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Baseball Battles Rutgers In Big East Tournament

May 23, 2002

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
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The Notre Dame baseball team (41-14, 18-8 BIG EAST) heads into the double-elimina-tion BIG EAST Tournament as the top seed, with the Irish riding a seven-game winning streak (32-4 since 9-10 start) … ND faces fourth seed Rutgers (15-11) in the 3:30 game on Thursday, May 23, at Commerce Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. … Virginia Tech (18-8) and Boston College (15-11) then will meet in the 7:00 game … the losers meet on Friday at noon, followed by the winners’ game at 3:30 (and a 7:00 elimination game) … Saturday’s title games will be played at 3:30 and 7:00 (if necessary) … all ND games will be carried live by South Bend’s WDND 1620 AM (also on the internet, at … livestats are available at or

ND is ranked 10th in the nation for ERA (3.46) and joins Texas and Rice as the only teams in the top-20 for ERA each of the past three seasons (ND was 16th in ’00, 5th in 01) … the Irish went 7-1 vs. the rest of the BIG EAST field (2-1 vs. RU, 2-0 vs. VT, 3- 0 vs. BC) … senior CF Steve Stanley became the first BIG EAST player ever to repeat as the league’s player of the year … senior C Paul O’Toole and junior LF Brian Stavisky and sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann were named 2nd team all-BIG EAST (senior 3B Andrew Bushey and senior DH Matt Bok were named to the 3rd team) … freshman SS Matt Macri (elbow surgery) and Matt Edwards (broken leg) both were lost for the year near the midseason point while several other ND starters were slowed by early-season injuries (Stavisky was sidelined by a pair of injuries that held him out for nine-game stretches).

The Irish have qualified for all seven BIG EAST baseball championships since beginning BIG EAST play in 1996, also earning the top seed in 1997, 1999 and 2001 (Villanova was the top seed in ’96, Rutgers in ’98 and ’00) … this marks just the third time in the 18-year history of the BIG EAST baseball championship – and the first since 1992 – that a team has repeated as the top seed (also Seton Hall in ’89 and ’90 and St. John’s in ’91 and ’92).

Improved hit-ting could make the difference if the Irish are to finally break through at the BIG EAST Tournament, as ND’s team batting averages at the previous five conference tournaments included: .276 in 1996 (35 strikeouts in 6 games), .280 in ’97 (32 Ks in 4 games), .247 in ’98 (41 Ks in 5 games), .238 in ’99 (18 Ks in 3 games) and then a surge to .295 in 2000 (13 Ks) … current senior SS Alec Porzel’s first two trips to the conference tournament yielded a .276 batting avg. (8-for-29), but three of his eight hits were home runs at last year’s event (tying a tournament record) … Porzel’s other career stats at the BET in-clude 9 RBI, 6 runs, 5 walks and 6 Ks … all of the remaining ND veterans with more than two career ABs at the BET are hitting below .275.

40-SOMETHING: ND owns 14 straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 49 in 2001, 48 in ’89 and ’92, 46 in ’90, ’93, ’94 and ’00, 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … ND’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks 4th in Division I, behind: Florida State (25; currently 51-12), Wichita State (25; 42- 14) and Clemson (17; 42-14).

RACKING UP THE Ws: 2002 marks the seventh time that an ND baseball team has reached 41 wins in the regular season but only two previous ND squads (44-10, ’90; 45-9 in ’01) headed into the postseason with more than 41 wins … the four previous ND teams that finished the regular season with 41 Ws were ’89, ’91, ’92 and ’00 … the 2001 Irish set the team record for regular-season wins (45) with a pair of victories at BC.

