March 2, 2000
Irish Head to Minnesota for Hormel Foods Classic
* Challenging field awaits Notre Dame at Metrodome tournament
* Cavey earns BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week award
* Irish pick up two victories in season-opening Service Academies Classic
HEADING FOR DOME: The Notre Dame baseball team (2-1) returns to action this week, at the challenging Hormel Foods Classic … the four-team tournament is hosted by the University of Minnesota, with games at the HHH Metrodome … ND opens the tournament at 12:15 CST on Friday, March 3, versus a dangerous Wake Forest team (8-2) that has not lost since opening with defeats to Miami (Fla.) and Central Florida … the Deacons are expected to start freshman LHP Ben Clayton (3-0, 0.50 ERA, 23 Ks in 18 IP) while ND will counter with senior RHP Scott Cavey (1-0, 0.00, 6 Ks in 6 IP) … ND has yet to name a starter for its game on Saturday versus the host Gophers (1:30) while Minnesota (3-6) is slated to start LHP Kelly Werner (1-1, 4.80, 8 Ks in 15 IP) … the Irish will send All-America RHP Aaron Heilman (0-1, 4.50, 5 Ks in 6 IP) to the mound on Sunday night, for a 5:00 p.m. game versus Georgia (the 8-0 Bulldogs have yet to name a starter for that game, with two midweek games vs. Georgia Tech and an exhibition vs. the Atlanta Braves) … ND opened its 2000 season last week with a 6-0 win over Air Force at the Service Academies Classic, at the USA Baseball Stadium in Millington, Tenn. (the Irish then dropped a 5-4 game to Ohio State before downing Memphis 4-3, with the third-place game in the six-team tournament cancelled due to a washout on the third day of competition).
IRISH BASEBALL ON THE AIR: South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM) is scheduled to broadcast 46 of Notre Dame’s regular-season during the 2000 season, including each of the three games in the Hormel Foods Classic … most games also are available via the internet, with a link from the Notre Dame website (www.und.com) … due to a scheduling conflict with the Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s BIG EAST Tournament first-round game, the ND-Georgia game will not be available live on the internet (it may be later posted on the site, alongside “archived audio” from the other games).
NOTES FROM THE SERVICE ACADEMIES CLASSIC: Top ND hitters included: sophomore C Paul O’Toole (5-for-11, 5 RBI, R, 3B), senior 2B Jeff Perconte (3-for-8, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2B), sophomore CF Steve Stanley (3-for-10, RBI, BB) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (3-for-10, RBI, 3 R, HR, 3B, 2B) … junior SS Alec Porzel went 0-for-7 with three Ks in the first two games before a 2-for-4 effort in the win over Memphis, including a game-winning solo home run … the Irish pitchers posted an impressive 2.05 team ERA, with 23 Ks, seven walks and 19 hits allowed in 21 IP … senior 1B Jeff Felker collected his first hit of the season late in the Memphis game for his 39th career double, moving him into a tie with Ryan Topham (1993-95) for ninth in Irish history … the win over Memphis boosted senior RHP John Corbin’s career record to 9-3 … the DH combination of sophomore Matt Strickroth, sophomore transfer Matt Bok and freshman Kris Billmaier yielded positive results from the No. 8 spot in the batting order, hitting a combined 3-for-8 with one RBI, four runs scored, one walk, one stolen base and just one K … Perconte’s production from the No. 9 hole gave the last two spots in the lineup six hits, three RBI and seven runs scored in the tournament (the rest of the team had 18 hits, 11 RBI and seven runs) … O’Toole proved to be effective from the top of the order, in his unique role as a leadoff-hitting catcher.
STAVISKY QUICKLY MAKES HIS MARK: Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) has made a quick transition to the college game, after eating up high school pitching (he hit .582 in his prep career, with 46 home runs in 80 games) … Stavisky still is “looking for his first single at Notre Dame,” but nobody is complaining … the burly lefthander ignited the clinching four-run seventh inning in the win over Air Force, by legging out a leadoff triple … then, in the OSU game, he planted a double off the base of the leftfield wall (20 feet inside the foul line) … Stavisky then moved up from sixth to the leadoff spot for the Memphis game, reaching on an error and scoring before parking a solo shot over the rightfield fence to forge a 2-2 tie … the 6-3, 230-pounder also made a highlight-reel catch in each game.
