Feb. 21, 2001
REMEMBER THE ALAMO?: The 11th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team (2-1) will make its 13th visit to San Antonio in the last 18 seasons, as the Irish will participate in the Alamo Invitational from Feb. 23-25 (on the campus of St. Mary’s University, at V.J. Keefe Stadium) … ND faces Texas-San Antonio on Friday (7:00 p.m. central), Texas-Pan American on Saturday (1:00 p.m.) and Sam Houston State on Sunday (11:00 a.m.) … the Irish opened play last week at the Bank of Commerce Classic, losing a tough 7-6 game to New Orleans before twice knocking off the host team and 16th-ranked Mississippi State (7-5, 4-2 in 11 inn.).
RADIO COVERAGE: South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM) is scheduled to carry live broadcasts of Notre Dame’s entire 56-game schedule in 2001 (plus all postseason action) … a real-audio link to internet broadcasts of the games may be accessed at www.und.com.
IN THE POLLS: Notre Dame moved up slightly in all three national polls, checking in this week at 11th according to Baseball America and 12th in both the Collegiate Baseball poll and the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll … the Irish were ranked as high as ninth (by BA) in the preseason.
STAVISKY NAMED NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) lived up to his preseason hype by earning national player-of-the-week honors after batting .692 (9-for-13) and reaching base on 10 consecutive plate appearances at last week’s National Bank of Commerce Classic … Stavisky was recognized by Collegiate Baseball magazine as the national player of the week while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association tabbed Stavisky as its national “hitter of the week” … the 6-3, 220-pound lefthander also earned the first BIG EAST player-of-the-week award for the 2001 season … Stavisky’s rare 10 consecutive times on base included hits in his final two ABs versus UNO and a 3-for-3 effort (with 2 BB) later that day vs. host Mississippi State. … in the final game of the NBC Classic, he collected hits in his first three ABs vs. MSU-yielding 10 straight times on base … a strikeout to open the 8th halted Stavisky’s streak (he had hits in eight of his first 10 ABs overall) and his final 1B was a hard-hit lineout to CF in the 11th inning of that 4-2 win … Stavisky’s weekend production from the cleanup spot included three walks, three RBI, three runs scored, two triples, two doubles, 15 total bases, a stolen base and two Ks … his nine hits included a 6th-inning RBI triple in Sunday’s game, plating Alec Porzel with the day’s first run … in the first win over MSU, Stavisky doubled in the 5th inning and scored for a 6-5 lead (the Irish went on to win 7-5) … current Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named by CB as the national pitcher of the week twice in 2000, following his 12-K game in a 6-4 win over Georgia on March 5 and his 18-K game at West Virginia on April 15 (a 3-1, 10-inning win) … Stavisky’s 10 straight times on base included a wide variety of ABs, with three first-pitch hits (one RBI double, one RBI triple), four hits with two strikes (one RBI triple), two leadoff hits and a two-out RBI double.
THE FIELD: ND returns the bulk of its lineup from the 2000 team that posted a 46-18 final record … nine of ND’s top-10 batters are back, as are the top-six ERA leaders from 2000 … the returning Irish pitchers accounted for 35 wins in 2000 while helping the Irish finish 16th in the nation with a 3.93 ERA … Texas-San Antonio returns 17 of 27 letterwinners from its 2000 team that posted a 17-37 record and finished 10th in the Southland Conference (6-21) … the Roadrunners head into the weekend with a 4-7 record, led by a pair of wins over Arkansas (7-5, 4-2, plus a 4-1 loss) and two wins at Louisiana Tech (6-5, 7-6, plus a 9-8 loss) … UTSA’s other losses have come at Louisiana-Lafayette (6-7, 2-7, 5-11), at Texas (0-4) and vs. Baylor on Feb. 20 (2-13) …Texas-Pan American welcomes back 14 of 25 letterwinners from its 200 squad that went 31-19-1 overall while competing as an independent … UTPA heads into the weekend with a 1-8 overall record, after dropping a three-game series at Louisiana-Monroe (6-3, 2-0, 11-5) … Sam Houston State returns 17 of 23 letterwinners from a 25-29 team that finished sixth in the 2000 Southland standings (14-13) before going 1-2 in the Southland Tournament … the Bearkats are 3-7 overall, coming off an impressive 2-1 win over Texas A&M on Feb. 20 … Lamar transfer Joe Fowler picked up that win and is 2-1 this season, with a 2.25 ERA and 15 Ks in 21 IP … SHSU also swept Prairie View A&M (12-2, 10-4), after opening with seven straight losses to national powers Tulane (2-3, 0-12, 1-11), Rice (3-8) and Texas (3-4, 4-5, 3-8)-with three losses by one run … for more on the Irish opponents, consult their websites at: www.goutsa.com … www.panam.edu/dept/athletics/ … and www.shsu/~ath_www.
