April 7, 2000
The Notre Dame baseball team (20-6, 4-2 BIG EAST) welcomes Boston College to Frank Eck Stadium for the Irish’s first 2000 BIG EAST Conference series at home (April 8, noon doubleheder, April 9, noon doubleheader) … the series will be carried live by South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM), with real-audio – plus real-time stats – available at www.und.com … the Irish played 20 of their first 24 games away from home but are in the midst of an eight-game home streak … the Irish took two of three on the road last week at Connecticut (8-3, 1-8, 9-2) before posting home wins over Valparaiso (7-2) and IUPUI (7-3) .. Notre Dame (20-6) has equaled the quickest season to 20 wins by an Irish team since the 1959 team opened 20-5 (the 1989 and ’90 teams also started 20-6).
NOTES FROM UCONN SERIES
Junior RHP Aaron Heilman (2 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 6 Ks) tossed his fourth complete game of the season in the 8-3 opener but UConn freshman LHP Jesse Carlson stole the day with a four-hit effort in the nine-inning nightcap (1n 8-1 Huskies win) … ND had to overcome a 3-2 deficit in the first game, with senior LF Matt Nussbaum and junior SS Alec Porzel each plating two runs in the decisive top of the fourth … UConn posted its first win over the Irish since ’96, with Notre Dame now holding a 5-2 series edge … ND freshman RF Brian Stavisky saw his 14- game hitting streak end in the nightcap, but he kept it alive in stunning fashion during the first game, by launching his sixth home run of the season–with the ball sailing high over the 340-foot rightfield fence and landing in the service road, more than 100 feet past the fence … senior 1B Jeff Felker gave the Irish a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the day, sending his second home run of the season into the trees beyond the fence in right-center field … junior 3B Chris Wissner – a transfer from Marist College–delivered the clinching blow for the Huskies in the nightcap, sending a grand-slam home run to deep right-center field that capped UConn’s five-run bottom of the fifth … in the 9-2 finale, righthander J.P. Gagne (7 IP, 1 R, 7 H, 1BB, 1 K) turned in one of the top performances by an ND freshman pitcher in recent memory … ND pounded out 16 hits – equaling the team’s second-most hits in a game this season – led by a career-best, 4-for-5 day from Porzel and three hits each from sophomore DH Ken Meyer and Nussbaum … ND broke the game open with four runs in the 9th while senior RHP John Corbin registered the final five outs for his fifth save of the season and 14th of his career (extending his Irish record).
MIDWEEK GAME NOTES
The 7-2 win over Valparaiso included five strong innings from freshman RHP Matt Laird (2 R, 1 ER, 1 H, 5 Ks) … sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier (2 H, 3 Ks) tossed the final two innings for the first save of his Irish career … Alec Porzel batted 3-for-5 for his fifth straight multiple-hit game … in the 7-3 win over IUPUI, sophomore RHP Drew Duff tied a Notre Dame record for strikeouts in a game at Eck Stadium … Porzel went 1-for-2 to establish a career-best, 12-game hitting streak … freshman RF Brian Stavisky hit his 7th home run of the season, a solo shot in the 1st … previous Irish players to post 10 Ks in a game at Eck Stadium include current junior RHP Aaron Heilman (vs. Oakland, ’99), Brad Lidge (vs. Northeastern Illinois, ’97), Dan Stavisky, the cousin of current Irish freshman RF Brian Stavisky (vs. Pittsburgh, ’96) and lefty Tom Price (vs. Indiana State and Illinois-Chicago, both in ’94) … the overall Eck Stadium record for most strikeouts by one player is 13, set by Alabama’s Will Schleuss on April 25, 1995 … the record for most Ks by one team in a game at Eck Stadium is 15, set by the Irish in a 1998 game vs. Bowling Green.
A WINNING TRADITION
In four-plus BIG EAST seasons, ND has posted 27 series wins, five series losses and four series ties … the Irish have won 10 of their last 12 BIG EAST series (with one tie) and 22 of the last 27 (with three ties) … Notre Dame has played 34 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 18 of them (with 14 splits and just two sweeps by the opponent) … the Irish have played 25 BIG EAST doubleheaders since the last time they were swept by the opponent (at Seton Hall, early in ’97) … the only other doubleheader sweep by a BIG EAST team over ND was by West Virginia in ’96.