AROUND THE HORN: Notre Dame’s returners accounted for 87 percent of the team’s stolen bases in 1999 (73 of 84), plus 81% of the hits (501 of 617), 76% of the RBI (278 of 366) and 64% of the home runs (73 of 84) … the starting lineup includes three seniors, junior shortstop Alec Porzel, four sophomores and freshman RF Brian Stavisky … the starting lineup includes five lefthanded hitters: senior 1B Jeff Felker, sophomores 3B Andrew Bushey, sophomore C Paul O’Toole, sophomore Steve Stanley and Stavisky … the veteran infield includes seniors Felker and 2B Jeff Perconte, plus junior Porzel and sophomore Bushey … the 1999 Notre Dame baseball team reached 30 victories in the 39th game of the season, tying the team record for quickest season to the 30-win plateau (the ’90 and ’94 Irish teams also opened 30-9).
QUICK INDIVIDUAL NOTES: Sophomore C Paul O’Toole (Lakewood, Ohio) in ’99 became the first ND player ever to hit a home run in four straight postseason games (in ND’s final game of the ’99 BIG EAST Championship and in all three games of the ’99 NCAAs) … first-game starter Scott Cavey has averaged just 1.8 walks per 9 IP during his Notre Dame career, including a six-game, 26-inning stretch in 1999 that saw him total 20 strikeouts and just one walk … senior 1B Jeff Felker failed to crack the 1999 all-BIG EAST teams, despite ranking eighth in the league with a .414 conference batting avg. (each of the top seven earned BIG EAST honors) … the current Irish baseball coaching staff has been a part of 2,017 games in 41 combined NCAA seasons (including 2000) as players and coaches, with an average of 33 wins/season and 14 with 40-plus wins.
HOMECOMING: Notre Dame freshman RHP J.P. Gagne (pronounced GONE-yuh) returns this week to his home state … Gagne is a native of Bloomington and a graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall High School … the grandson of legendary pro wrestler Verne Gagne and son of former pro wrestler Greg Gagne, the rookie righthander is known for his pitching smart and for throwing three quality pitches (fastball, slider, changeup) … Gagne was an accomplished three-sport star as a prep, captaining the football, hockey and baseball teams … his combined baseball stats in high school and American Legion included a 32-4 record, 186 strikeouts, 33 home runs and 141 RBI (he also played as a left-side infielder) … as a junior, Gagne led Cretin-Derham Hall to a 29-0 record, the state title and a No. 9 national ranking … his senior-year honors included all-city, all-state and USA Today honorable mention All-America (as a third baseman), with an 8-1 record, 1.75 ERA and 52 Ks (plus a .475 avg., 6 HR, 31 RBI) … his high school career totals included a record of 12-1, a 1.56 ERA, 91 Ks, .461 avg., 8 HR and 50 RBI … Gagne set season (12, in ’99) and career (25) home run records for his Legion team, with his ’99 Legion stats including: 14-2, 1.61, 65 Ks, .522, 52 RBI (his three-year Legion stats: 20-3, 1.83, 95 Ks, .541, 91 RBI) … Gagne also was a three-year football letterwinner, as a quarterback and safety … he led the football team to three conference and regional titles, earning all-conference and all-city as a senior (560 passing yards, 7 TDs, 45 tackles, 5 interceptions) … Gagne played three years of varsity hockey, helping the team win two conference titles … he twice was named all-conference as a defenseman and was all-city as a senior (8 goals, 21 assists) … his career hockey totals included 13G-50A … Verne Gagne participated in wrestling and football at the University of Minnesota before his legendary pro wrestling career … J.P.’s other grandfather, Bob Graiziger, played football, hockey and baseball at the University of Minnesota … Greg Gagne played football at Minnesota and Wyoming before his pro wrestling career … J.P.’s uncle Pat Graiziger played hockey at Minnesota-Duluth while his uncle Bob Graiziger played hockey at the University of Denver.
DOMERS: Notre Dame baseball always has played in the shadow of the famous Golden Dome, but the Irish also have played inside a few domes over the past few years … during the 1990s, ND served as co-host of five College Baseball Classics, at the Seattle Kingdome (1990-92, ’94-’95) before playing in the ’96 Washington Husky Classic (with a combined record of 16-5 in those Kingdome games) … in 1991, Notre Dame dropped games to Stanford, UCLA, and Minnesota in the Oscar Mayer Classic (at the HHH Metrodome in Minneapolis), with the biggest highlight coming when Irish slugger Frank Jacobs launched a shot into the third deck of right field, with Stanford RF John Solomon sprinting in on the play-so he could turn around and see how far up the ball would land.
SOME NCAA HISTORY: Notre Dame previously has played Wake Forest and Minnesota in NCAA Tournament action … the Deacons defeated the Irish twice in the 1949 NCAAs while Notre Dame holds a 4-3 record versus the Gophers in NCAA play, from 1956-70 (see series notes later in release).
THE WAKE FOREST SERIES: ND has lost each of its previous four games versus Wake Forest, including a pair of losses in ND’s first NCAA tournament appearance (4-1 and 10-7, in the first round of the 1949 NCAAs) … the Irish dropped a pair of games at WFU early in the 1988 season (17-10, 12-5).