ALWAYS NEAR THE TOP: ND has fin-ished near the top of the BIG EAST regular-season standings or in the postseason tournament during each of its seven seasons in the con-ference … in 1996, the Irish played their way into the tourna-ment on the last weekend before ex-tending West Vir-ginia to a winner-take- all title game … in ’97, ND posted the best winning pct. in the conference but lost twice to upstart Villanova in the postseason … in ’98, the Irish finished second to Rutgers in both the regular-season standings and the title game … in ’99, ND became the first BIG EAST team ever to win more than 18 con-ference games (20- 5) en route to the regular-season title before finishing 18- 7 and tied for sec-ond in 2000 (ND went 1-2 in the ’99 and 2000 BETs), fol-lowed by first-place finishes in 2001 (22- 4) and ’02 (18-8).

THEY’RE BACK: Two regular members of Notre Dame’s starting unit played minimal roles in the 2001 BIG EAST Tournament due to in-jury … current junior RF Kris Billmaier (the starting LF in 2001) did not play in the 2001 BET due to a nagging back injury but returned the next week for the NCAA South Bend Re-gional (batting 7-for-16 with 4 RBI, 3 2B, 4 BB and 2 HBP) … Billmaier also played sparingly in the 2000 BET (1-for-3), as a reserve player (although he went on to start in LF and earn NCAA All-Regional honors the next week at Mississippi State) … 2B Steve Sollmann – the 2001 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year – played in the just the opening game of the ’01 BET, when he was hit with a 9th-inning pitch from Virginia Tech’s Chip Runyon … Sollmann stun-ningly returned from the wrist injury in time for the 2001 NCAAs.

GREEN ON THE HILL: Notre Dame’s 11 active pitchers for the BIG EAST Tournament (senior RHP Drew Duff is out due to injury) have combined for just 16 innings of experi-ence in the BIG EAST Tournament, with junior RHP J.P. Gagne owning most of those BET innings (12.1) … senior RHP Matt Buchmeier and junior RHP Brandon Viloria also have made short relief appearances in the confer-ence tournament … the Irish staff also includes junior RHPs Peter Ogilvie, Ryan Kalita and Matt Laird, plus five freshmen: RHPs John Axford, Grant Johnson, Chris Niesel and Mar-tin Vergara and LHP Scott Bickford.


  • ND holds a 12-8 series edge vs. RU and had won eight straight vs. the Knights before the series-ending 11-0 loss.
  • The Irish opened the ’02 series vs. RU by sweeping the doubleheader (6-5, 7-2) but Rutgers won the series finale, 11-0 (see game notes below).
  • The teams have met three times pre-viously in the BIG EAST Tournament, with RU posting an 10-inning win (7-6) over ND in the pivotal game of the 1998 BET before shutting out ND in the ’98 title game (11-0) … the Irish returned the favor in a 2001 elimination game (6-2), led by Aaron Heilman’s six-hitter.
  • The series has featured its share of blowouts (five of last 13 decided by 9- plus runs) and tense finishes (seven to-tal one-run games in the series, with five won by ND).
  • RU ace Bobby Brownlie was poised to beat ND in the 2002 series opener but the Irish plated four runs in the bottom of the 7th for a 6-5 win … Brownlie was one strike away from the win but No. 9 hitter Joe Thaman went the other way with a single through the left side, Steve Stanley singled to left (5-3) and Steve Sollmann sent a 2-run, game-tying single into right-center … the game then ended in unusual fashion when the CF walked away from the ball, thinking the game was over, with Stanley motoring home all the way from 1st base for the win.
  • Senior RHP Drew Duff picked up the Game 1 win in relief (2.1 IP, 2 H, 8 BF) of freshman John Axford (4.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 K, 8 BB) … Brownlie did not strike out an ND batter (he was averaging nearly nine per 9 IP) while allowing nine hits and one walk, with five of six runs earned.
  • A four-run 2nd inning lifted ND to a 7-2 win in the second game of the ’02 RU series, with freshman RHP Grant Johnson picking up the win (6.0 IP, 5 H, UER, 4 BB, 5 Ks) and Brandon Viloria notching the save by logging the final three innings (UER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks) … LHP Tom Crohan took the loss (1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 H, 5 BB).
  • The 11-0 RU win in the ’02 series finale halted ND’s team-record 230- game scoring streak … senior RHP Tom Wheeler (8.1 IP, 2 H, 3 BB) had the win while junior RHP Peter Ogilvie took the loss (2.0 IP, 4 R/3 ER, 4 H, 3 BB) … jun-ior CF Mike Cerulo led the RU offense (3-for-5, 3 R).