THE ND-UTSA SERIES: The only previous ND-UTSA game saw the Roadrunners beat the Irish at Wolff Stadium, 7-3, on March 19, 1995.
THE ND-UTPA SERIES: The Irish and Broncs have split six previous meetings (at Wolff Stadium), with ND winning twice in a three-game 1995 series (7-6, 1-5, 13-4) … UTPA returned the favor in ’97, blowing a 4-0 lead (5-4) before sweeping two from ND the next day (2-0, 5-2) … that 2-0 game remains one of just five shutouts suffered by the Irish in the seven-year Paul Mainieri era (it also ended ND’s record scoring streak at 133 games) … ND rallied in the 9th inning of the first 1997 game, scoring five times in its final at-bat (Allen Greene’s two-out single, vs. reliever Richard Crenshaw, plated the tying run and J.J. Brock singled home Greene moments later for the win) … UTPA freshman RHP Amar Ortiz had held ND to three hits during the first eight innings of that game … a pair of UTPA senior pitchers-LHP Mike Karrow and RHP Ralph Dillard combined to hold ND to a total of seven hits in the ’97 DH (the first win was the 1,200th for former Broncs coach Al Ogletree) … UTPA turned five double plays and made just two errors in that DH (the Irish had seven errors that led to five unearned runs in the two games).
ALL-TIME OPPONENTS: ND has faced 267 opponents in 108-plus years of varsity baseball, with potential first-time opponents in 2001 including Alamo Invitational participant Sam Houston State, plus Bucknell, Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, Pacific and South Florida … noteworthy teams that Notre Dame has yet to face include: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and UC Santa Barbara.
TEXAS TRIPS: Notre Dame has played games in San Antonio in all but five seasons since 1984 (every year except 1986, ’92-’94 and 2000) … the Irish own an overall record of 52-37 in games played in Texas since 1984 (50-34 in games played in San Antonio, 22-12 in the Paul Mainieri era) … the Irish are 11-13 (since ’84) in games played at St. Mary’s V.J. Keefe Field (versus a variety of opponents) while posting a 20-10 mark in games played at Wolff Stadium … other ND games played in San Antonio (since ’84) include an 0-4 mark in games at St. Edwards, plus 3-4 at Texas Lutheran, 4-1 at Schreiner, 12-1 at Trinity and 0-1 at Incarnate Word … since ’84, the Irish also have played games at the University of Texas (2-1), at TCU (0-1) and at Houston (0-1) … all but four of the previous 34 San Antonio games in the Mainieri era were played at Wolff Stadium (most as part of the Irish Baseball Classic), with ND playing four games at Keefe Field in 1999 (a 5-6, 3-1 split with Penn State, a 3-4 loss to Yale and a wild 19-16 win over the University of Dallas) … ND’s 84 games in San Antonio since 1984 break down as follows:
THE SKIPPER: Seventh-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 587-390 (.601) record in 18 college seasons, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 255-111 (.697) mark at ND, Mainieri’s 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 UNO (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return as the ND coach to his hometown of Miami … 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 255 wins rank third all-time at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 24 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 16 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of his 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 top 500 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 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, and is on pace to coach his 1,000th career game in the 23rd game of the 2001 season (which tentatively would be the March 27th home game vs. Western Michigan).
TWO BIG WINS IN THE BANK: The ND baseball team opened its 2001 season with a tough 7-6 loss to New Orleans at the National Bank of Commerce Classic before posting a pair of clutch victories over host Mississippi State (7-5, 4-2) … the Bulldogs were ranked as high as 16th in the national polls and opened 0-2 for the first time since 1996 while dropping consecutive home games for the first time since midway through the 1998 season, when Kentucky posted 3-2 and 12-9 wins over the Bulldogs.
