April 17, 2002
The Notre Dame baseball team (23-12, 8-6 BIG EAST) wraps up its 17-day, 14-game homestand with a Wednesday-night game versus Toledo (9-18) on April 17 (6:05), before heading to Seton Hall for a three-game weekend BIG EAST series .. ND has won 14 of its last 16 and sits in a five-way tie for fifth in the BIG EAST standings (after starting 0-4), behind 10-4 Boston College … the Irish entered the week raked 13th nationally in team ERA (3.38, now 3.48) … ND, Rice and Texas are the only teams currently in the top 20 for team ERA who also finished among the final top-20 ERA leaders in both 2000 and ’01 (ND was 16th and 5th) .
MATCHUPS: Notre Dame and Toledo both are expected to use several pitchers, with the Irish starting Tyler Jones (2 GP, 0.00, 0-0, 4 IP, 3 H, BB, K) while Toledo also will start a frshman RHP, Ben Lovell (7 GP/1 GS, 1-0, 9.00, 14 IP, 16 H, 11 BB, 9 K) … other ND pitchers who could see the mound include junior RHPs Ryan Kalita and Matt Laird and senior RHPs Drew Duff and Matt Buchmeier … freshman John Axford and junior Peter Ogilvie are the likely starters for Saturday’s doubleheader at SHU … junior J.P. Gagne or freshman Grant Johnson then likely would start on Sunday, pending the relief needs in the first two games of the series … another regular member of Notre Dame’s group of righthanded starters, freshman Chris Niesel, is sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis (he last pitched on April 7).
RADIO COVERAGE: South Bend’s ESPN Radio 1620 AM (WDND) and its sister station WHLY 1580 AM are slated to broadcast every Notre Dame game in 2002 … a real-audio link to internet broadcasts may be accessed at www.und.com while real-time stats for home games – including updated play-by-play – likewise can be accessed at und.com … all remaining ND baseball games in 2002 are slated to air on WDND 1620.
STANLEY ON A TEAR: Senior CF Steve Stanley entered the week ranked 11th in the nation for batting average (.459), with only six players entering the week higher than his current avg. (.472) … he also ranks 19th nationally in stolen bases (23) … Stanley is batting .292 (25-for-42) in his current 10-game hitting streak (with multiple hits in each of the last nine), his third double-digit hitting streak of the season (also 13 and 10) and the seventh of his career … Stanley’s 48.0 at-bats per K this season (144/3) would rank first in the ND record book (since ’69), with no Ks in the last 13 games (47 ABs) … his ever-growing career hit total (335) leaves Stanley on the verge of becoming the eighth Division I player ever to reach 350 hits (he also holds ND records for career stolen bases, with 107, and consecutive starts, with 223) … Stanley has hits in 33 of 35 games this season and in 40 of his last 42 with the Irish (he also has gone 47 games without an error and has just seven career Es).
FAVORITE MONTH: Notre Dame has won 81% of its games in April during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era (since ’95), with that 151-36 April record including a 31-4 mark during the past two seasons (20-2 in ’01, 11-2 in ’02).
KEY FACTORS: Several factors have played key roles in determining Notre Dame’s wins and losses this season, including:
NOT GOING DOWN SWINGING: Several Notre Dame players have proven tough to strike out during the 2002 season:
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Eighth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 659-415-1 (.614) record in 19-plus college seasons … in addition to his 327-136-1 (.706) mark at ND, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … his 327 wins now rank 2nd all-time at ND, behind Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75), with Pat Murphy posting a 318-116-1 record from 1988-94 … Mainieri has seen 27 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball (19 via the draft), with RHP Christian Parker being the first to reach the Majors (as the N.Y. Yankees No. 5 starter, making his debut vs. Toronto on April 6 at Yankees Stadium – with Mainieri and others from ND on hand) … 15 of his players at St. Thomas went on to pro ball, including three – Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier – who have played in the Majors … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to top 500 wins … Demie won 1,018 in 30 years at Miami-Dade North CC.
BACK TOGETHER: Junior leftfielder Brian Stavisky returned to action in last Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Western Michigan, 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 sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann – had started in the same game (the first two were the opener vs. Missouri, when Sollmann left with a 4th-inning quad injury, and March 13 vs. Creighton).
TAKING TURNS: Notre Dame’s ERA charts having featured a new leader after virtually every game in recent weeks, with various pitchers turning in strong outings to take over the top spot … nine different pitchers have combined for the teams 18 wins, including five-time winner J.P. Gagne, 4-1 Peter Ogilvie, two wins three Ws, three two-time winners and junior Ryan Kalita (who posted his first win earlier last week vs. WMU) … ND’s 3.48 team ERA – impressively close to ND’s 3.22 mark that ranked 6th in the nation last season – includes six of nine “regulars” (10-plus innings) with ERAs under 3.10.