The eight-member se-nior class – DH Matt Bok, 3B Andrew Bushey, C Paul O’Toole and CF Steve Stanley, plus DH Ken Meyer, OF Matt Strickroth and RHPs Matt Buchmeier and Drew Duff – has helped ND compile a four-year record of 179-63-1 (.739) from 1999-2002 … that ranks as the fourth-best four-year winning pct. in the last 87 seasons of Notre Dame baseball, trailing only the four-year runs posted concurrently by the classes of 1993 (.758/185-59, from ,90- ,93), 1992 (.750/187-62-1) and 1994 (.746/ 185-63).

Here’s a run-down of the impressive statistics racked up by the senior class during their combined col-lege careers (20 starts shy of 1,000; 20 runs shy of 800; 25 RBI shy of 600):

  • 1,236 games played, with 980 starts
  • a .318 combined batting avg. (1,125-3,542)
  • 575 RBI and 780 runs scored
  • 64 home runs, 40 triples and 213 doubles
  • 62 more walks (435) than strikeouts (373)
  • 189 stolen bases and 60 sacrifice bunts
  • the two pitchers have combined for a 17-7 record, 10 saves, 253 innings, 201 strikeouts and just 95 walks

Notre Dame’s trio of fourth-year starters – CF Steve Stanley, 3B Andrew Bushey and C Paul O’Toole – are the only ND classmates ever to start 200-plus games (Stanley 243, O’Toole 216 and Bushey 209) … their combined career numbers include 679 games played, 668 starts, 821 hits in 2,238 at-bats (.367), 398 RBI and 542 runs scored, 42 home runs, 26 triples and 144 doubles, 62 more walks (281) than strikeouts (219), 175 stolen bases and 56 sacrifice bunts. WHO’S HOT?

  • Sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann: 11-for-26 in last games 7 (hits in 6), with 10 RBI, 9 R, HR, 3B, 3 2B, 2 BB
  • Senior 3B Andrew Bushey: 9-for-18 in 5 games last week (10 RBI, HR, 4 2B, 2 BB)
  • Senior DH Matt Bok: 6-for-15 in current 5- game hitting streak
  • Sophomore SS Javier Sanchez: riding team’s longest current hitting streak (6 games, per-sonal season-high, plus runs scored in each of last 7 games), batting 8-for-18 in the hit streak (10 R, 3B, BB, HP, SAC)
  • Junior LF Brian Stavisky: 16-for-33 in last 8 games (14 RBI, 14 R, HR, 3B, 3 2B, 3 BB), with 7-game hit streak before final game vs. BC
  • Sophomore 1B Joe Thaman: 7-for-15 in last 6 games (12 RBI, 6 R, 4 HR), with hits in 5 of those games WHO’S DUE?
  • Sophomore RF Kris Billmaier: 7-for-35 (.200) in last 10 games (5 RBI, 2B)
  • Senior C Paul O’Toole: 3-for-22 in last 9 games (6 RBI, HR, 3 SF)
  • Senior CF Steve Stanley: 1-for-8 in BC se-ries (4 BB, HP) after batting 11-22 in previous five; dropped his season avg. from .461 to .449, with season-long “slump” of x at-bats without a hit (also had first back-to-back hitless games of season, with just eight total).

Senior CF Steve Stanley is on pace to challenge team records for two of the three season batting percent-ages, with his .459 batting average ranking 12 points ahead of Edwin Hartwell’s 1993 mark (.447) while Stanley’s .527 on-base pct. is just behind the .531 posted by Hartwell’s classmate Eric Danapilis (in 1991).