WE’LL BE BACK: For the first time in its 109-year history, Notre Dame opened a season on the road at the same ballpark where it ended the previous campaign (the Irish battled MSU in the championship game of the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional before losing 10-9).
WINDS OF CHANGE?: The Starkville area was hit early Friday afternoon (Feb. 16) by a tornado that touched down on the MSU campus, reportedly causing several million dollars of damage while canceling Friday night’s scheduled game between MSU and UNO .. the coincidence of ND’s impending arrival (late Friday night) was not lost on the MSU fans, many of whom were in attendance during ND’s game versus Tulane during the 2000 NCAAs (at Dudy Noble Field) that was halted for two hours-plus due to a passing tornado … the Irish had to overcome several logistical obstacles even before taking the field, including 10 hours of travel (South Bend-Chicago-Memphis-Starkville) that ended with an arrival at the team hotel shortly after midnight … with some of the rooms lacking electricity and heat due to the tornado damage, the Irish also coped with the lack of hot water following a 6:45 a.m. wakeup and team breakfast … Starkville was bathed in 75-degree temperatures Friday at noontime but Saturday’s gametime temperature had dipped to 39, with steady winds providing a chilly atmosphere throughout the day.
RECAPPING THE UNO GAME: A series of untimely miscues and 13 runners left on base came back to haunt ND, in the 7-6 loss to the Privateers … freshman 2B Steve Sollmann-brother of former Irish all-star outfielder Scott Sollmann-had an impressive debut to his ND career, collecting four hits while making some big plays at his new position (after converting from the OF) … a pair of Irish errors led to three unearned runs for UNO (2-2), which erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the 5th … the Privateers then scored three valuable insurance runs (two of them unearned) in the top of the 9th, as the Irish rallied for three runs in the bottom of the frame to forge a 7-6 score and tense finish … but Kevin Ubles induced a flyout from Ken Meyer, ending the game … senior RHP Danny Tamayo failed to reprise his three-hit shutout from the 2000 NCAAs, suffering the loss after giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits over five innings, with three Ks … UNO’s ace, lefty Tom Lipari, improved to 2-0 after holding the Irish to a pair of runs on seven hits and three walks over 5.1 innings.
RECAPPING THE FIRST MSU GAME: ND bounced back after the rough UNO loss and a rocky first two innings vs. the Bulldogs, who jumped out to a 5-2 lead after two Irish errors produced four unearned runs … senior RHP Aaron Heilman registered six strikeouts to become ND’s career K leader (320) … Heilman pushed his career record to 29-7, allowing just the one earned run, four hits and two walks over the six innings … he retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced, with the lone blemishes being a bloop single and a hit batter … the Irish offense chipped away with single runs in the first two innings and two in the third before surging ahead (6-5) in the fifth, versus lefthanded reliever Joey Collums … Paul O’Toole’s groundout plated Alec Porzel with the tying run and Brian Stavisky-who had doubled-then scored what proved to be the game-winner on a single from Kris Billmaier … ND added a run in the 7th and the steady pitching of sophomore Brandon Viloria kept MSU off the board until the ninth, when his classmate Matt Laird was called out of the bullpen with runners on second and third and the winning run at the plate … leadoff batter Matthew Maniscalo then hit a dipping linedrive that was snared by the SS Porzel, who stepped on second base for a dramatic game-ending double play.
