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Baseball Prepares For West Virginia

April 14, 2000

  • Notre Dame pitchers ranked sixth in nation for team ERA (3.02)
  • 24-8 start has Irish in range of quickest ND season to 30 wins
  • Gagne earns BIG EAST rookie of the week honors

BACK ON THE ROAD: The Notre Dame baseball team (24-6, 6-3 BIG EAST) heads back on the road this week, with a three-game series at West Virginia on April 15-16 (4:00 doubleheader on Sat., 1:00 p.m. game on Sun.) … the Irish are schedule to play 13 of their first 16 BIG EAST games away from home, before closing with nine straight at Eck Stadium … ND wrapped up an eight-game homestand last week by taking a series from Boston College (12-1, 10-6, 1-11) before dropping a 7-5 game to Purdue, followed by wins over Bowling Green (2-1) and Toledo (6-3) … the WVU series will be carried live by South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM) … Notre Dame opened 20-6-equaling the quickest season to 20 wins by an Irish team since the 1959-and now has a chance to reach 30 wins quicker than any previous ND squad (the ’90, ’94 and ’99 teams all opened 30-9).

IRISH RANKED AMONG NATION’S TEAM ERA LEADERS: Notre Dame entered the week with the sixth-best team ERA in the nation (3.09) and has lowered that number to 3.02 … the only teams ranked ahead of the Irish for team ERA entering the week were Louisiana-Lafayette (2.22), Clemson (2.71), South Carolina (2.86), Florida State (2.93) and Texas (3.04) … ND finished the ’98 season ranked 12th in the nation for team ERA (4.02).

NOTES FROM BC SERIES: The 12-1 opening win included J.P. Gagne’s strong outing and three ND players contributing three hits each to a 16-hit attack (Steve Stanley, Ken Meyer, Jeff Perconte) … BC stranded 14 baserunners … Brendan Nolan took the loss (4 IP, 8 R, 6 ER, 11 H, 4 Ks) … Mike Naumann picked up his first career save after closing the game with three effective innings (4 H) … Paul O’Toole hit a pinch-hit HR for the Irish … Aaron Heilman tossed a 7-inning complete game in the 10-6 win (8 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks)… ND held just a 5-3 lead before plating five runs in the 6th, with Jeff Felker enjoying a 3-for-4 game (including his third home run of the season) … Erik Olson took the loss (4 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 6 BB, K) … O’Toole homered again, giving him six home runs in a 10-game stretch at Eck Stadium … BC won the 11-1 nightcap behind a complete game from Steve Langone (UER, 9 H, BB, 2 Ks) … BC’s Mike Gambino reached base safely in each of his final nine trips to the plate in the douebleheader (6-of-7, BB, 2 HBP) … BC pounded out 17 hits, equaling the third-most hits ever by an ND opponent at Eck Stadium in the seven-year history of the facility … Scott Cavey suffered the loss (5.1 IP, 7 R, 4 ER, 11 H, BB, 7 KS) … Brian Stavisky was one of only two Irish players with multiple hits in the finale (3-for-4).

MIDWEEK GAME NOTES: in the 7-5 loss to Purdue, ND made two costly errors in the 6th inning, leading to three unearned runs … ND was set to rally in the 9th (runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs) but Andy Helmer came on for his eye-popping 10th save of the season (Alec Porzel lined into a double play and Paul O’Toole grounded out to end the game) … the 2-1 win over BG took just 2:07 of game time, with the winning run coming on a BG fielding error … Matt Buchmeier picked up the win with five strong innings of middle relief, facing just 17 batters (2 H, BB, 3 Ks) … John Corbin picked up the save (K) … sophomores led ND to the 6-3 win over Toledo, with Drew Duff picking up the win in relief (6 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 2 Ks) … Meyer batted 2-for-4, with two RBI, while Andrew Bushey had an RBI double and his first home run of the season … Corbin closed the 9th for the save (BB).