THE MINNESOTA SERIES: ND holds a 22-16 edge in the all-time series versus Minnesota, with the Gophers winning the last meeting (9-5, at the 1991 Oscar Mayer Classic in the Metrodome) … the series has featured games in : Notre Dame, Minneapolis, South Bend, Kalamazoo., Mich., Columbus, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas … the fourth varsity baseball game in Notre Dame history was versus Minnesota, a 3-1 win for Minnesota on June 20, 1894 … the teams then split 18 games from 1900-09 … the series took a 15-year break before resuming with six games from 1924-29 (ND won five of those) … the teams did not meet again until the post-World War II era, with a pair of games in 1949 and ’50 … ND dropped a 1956 NCAA district series at Minnesota (4-3, 5-15, 1-10) … the teams then met in the NCAA district round in three straight seasons from 1958-60, with the Irish beating the Gophers in ’58 (11-7, at Western Michigan) and ’59 (12-4, at ND) before dropping a 15-6 game at Minnesota in the 1960 NCAAs … the teams met again in the 1970 NCAAs, with Minnesota winning 6-2 (at Ohio State) … the next game in the series came 14 years later (in ’84), a 7-4 Minnesota win in San Antonio, Texas.
THE GEORGIA SERIES: The Irish and Bulldogs will meet for the first time in 34 seasons, with ND holding a slim 6-5 edge in the series … ND split a pair of games at Georgia early in the 1925 season (15-0, 1-2), with the teams meeting four times in 1926 (twice in Atlanta, twice at ND) and twice at Georgia in ’27 … after a 31-year break in the series, the Irish opened their 1958 season with a 4-2 win at Georgia … the last games in the series came on April 11-12, 1966, with ND winning 9-4 at Georgia before dropping the second game (17-16).
CAVEY EARNS BIG EAST AWARD: ND senior RHP Scott Cavey (Omaha, Neb.) was been named co-BIG EAST Conference pitcher of the week in the first awards of the 2000 season, after allowing just one hit in six innings of the 6-0 win over Air Force on Feb. 24 … Cavey-who shared the award with Rutgers junior Jim Wilson-turned in a 78-pitch outing that included six Ks and eight groundouts, with one hit and one walk allowed during his 20 batters faced (the game was seven innings) … he retired the final 10 batters he faced, after yielding a two-out double to leadoff hitter Brian LaBasco in the third … Cavey boosted his career record to 10-1, with a 3.64 career ERA, 83 Ks and 20 walks in 101.1 IP … he has averaged just 1.78 walks/9 IP during his career, with a 4.15 career K-to-walk ratio … Cavey’s last 11 appearances include a 7-0 record, a 2.49 ERA, 44 Ks and just five walks in 54.1 IP … in that span, he owns an 8.8 K-to-walk ratio and has averaged just 0.83 walks/9 IP.
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 the 2000 season, alongside senior 2B Jeff Perconte and junior RHP Aaron Heilman … Nussbaum, who started 57 games in 1999 at mostly DH and LF, posted a .314 season average in ’99 (sixth on the team), while also ranking first on the team in runners advanced (35) and fifth in RBI (33), two-out batting average (.371) and home runs (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.
TRAVEL: Notre Dame’s schedule regularly takes the baseball team to several top-notch facilities and noteworthy cities throughout the country … in Paul Mainieri’s six seasons, the cities that the Irish have visited include: Fullerton, Calif., Seattle, Wash. (Kingdome), San Antonio, Texas, Miami, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., New Orleans, La., Boston, Mass., Washington, D.C., Long Beach, Calif., New York City, N.Y., Orlando, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., and Minneapolis, Minn. (Metrodome).