RECAPPING THE SECOND MSU GAME: Matt Laird served up another clutch double-play ball (in the bottom of the 10th) and freshman 1B Joe Thaman delivered what proved to be the game-winning double in the 11th, as the Irish emerged with a 4-2 win to cap the weekend … ND claimed a 2-0 lead in the 6th, highlighted by an RBI triple from Stavisky-whose four-hit day completed his 9-for-13 weekend (highlighted by 10 consecutive times on base, see note on this page) … MSU then plated single runs in the 6th and 8th, ultimately sending the game to extra innings … both teams stranded 12 baserunners, with the Irish holding a 15-10 edge in hits while playing error-free in the field … the first of two Bulldogs errors in the final inning put the winning run on base for the Irish in the 11th (which was predetermined to be the final inning of the game, due to ND’s flight schedule) … Billmaier reached to open the 11th, after lifting a short popup down the RF line … three MSU players converged on the play, with the ball kicking off the glove of senior 1B Jon Knott-just inside the foulline-for a two-base error … Andrew Bushey then took an 0-1 offering from junior RHP Adam Larson and drove the ball up the middle, moving Billmaier to third, before Thaman stroked his second double of the game-sending a 2-2 pitch down the leftfield line for the 3-2 lead … the Irish padded their lead after an intentional walk to Sollmann and Steve Stanley’s RBI grounder to the right side … Laird-who relieved junior Drew Duff in the 10th, with runners on first and second-fell behind pinchhitter Brad Rutto (2-0) before forcing Rutto to hit straight to the 2B Sollmann, who relayed the ball to Porzel for the 6-4-3 double play … Porzel scored the game’s first run in the 6th, shaking off his 1-for-11 start with a leadoff double to RF … MSU then made a change on the mound, removing senior RHP Jeff Hunter in favor of freshman lefty Paul Maholm, but the lefthanded-hitting Stavisky continued his torrid start by tripling to the gap in right-center … two batters later, Billmaier singled to right field for a 2-0 lead … ND junior RHP Matt Buchmeier tossed four shutout innings in his fourth career start, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out one MSU batter … Laird opened the bottom of the 11th by striking out Steve Gendron before hustling to cover 1B on Chad Henry’s tricky groundball … the next pitch got away from Laird and hit Matthew Maniscalco but Laird ended the game with another tough fielding play, pouncing on a swinging bunt to the left side and throwing out Phillip Willingham for the final out.
WORKING OVERTIME: Notre Dame has won its last six extra-inning games, since losing a 10-7 game to Boston College on April 17, 1999 (in a seven-inning game that ended in the eighth) … in addition to last week’s 11-inning win at Mississippi State (4-2), the extra-inning streak includes wins over Oakland (7-6 in 10, 4/30/99), Villanova (7-3 in 10, 3/25/00), West Virginia (3-1 in 7-inn. game extended to 10, 4/15/00), Michigan (5-4 in 11, 4/26/00) and Pittsburgh (11-8 in 10, 5/6/00) … the VU and WVU games both came on the road while the Michigan win was held on neutral ground, at Old Kent Park (just outside of Grand Rapids, Mich.).
DOUBLE YOUR DP PLEASURE: Sophomore RHP matt Laird (Bellaire, Texas) recorded four outs on his first four pitches of the 2001 season-thanks to pair of clutch double plays in the wins over MSU … Laird took the hill on Feb. 17 with runners on first and second, one out and ND leading 7-5 … his first (one only) pitch produced a dipping linedrive from Matthew Maniscalco, with SS Alec Porzel snaring the ball and stepping on second for the game-ending DP … the next day, Laird took the mound again with runners on 1st and 2nd (in the 10th) and induced pinch hitter Brad Rutto in to a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
PRESEASON POLLS: Notre Dame was a consensus top-14 team in 2001 preseason polls: 9th in Baseball America, 14th by Collegiate Baseball and 13th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll … the ranking of No. 9 in the BA poll is ND’s highest rank in the history of that poll (since ’81), at any time in the season … the Irish have been ranked in the BA top 10 once previously, as the ’92 squad was ranked as high as 10th in a two-week stretch in mid-February … the No. 9 ranking is the highest ever in the BA poll for a BIG EAST team, with Rutgers holding the previous best mark after rising to 14th in 2000 (St. John’s was ranked as high as 14th in ’81, four years prior to BIG EAST baseball) … ND has been ranked in the BA preseason top 25 five times previously: 15th in ’91, 11th in ’92, 15th in ’93, 20th in ’94 and 20th in 2000 … ND was one of three “northern” teams on BA’s preseason top 25 (the others were 5th-ranked Nebraska and 24th-ranked Minnesota).
PROSPECTS: ND senior RHP Aaron Heilman is listed seventh on BA’s annual list of top pro prospects in college baseball (14th overall when including high school players, seventh among all pitchers) … Heilman ranks fourth among college pitchers, behind his former Team USA teammates Mark Prior (transfer from USC to Vanderbilt, 2nd) and Josh Karp (UCLA, 3rd) and Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazleton (5th) … other top prospects include: Georgia Tech 3B Mark Texiera (1st), LSU transfer (from Washington) OF Todd Linden (4th) and Auburn OF Gave Gross (6th).