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup
* – lefthanded hitter, # – switch hitter
|DH||Ken Meyer||So.||6-0/210||Fort Myers, FL||.368 RBI (7-for-19), 2 RBI, 4 R, 3B, 2B, 4 K||3-for-6, RBI, R, 3B in 9-2 win at UConn|
|CF||*Steve Stanley||So.||5-9/150||Upper Arlington, OH||.327, 9 RBI, 13 R, 3B, 2 2B, 13 BB, 10 K, 12-17 SB, 3 SAC, SF||12 starts at leadoff, 14 in 2nd spot|
|SS||Alec Porzel||Jr.||6-0/190||Lisle, IL||.367, 20 RBI, 18 R, 3 HR, 3 3B, 10 2B, 9 BB, 10 K, 3-6 SB, 2 SF||Riding career-best, 12-game hit streak|
|1B||*Jeff Felker||Sr.||6-5/190||Ellicott City, MD||.293, 13 RBI, 16 R, 2 HR, 3B, 9 2B, 3 BB, 9 K, 1-3 SB||Team-best .414 in ’99 BIG EAST gms|
|LF/C||Matt Nussbaum||Sr.||6-0/180||South Bend, IN||.318, 15 RBI, 13 R, 3B, 4 2B, 5 BB, 6 K, 2-2 SB, SF||On 7-game hit streak (12-for-27)|
|RF||*Brian Stavisky||Fr.||6-3/230||Port Allegany, PA||.267, 17 RBI, 21 R, 7 HR, 3 3B, 3 2B, 8 BB, 21 K, 0-1 SB||ND freshman HR record is 11 (Ust)|
|C/LF||*Paul O’Toole||So.||6-2/210||Lakewood, OH||.314, 16 RBI, 19 R, 2 HR, 3B, 2 2B, 11 BB, 10 K, 8-9 SB, 3 SF||Hitting .333 w/ runners in scoring pos.|
|3B||*Andrew Bushey||So.||6-0/200||Boardman, OH||.291, 10 RBI, 10 R, 5 2B, 7 BB, 4 K, 0-2 SB, 2 SF||Hitting .326 w/ runners in scoring pos.|
|2B||#Jeff Perconte||Sr.||5-11/190||Arlington Hts., IL||.234, 8 RBI, 9 R, 2 2B, 4 BB, 10 K, 0-1 SB, SF, 3 SAC||10 runners advanced (2nd on team)|
|OTHER TOP RESERVES|
|DH/LF||Matt Strickroth||So.||6-5/230||Mission Viejo, CA||.268, 10 RBI, 9 R, HR, 5 2B, BB, 8 K, 1-1 SB, SF||’99 BIG EAST gms: .318, 12 RBI|
|DH||#Matt Bok||So.||5-11/185||Akron, Ohio||.250, 7 RBI, 10 R, 2 2B, 4 BB, 9 K, 1-2 SB, SAC, SF||Hitting 9-for-19 (.474) w/ runners on|
|UTIL||#Ben Cooke||Jr.||5-9/170||Bay Village, OH||.250, 4 RBI, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 9 K, 2-6 SB, 3 SAC||Two 1Bs, 2 R in 6-4 win over Georgia|
|IF||Kris Billmaier||Fr.||5-11/185||Woodinvale, WA||.267, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 2 K||Hitting 6-for-17 (.353) with runners on|
|IF/OF||Ed Golom||So.||5-9/175||Lockport, IL||2 GP/1 GS, 0-for-4, K||HR on 1st career pitch (@FIU, ’99)|
|IF||Jesse Delcamp||Fr.||6-2/165||Tierra Verde, FL|
|RHP||Aaron Heilman||Jr.||6-5/210||Logansport, IN||1.70, 5-1, 8 GP/6 GS, 47.2 IP, 51 K/8 BB, .202 opp. avg.||Last 6 GP: 5-0, 0.90, 40.2 IP, 45 K/6 BB|
|RHP||Scott Cavey||Sr.||6-5/200||Omaha, NE||3.86, 3-1, 5 GS, 28 IP, 25 K/11 BB, .202 opp. avg.||Last 9 GP: 7-1, 2.94, 52 IP, 47 K/14 BB|
|RHP||J.P. Gagne||Fr.||6-0/190||Bloomington, MN||3.00, 4-0, 8 GP/3 GS, 27 IP, 14 K/4 BB, .314 opp. avg.||Win @UConn: 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, BB, K|
|LHP||Mike Naumann||Jr.||6-0/180||Tucson, AZ||3.00, 1-1, 14 GP/21 IP, 12 K/3 BB, .348 opp. avg.||Has retired 18 of 25 leadoff batters|
|RHP||Matt Buchmeier||So.||6-0/190||Greenwood, IN||2.11, 2-1, 8 GP/2 GS, 21.1 IP, 16 K/3 BB, .244 opp. avg.||.171 opp. avg. w/ runners on base|
|RHP||Matt Laird||Fr.||6-1/190||Bellaire, TX||1.99, 3-1, 7 GP/5 GS, 22.2 IP, 15 K/5 BB, .227 opp. avg.||Righthanders hitting .167 vs. him|
|RHP||John Corbin||Sr.||6-3/200||Hollywood, FL||3.07, 1-0, 5 SV, 13 GP/14.2 IP, 19 K/7 BB, .180 opp. avg.||Holds ND record for career saves (14)|
|RHP||Brandon Viloria||Fr.||5-11/215||Wailuku, HI||0.00, 0-0, 3 GP/7 IP, 7 K/0 BB, .167 opp. avg.||Could be ND’s 1st letterwinner from HI|
|RHP||Mike Carlin||Jr.||6-5/210||Manhattan, KS||3.38, 0-0, 4 GP/8 IP, 5 K/7 BB, .179 opp. avg.||18 career appearances|
|RHP||Tom O’Hagan||Sr.||6-3/180||Crystal Lake, IL||4.50, 0-0, 1 GP/2 IP, 2 K/2 BB, .167 opp. avg.||DNP in 1999|
|RHP||Drew Duff||So.||6-0/175||Sevierville, TN||6.16, 1-1, 7 GP/4 GS, 19 IP, 17 K/10 BB, .363 opp. avg.||10 Ks in 7-3 win over IUPUI (6 IP)|