Gagne Named BIG EAST Rookie Of The Week: ND RHP J.P. Gagne (Bloomington, Minn.) was named BIG EAST rookie of the week, after an impressive victory as the game one starter in the BC series … Gagne was moved into the role of first-game starter, after the BC series shifted to a DH on the second day (due to weather) … Gagne scattered six hits and four walks over six IP in the 12-1 win, allowing one unearned run while recording three Ks and six groundouts … Gagne-who tossed seven strong innings in the 9-2 win at UConn-has won all five of his decisions the first ND pitcher since 1996 (Christian Parker) to open a season 5-0 and the first Irish freshman to do so since the 1990 tandem of Pat Leahy and Al Walania both started 5-0 … his other 2000 statistics include a 2.57 ERA, 19 Ks, 10 walks and 40 hits allowed in 35 IP, with 10 appearances and four starts … Gagne had yet to record a wild pitch or hit batter until the BC game (when he had one of each) … ND is the only BIG EAST team to have three different pitchers honored by the BIG EAST weekly awards this season, as Aaron Heilman (March 6, March 27) and Scott Cavey (Feb. 28) have been named BIG EAST pitcher of the week during the 2000 season … ND has compiled five total BIG EAST awards (second only to Rutgers’ eight), with sophomore C Paul O’Toole earning the March 13 player of the week award … ND and Rutgers are the only BIG EAST schools to produce a player, pitcher and rookie award winner thus far in the 2000 campaign.

Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup * – lefthanded hitter, # – switch hitter

Pos. Player Yr. Ht./Wt. Hometown 2000 Stats Notes
DH Ken Meyer So. 6-0/210 Fort Myers, FL .467 RBI (14-for-30), 7 RBI, 7 R, 3B, 5 2B, SF, 5 K Riding 6-game hit streak (11-for-21)
CF *Steve Stanley So. 5-9/150 Upper Arlington, OH .328, 12 RBI, 17 R, 3B, 3 2B, 16 BB, 12 K, 14-20 SB, 5 SAC, SF 15 starts at leadoff, 18 in 2nd spot
SS Alec Porzel Jr. 6-0/190 Lisle, IL .336, 23 RBI, 20 R, 3 HR, 3 3B, 12 2B, 12 BB, 11 K, 3-7 SB, 2 SF 15-game hit streak ended vs. Purdue
LF/C Matt Nussbaum Sr. 6-0/180 South Bend, IN .299, 18 RBI, 17 R, 3B, 4 2B, 6 BB, 7 K, 3-3 SB, SF 16 starts at catcher in 2000
C/LF *Paul O’Toole So. 6-2/210 Lakewood, OH .333, 21 RBI, 26 R, 4 HR, 3B, 4 2B, 11 BB, 10 K, 9-10 SB, 3 SF Hitting .419 at Eck Stadium
1B *Jeff Felker Sr. 6-5/190 Ellicott City, MD .308, 21 RBI, 18 R, 3 HR, 3B, 9 2B, 3 BB, 12 K, 1-3 SB, 2 SF Team-best .414 in ’99 BIG EAST gms
RF *Brian Stavisky Fr. 6-3/230 Port Allegany, PA .264, 18 RBI, 23 R, 7 HR, 3 3B, 4 2B, 9 BB, 21 K, 0-2 SB ND freshman HR record is 11 (Ust)
3B *Andrew Bushey So. 6-0/200 Boardman, OH .286, 14 RBI, 14 R, HR, 6 2B, 10 BB, 6 K, 0-2 SB, 2 SF Hit third career HR vs. Toledo
2B *Jeff Perconte Sr. 5-11/190 Arlington Hts., IL .254, 8 RBI, 13 R, 3B, 2 2B, 5 BB, 14 K, 0-1 SB, SF, 3 SAC Just one error in 85 chances (.988)