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup
* – lefthanded hitter, # – switch hitter
|C/DH||*Paul O’Toole||So.||6-2/210||Lakewood, OH||.455 (5-for-11), 5 RBI, R, 3B, K, SF … ’99: .318, 8 HR, 39 RBI||Batted in No. 2 spot in ’99|
|CF||*Steve Stanley||So.||5-9/150||Upper Arlington, OH||.300 (3-for-10), RBI, BB, 2 K, 1 E … ’99: .326, 24-32 SB, 52 R||Second team all-BIG EAST (’99)|
|SS||Alec Porzel||Jr.||6-0/190||Lisle, IL||.182 (2-for-11), RBI, R, HR, 2B, 3 K, 1 E … ’99: .333, 13 HR, 60 RBI||Hit 3 HR at ’99 BIG EAST Champ.|
|RF||*Brian Stavisky||Fr.||6-3/230||Port Allegany, PA||.300 (3-for-10), RBI, 3 R, HR, 3B, 2B, 2 K … HS career: .582, 46 HR||Nation’s #5-rated freshman prospect|
|1B||*Jeff Felker||Sr.||6-5/190||Ellicott City, MD||.100 (1-for-10), 2B … ’99 stats: .333, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 17 2B||Team-best .414 in ’99 BIG EAST gms|
|LF/C||Matt Nussbaum||Sr.||6-0/180||South Bend, IN||.250 (2-for-8), RBI, 2 R, 2B, BB, 2 K, SF .. ’99: .314, 5 HR, 33 RBI||Led ’99 team with 33 runners advanced|
|3B||*Andrew Bushey||So.||6-0/200||Boardman, OH||.200 (2-for-10), 2 RBI, 2B, BB, 2 K … ’99: .266 (128 AB), 2 HR, 10 RBI||Hampered by knee injury in ’99|
|DH||Matt Strickroth||So.||6-5/230||Mission Viejo, CA||.333 (1-for-3), RBI, 2 R, 1-1 SB vs. AFA … ’99: .200, 3 HR, 18 RBI||’99 BIG EAST gms: .318, 12 RBI|
|or||Kris Billmaier||Fr.||5-11/185||Woodinvale, WA||0-for-2, BB, K vs. Memphis|
|or||#Matt Bok||So.||5-11/185||Akron, Ohio||.667 (2-for-3), 2 R, 1-1 SB vs. OSU … ’99: .283, 2 HR, 18 RBI||Switch-hitting transfer from G’town|
|2B||#Jeff Perconte||Sr.||5-11/190||Arlington Hts., IL||.375 (3-for-8), 2 RBI, 3 R, 2B, 3 K, SAC .. ’99: .323 (96 AB), 2 HR, 19 RBI||Returns from shoulder injury (’99)|
|UTIL||#Ben Cooke||Jr.||5-9/170||Bay Village, OH||Pinch-ran vs. Memphis … ’99: .267, HR, 22 RBI, 14-16 SB||Led team with 7 sac. bunts in ’99|
|1B||Ken Meyer||So||6-0/210||Fort Myers, FL||Pinch-ran vs. Memphis …’99: .233 (60 AB), HR, 6 RBI||Hit first career HR vs. Miami (’99)|
|RHP||Scott Cavey||Sr.||6-5/200||Omaha, NE||0.00, 1-0, 1 GS, 6 IP, 6 K/1 BB, .053 opp. avg. … ’99: 3.70, 6-1, 47 K/8 BB||Last 11 GP: 7-0, 2.49, 5 BB, 44 Ks|
|TBA||(tentatively Drew Duff, see below)|
|RHP||Aaron Heilman||Jr.||6-5/210||Logansport, IN||4.50, 0-1,1 GS, 6 IP, 5 K/2 BB, .308 opp. avg. … ’99: 3.14, 11-2, 118 K||Broke 41-year-old Irish K record (102)|
|RHP||Drew Duff||So.||6-0/175||Sevierville, TN||4.50, 0-0, 1 GS, 2 IP, 2 K/2 BB, .429 opp. avg. … ’99: 9.79, 4-2||Win in ’98 fall exhibition vs. MSU|
|RHP||Mike Carlin||Jr.||6-5/210||Manhattan, KS||’99 stats: 10.80, 0-1, 8 GP/10 IP, 7 K/14 BB, .289 opp. avg.||15.1 innings with 1.76 ERA in 1998|
|RHP||J.P. Gagne||Fr.||6-0/190||Bloomington, MN||0.00, 0-0, 1 GP/2.0 IP, 3 K, .286 opp. avg.||Attended Cretin-Derham Hall HS|
|LHP||Mike Naumann||Jr.||6-0/180||Tucson, AZ||3.00, 0-0, 2 GP/3 IP, 3 K/1 BB, .111 opp. avg. … ’99: 5.60, 4-0||’99 win over UConn (3.2 IP, 0 R, 3 H)|
|RHP||John Corbin||Sr.||6-3/200||Hollywood, FL||0.00, 1-0, 1 GP/1.2 IP, 3 K/1 BB, .333 opp. avg. … ’99: 4.53, 7-3, 9 SV||Converted 9-of-12 save chances in ’99|
|RHP||Tom O’Hagan||Sr.||6-3/180||Crystal Lake, IL||DNP in ’99 (med. school prep)|
|RHP||Matt Buchmeier||So.||6-0/190||Greenwood, IN||’99 stats: 17.36, 0-0, 8 GP/9.1 IP, 7 K/9 BB, .415 opp. avg.||at SJU ’99: 3.1 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 4 BB, 2 Ks|
|RHP||Matt Laird||Fr.||6-1/190||Bellaire, TX||0.00, 0-0, 1 GP/1.2 IP, 1 K, .400 opp. avg.||Played for nation’s No. 1-ranked HS tm|
|RHP||Brandon Viloria||Fr.||5-11/215||Wailuku, HI||Could be ND’s 1st letterwinner from HI|
ND BASEBALL’S ALL-TIME MINNESOTA NATIVES
Notre Dame’s list of 786 all-time letterwinners includes 21 who hailed from the state of Minnesota, led by eight from the twin cities (five from St. Paul, three from Minneapolis) and six others from nearby suburbs: Edina (3), Anoka, Robbinsdale and Wayzata. The others hailed from St. Cloud (2), Adrian, Little Falls, Claremont, Albany and Rochester. Notre Dame’s most noteworthy baseball players who came from Minnesota included lefthanded pitcher/outfielder Paul Castner (1921-23, St. Paul/St. Thomas Military Academy) and All-American catcher Elmer Kohorst (1955-57, Albany).