THE ND-BC SERIES
The Irish lead the all-time series vs. BC (10-2) … ND has won 10 of its 12 previous games vs. BC, including two games at BC in ’96 (9-0, 6-1), two at home in ’97 (11-6, 16-3), three at BC in ’98 (5-2, 6-4, 16-6) and a three-game series at ND in ’99 (7-10, 9-6, 11-8) … the highlights of the ’98 series came in the final game, when the Irish set a team record with seven home runs (two from Dan Leatherman and one each from Alec Porzel, Brant Ust, J.J. Brock, Jeff Wagner and Allen Greene) … Aaron Heilman struck out dangerous hitter Sean McGowan with the bases loaded to win the ’98 series opener … the 16-3 win by the Irish over BC in ’97 included a five-hit game by Randall Brooks (his second in 10 games) … the teams had not met for 67 years before Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in ’95-’96 … Notre Dame won 9-0 at BC in 1908 en route to a 20-1 season … the Irish lost at BC 20 years later, 8-1 in 1928.
CAREER STATS VS. THE EAGLES
Top Irish career batters vs. BC include: sophomore CF Steve Stanley (.692, 9-for-13, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 1-1 SB), sophomore C Paul O’Toole (.444, 4-for-9, 5 RBI, 4 R, BB) and senior 1B Jeff Felker (.353, 12-for-34, 7 RBI, 5 R, 3B, 2 2B, BB, 3 K, 1-1 SB) … junior RHP Aaron Heilman has faced BC three times (one start), with an 0-1 record, two saves, a 4.00 ERA, 11 Ks, 7 BB and 14 hits allowed in 9 IP … senior RHP Scott Cavey owns two career relief outings vs. BC (0-0, 9.00, 3 Ks/2 BB, 5 H, 3 IP) … other ND pitchers with past outings vs. BC include: senior RHP John Corbin (3 GP, 1-0, SV, 0.00, 4 IP, 4 Ks/2 BB, 5 H), sophomore RHP Drew Duff (2 GP, 1-0, 0.00, 1 IP, K/BB, H) and junior LHP Mike Naumann (1 GP, 0-0, 3.86, 2.1 IP, K/2 BB, 3 H).
RECAPPING THE 1999 ND-BC SERIES (7-10, 9-6, 11-8)
GAME 1 – ND posted a two-out rally to force extra innings in the opener before losing in the 8th … the loss was ND’s first at home in ’99 (after 12 wins) … ND ace Aaron Heilman (10 R, 4 ER, 13 H, 8 Ks, 6 BB) suffered his first loss since opening week … the Irish two-out, two-run rally included Ed Golom’s pinch-hit walk, Matt Nussbaum’s single through the right side, Steve Stanley’s RBI infield single and Ben Cooke’s 1-2 single to left field … BC’s winning sequence was set up when backup catcher J.P Drevline couldn’t handle the third strike thrown to leadoff hitter Mike Gambino … Mike Quirk then hit a one-out single off the glove of the diving 3B Cooke, Steve Langone walked on a full count and McGowan sent a 1-0 pitch through the left side for an 8-7 lead … lefty David Conley (7 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 11 H, 3 Ks, 5 BB) took the loss, despite allowing just two runs in the first five innings.
GAME 2 – ND completed the rally in the nightcap, after BC had claimed a 6-2 lead in the 7th … Paul O’Toole provided the big hit in the 8th, coming to the plate in a 6-6 game with one out and two runners on … O’Toole sent a first-pitch offering into the gusting wind and over the rightfield fence … Tim Kalita posted his sixth no-decision in 10 starts (7.2 IP, 6 R, 9 H, BB, 9 Ks) while Drew Duff threw five pitches to pick up the win, after forcing hot-hitting Eric Olson into an eighth-inning flyout to left field (Olson had smacked solo HRs in his previous two at-bats) … John Corbin (2 H, K) pitched the 9th for the save … like Conley in the first game, BC lefty Andrew Sullivan (9 R, 8 ER, 10 H, 5 Ks, 2 BB) also allowed just a pair of runs in the first five innings … BC did most of its damage in the second inning of both games, when the Eagles posted nine of their combined 16 runs during the two games.