OTHER TOP RESERVES

DH/LF Matt Strickroth So. 6-5/230 Mission Viejo, CA .275, 11 RBI, 13 R, HR, 5 2B, 4 BB, 9 K, 2-2 SB, SF ’99 BIG EAST gms: .318, 12 RBI
DH #Matt Bok So. 5-11/185 Akron, Ohio .235, 7 RBI, 10 R, 2 2B, 8 BB, 9 K, 1-2 SB, SAC, SF Hitting 9-for-23 (.391) w/ runners on
UTIL #Ben Cooke Jr. 5-9/170 Bay Village, OH .231, 4 RBI, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 10 K, 2-6 SB, 3 SAC Two 1Bs, 2 R in 6-4 win over Georgia
OF/IF Kris Billmaier Fr. 5-11/185 Woodinvale, WA .258, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K Hitting 6-for-17 (.353) w/ runners on

PROBABLE ROTATION

RHP Aaron Heilman Jr. 6-5/210 Logansport, IN 2.47, 6-1, 9 GP/7 GS, 54.2 IP, 56 K/10 BB, .215 opp. avg. Last 7 GP: 6-0, 1.89, 47.2 IP, 50 K/8 BB
RHP J.P. Gagne Fr. 6-0/190 Bloomington, MN 2.57, 5-0, 10 GP/5 GS, 35 IP, 19 K/9 BB, .292 opp. avg. BE Rookie of Week (6 IP, 0 ER vs. BC)
RHP Scott Cavey Sr. 6-5/200 Omaha, NE 4.32, 3-2, 6 GS, 33.1 IP, 32 K/12 BB, .244 opp. avg. last 2 GP: 0-2, 11 ER, 19 H, 9.1 IP

BULLPEN

LHP Mike Naumann Jr. 6-0/180 Tucson, AZ 3.33, 1-1, 16 GP/24.1 IP, 12 K/4 BB, .363 opp. avg. Only LHP on Irish staff
RHP Matt Buchmeier So. 6-0/190 Greenwood, IN 2.25, 3-1, 10 GP/2 GS, 28 IP, 20 K/6 BB, .236 opp. avg. .182 opp. avg. w/ runners on base
RHP Matt Laird Fr. 6-1/190 Bellaire, TX 2.20, 3-2, 8 GP/6 GS, 28.2 IP, 15 K/5 BB, .252 opp. avg. Righthanders hitting .188 vs. him
RHP John Corbin Sr. 6-3/200 Hollywood, FL 2.33, 1-0, 7 SV, 16 GP/19.1 IP, 25 K/8 BB, .138 opp. avg. 0 hits allowed in last 24 opp. ABs
RHP Brandon Viloria Fr. 5-11/215 Wailuku, HI 0.00, 0-0, 5 GP/1 GS, 10 IP, 8 K/0 BB, .147 opp. avg. Last 2 GP: 3 IP, opp. 1-for-10, K
RHP Mike Carlin Jr. 6-5/210 Manhattan, KS 5.40, 0-0, 8 GP/8.1 IP, 5 K/8 BB, .250 opp. avg. 19 career appearances
RHP Tom O’Hagan Sr. 6-3/180 Crystal Lake, IL 3.38, 0-0, 2 GP/2.2 IP, 3 K/2 BB, .125 opp. avg. DNP in 1999
RHP Drew Duff So. 6-0/175 Sevierville, TN 5.76, 2-1, 8 GP/4 GS, 25 IP, 19 K/10 BB, .337 opp. avg. Last 2 GP: 2-0, 12 IP, 12 Ks, 2 BB, 11 H

A WINNING TRADITION: In five BIG EAST seasons, ND has posted 28 series wins, five series losses and four series ties … the Irish have won 11 of their last 13 BIG EAST series (with one tie) and 23 of the last 28 (with three ties) … Notre Dame has played 35 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 18 of them (with 15 splits and just two sweeps by the opponent) … the Irish have played 26 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 (at ND).