In addition to his stellar all-around numbers, senior CF Steve Stanley leads ND in batting with run-ners in scoring position (.483) while his .562 on-base pct. when leading off an inning trails only junior LF Brian Stavisky (.583) … Stavisky (.481) is far-and-away the best 2-out hitter on a team that is batting just .277 when facing its last out (compared to a .309 team avg. with 2 outs in 2001), with Stanley a dis-tant second on the list of the team’s top two-out hitters (.358) … surging sophomore 1B Joe Thaman (15), Stavisky (13) and senior C Paul O’Toole (13) are the team leaders in 2-out RBI while Stavisky (.667), Stanley (.620), senior 3B Andrew Bushey (.616) and sopho-more 2B Steve Sollmann (.602) are the team leaders for pct. of runners advanced (Bushey has advanced a team-high 36 runners).

In the 11 games prior to the Rutgers loss, Notre Dame totaled 19 more runs (93) than runners left on base (74), batting .439 with runners in scoring po-sition during that 11-game span (an impres-sive 125 points higher than the team’s .314 overall batting in those games) … in fact, the Irish hit just .247 during those 11 games in “non-RBI” at-bats, before cranking it up nearly 200 points higher with runners in scoring po-sition … ND then hit 0-for-4 with RBI opp’s in the loss to Rutgers (1-for-10 in all ABs with runners on) … for the season, ND owns nearly a 1-to-1 ratio of runs scored/LOB (399/426; 0.94), compared to just an 0.56 ratio for the opponents (237/420) – with the Irish also own-ing a huge edge in season batting with RBI opp’s (.329-.221).

Notre Dame has won nearly 82% of its games in April during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era (since ’95), with that 158-36 April record including a 39-4 mark during the past two seasons (20-2 in ’01, 19- 2 in ’02).


  • Top ND pitchers with runners on base (in terms of opp. batting avg.) are Martin Vergara (.214), Drew Duff (.222), John Axford (.227) and Peter Ogilvie (.240).
  • Leaders with 2 outs: Vergara (.100), Duff (.182), Gagne (.202) and Chris Niesel (.218).
  • Top pitchers vs. leadoff batters include Viloria (.250 opp. on-base), Niesel (.313) and Gagne (.333).

Notre Dame’s recent surge in offensive efficiency has included qual-ity execution, with the team’s 52 total sacri-fice bunts (an ND record) nearly double the total posted by the 2001 ND team (28) … se-nior 3B Andrew Bushey – in addition to bat-ting .356, with 5 HR, 18 2B and 49 RBI – has executed 10 sacrifice bunts (more than dou-bling his entire total of just four SACs in his first three seasons combined) … junior RF Kris Billmaier (8, including two squeeze bunts) also has a high sac-bunt total, after to-taling none as a freshman and just two in 2001.

Eighth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 677-417-1 (.619) record in 20 college seasons … in addition to his 345-138-1 (.714) mark in eight seasons at ND, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in six sea-sons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six sea-sons at Air Force … Mainieri’s ND teams have combined for a 121-41(.747) regular-season record in seven seasons, making the Irish skip-per the winningest coach in BIG EAST history (based on winning pct.).

Junior LF Brian Stavisky’s return from his second nine-game lay-off led to stability in a Notre Dame lineup that was all over the map in the first half of the season … the Irish are 24-4 since Stavisky’s return (April 6 vs. St. John’s), with four players – Stavisky, se-nior CF Steve Stanley, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann and senior 3B Andrew Bushey – start-ing all 27 games in that span while sophomore SS Javier Sanchez has started 26 of the last 27 games and three others have made 25 starts in that span: junior RF Kris Billmaier, sophomore 1B Joe Thaman and senior C Paul O’Toole … senior DH Matt Bok has started 21 of the last 27 games to complete the stable lineup during the second half of the season … the batting order likewise has gained some consistency, with Stanley, Sollmann and Stavisky occupying the top three spots, followed by Bushey, O’Toole and Billmaier, with Bok, Sanchez and Thaman typically in the final three spots.