GAME 3 – Brant Ust’s bases-loaded, 8th-inning double completed a long ND comeback while Corbin worked out of jam in the 9th … BC again claimed an early (5-0 in the 1st) but six BC errors led to four costly unearned runs … the game featured two rain delays, spanning 3:06, and fittingly showcased two of the BIG EAST’s top players in bases-loaded situations with the game on the line … Ust delivered with his game-tying double that nearly cleared the fence in right-center field while BC’s McGowan provided the game’s final out on a ball that sent the LF Nussbaum to the fence … Erik Olson (1.1 IP, 4 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 1 K) took the loss in relief of Steve Langone (6 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 Ks) … Alex Shilliday (3.2 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 H, 5 BB, 4 Ks) picked up the win.
TOP HITTERS FROM THE ’99 ND-BC SERIES
Steve Stanley, ND (.692, 9-for-13, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 1-1 SB), Brant Ust, ND (.545, 6-for-11, 5 RBI, 3 R, HR, 3 2B, 2 BB, HBP, 3 K), Eric Olson, BC (.462, 6-for-13, 2 RBI, 5 R, 2 HR, 2B, BB, 2 K), Sean McGowan, BC (.462, 6-for-13, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 2 BB, 2 K), Paul O’Toole, ND (.444, 4-for-9, 5 RBI, 4 R, HR, 2B, BB), Jarrett Mendoza, BC (.417, 5-for-12, 4 RBI, R, 2 BB, K).
ACES ALL AROUND
ND’s eye-popping 2.84 team ERA is within range of the team record of 2.60, set by the 1957 College World Series team and equaled in 1960 … in 39 seasons since 1960, the ND pitchers have posted just five team ERAs of 3.20 or lower: 3.12 in 1963, 2.95 in ’69, 2.83 in ’75, 3.00 in 1990 and 3.06 in ’92 … since 1975, the 1990, ’92 and ’94 (3.25) Irish pitching staffs have posted the only ND team ERAs under 3.81.
- The ND pitchers have allowed 0-2 earned runs in 14 of the last 19 games (50 total, in 174 innings), for a 2.59 ERA during that stretch.
- One of the hidden keys to ND’s pitching success has been effectiveness vs. leadoff batters, as just 27.1 percent of opposing leadoff batters have reached base safely this season (compared to 37.2 percent in ’99) … top pitchers vs. leadoff batters have included junior RHP Aaron Heilman (.128), sophomore RHP Matt Laird (.208) and senior RHP Scott Cavey (.276).
- Several ND pitchers have been tough with runners on base, as opponents are hitting just .256 with runners on, .247 with runners in scoring position … senior closer John Corbin has allowed just five hits in 29 ABs with runners on (.172) while other top pitchers with runners on include sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier (.171), Laird (.205) and Heilman (.233).
- The ND pitching staff’s ratio of 2.97 Ks per walk would best the 37-year-old team record of 2.40 (set in 1963) … the top ratios belong to Heilman (6.4, 51/8), Buchmeier (5.3, 16/3), Naumann (4.0, 12/3) and freshman RHP J.P. Gagne (3.5, 14/4) … the team’s leaders in Ks per 9 IP include Corbin (11.7), Heilman (9.6), sophomore RHP Drew Duff (10.0) and Cavey (8.0) … the Irish pitchers have totaled just 63 walks in 222 IP, for another record-setting pace of 2.55 BBs per 9 IP (the existing ND record of 2.82 was set in ’94) … the lowest nine-inning BB ratios belong to Naumann (1.3), Gagne (1.3), Buchmeier (1.3) and Heilman (1.5), … the ND pitchers have racked up nearly an 3.5-to-1 ratio during the last 14 games (94 Ks/27 BBs).
- ND’s 20-6 start has included victories from eight different pitchers, with five owning multiple wins: Cavey (3-0), Heilman (5-1), Buchmeier (2-1), Gagne (4-0) and Laird (3-1).
- Pitchers with the biggest groundout-flyout ratios: Gagne (2.35, 40/17), Laird (1.94, 33/17), Buchmeier (1.71, 29/17) and Heilman (1.59, 51/32).
- Two Irish pitchers have yet to hit a batter or throw a wild pitch: Naumann (21 IP) and Gagne (27 IP), with Cavey totaling one WP and no HBs in 28 IP … Laird also has yielded a low total of extra-base hits (2B, 3B, HR, 17 singles).