THE ND-WVU SERIES: ND holds an 18-9 series edge vs. WVU, winning five straight and eight of the last nine … ND and WVU have met in each of the last four BIG EAST Tournaments … ND holds a 9-6 series edge since both teams joined the BIG EAST in ’96 … the last 15 meetings have included three 1-run games, six 2-run games and four 3-run games … the teams had not played for 38 years prior to the 1996 season, when WVU swept two at ND (6-4, 8-5) and beat the Irish in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament (10-8) … the Irish beat WVU four days later, 5-2, to force a winner-take-all game (which WVU won, 7-4) … the teams split two at WVU in ’97, with WVU winning the first (7-5) and ND the second (7-6) … ND eliminated WVU from the ’97 BET (8-1) … the teams played a memorable series at ND on May 2-3, 1998, with the Irish winning the first (4-3) and third game (5-3, 15 inn.) while WVU came back to win the second (11-9, 10 inn.) … the Irish then rallied for four runs in the 8th and one in the 9th to beat WVU in the first round of the ’98 BET (5-4) … the first baseball game between the schools came in 1902, a 9-5 midseason home win for ND … ND also beat WVU at home in 1910 (6-1) before splitting at WVU in 1912 (1-7, 4-2) … ND won at WVU in 1914 (12-3) and the teams did not play again until two-game home sweeps by ND in 1927 (8-6, 3-0) and ’28 (4-3, 14-2) … the series then took a 27-year break before WVU won an early-season home game from the Irish in 1955 (5-3) before beating ND in ’56 (4-0, in Tallahasee, Fla.) … ND’s 1958 NCAA Tournament team beat WVU early in the season (6-4) en route to a 20-11 campaign.

CAREER STATS VS. WVU: Junior shortstop Alec Porzel has just seven hits in 29 career ABs vs. WVU, but four have been home runs and he has nine career RBI vs. WVU (his 15th-inning home run won the 5-3 game in 1998) … top Irish career batters vs. WVU include: senior 2B Jeff Perconte (.389, 7-for-18, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K, 0-2 SB) and senior 1B Jeff Felker (.355, 11-for-31, 3 RBI, 5 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 2B, 6 BB, 7 K, 1-1 SB) … junior RHP Aaron Heilman has faced WVU five times (one start), with a 3-1 record, one save, a 2.25 ERA, 19 Ks, 6 BB and 15 hits allowed in 20 IP … senior RHP Scott Cavey owns one career relief outing vs. WVU, retiring the two batters he faced … other ND pitchers with past outings vs. WVU include: senior RHP John Corbin (1 GP, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 Ks) and junior lefthander Mike Naumann (1 GP, 0.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R).

RECAPPING THE 1999 ND-WVU SERIES (4-1, 6-4 at WVU on March 20, 21st rained out, 7-2 at BIG EAST Tournament, May 19-20)

GAME 1 – Aaron Heilman tossed a complete game in the 7-inning opener, facing just four batters over the minimum (9 Ks, 12 groundouts, 3 H, 0 BB) … lefty Lewis Ross took the loss (7 IP, 4 R, 9 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks) … ND opened the day by manufacturing a run after a bunt single by Steve Stanley, a groundout and stolen base and a run-scoring groundout from Alec Porzel … WVU then tied the game behind singles by Nate Reeser and Travis Pittman and Lance Williams’ fielders choice (Heilman allowed just two baserunners the rest of the way, one coming in the 3rd when catcher Paul O’Toole let a third strike get away and the second coming on Pittman’s 6th-inning double) … ND tacked on runs in the 5th (singles by O’Toole and Stanley), 6th (Andrew Bushey single, Porzel double, IBB to Brant Ust and Matt Nussbaum sac. fly) and 7th (O’Toole single, Ben Cooke sac. bunt, two walks and Bushey single).