Notre Dame’s regular-season victory total (41) ended up just four shy of the landmark 2001 season, which featured 18 complete games and just eight saves during the regular-season slate … the young 2002 staff has taken a different path to 40- plus wins, with junior RHP Peter Ogilvie account-ing for the team’s only CGs while the ND bullpen already has set the team record for saves in a season (16, besting the 15 from 1999 and 2000) … eight different pitchers have posted saves in 2002, led by junior J.P. Gagne (4), senior Matt Buchmeier and junior Brandon Viloria (both with 3) and freshman Chris Niesel (2) … senior Drew Duff, junior Matt Laird and freshmen Scott Bickford and Tyler Jones also have chipped in saves to the record-setting total.

Another impres-sive season trend by the ND pitching staff has been the low home-run total by the opposing bat-ters (21), which is comparable to the 22 HRs al-lowed by the 2001 staff … the current low total of opponent HRs is all the more noteworthy when considering that the 2000 staff served up 33 and the ’99 pitchers were touched for 55 HRs (prior to the bat restrictions) … four regulars – freshmen John Axford and Martin Vergara, junior Brandon Viloria, senior Drew Duff – have yielded just one HR this season while juniors Peter Ogilvie and Ryan Kalita have been touched for just two HRs.

Freshman RHP Grant Johnson has a chance to post one of the high-est strikeout totals ever by a ND freshman, with his 67 Ks ranking just 12 behind the freshman record set by Aaron Heilman in 1998 (78) … David Sinnes posted 77 Ks as a freshman in 1990 while Tom Price’s rookie season included 69 Ks … Johnson (6-4) also is one win shy of becoming seventh ND freshman ever to post 7-plus wins in his rookie season, led by the 1990 tandem of Sinnes (9-2) and fellow RHP Pat Leahy (8-1), plus seven-game winners Price (7-2), Dan Stavisky (7-1 in ’96), Heilman (7-3, mostly in relief) and J.P. Gagne (7-1 in ’00) … Johnson’s 73.2 innings pitched rank third all-time among ND freshmen, behind Leahy (83.0) and Price (81.1) … since 1991, the best opponent batting averages com-piled by ND freshmen have come from Heilman (.198), Larry Mohs (.201) and Stavisky (.235) – with three current freshmen having a chance to crack that threesome: Martin Vergara (.236), John Axford (.238) and Chris Niesel (.243).

One of the game-by-game goals of the ND baseball team is two make ,,two great defensive plays ?/?? but the Irish went well beyond those expectations in the season-ending sweep of Boston College … ND made no errors in the three games vs. BC while totaling four double plays and 14 “defensive gems,” with sophomore 1B Joe Thaman accounting for seven of the stellar plays … one of the more noteworthy fielding plays came from junior LF Brian Stavisky, who threw a strike to senior C Paul O’Toole to complete a key double play in the first game.

Notre Dame boats one of the nation’s top defensive tandems on the infield cor-ners, with sophomore 1B Joe Thaman and 3B Andrew Bushey both living up their reputations as the BIG EAST’s top defensive players at their respective positions (per Baseball America’s col-lege preview issue).

Sophomore 2B and 2-hole hit-ter Steve Sollmann has begun to round into form in recent weeks, after being hampered by a nag-ging quad injury for much of the season (the in-jury has led to him totaling just two SBs in 2002, after swiping 23 in ’01) … Sollmann posted a pair of 6-RBI doubleheaders in consecutive weekends vs. Rutgers (3-for-7, R, 3B, 2 SAC) and Villanova (4-for-8, 11 TB 3 R, HR, 3B, 2 2B, SF) … he headed into April with just a .250 season batting average but went on to hit .365 in the month of April, including .389 during the team’s 16-game winning streak, pushing his season average to .321 as May rolled around … Sollmann’s stellar (and healthy) rookie season in 2001 saw him earn first team all-BIG EAST and BIG EAST rookie-of-the- year awards while also being dubbed a con-sensus first team Freshman All-American, after batting .362 with 36 RBI, five home runs, two triples, nine doubles, 52 runs scored and 23 SBs … he heads into the 2002 postseason with a .329 average, plus 34 RBI, one home run, two triples, seven doubles, 36 runs and two SBs.