- Senior RHP Scott Cavey is 3-0 as the No. 2 starter (3.86, 25 Ks, 11 BB, 13 H, 28 IP) … he has won seven of his last nine appearances, with a 2.94 ERA in those games (47 Ks, 14 BB, 47 H, 52 IP) … his career walk average now sits at 2.17 per 9 IP (30, in 124.1 IP) … he owns a career record of 12-2 (.857), which would rank 3rd in the ND record book behind Herb Kelly (22-2, .917, 1912-14) and Frank Scanlan (.864, 19-3, 1907-09) … Cavey’s career K-to-walk ratio now sits at 3.17 (95/30) … opposing baserunners are just 1-for-2 in stolen base attempts versus Cavey in 28 innings this season.
- Senior RHP John Corbin saved three wins in Jacksonville, after saving the 6-4 win over Georgia the week before, and added a save last week at UConn … he now stands first on the ND career saves list, with 14 (three players have 12, including Heilman). .. Corbin owns a 3.07 season ERA in 14.2 IP, with 19 Ks, 7 BB and 9 H (he also picked up the 4-3 season-opening win over Air Force) … in the past two seasons, Corbin has had a hand in 22 Irish wins (14 saves, 8-3 record), with a 4.19 ERA and 63 Ks in 62.1 IP in that stretch.
- Junior All-American Aaron Heilman’s solo shutout vs. VU was the second of his career (in 20 starts), with the other coming vs. VU – at the same site (RAF) in ’99 by the same 4-0 score (5 H, 8 K) … his 1.70 season ERA (9 ERs in 47.2 IP) would rank 9th all-time at ND … his other 2000 totals: 51 Ks, 8 BB, 34 H … his .202 opponent batting avg. would rank 5th-best by an Irish pitcher since the stat was first recorded in ’91 … his career ERA remains 2.37 (59 ER, 223.2 IP), just shy of the ND record held by Nick Palihnich (2.36, ’59-’61) … Heilman remains on pace to challenge the Irish career K record, ranking 5th with 247, behind: 32-game winner Sinnes (315, ’90-’93), 40-game winner and lefty Tom Price (276, ’91-’94), former teammate and 25-game winner Alex Shilliday (265, ’96-’99) and 34-game winner and lefty Chris Michalak (263, ’90-’93) … Heilman is averaging 9.94 Ks and just 2.58 BBs per 9 IP during his career … his last six appearance (five starts) have yielded five wins and just four earned runs in 40.2 IP, for an 0.90 ERA in that stretch (45 Ks, 6 BB, 23 H) … his 23-6 career record places him 9th in Irish history for career wins while his .793 career winning pct. ranks 7th all-time at ND … Heilman has not allowed an earned run in four career appearances vs. VU (17.2 IP), with 18 Ks, 2 BB and 10 H (plus a 2-0 record and one save).
- Freshmen Laird (3-1, 1.99, 15 K/5 BB, 22.2 IP) and Gagne (4-0, 3.00, 16 K/3 BB, 27 IP) have provided a needed lift to the Irish pitching staff, with Gagne emerging recently as the No. 3 starter (also several middle-relief wins) while Laird has performed in several roles as well … their combined stats include a 7-1 record and a 2.54 ERA, with 31 Ks and 8 BBs in 49.2 IP.
ND’s reliance on balanced offense for most of 2000 has resulted in the Irish players combining for just 10 games with 3-plus hits … junior SS Alec Porzel has posted one three-hit game and one four-hit game this season … freshman RF Brian Stavisky had a 4-for-5 game in the 12-3 win over Akron while sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey has two three-hit games this season … five other ND players have posted one three-hit game: sophomore CF Steve Stanley, sophomore C Paul O’Toole, senior 1B Jeff Felker, senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum and sophomore DH Ken Meyer … Irish players also have combined for just four games with 3-plus RBI, as O’Toole, Bushey and Porzel each have produced one three-RBI game while Stavisky drove in four runs versus Akron.
Sophomore CF Steve Stanley posted a 10-game hitting streak earlier this season, stretching from the 5-4 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 25 to the 6-1 loss to North Florida on March 13 (he failed to register a hit in the 3-2 win over Butler) … freshman RF Brian Stavisky saw his 14-game hitting streak end in the April 2 game at UConn … the only ND players to play in all 26 games this season are Stanley and Stavisky … each of those players has opened at the same position in all 26 games … junior SS Alec Porzel carries a career-best 12-game hitting streak into the BC series.
The Irish have tried several lineup combinations in recent weeks, with several players’ versatility allowing for greater flexibility (sophomore C Paul O’Toole already has hit leadoff, 2nd, cleanup, 5th and 7th) … just one player has hit in the same spot for 15-plus games this season: junior SS Alec Porzel (22 games in No. 3 spot).