GAME 2 – Lefty Tim Kalita overcame a rocky start for the win (8 IP, 4 R, 7 H, 10 Ks) while Jeremy Cummings took the loss(7.1 IP, 5 R, 7 H, 3 BB, 5 K) … both teams completed error-free days in the field … John Corbin came on for his third save of the season (1 H, 2 Ks) … Porzel drew a full-count walk in the 1st inning before Ust sent a 1-2 pitch over the fence in left-center … WVU rallied with two outs for a run in the bottom of the inning before ND stretched to 5-1 in the 3rd, thanks to Stanley’s leadoff walk, Bushey’s two-strike single, Porzel’s RBI groundout, another IBB to Ust, Jegg Felker’s RBI single and Nussbaum’s two-run single up the middle … WVU made things interesting in the 7th inning, when Nate Reeser blasted a 1-0 fastball from Kalita over the fence in left-center … ND added an insurance run in the 9th inning, with Perconte turning in an impressive RBI single through the right side after fouling off three two-strike pitches.

GAME 3 – Porzel stroked a pair of two-run home runs (tying a BIG EAST Tournament record) while Heilman picked up an unorthodox save, as No. 1 seed ND finished off No. 6 WVU, in the resumption of their rain-suspended game at Waterfront Park … the game resumed with ND holding a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th, with ND runners on the corners … ND added one run in the resumed inning and three more in the 8th before WVU made things interesting with two runs and a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the 9th … Heilman logged a 19-pitch 7th inning on May 19 and returned to the mound on the 20th for a 20-pitch 8th inning … Mike Naumann took the mound but the Irish kept Heilman in the game, placing him at 1B … after Naumann gave up five straight hits, Heilman returned to induce Todd Neff’s game-ending double play … Kalita picked up the win (5 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 Ks) … Cummings took the loss (4 R, 2 ER, 4 H, 8 Ks) … the game resumed with Ken Meyer scoring on Reeser’s error at SS … in the 8th, Porzel plated O’Toole after drilling a two-strike pitch over the yellow line in dead-center field … WVU’s 9th-inning rally included a one-out double to by Todd Brock, Eddie Weightman’s single off Naumann’s glove, Josh McMillen’s bunt single, Tim Neumark’s single up the middle and Jeremy Glessner’s single to left … ND scored the only runs on the game’s May 19th portion in quick fashion, as O’Toole reached on a one-out fielding error by 2B Chris Schmidt and stole second before Porzel went the other way with a 1-2 fastball, launching the ball over the fence in right-center … Ust then delivered an opposite-field shot, drilling a 1-0 outside fastball over the rightfield fence, 30 feet left of the foulpole.

MONGOOSE ON THE MOVE: Sophomore DH Ken Meyer-nicknamed “Mongoose” due to his deceptive speed-has made the most of his recent opportunities and owns a team-best .467 batting average (14-for-30, 7 RBI, 7 R) .., Meyer’s current six-game hitting streak includes 11 hits in 21 ABs and he has collected seven hits in his last 11 ABs (four of those hits were doubles) … he enjoyed a 3-for-3 game in the 12-1 win over Boston College and has collected 21 total bases in his 30 ABs (for a team-best .700 slugging pct.) … Meyer has batted 3-5 in leadoff ABs during the last five games … in his current four-game spurt, Meyer has hit 5-for-7 with runners on base and 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position … four of his seven RBI this season have come with two outs and ND is 6-0 in games where he serves as the leadoff batter.

GETTING OFF TO THE RIGHT FOOT: The ND pitching staff opened the season with solid success versus leadoff batters, but the season average of leadoff batters reaching base has risen to 31 percent-with the Irish struggling in that area during the BC series (15 of 25 reached) and the Purdue and BG games (9 of 18) … the Irish staff then responded in the win over Toledo by retiring eight of nine leadoff batters, leading to six 1-2-3 innings.