Freshman RHP John Axford often has bailed out his high walk total and leadoff on-base pct. by serving up a team-high 17 double plays (the rest of the staff has 26) … all but one of Axford’s double plays have come via the groundball (plus a P4-2), including five 4- 6-3s, four 6-4-3s and four 5-4-3s (plus a 4-3, 1-6- 3 and 5-3) … the ND defense has turned multiple DPs in six of Axford’s outings, including four in one game at Seton Hall (plus 2 DPs in games vs. New Orleans, Creighton, Southern Illinois, Arizona State and Rutgers).

Notre Dame’s other pitch-ers with the most double plays include junior RHP J.P. Gagne (7) and freshman RHP Grant Johnson (5), plus three each from freshman Chris Niesel and junior Brandon Viloria, two behind seniors Matt Buchmeier and Drew Duff and freshman Martin Vergara, and one with junior Ryan Kalita and freshman Scott Bickford on the mound … ND’s double plays include 40 via groundballs, led by the 6-4-3 (14), 4-6-3 (8) and 5-4-3 (6), plus five 6-3s and two each of the 6-3, 1-6-3, 1-2-3 and 4-3 variety (plus a 5-3) … the other 13 double plays include three unassisted lineout plays by sophomore 1B Joe Thaman and three 5-3 lineout DPs, plus a 1-3 lineout, a rare P4-2 and five DPs started by outfielders (9-6, 8-6, 9-2, 8-3 and 7-2) … the most-common innings for the Irish DPs in-clude the 4th (9), 2nd and 7th (8 each) and 3rd (7), plus six in the 6th, five each in the 5th and 1st, three in the 8th and two in the 9th.

Sophomore 1B Joe Thaman hit only two home runs as a freshman and had totaled just four career home runs in his first 230 career at-bats before launching his first of two HRs in the Mother’s Day doubleheader vs. Villanova (in Philadelphia) … Thaman was not done with his home run, as he blasted a pair of grand slams in consecutive games of the sea-son- ending Boston College series … that home run binge included 4 HRs in just 14 ABs, well be-low the total of 230 ABs that Thaman needed for his first 4 career homers.

The sweep of BC com-pleted an 18-4 turnaround in the conference standings for Notre Dame (after an 0-4 start), bringing back memories of the 1997 campaign in which the Irish were swept in the first weekend at Seton Hall before winning 15 of the final 18 to claim the top seed in the BIG EAST Tournament (with several rainouts).

Prior to the 1999 season, no BIG EAST baseball team ever had posted more than 18 conference wins in a sea-son … ND became the first team to break the 18- win barrier by going 20-5 in 1999 and then fin-ished 18-7 in 2000 before a record-setting 22-4 mark in 2001 and 18-8 this season … that four-year run adds up to 78-24 (.765) and boosts ND’s all-time record in seven seasons of BIG EAST regular-season games to 121-41 (.747), the best conference winning pct. by a BIG EAST team dur-ing that 1996-2001 span.

ND has posted 79 winning seasons in the program’s 110- year history, including 15 straight winning sea-sons (the ’87 team was 15-29).