Despite a five-error game in the narrow win over Butler (3-2), the ND defense has been solid for most of the 2000 season … the Irish own a .967 season fielding percentage (33 errors in 26 games, 1.27/gm), which would best the team record set in 1982 and ’92 (.965) … the Irish have posted nine error-free games in 2000, plus eight with one error, four with two errors and just five with three-plus Es … the Irish defense is averaging one double play per game (26), putting them on pace to challenge the team record of 60 DPs set in 1998 … ND heads into the BC series with just six errors in the last six games.
CLEARING THE COBWEBS
After early first-inning struggles, ND now owns a 14-10 scoring edge in he 1st inning and 43-34 in the first three innings … the Irish have dominated the 6th-8th innings, with a 56-24 scoring edge (+32, in 26 games).
IN THE CLUTCH
Despite hitting just .296 as a team, the ND offense has performed noticeably better with runners on base (.314) but is hitting just .286 with runners in scoring position … top Irish hitters with runners in scoring position include sophomore DH Matt Bok (.625), senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (.345), sophomore C Paul O’Toole (.333) and sophomore LF/DH Matt Strickroth (.333) … Bok also is hitting a team-best .474 overall with runners on base while junior SS Alec Porzel checks in at .409, followed by sophomore IF/DH Kris Billmaier and sophomore CF Steve Stanley (,349).
The ND offense has managed just 15 home runs in it first 26 games, with freshman RF Brian Stavisky (7), accounting for nearly half of them … the Irish traditionally have rolled up more home runs later in the season (they had 16 after 16 games in 1999) but currently are on pace for just 32 HRs in the 56-game regular season (compared to 60 last season) … the loss of the team’s top two career HR leaders (Jeff Wagner, 49, and Brant Ust, 46) has left a void in the Irish lineup but several players are capable of big HR seasons, including Stavisky, senior 1B Jeff Felker, junior SS Alec Porzel and sophomore C Paul O’Toole.
STAVO SURGING … AND SLUMPING
After a slow start in terms of batting average, freshman RF Brian Stavisky collected hits in 14 straight games from March 11-April 1 games, boosting his average to .293 (5th-best on the team) … on the flip side, he has slumped in the last six games (2-for-16), dropping his avg. to .267 (8th on the team) … Stavisky leads the ND in home runs (7, four shy of the ND freshman record set by Brant Ust in 1997), while ranking second in total bases (57), slugging pct. (.564) and RBI (17) … 13 of his 27 hits have gone for extra bases, including three doubles and three triples … he has yet to make an error, in 34 fielding chances.
HEILMAN EARNS 6TH WEEKLY BIG EAST AWARD
ND junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) has been named BIG EAST pitcher of the week twice in the 2000 season, for a career total of six BIG EAST pitcher awards … Heilman first was honored after turning in one of the more dominating performances by an Irish pitcher in recent memory, with a career-high 12 Ks over 8 IP in a 6-4 win over Georgia on March 4 (4 H, UER, 0 BB, 11 Ks on called third strikes) … Heilman equaled the mark for most Ks in a game by an Irish pitcher since 1980 and is one of just three to reach 12 Ks in that 20-year span, joining Darin Schmalz (12 in 9 IP, at Georgetown in ’96) and Brad Lidge (12 in 7 IP vs. Pittsburgh, at Three Rivers Stadium in ’98) in that distinction … he also served as the closer in an 8-5 win over No. 24 Wake Forest two days earlier (3 H, 2 R, K), with his totals for the week including 9 IP, 13 Ks, 3 4 (2 ER), 6 H and no walks … Heilman won the award again after recording 8.2 shutout IP during the week of March 20-26 … he had 1.2 IP of relief in a 10-3 win over Detroit (1H, 3 Ks) and registered a 1-hitter in a 4-0 win at Villanova (in the 7-inning opener), allowing a bloop single in the 3rd from Brendan Mannix that tipped off the glove of charging CF Steve Stanley … his 87-pitch gem included 5 Ks, 8 groundouts and 2 walks … he faced one batter over the minimum (22) – thanks to a pickoff and a double-play ball – and the only VU batter to reach 2B came in the 7th, with ND conceding the base after a walk to Dave Pizzini … for the week, he faced 28 batters (two over the minimum), with 8 Ks, 2 BB and 2 H … Heilman was named BIG EAST pitcher of the week once in his All-America freshman season (April 6, 1998) before earning three weekly awards during his second All-America campaign (March 15, March 22 and April 12 of 1999).