TEAM OFFENSE NOTES: The Irish are averaging 10.8 hits and 6.5 runs per nine innings (down from 11.3 and 7.5 in ’99) … the team slugging pct. stands at .427 (.484 in ’99) … a big RBI producer has yet to emerge for the Irish but five players are bunched atop the team’s RBI leaders, with 18-23 … junior CF Steve Stanley has swiped 14 bases in 20 attempts and could become just the 4th ND players ever with 30-plus SBs in a season … sophomore C Paul O’Toole continues to show his versatile offensive skills, with nine SBs in 10 tries this season … O’Toole takes a seven-game hitting streak into the WVU series (10-for-22) … O’Toole has eight RBI in his last eight games played and has not struck out in his last 18 ABs … senior 1B Jeff Felker ranks 8th in ND history with 47 doubles, plus 19 home runs (just 11 ND players have hit 22-plus) … HRs at Eck … Felker is on the verge of playing his 200th career game at ND (198) and ranks 9th in ND history with 190 career starts (he also ranks 9th in career at-bats, with 684, while his 213 hits are 16 shy of the ND career top 10) … junior SS Alec Porzel already ranks 11th in ND history with 38 career doubles … Stanley’s 38 career SBs already are tied for 6th in the ND record book … ND batters with the best BB-to-K ratios include Porzel (12/11), O’Toole (11/10), Stanley (16/12) and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (10/6) … three ND players have yet to ground into a double play: Porzel (60 ABs with runners on base), Stanley (50) and sophomore LF Matt Strickroth (26) … ND is 9-2 this season when the opponent starts a lefthanded pitcher … the Irish are 4-1 in one-run games this season … Porzel and senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum both are hitting .400 in BIG EAST games this season (Nussbaum hit just .239 in ’99 BIG EAST games) … Bushey has totaled 10 walks and 39 total bases thus far in 2000 (he had just 11 walks and 50 TBs in ’99) … Bushey’s home run v. Toledo was the first of his career at Eck Stadium and his first since the 11-5 win at Georgetown on May 9, 1999 … like the shot vs. Toledo, his other career home run also went to the opposite field, in the 14-11 win at New Orleans early in the 1999 season (the Irish tied a team record with seven HRs in that game) … Porzel is hitting .352 in all road games this season, with three home runs and 16 RBI … O’Toole is hitting .419 at Eck Stadium this season

HARD TO K: Senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum again has proven to be a tough out at the plate, averaging 16.3 plate appearances per strikeout (114/7) … sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey has been the toughest ND player to strike out in 2000, with 20.0 plate appearances per K (120/6) … two seniors-1B Jeff Felker and LF/C Matt Nussbaum-have struck out “looking” just once in the 2000 season while Bushey has totaled just two KLs.

WINS & LOSSES: ND’s team stats have some glaring differences when comparing the 24 wins to the eight losses, including: a .314 team batting avg. in the wins, .246 in the losses, a .973 team fielding pct. in the wins, .947 in the losses, and 11 unearned runs in the wins (0.5/gm), compared to 22 in the losses (2.8/gm) … two ND players own significantly better batting averages in the ND wins: sophomore C Paul O’Toole (.392 in wins, .179 in losses) and senior 1B Jeff Felker (.359 in wins, .143 in losses).