BIG EAST BUGGER: Two major BIG EAST career records also are within the grasp of senior CF Steve Stanley, as he ranks 2rd in conference hits (137) and is tied for 1st in runs (93) – needing one hit to tie the record … former Rutgers players Darren Fenster (138 hits) and David DeJesus (93 runs) currently hold those BIG EAST records … Stanley’s six career triples in BIG EAST play rank 9th in the league record book, four shy of the shared record.
STREAKS FOR ALL SEASONS: Stanley opened the season with a 13-game hitting streak (the 5th double-digit streak of his career, 2nd-longest overall) before adding a 10-game streak that ended in a short stint vs. Valparaiso (0-for-2) nd the current 10-game streak … Stanley – who closed 2001 by batting 14-for-23 in the NCAAs – has four-hit games this season vs. Fairfield, Sacred Heart, Creighton and Ball State (bringing his career total to 11 four-hit games, plus 5-for-5 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the ’01 NCAAs) … his career-best hitting streak lasted 16 games in 2000 (he had a 12-game hitting streak in ’99 and 10-game streaks in ’00 and ’01) … Stanley’s team-best .472 season batting average includes 15 walks, five sacrifice bunts and just three Ks … he has hits in 33 of 35 games in 2002 (40 of the last 42, including the final seven of 2001).
BROKEN RECORDS: Stanley – a leading contender for national player-of-the-year honors – already has claimed three ND career records, for consecutive starts (now 223), hits (324) and stolen bases (103) … he also has moved into 2nd on the ND career at-bats list (876), ranks 3rd in runs scored and has pushed his career batting average to .381, which ranks 3rd in ND history.
GREAT EYE: Stanley has struck out just three times in 118 at-bats this season (with 13 walks), for a ratio of 39.33 ABs per K … that would rank as the 2nd-best ratio in the ND record book (since 1969, min. 90 ABs), with Rick Pullano holding the record with 3 Ks in 132 ABs (44.00) … 2nd place on the list currently belongs to Dan Szajko’s 1982 total of 4 Ks in 137 ABs (34.25) … the top 10 on that list include just one player since 1982 – as current senior 3B Andrew Bushey averaged 17.58 ABs per K in 2000 (211/12, good for 10th on the list) … Stanley owns a career average of 14.91 ABs per K (850/57, with 101 walks), with near-identical strikeouts totals (18, 19, 17) in his previous three seasons).
AN SB A DAY: Stanley has swiped 23 stolen bases this season and could challenge the ND season record set by Scott Sollmann in 1996 (52, in 62 GP) … ironically, Sollmann’s brother Steve typically bats with Stanley on base (as the Irish No. 2 hitter) … Stanley’s 107 career SBs rank first in ND history, besting Sollmann’s record total of 101 (from ’94-’96).
PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN: Stanley has started all 223 games of his ND career (all in CF) while logging all but 20 innings in CF since ’99 (he played every inning of 60 straight games, before yielding to George Howard late in the 6th inning of both 7-inning Valparaiso games) … the familiar #2 has just seven career errors, with none in the last 47 games … in addition to Howard, only four other players have briefly replaced Stanley in CF: Paul O’Toole (’99), Ben Cooke (’00, ’01), Mike Naumann (’01) and John Heintz (’01).
ND QUICK NOTES
- Junior Javier Sanchez – in his first year of playing SS – has shored up his defense in the 13-game homestand (9 error-free games) while scoring 10 runs in that span (3rd-most on team).
- Senior C Paul O’Toole (26 HR/10 3B) recently joined Brian Stavisky (28/12), Alec Porzel (37/12, ’98-’01) and Ryan Topham (34/13, ’93-’95) as the only ND players ever to record 25-plus home runs and 10-plus triples.
- The Irish are hitting .344 in the 11-2 homestand, led by Steve Stanley (.553), Brian Stavisky (.440), Matt Bok (.367), Kris Billmaier (.356), Joe Thaman (.351) and Andrew Bushey (.333) – with a 2.43 team ERA and .975 fielding pct. (12 Es).
- ND owns a 35-5 scoring edge in the 5th inning but has been outscored 25-9 in the 8th … the Irish are 13-2-1 in their last 16 games that have extended to extra innings (including Friday’s 2-1, 11-inning win over Virginia Tech).
- Brian Stavisky returned last Tuesday vs. Western Michigan after missing nine games with a facial fracture … that marked just the third game this season that ND’s three preseason All-Americans – Stavisky, Steve Stanley and Steve Sollmann – had started in the same game.
- Freshman shortstops Matt Macri (Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery) and Matt Edwards (broken leg) both are out for the year … freshman RHP Chris Niesel is sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis (his last outing was April 7).