MORE ON HEILMAN’S 12-K GAME
Heilman faced just four batters over the eight-inning minimum (28), with a hit-batter, a dropped fly ball, a runner thrown out stealing and a double-play ball … just three Georgia batters reached three balls in their counts (they all struck out) … his outing included five groundouts, five flyouts and a per-inning pitch range of 11-25: 14-14-11-25-14-17-11-14 … his 12 Ks included one on an 0-2 count, five on 1-2 counts, three on 2-2 counts and three on 3-2 counts … he had Ks in every inning but the seventh (two in the second, three in both the fourth and eighth) … Heilman’s first seven Ks were ?looking” … eight Georgia batters were K’d by Heilman … his first 12 outs included seven Ks (3 in the 4th) … he closed by striking out each batter he faced in the eighth (on 14 pitches) … the last Notre Dame pitcher to post 13-plus Ks in a game was Bob Bartlett (13 at Bethel in 1980) … the last to do so versus a Division I team was Frank Carpin, who set a still-standing Irish record with 19 Ks in 10 innings vs. Indiana in 1958.
EARLY HOME OPENER
ND cashed in on the unseasonably-warm weather by adding a March 7 home opener vs. Manchester, at Eck Stadium (a 5-1 Irish win and the third-earliest home game in ND baseball history) … sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier (1-0) was credited with the first win of his Irish career, after opening the game with three scoreless IP in a planned rotation (1 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks) … the highlight of the day came in the top of the ninth, as junior RHP Danny Tamayo made his first appearance in more than two years … sophomore DH Paul O’Toole hit a solo home run in the third (his fourth straight game at Eck Stadium with a home run) while freshman RF Brian Stavisky ended his early slump with two hits in four at-bats … third-earliest
NUSSBAUM SEIZES THE MOMENT
Senior Matt Nussbaum – a South Bend native and former walk-on who was 0-for-16 his first two seasons – was named a tri-captain for 2000 , alongside senior 2B Jeff Perconte and junior RHP Aaron Heilman … Nussbaum – who has surged to second on the 2000 team with a .318 batting avg. and seven-game hitting streak – started 57 games in ’99 at mostly DH and LF … he posted a .314 season average in ’99 (6th on the team), while also ranking 1st on the team in runners advanced (35) and 5th in RBI (33), two-out batting avg. (.371) and HRs (5) … a steady contact hitter (team-high 11 double plays), Nussbaum struck out just 13 times in ’99 (only three Ks in the final 25 games) … he averaged a team-best 15.7 plate appearances per strikeout in ’99.
IRISH AMONG NUMEROUS PRESEASON PICKS
Notre Dame embarked on its 2000 season with a national ranking in two of the three major polls – the only school from the Midwest or Northeast in either poll – while several Irish players received a variety of preseason honors:
- ND was ranked 20th in the Baseball America preseason poll – marking the highest preseason ranking for the Irish since 1994. The Irish were ranked 25th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine preseason poll and received the 26th-most votes in the preseason USA Today Baseball Weekly Coaches Poll.
- Junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named a first team preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Heilman and Stanford’s Jason Young were the only pitchers named first team by both publications (each listed five).
- BA lists Heilman as the No. 9 professional prospect among draft-eligible college players (15th overall, including high school seniors). Heilman ranks fourth on that list among draft-eligible college pitchers.
- Heilman also was tabbed by both BA and the BIG EAST Conference coaches as the preseason BIG EAST pitcher of the year.
- BA lists Heilman and Young among the three prospects with the best breaking ball (both throw sliders). The magazine also singled out Heilman and Young as the pitchers who are “closest to the major leagues.”
- BA lists ND freshman RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) as the top newcomer in the BIG EAST Conference and the preseason BIG EAST freshman of the year. The magazine also projects Stavisky as the nation’s No. 5-rated prospect among current college freshmen, behind Clemson shortstop Jeff Baker, Florida third baseman Pat Osborne, Texas A&M first baseman Travis Wong and Stanford outfielder Jason Cooper.
- BA’s list of the “best tools” among BIG EAST players includes four from Notre Dame: Stavisky (“best raw power”), Heilman (“best fastball”), sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley (“fastest runner”) and senior Jeff Felker (“best defensive first baseman”).
- BA picked ND to win the 2000 BIG EAST regular-season title, followed by Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The BIG EAST coaches preseason poll forecasted Rutgers as the 2000 champion (76 voting points, five 1st-place votes), narrowly edging ND (74, 3), followed by St. John’s (69, 2), Seton Hall, WVU and Pittsburgh.
