-390 (.602) record in 18-plus college seasons, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 258-111 (.699) mark at ND, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in his six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return to the UNO (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return as the ND coach to his hometown of Miami … Mainieri coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20, 1998, at the University of Miami, after a Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out … he notched his 499th career win in the 1999 season opener versus James Madison, in a game played in Miami at Florida International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri’s 255 wins rank third all-time at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 24 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 16 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of his players at St. Thomas went on to pro baseball, including three-Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier-who have played in the major leagues … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to top 500 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 in his 30-year career at Miami-Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999, and is on pace to coach his 1,000th career game in the 23rd game of the 2001 season (which tentatively would be the March 27th home game vs. Western Michigan).
THREE FORMER ND PLAYERS ON 40-MAN ROSTERS
Three former Notre Dame baseball players currently are competing for Major League roster spots, as members of 40-man Spring Training roster … those players include RHPs Brad Lidge (Houston Astros) and Christian Parker (New York Yankees) and infielder Craig Counsell (Arizona Diamondbacks) … LHP Chris Michalak also is in the Toronto Blue Jays big-league camp as one of 15 non-roster invitees … other former Irish players who currently are gearing up for another season of pro ball include C/1B Mike Amrhein and RHP John Corbin (both members of the Chicago Cubs organization), OF Allen Greene (N.Y. Yankees), OF Scott Sollmann (Arizona Diamondbacks), IF Brant Ust and LHP Tim Kalita (both with the Detroit Tigers) and 1B/DH Jeff Wagner (Anaheim Angels) … Lidge was the Astros 1st-round draft pick in 1998 but has been slowed by injuries during his previous pro seasons (he was 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in eight 2000 starts at class-A Kissimmee) … Parker-originally a 4th-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 1996-posted a 14-6 record, 3.13 ERA and 147 Ks in 28 starts and 204 IP last season at class-AA Norwich … Counsell was one of the heroes on the Florida Marlins team that won the 1997 World Series before playing with the L.A. Dodgers and then the Diamondbacks … Michalak had a Major League stint with the Diamondbacks in 1998 and was in Devil Rays camp last spring (he pitched six games with class-A Durham before making 21 starts in Albuquerque with the Dodgers triple-A club, going 11-3 with a 4.26 ERA).
Baseball Inks Seven In Early Signing Period – Macri heads list of highly-touted group of infield players and pitchers.
The Notre Dame baseball team signed seven high school seniors to national letters of intent during the 2000 early fall period (Nov. 14) … the signees include catcher Jay Molina (Moline, Ill./Moline HS), shortstops Matt Edwards (Mechanicsville, Va./Lee Davis) and Matt Macri (Clive, Iowa/Dowling) and four pitchers: Grant Johnson (Burr Ridge, Ill./Lyons Township), Chris Niesel (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Martin Vergara (Paterson, N.J./DePaul Catholic) and lefthander Scott Bickford (Owings, Md./Northern) … ND’s current roster includes just six seniors – namely starting pitchers Aaron Heilman and Danny Tamayo (who has another year of eligibility remaining) and shortstop Alec Porzel – plus several younger players that could be lost to the 2001 Major League draft, including junior catcher Paul O’Toole and sophomore rightfielder Brian Stavisky … the seven signees include three high school quarterbacks and they hail from six different states-Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia-while five were rated among the top-10 prep prospects in their respective states, according to Baseball America: Macri (No. 18 nationally, No. 1 in Iowa), Johnson (No. 2 in Illinois, 177th overall), Edwards (No. 3 in Virginia), Bickford (No. 6 in Maryland) and Molina (No. 10 in Illinois) … all seven of the Irish signees were included on Team One Baseball’s list of “Tracking the Nation’s Top Baseball Recruits,” including Vergara as one of seven New Jersey players listed and Niesel as one of 50 players listed from talent-rich Florida … as of Nov. 14, Notre Dame’s total of seven signeees on Team One’s list of top players by state ranked eighth among all Division I schools, behind only Georgia Tech, Florida, LSU, Miami, Texas, Stetson and Arizona State.