ACES ALL AROUND: ND’s nationally-ranked 3.02 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 16 of the last 25 games (72 total, in 226 innings), for a 2.87 ERA during that stretch.
  • The ND pitching staff’s ratio of 2.77 Ks per walk would best the 37-year-old team record of 2.40 (set in 1963) … the top ratios belong to junior Aaron Heilman (5.6, 56/10) and sophomore Matt Buchmeier (3.3, 20/6) … the team’s leaders in Ks per 9 IP include senior John Corbin (11.6), Heilman (9.2) and senior Scott Cavey (8.6) … the Irish pitchers have totaled just 79 walks in 274 IP, for another record-setting pace of 2.60 BBs per 9 IP (the existing ND record of 2.82 was set in ’94) … the lowest nine-inning BB ratios belong to freshman Matt Laird (1.6), Buchmeier (1.9), Heilman (1.6) and Naumann (1.5).
  • ND’s 24-8 start has included victories from eight different pitchers, with six owning multiple wins: Cavey (3-2), Heilman (6-1), Buchmeier (3-1), Gagne (5-0), Laird (3-2) and Duff (2-1).
  • Pitchers with the biggest groundout-flyout ratios: Laird (2.30) and Gagne (1.81).
  • Senior RHP Scott Cavey is 3-2 as the No. 2 starter (4.32, 32 Ks, 12 BB, 31 H, 33.1 IP) … he has won seven of his last 10 appearances … his career walk average now sits at 2.19 per 9 IP (31, in 127.2 IP) … Cavey’s career K-to-walk ratio now stands at 3.52 (109/31) … opposing baserunners are just 2-for-3 in stolen base attempts versus Cavey in 34 innings this season … Cavey’s recent struggles have included problems retiring the leadoff batter (just 6-of-24 reached in his first four starts, but 7-of-11 in the last two) and in opponent batting average with runners on base (4-for-19/.211 in first four games, 10-for-26/.385 in last two).
  • 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 before saving two wins this week (2-1 vs. BG, 6-3 vs. Toledo) … he now stands first on the ND career saves list, with 16 (three players have 12, including Heilman) … Corbin owns a 2.33 season ERA in 19.1 IP, with 25 Ks, 8 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 24 Irish wins (16 saves, 8-3 record) … in his last six appearances, he has not allowed a hit (24 ABs), with nine Ks, 10 groundouts and five flyouts … for the season, opposing batters are hitting just 2-for-24 vs. Corbin with two outs (0-for-10 in the last eight games … Corbin has not allowed an earned run in his last six appearances (8 IP), with 10 Ks, one walk and one hit allowed during 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 2000 totals include a 2.47 ERA, 56 Ks, 10 BB, 42 H in 54.2 IP … his .215 opponent batting avg. would rank 6th-best by an Irish pitcher since the stat was first recorded in ’91 … his career ERA stands at 2.54, 4th-best in ND history (the ND record is held by Nick Palihnich, 2.36 from ’59-’61) … Heilman remains on pace to challenge the Irish career K record, ranking 5th with 252, 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 9.83 Ks, just 2.58 BBs per 9 IP in his career … his last seven appearance (six starts) have yielded six wins and just 10 runs in 47.2 IP, for an 1.89 ERA in that stretch (50 Ks, 8 BB, 31 H) … his 24-6 career record places him 9th in Irish history for career wins while his .800 career winning pct. ranks 5th all-time at ND.
  • Freshmen Matt Laird (3-2, 2.20, 15 K/5 BB, 28.2 IP) and J.P. Gagne (5-0, 2.57, 19 K/9 BB, 35 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 an 8-2 record and a 2.40 ERA, with 34 Ks and 14 BBs in 63.2 IP … Laird served up 13 groundouts in the Purdue game and has 21 in his last two outings (just five flyouts) … Gagne’s last three appearances have yielded just two earned runs in 15 IP … in his last three outings, Gagne has struggled versus leadoff batters (5-of-15 have reached) but has allowed just six hits in 30 opponent ABs with runners on base (.200) and no hits in 15 ABs with two outs … in BIG EAST games
  • Buchmeier (28 IP), Corbin (19.1) and freshman Brandon Viloria (10) have yet to allow a home run this season … the ND staff has yielded just 11 home runs this season (a 60-game pace of just 21, compared to 55 opponent HRs in ’99)
  • In his last two outings, Viloria has allowed just one hit in the last 10 ABs by opposing batters and his impressive season numbers include no hits allowed in nine opponent ABS with runners on base while just 2-of-10 leadoff batters have reached vs. Viloria in 2000 … Buchmeier has allowed just two earned runs in his last 12.2 IP … in his last four outings, Buchmeier has allowed just three hits with runners on base (in 24 opponent ABs).

BALANCED OFFENSE: ND’s reliance on balanced offense for most of 2000 has resulted in the Irish players combining for just 16 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 (he also has posted a 3-hit game) while sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey has two three-hit games this season … five other ND players have posted three-hit game: sophomore CF Steve Stanley (3), sophomore C Paul O’Toole, senior 1B Jeff Felker (2), senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum, sophomore DH Ken Meyer (2) and senior 2B Jeff Perconte … Irish players also have combined for just seven games with 3-plus RBI, as O’Toole, Bushey, Porzel and Stanley each have produced one three-RBI game while Stavisky drove in four runs versus Akron (Felker owns two 3-RBI games).