Castner ranks as one of the most versatile student-athletes in Notre Dame history, twice earning All-America football honors (as a running back, in 1921-22) while being considered one of the hockey team’s most skilled players (he later served as a player-coach) … Castner made his mark on the diamond with a nine-inning no-hitter versus Purdue and his professional career included a stint with the Chicago White Sox … Castner also authored a book, “We Remember Rockne,” in honor of his former football coach Knute Rockne.
Kohorst earned All-America honors in both 1957 and ’58, with a .323 career batting average in 254 at-bats, with three home runs and 49 RBI … he led the Irish to the NCAA Tournament in both of those seasons, including an appearance in the 1957 College World Series.
Other noteworthy Irish players from Minnesota have included: 3B Patrick Coleman (1973-75, Anoka/Benilde HS, 228 AB, .329, 36 RBI), OF Pat Eilers (1989, St. Paul/St. Thomas, 75 AB, .307, 11 RBI) and C/1B George Restovich, Jr. (1994-96, Rochester/Mayo, 551 AB, .327, 22 HR, 155 RBI) … Eilers-who also was a starting split end on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship football team-currently lives in Chicago and serves on the board of directors for the Notre Dame National Monogram Club … George Restovich, Sr., came to Notre Dame from Shreveport, La., in the mid-1960s and was a two-sport star for the Irish in baseball and basketball … Notre Dame also signed Michael Restovich-brother of George, Jr.-to a national letter of intent in 1997, but he elected to sign with the Minnesota Twins (as a second-round draft pick).
Brothers Michael Deasey (1978-81, RHP, 186.2 IP, 3.86, 19-7, 96 Ks) and John Deasey (1982-83, IF/OF, 53 AB, .170, 8 RBI) attended Edina West High School before moving on to Notre Dame.
OF/C Charles Mottz (1915-16) and C George L. Murphy (1920) both came to Notre Dame from St. Cloud, Minn.
Other recent Notre Dame players from Minnesota include: OF Tom Murray (1990, St. Paul/St. Thomas Academy, 43 AB, .302, 7 RBI), RHP David Legus (1989, Edina/Edina HS, 23.2 IP, 6.46, 1-1, 13 K), OF/C Pat O’Brien (1986-88, Minneapolis/St. Thomas Academy, 254 AB, .272, HR, 40 RBI), LHP Richard Eich (1970-72, Little Falls) and LHP Jim Phelps (1968-70, Wayzata, 89.2 IP, 2.91, 6-4, 73 RBI).
Rounding out Notre Dame baseball’s contingent of Minnesota natives are: OF Alphonse Becker (1899, Adrian), OF Andrew Chlebeck (1940-42, St. Paul), LHP James Dalton (1954, Minneapolis, 39 IP, 1-3, 16 Ks), IB John Flanningan (1894, Minneapolis), 3B Tom Jaeb (1956, 3B, Claremont, 45 AB, .133, RBI), 3B Steve Johnson (1957, Robbinsdale, 65 AB, .292, 2 HR, 13 RBI) and RHP Bill Sherman (1947, St. Paul).
Former Irish outfielder Dan Peltier, who earned All-America and Academic All-America honors with the Irish during his career (1987-89), currently resides in the Minneapolis area (he originally came to Notre Dame from Clifton Park, N.Y.).