ND junior Aaron Heilman was listed 9th on Baseball America’s annual list of the top professional prospects in college baseball (15th among all players, including high schoolers) … Heilman ranked fourth on that list among draft-eligible pitchers, behind Arizona sophomore Ben Diggins (3rd), Auburn’s Chris Bootcheck (4th) and Stanford’s Jason Young (7th) … others on that list included California 3B Xavier Nady (1st), Clemson OF Patrick Boyd (2nd), North Carolina OF Tyrell Godwin (5th), Texas A&M OF Daylon Holt (6th) and Pepperdine C Dane Sardinha (8th) … Heilman’s teammates on the USA national team during the summer of ’99 included all of the above players, except for Bootcheck, Boyd and Sardinha … Heilman and Young were the only pitchers that were tabbed as preseason first team All-Americans by both BA (which also included Bootcheck, Diggins and UCLA’s Josh Karp) and Collegiate Baseball (which also included Miami’s David Gil, Florida State’s Jon McDonald, Oklahoma State’s Matt Smith and Cal State Fullerton’s Adam Johnson).
PROSPECTS, PART II
The BIG EAST placed two players in the top 25 of BA’s list of class of 2000 prospects, with St. John’s RHP Kevin McGerry checking in at No. 21 … only three conferences had more players among the top 25 prospects while the BIG EAST’s three players among the top 35 was tied for the second-most by any conference in the nation (Rutgers OF David DeJesus was rated 32nd) .. . eight BIG EAST players were listed among the top 150 prospects – ranking the BIG EAST behind just four conferences for most players in the top 150.
The ND baseball program posted a 3.10 team GPA in the ’99 fall semester – the program’s best semester in the six-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4-plus) in the fall of ’99, with 19 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 11 times since ’82, with top candidates in 2000 including senior 2B Jeff Perconte (3.73 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government) and junior LHP Mike Naumann (3.95, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters). ? Current Irish junior Aaron Heilman entered 2000 ranked seventh in BIG EAST history with a 2.67 ERA in BIG EAST regular-season play (min. 70 IP) …
CONFERENCE WINNING PCT.
Over the course of its first four seasons in the BIG EAST Conference (1996-99), Notre Dame ranked first in the 11-member conference with: a .701 overall winning percentage (169-72, Rutgers was second at .618), a .741 BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. (63-22, Rutgers was second at .692) and a .709 winning pct. in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (73-30, Rutgers was second at .665) … St. John’s owned the best BIG EAST Tournament winning pct. during the past four seasons (.625, 9-6), followed by Notre Dame at .556 (10-8) … in fact, the double-elimination tournament has been the ultimate bugaboo for Notre Dame, with the same team providing the Irish losses during each of the first three seasons (WVU in ?96, Villanova in ?97, RU in ?98) before the Irish were beaten by complete game-efforts from Seton Hall and Providence in ?99. ?
ND has enjoyed great success at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southeast corner of campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 pct. of their games at ?The Eck? in six-plus seasons (154-34, .819, since ’94), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in ’97 and a 125-27 home record (.822) during five-plus years under head coach Paul Mainieri … ND has posted victories in 81 of its last 97 games (.835) at Eck (since late in the ’96 season), including a 35-5 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.?
The Notre Dame pitching staff posted the team strikeout record each of the past three seasons: 399 in ’97, 456 in ’98 and 478 in ’99 (on pace for 432 in 2000) … the Irish averaged 444 Ks in the past three seasons (1,333 total), with the ’99 staff averaging 8.38 Ks/9 IP – best by an Irish staff since 1963 (the 2000 staff is averaging 7.58) … top contributors in that three-year stretch included current junior Aaron Heilman (201 Ks in 182 IP in ’98 and ’99, team-record 118 in ’99), first-round draft pick Brad Lidge (’96-’98, 143 Ks in 129.2 IP, 93 in ’98), ’99 grad Alex Shilliday (third in Irish history with 265 career Ks) and lefty Tim Kalita (214 Ks in 214 IP, ’97-’99).
THREE THOUSAND GAMES
The Notre Dame baseball program has amassed 3,009 official games in 108 seasons as a varsity sport – reaching the 3,000-game milestone on Saturday, March 25, in the first game of the doubleheader at Villanova.
RARE DOUBLE FOR IRISH BASEBALL, SOFTBALL
Notre Dame posted an .878 (36-5) combined BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. in 1999 in baseball (20-5) and softball (16-0, first unbeaten season in BIG EAST history) … that .878 combined winning pct. ranks first in BIG EAST history, since the conference started sponsoring softball in 1992 (Notre Dame held the previous record of .800, set by the baseball and softball teams of 1996 and ’98) ? Notre Dame also became the first BIG EAST school ever to post the top conference regular-season winning percentages in baseball and softball during the same season … thus far in the 2000 season, the ND baseball (20-6) and softball (27-9) teams have combined for a .758 overall winning pct.
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
Sixth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 560-378 (.597) record in 17-plus seasons as a college head coach, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 228-99 (.697) mark with the Irish, Mainieri 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 University of New Orleans (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach … 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 210 wins rank third at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 20 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 14 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of Mainieri’s 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 each top 500 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 games 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.