Notre Dame’s five starters from Ohio each earned all-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive season, with senior CF Steve Stanley (Columbus suburb of Upper Ar-lington) repeating as player of the year while se-nior C Paul O’Toole (Cleveland suburb of Lake-wood) again was a 2nd-team pick and senior DH Matt Bok (Akron) repeated as a 3rd-teamer … senior 3B Andrew Bushey (Youngstown suburb of Boardman) also was named to the 3rd team (he was a 1st-teamer in ’01) while sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann (Cincinnati) was named to the 2nd team (he was a 1st-team pick and BIG EAST rookie of the year in ’01) … ND’s Ohio connection also includes third-year assistant coach Dusty Lepper (a Findlay native and University of Toledo graduate) and senior manager Katie Furman (Ak-ron), who served as valedictorian at last week’s Saint Mary’s College graduation ceremonies (she had a 3.98 cumulative GPA as a management/ marketing double major).

ND owns a 50-13 scoring edge (+37) in the 5th inning this season, with Arizona State’s 4-run output in the 5th-inning on April 26th nearly matching the total number of 5th-inning runs allowed by the Irish in the previous 41 games (5) … ND’s most dominating innings span the 3rd (+23, 57-34), 4th (+24, 49-25) and 5th – with the owning a +84 scoring edge in that three-inning span (156-72)… the opponents own an edge vs. ND in only the 8th (-6, 27-33).

Junior RHP Brandon Viloria has averaged just 1.69 walks per 9 IP during his career (11/58.2) – which would challenge the ND record of 1.64 set by Alan Walania from 1990-93 (59/324) … Viloria owns a 2.25 ERA (second-best on the staff), plus a 2-1 record and three saves this season, with just five walks in 20 IP (no wild pitches and one hit batter) … he has yet to throw a wild pitch in 59 career innings, with just one hit batter.

Despite seeing his final two prep seasons and first season at ND wiped out by injuries, junior RHP Peter Ogilvie steadily has pieced together a solid career that includes a 12-3 record … all four of his com-plete- game efforts have come in big games (in 2001 vs. Michigan and vs. Florida International in the NCAAs; in ’02 vs. VT and BC) … his 2.73 career ERA, spanning 112 innings, would rank 7th in the ND record book and 4th-best by an Irish pitcher in nearly 40 seasons.

Freshman RHP Chris Niesel – a regular member of the rota-tion who opened his career by totaling 10 and 9 Ks in his first two starts – closed the 10-6 win over BC to pick up his second save in as many weeks, facing just seven batters over the final two innings (H, K) … since returning from a five-week bout with mononucleosis, Niesel has not allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings (dropping his ERA to 4.11), with five Ks, one walk and one hit allowed.

Junior LF Brian Stavisky returned to action in the 5-4 win over Western Michigan on April 9, after missing nine games due to a facial fracture (he was hit by a pitch early in the March 28 doubleheader at West Virginia, suffering two broken bones on the left side of his face) … the WMU game marked just the third game this season that ND’s three preseason All-Americans – Stavisky, senior CF Steve Stanley and sopho-more 2B Steve Sollmann – had started in the same game (also the opener vs. Missouri, when Sollmann left with a 4th-inning quad in-jury, and March 13 vs. Creighton).

The recent 11- 0 loss to Rutgers halted Notre Dame’s school record for consecutive games with at least one run scored (230) … the Irish scored in the final 57 games of 1999 and in every game of 2000 (64) and ’01 (63), plus the first 46 of ’02, for a streak that stretched back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 (the fourth career game for the current senior class) … the previous 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 the 1994 NCAA East Regional at Clemson) … that streak ended vs. another Texas team, 2-0 vs. Texas Pan-American in a seven-inning game on March 10, 1997 (at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … ND has scored in 98.7 pct. of its games in the Mainieri era (470 of 476), with other shutouts 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 (April 23, 1930-May 26, 1937) and 103 games (May 25, 1907-May 17, 1912).

The re-cent 16-game winning streak matched the longest of the eight-year Paul Mainieri era, third-longest in the program’s 110-year history (behind an 18-game streak in 1991 and a 17-game streak in 1907) … the ’91 squad remains the only ND team in the last 85 seasons to win more than 16 consecutive games in a season.