RECAPPING THE SERVICE ACADEMIES CLASSIC
ND 6, AIR FORCE 0 (2/24/00) – Senior RHP Scott Cavey allowed just one hit over the first six innings and sophomore C Paul O’Toole collected three RBI in his debut as the leadoff hitter … Cavey’s 78-pitch outing included six Ks and eight groundouts, with one walk allowed during his 20 batters faced … he retired the final 10 batters he faced, after yielding a two-out double to leadoff hitter Brian LaBasco in the third inning … AFA junior RHP Michael Tufte turning in a solid effort (6 IP 5 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 5 Ks) … ND broke things open with four runs in the seventh and final inning … freshman RF Brian Stavisky sparked the rally, sending a 1-1 pitch into right-center before legging out a triple … two batters later, sophomore DH Matt Strickroth delivered on an 0-2 count, drilling a single to the left of the drawn-in first baseman … senior 2B Jeff Perconte then went the other way on a 1-1 pitch, over leaping shortstop LaBasco … O’Toole then smacked a two-run triple down the rightfield line … sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey capped the big inning with a two-out single through the right side … ND capitalized on a one-out error in the fifth, as Perconte plated Strickroth by lifting a 1-0 pitch over the head of LF Geremy Goldsberry … O’Toole followed with a first-pitch single to left, scoring Perconte for a 2-0 lead … junior LHP Mike Naumann closed the game, with a flyout, groundout and strikeout.
OHIO STATE 5, ND 4 (2/25/00) – OSU rallied to tie the game with four runs in the fifth and scored the game-winner on a home run from Trent McIlvain in the sixth … OSU capitalized on an ND error that had the makings of a routine double-play ball, leading to a pair of unearned runs … ND junior RHP Aaron Heilman suffered the complete-game loss (6 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks) and was credited with the costly error … OSU junior 3B John Mayor delivered the big blow, with a two-run double … sophomore RHP E.J. Laratta picked up the win (7 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 4 Ks) … ND put three runs on the board in the third, with Laratta bobbling a leadoff roller from senior LF Matt Nussbaum … sophomore DH Matt Bok then delivered in his first at-bat with the Irish, stroking an opposite-field single to left … Perconte followed with an RBI single to left before O’Toole added a sacrifice fly to left … sophomore CF Steve Stanley capped the inning with an RBI single to center … ND added a run in the fifth, behind Bok’s leadoff single to left, a stolen base and O’Toole’s two-out single down the rightfield line.
ND 4, @MEMPHIS 3 (2/27/00) – Stavisky delivered a game-tying home run in his debut as cleanup hitter while junior SS Alec Porzel ended his early slump with a game-winning home run … ND overcame an early 2-0 deficit, with four relievers holding Memphis to one run over the final seven innings … senior RHP John Corbin recorded the final five outs for the win (4 Ks, 1 BB, 1 H) … Memphis (0-8) received a solid outing from LHP Jason Wiedmeyer (7.2 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 5 Ks) … Porzel pushed ND into the lead with one out in the bottom of the eighth, sending an 0-1 fastball over the fence in left-center … Stavisky forged a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth, sending a two-out, 1-0 fastball over the rightfield fence … the Tigers quickly retook the lead with a solo home run in the top of the seventh but the Irish re-tied the game moments later, sparked by Nussbaum’s first-pitch single up the middle … Bushey then deposited a 1-2 pitch into the right-center gap, with Nussbaum running on the play to score all the way from first … Memphis scored single runs in the first two innings, vs. sophomore RHP Drew Duff (a native of Sevierville, Tenn.) … a throwing error allowed Stavisky to reach first-and move on to second-leading off the fourth, followed by a flyout to right field by senior 1B Jeff Felker and Nussbaum’s sacrifice fly to center … freshman RHPs J.P. Gagne (2 IP, 3 Ks) and Matt Laird (1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 K) made their Irish debuts … ND turned two timely double plays and ended both the first and second innings by throwing runners out at the plate.
IRISH AMONG NUMEROUS PRESEASON PICKS: The Notre Dame baseball team 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 preseason honors from various publications and organizations:
- Notre Dame was ranked 20th in the Baseball America preseason poll -marking the highest preseason ranking for the Irish since 1994 … Notre Dame occupied the 23rd spot in the Feb. 21 BA poll, heading into the 2000 season-opening game versus Air Force.
- The Irish were ranked 25th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine preseason poll and maintained that spot prior to the season opener.
- Notre Dame received the 26th-most votes in the preseason USA Today Baseball Weekly Coaches Poll and received the 30th-most votes in this week’s version of that 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.
PROSPECTS: Notre Dame junior Aaron Heilman is listed ninth on Baseball America’s annual list of the top professional prospects in college baseball (15th among all players, including high schoolers) … Heilman ranks 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 include California third baseman Xavier Nady (1st), Clemson outfielder Patrick Boyd (2nd), North Carolina outfielder Tyrell Godwin (5th), Texas A&M outfielder Daylon Holt (6th) and Pepperdine catcher Dane Sardinha (8th) … Heilman’s teammates on the USA national team during the summer of 1999 included all of the above players, except for Bootcheck and Boyd … 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 Baseball America’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 is rated 32nd) .. . eight BIG EAST players are listed among the top 150 prospects-ranking the BIG EAST behind just four conferences for most players in the top 150. PORZEL KEEPS MOVING: Junior Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.) has opened the season at a different starting position for the third straight year (LF in ’98, 2B in ’99, SS in 2000) … ND’s starting infield includes three high school shortstops (senior 2B Jeff Perconte, Porzel and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey) while senior 1B Jeff Felker played 3B as a prep.