STREAKING: 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 while junior SS Alec Porzel’s career-best, 15-game hitting streak ended in the April 11 Purdue game … the only ND players to play in all 32 games this season are Stanley and Stavisky … each of those players has opened at the same position in all 32 games.

DIFFERENT LOOKS: The Irish have tried several lineup combinations in recent weeks, with several players’ versatility allowing for greater flexibility (sophomore C Paul O’Toole has hit leadoff, 2nd, cleanup, 5th and 7th) … just one player has hit in the same spot for 19-plus games this season: junior SS Alec Porzel (29 games in No. 3 spot).

SOLID D: 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 (41 errors in 32 games, 1.28/gm), which would best the team record set in 1982 and ’92 (.965) … the Irish have posted 10 error-free games in 2000, plus nine with one error, seven with two errors and just five with three-plus Es … the Irish defense is averaging nearly one double play per game (31), on pace to challenge the team record of 60 DPs set in 1998 … ND heads into the WVU series with just 14 errors in the last 12 games … senior 2B Jeff Perconte has made just one error (.988), opening the season with 54 error-free plays before a miscommunication with junior SS Alec Porzel on a forceout play at second base in the April 5th Valparaiso game (Porzel tossed the ball but Perconte was unable to make the catch) … since that play, Perconte has made 30 straight error-free plays … sophomore CF Steve Stanley has played error-free ball in his last 29 games (64 fielding chances) … senior 1B Jeff Felker has made just two errors in 312 fielding chances (.994) while senior Matt Nussbaum has made just one in his double duty at LF and C (.992).

CLEARING THE COBWEBS: After early first-inning struggles, ND now owns a 16-13 scoring edge in the 1st inning and a 56-40 in the first three innings … the Irish have dominated most in the 4th inning (25-7) and own a 69-43 scoring edge from the 6th-8th innings (+26, in 32 games).

IN THE CLUTCH: Despite hitting just .297 as a team, the ND offense has performed noticeably better with runners on base (.312) but is hitting just .294 with runners in scoring position … top Irish hitters with runners in scoring position include sophomore DH Matt Bok (.556), sophomore LF/DH Matt Strickroth (.375), sophomore C Paul O’Toole (.353) and senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (.325) … Bok also is hitting a team-best .391 overall with runners on base while junior SS Alec Porzel checks in at .360, followed by senior 1B Jeff Felker (.355) and junior SS Alec Porzel (.350).

POWER OUTAGE?: The ND offense has managed just 19 home runs in it first 32 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 33 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 12 games (8-for-40), dropping his avg. to .264 (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 2nd in total bases (64) and slugging pct. (.512) and 4th in RBI (18) … 14 of his 33 hits have gone for extra bases, including four doubles and three triples … he has yet to make an error, in 44 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 and five flyouts … 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 7th (two in the 2nd, three in both the 4th and 8th) … Heilman’s first seven Ks were ?looking” … eight Georgia batters were K’d by Heilman … his first 12 outs included seven Ks … the last ND pitcher to post 13-plus Ks in a game was Bob Bartlett (13 at Bethel in 1980) … the last to do so versus a Div. I team was Frank Carpin, who set a still-standing Irish record with 19 Ks in 10 IP vs. Indiana in 1958.

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 currently owns a .299 season batting avg.-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.

PROSPECTS: 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.

ACADEMICS: 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). ?

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. ?

THE ECK: 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 (158-36, .814, since ’94), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in ’97 and a 129-29 home record (.817) during five-plus years under head coach Paul Mainieri … ND has posted victories in 85 of its last 103 games (.825) at Eck (since late in the ’96 season), including a 37-6 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.?

K CREW: 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 7.19) … 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 3,015 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 (24-8) and softball (32-10) teams have combined for a .757 overall winning pct.

HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Sixth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 564-380 (.598) 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 232-101 (.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.