  • Owns ND career records for hits (362), sto-len bases (115), consecutive starts (243, 2nd in NCAA history behind Chip Hale’s 255 with Arizona in ’84-’87) and at-bats (946), plus 2nd in runs (242, behind Pat Pesavento’s 246).
  • Also owns BIG EAST career records for hits (154) and runs scored (110) in BIG EAST regular-season games.
  • Entered the week ranked 5th in the nation for batting average (.449).
  • His 362 career hits rank sixth in Division I history and are second-most since the 56- game schedule limit was implemented.
  • Owns three double-digit hit streaks this season (13-10-11) and seven in his career.
  • Has struck out just seven times in 257 to-tal plate appearances (36.7 per K).
  • Has hits in 47 of 55 games this season and in 54 of his last 62 with the Irish.
  • Went 50 games without an error, before a controversial dropped-ball call at Seton Hall, and has just eight career Es.
  • His 96 hits this season rank 3rd in ND his-tory, behind his 102 in 2001 and Dan Peltier’s 115 in 1989.
  • Stanley’s 31 stolen bases match his career-best and rank 4th all-time at ND (Pesavento had 38 in both ’88 and ’89 while Scott Sollmann swiped 52 in 1996)

Senior Steve Stanley has started all 243 games of his ND career (all in center field) while log-ging all but 25 innings in CF his four sea-sons … the familiar #2 has patrolled center field for the Irish in 98.8 percent of the in-nings (2,015 of 2,076) – including all but two out of 513.2 as a freshman (his class-mate Paul O’Toole played the final two in-nings in a 20-10 loss at Northwestern on April 6, 1999) … Stanley then played in CF for the final 267.2 innings of ’99 and the first 497 of his sophomore season – a span of 764.2 consecutive innings in CF … the other players who have replaced Stanley with short stints in CF include Ben Cooke (’00- ’01), Mike Naumann (’01), John Heintz (’01) and George Howard (’02).

Stanley is on the verge of becoming the fourth ND player ever to hit .400-plus in multiple seasons (he hit .400 in 2001) … each of the previous three multiple-. 400 hitters also patrolled center field for the Irish: Dan Peltier (.414 in 1988, .446 in ’89), Eric Danapilis (.429 in ’90, .438 in ’93) and Scott Sollmann (.402 in ’94, /.406 in ’95) … the above four players also own the top spots at ND for career batting average: Peltier (.406, ’87-’89), Danapilis (.405, ’90- ’93), Stanley (.383, ’99-’02) and Sollmann (.372, ’94-’96).

Senior CF Steve Stanley (.449) and junior LF Brian Stavisky (.419) are bidding to become the third pair of ND teammates ever to hit above .400 in the same season (and the first in seven years) … another outfield duo did it in 1993, when LF Edwin Hartwell set the still-standing ND record (.447) while CF Eric Danapilis was hitting .438 (they dueled atop the NCAA charts for much of ’93) … one season later, IF Robbie Kent and CF Scott Sollmann both hit .402 in ’94.

Senior DH Matt Bok (Akron, Ohio) has delivered in clutch fash-ion five times in recent weeks:

  • His seventh-inning single broke a 2-2 tie in the series finale versus St. John’s and led to a three-run inning in that 5-2 win (April 7).
  • Two days later, he poked a single into left field to plate Javier Sanchez with the game-winning run as the Irish rallied for a 5- 4 win over Western Michigan.
  • His most vivid play came in the seven-inning opener versus Virginia Tech (April 12), when he led off the bottom of the 11th with a triple to the rightfield wall before scoring for the tense 2-1 win.
  • His hit vs. Arizona State (April 26) came earlier in the game (5th) than the above three but had the added drama of a tie score, two outs and a 1-2 count. Bok came through on a 1-2 pitch, drilling the two-run single into right for the 6-4 lead (ND won 9-4)
  • He then provided the go-ahead single for a 4-3 lead in the 6th inning of the 7-4 win over Michigan (April 30, in Grand Rapids).