ACADEMICS: ND baseball 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 or higher) 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).
ALL-AMERICANS: ND baseball players have combined for 13 major All-America awards (11 since ’89, five in the last two seasons) … junior RHP Aaron Heilman was named a third team All-American by Collegiate Baseball magazine as a freshman and sophomore while also earning 1999 third-team honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association … IF Brant Ust was tabbed by the ABCA and Baseball America as a third team All-American following his sophomore season (’98).
BIG EAST RECORD BOOK: In four seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, ND already has made its mark in the league’s baseball record book … Notre Dame in ’99 became the first BIG EAST team ever to win more than 18 conference games (20-5) while the ’99 Irish pitching staff set a BIG EAST record with 199 Ks in conference play … four former ND players rank among the top 16 players on the BIG EAST list for career batting average in conference games (min. 150 ABs): 2B/CF Randall Brooks (3rd, .418, 69-for-165, 1996-97), IF Brant Ust (5th, .413, 100-for-242, ’97-’99), IF J.J. Brock (11th, .399, 89-for-223, ’96-’98) and C/DH Jeff Wagner (16th, .390, 98-for-251, ’96-’99) … Ust is the only player ranked in the BIG EAST career top 10 for conference batting avg., home runs (5th, 19), RBI (7th, 71) and hits (9th, 100), plus 11th in runs scored (70) … Wagner’s 24 home runs in BIG EAST regular-season play trail only former Seton Hall great Mo Vaughn (26) in BIG EAST history while he is tied for first with 83 career RBI in BIG EAST play.
BE RECORD BOOK, PART II: Current Irish junior Aaron Heilman ranks seventh in BIG EAST history with a 2.67 ERA in BIG EAST regular-season play (min. 70 innings) … former Irish pitcher Darin Schmalz (’96-’97, 2.74) ranks ninth on that list and ninth with 10 career BIG EAST complete games, while Alex Shilliday (’96-’99) ranks third in conference wins (14), fourth in starts (22) and seventh in strikeouts (119).
THE COMMISH: Former Notre Dame baseball player Rick Chryst was named commissioner of the Mid-American Conference on May 11, 1999 … Chryst spent the previous seven years at the ACC, last serving as assistant commissioner in charge of marketing, television, corporate programs, legal affairs, special events and outreach programs … he earlier spent three years as an assistant commissioner with the Southwest Conference … Chryst-a native of Plateville, Wis.-was an all-conference OF for the ’83 Irish baseball team before graduating magna cum laude in economics … he received his law degree from Duke in 1989.
CONFERENCE WINNING PCT.: Over the course of its first four seasons in the BIG EAST Conference (1996-99), Notre Dame ranks first in the 10-member conference with: a .701 overall winning percentage (169-72, Rutgers is second at .618), a .741 BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. (63-22, Rutgers is second at .692) and a .709 winning pct. in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (73-30, Rutgers is second at .665) … St. John’s owns 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.
THE ECK: Notre Dame has enjoyed great success at Frank Eck Stadium (see pp. 54-55), located on the southeast corner of campus … the Irish won nearly 85 percent of their games at ?The Eck? during the facility’s first six seasons (149-33, .819, ’94-’99), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in ’97 and a 120-26 home record (.822) during the first five years under head coach Paul Mainieri … the Irish head into 2000 with victories in 76 of their last 91 games (.835) at Eck Stadium (since late in the ’96 season), including a 35-5 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.
(ALMOST) FIFTY STATES: The Notre Dame list of all-time monogram winners includes players that have hailed from 42 different home states … current freshman pitcher Brandon Viloria (Wailuku, Hawaii) could became the first Irish baseball letterwinner from the island state, with the other states that have not produced Notre Dame baseball letterwinners including: Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Vermont.Freshman pitcher Brandon Viloria
FIVE HUNDRED WINS: Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri reached the 500-win milestone early in the 1999 season, when Notre Dame posted a 14-11 win at the University of New Orleans (209 of his wins have come with the Irish) … the milestone held special significance for Mainieri, who played on two Sun Belt Conference championship teams during his playing career at UNO.
FORTY-WIN SEASONS: Notre Dame has posted 11 straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 48 wins in 1989 and ’92, 46 victories in three seasons (’90, ’93 and ’94), 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … Notre Dame’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks fifth in Division I baseball, trailing only Florida State (22), Wichita State (22), Oklahoma State (20) and Clemson (14).