MAINIERI ON THE CLASS OF 2005: “This class ranks up there with the finest in Notre Dame baseball history. “We’ve filled all our needs with players who have outstanding ability and who will contribute a great deal. This was a critical class for us because we could lose so many key players from our 2001 squad. We needed players who can immediately make an impact and our success rate in landing the players we really wanted was phenomenal. … We tried to address three areas. First, we needed quality pitchers with starting potential. The four guys we signed all have great arms and have the potential to make a big impact. Second, with us losing senior shortstop Alec Porzel, we needed to recruit someone that can step in and play shortstop for us as a freshman. Macri and Edwards are the two we rated as the best prospects for us in the country and they both are both great athletes that can play elsewhere if needed. Finally, because there is a strong possibility we will lose junior catcher Paul O’Toole to the pro draft next June, we needed to sign a catcher who has the talent to play right away. Molina was our number one choice and we were able to land him. … For us to receive early commitments from these top players is a real credit to the efforts our assistant coaches and current players. In fact, our best recruiters are our current players … seeing how content our current players are at Notre Dame makes a huge and positive impact on the prospects.”
Macri is widely considered to be among the nation’s top-25 high school players, checking in at No. 18 according to Baseball America and No. 21 by Team One Baseball (he ranks among the top-10 position players on both lists and as high as fourth among shortstops) … an impressive all-around athlete who could have entertained Division I scholarship offers in football as a quarterback, the 6-2, 195-pound Macri also has promise on the mound due to a fastball that has touched 94 miles-per-hour and a solid breaking ball … Team One rates Macri second among prep players who are potential “two-way” players in the field and on the mound while also listing Macri second in the nation for arm strength and sixth for defense (third among shortstops) … Macri was one of two USA Baseball players named to the all-tournament team at the Junior Pan American Games, held last spring in Sonora, Mexico … e was the first freshman position player to start at Dowling High School in 30 years and batted .396 or higher in each of the past three seasons, including a junior year that saw him hit .462 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 40 games while earning third team All-America honors from the National High School Baseball Coaches Association … a second-year starting quarterback, Macri was one of five finalists for the Iowa Heisman Award (announced in late November) and led the Dowling football team to a 12-0 record and a spot in the 4A state championship game (Nov. 17) … prior to that game, his 2000 season stats included roughly 2,000 passing yards (24 TDs, 3 INTs), a 63.4 completion percentage and 700 rushing yards (8 TDs) … Edwards, who has displayed power hitting to all fields, is a solid SS prospect with versatility to play anywhere in the infield or outfield … as a 14-year-old, he hit nine home runs and a double in his first 11 ABs during the AAU State Tournament while playing for the Richmond Virginians … the 6-2, 180-pounder posted a .440 batting average during his first three seasons at Lee-Davis High School, including a junior season in which many teams pitched around him (22 BB in 22 games, with 4 HR, 18 RBI) … as a sophomore, Edwards played on a team stocked with college prospects and saw more pitches while racking up 37 RBI and seven home runs, plus a .470 batting average … Molina is known as a hard-nosed competitor behind the plate, on the mound and in the batter’s box (he also is the starting QB at Moline High School) … as a junior, the 5-11, 195-pounder led his team to a 33-3 record and a third-place finish in the Illinois state tournament, after batting .390 for the season with four home runs and 45 RBI – plus a 9-0 record and 2.50 ERA in 65 IP … Niesel is known for his control, with just 22 walks in 132 innings as a sophomore and junior (1.5 BB per 9 IP) … he has touched the low 90s on his fastball, with a solid complementary curveball and changeup … the 6-0, 185-pounder earned second team all-county honors as a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, after posting a 6-2 record and 2.91 ERA in 67 innings, with 69 strikeouts and just 11 walks … Johnson is noted for his prototypical pitcher’s frame (6-6, 205) and is rated 177th on Baseball America’s list of prep prospects … his junior season at Lyons Township High School yielded a 10-2 record, three saves and a 1.57 ERA in 82 IP, plus 95 Ks and just 28 walks … Vergara, who also is a star QB at DePaul Catholic High School, was a USA Today honorable mention All-American as a junior, after posting a 9-2 record and 1.60 ERA in 76 IP, with 147 Ks (1.93 per inning, 17.41 per nine innings) and just 43 hits allowed … Bickford, known for his projectable body (6-4, 160) and loose arm, pitched just 38 innings (due to illness) as a junior at Northern High School before turning in a strong 2000 summer season with the Maryland Orioles, when he posted an 8-1 record and 2.71 ERA in 60 IP (69 Ks, 28 BB).