FRESHMEN PHENOMS: Notre Dame has produced two of the last four BIG EAST rookies of the year-DH Jeff Wagner (’96) and infielder Brant Ust (’97)-while current freshman Brian Stavisky has been tabbed by Baseball America as the 2000 preseason BIG EAST rookie of the year … Wagner set the Irish freshman home run record (10) only to see Ust best that mark with 11 shots over the fence in 1997 … Ust became the first freshman middle infielder ever named first team all-BIG EAST and was a consensus Freshman All-America pick by BA and Collegiate Baseball magazine … despite not winning the ’98 BIG EAST rookie award, righthander Aaron Heilman was a second team all-conference selection, a consensus Freshman All-American and was one of three players named co-national freshman of the year by CB … centerfielder Steve Stanley was named second team all-BIG EAST in 1999, the only freshman on the BIG EAST first or second team … his classmate, catcher Paul O’Toole, became the seventh Notre Dame player ever to earn first team Freshman All-America honors in the 1990s, as one of three catchers named to the Collegiate Baseball team. K CREW: The Notre Dame pitching staff has posted the team strikeout record each of the past three seasons: 399 in 1997, 456 in ’98 and 478 in ’99 … the Irish have averaged 444 Ks in the past three seasons (1,333 total), with the ’99 staff averaging 8.38 strikeouts per nine innings-best by an Irish staff since 1963 … the top contributors have included current junior Aaron Heilman (201 Ks in 182 IP, with a team-record 118 in ’99), first-round draft pick Brad Lidge (’96-’98, 143 Ks in 129.2 IP, 93 in ’98), ’99 graduate Alex Shilliday (third in Irish history with 265 career Ks) and lefty Tim Kalita (214 Ks in 214 IP, ’97-’99).
THE NINETIES: Notre Dame posted the seventh-highest winning percentage among Division I baseball teams during the 1990s (.724, 440-168), behind Wichita State (.790), Miami, Fla. (.765), Florida State (.751), LSU (.737), Delaware (.734) and Clemson (.728).
OPPONENTS: Notre Dame has faced 265 different opponents entering its 108th year of varsity baseball … James Madison, Florida International, Missouri and Oakland were first-time opponents in ’99 while the Irish are scheduled to face North Florida and Akron for the first time in 2000 … ND’s most common opponents include Northwestern (129 games), Michigan State (125), Wisconsin (118), Purdue (113) and Michigan (108) … noteworthy teams that Notre Dame has yet to face: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and UC Santa Barbara. THREE THOUSAND GAMES: The Notre Dame baseball program has amassed 2,985 official games in 108 seasons as a varsity sport and is on pace to reach the 3,000-game milestone on Saturday, March 26, in the second game at Villanova.
HOME RUNS: Notre Dame has flirted with the team home run record each of the past three seasons, including a record 66 long balls in 1997 … the Irish then posted a new record of 73 home runs in ’98 before surging late in ’99 for a season total of 70, with 12 different players leaving the yard in that near-record season … Notre Dame totaled 209 home runs in the past three seasons and averaged 66 during the first five seasons of the Paul Mainieri era (’95- ) … Mainieri’s first five Irish teams have posted a combined .315 batting average (high of .334 in ’97, tying the team record) and a .498 combined slugging percentage (high of .529 in ’97) … Notre Dame enters 2000 looking to replace a pair of players who rank atop the Irish career home run charts: catcher/DH Jeff Wagner (’96-’99, 49) and infielder Brant Ust (’97-’99, 46) … both of those players made a run at Frank Jacobs’ season record (20, 1991) but came up short, with Wagner hitting 17 in ’97 while Ust hit 18 in ’98 and 17 in ’99.
TESTED BY FIRE: ND’s wild ’99 season prepared the Irish for the pressure cooker that was the NCAA double-elimination tournament … ND’s last-minute magic in ’99 included 19 come-from-behind wins and 13 wins in Notre Dame’s final turn at bat (seven when the Irish scored the winning run in the final inning, six in the second-to-last inning) ? the 43 Irish wins included only 11 by five-plus runs (32 by 1-4 runs), with 10 wins by one run, seven by two runs, 10 by three runs and five by four runs … ND played in a pair of one-run games at last week’s Service Academies Classic, losing 5-4 to Ohio State before edging Memphis, 4-3.
THE X FACTOR: Based on his comparative batting averages, junior 1B Jeff Felker played one of the biggest roles in determining Notre Dame’s wins and losses during the 1999 season … prior to the NCAAs, Felker owned a .406 batting average during the team’s 42 wins (second to Brant Ust’s .413) but hit just .216 in the 16 losses-a difference of 190 batting points (the largest discrepancy among the Irish hitters).
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.
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Sixth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 543-373 (.593) 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 211-94 (.692) mark with the Irish, Mainieri was 180-121 in 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 Notre Dame, 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.