PROSPECTS, PART II: ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky was listed by BA as the No. 17 prospect (8th among position players)-making ND and Georgia Tech (three) the only schools with multiple players in the top 28 … Irish junior C Paul O’Toole checked in at 46th, with ND again joining Georgia Tech (four) as the only school with three-plus players in the top 55 (just four others had two) … position players listed before Stavisky include Teixeira, Linden and Gross, plus Long Beach State SS Bobby Crosby, San Francisco 1B/3B Taggert Bozied, LSU 2B Mike Fontenot and Southwest Missouri 1B Ryan Howard … O’Toole is the 22nd position player and third catcher on that list, behind Georgia C/1B Doc Brooks (21st) and Oklahoma State’s Ryan Budde (28th).
PROSPECTS, PART III: ND’s three top-50 prospects are more than the total from 25 of the nation’s 30 Div. I conferences, with just the ACC (9), the SEC (8), the Pac-10 (5) and the Missouri Valley (4) conferences having more than three … Heilman combined with Evansville RHP Preston Larrison (9th) to give Indiana schools two players among the top 12 (California schools have four players in the top 12 while two currently play at schools in Tennessee, one a USC transfer) … Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) is not the only Indiana native on the list, as Ball State’s Justin Wechsler (Anderson, Ind.) is listed 37th … only four states-Florida (5) and California, Texas and Missouri (3 each)-can claim more than two natives among the top 37 prospects … in addition to Wechsler, five other players from teams on ND’s 2001 schedule were included on BA’s list of college baseball’s top 100 prospects for 2001: New Mexico OF Donny Sevieri (66th), Fresno St. RHP Zach Minor (81st), Mississippi St. RHP Tanner Brock (88th) and St. John’s OF Charlie Bilezikjian (97th).
TOP-FIVE CONFERENCE: BIG EAST baseball heads into 2001 with a prestigious ranking from BA, which rated the BIG EAST as the nation’s fifth-best conference, behind the SEC, ACC, Pac-10 and Big 12 … four current BIG EAST teams participated in the 2000 NCAAs: ND, Rutgers, Seton Hall and newcomer Virginia Tech (formerly of the Atlantic-10) … five other current BIG EAST teams advanced to the NCAAs in the ’90s while the league consistently has produced high draft picks and NCAA statistical leaders … the BIG EAST had seven teams in BA’s preason top 100-ND (9), RU (35), Virginia Tech (40), SHU (69), UConn (86), St. John’s (92) and Boston College (100)-trailing only the SEC (11), Pac-10 (8) and Big-12 (8)
CREAM OF THE CROP: ND joined LSU as the only teams to place multiple players on BA’s 14-player list of first-team preseason All-Americans-senior RHP Aaron Heilman and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky-as selected by Major League scouting directors (LSU junior OF Todd Linden is a transfer from Washington) … Heilman and San Francisco 1B Taggert Bozied were the only seniors on the team while Stavisky and LSU 2B Mike Fontenot were the only sophomores … Heilman was joined on BA’s first-team pitching staff by two of his former teammates from the ’99 USA National Team–UCLA junior RHP Josh Karp and Stetson senior LHP Len Dinardo-plus Mark Prior (Vanderbilt transfer from USC) and Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazelton … Stavisky was joined in the first-team outfield by LSU’s Linden and Auburn junior Gabe Gross … just seven of the 29 other BA preseason All-Americans hit more home runs than Stavisky (14) in 2000 … CB made Heilman one of three pitchers named first team preseason All-America by both BA and CB (which placed Stavisky on its second team for 2001 preseason All-Americans).
FANTASTIC FIVE: The preseason all-BIG EAST teams released by the conference office and BA included just seven repeat selections, with ND producing five: senior RHP Aaron Heilman, senior SS Alec Porzel, junior C Paul O’Toole, junior CF Steve Stanley and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky … Rutgers (3) and Virginia Tech (2) were the only other schools with multiple players on BA’s 14-player all-BIG EAST team … the 15-player BIG EAST coaches all-conference team included three UConn players and two from Seton Hall (Heilman and Rutgers RHP Bob Brownlie were the only unanimous selections).
TOP FROSH: BA listed three Irish players among the BIG EAST’s top five newcomers: RHP Aaron Edwards (3rd), 2B Steve Sollmann (4th) and 1B Joe Thaman (5th) … BA tabbed Edwards for BIG EAST rookie of the year while Edwards, Sollmann and Thamann were the only freshmen on the newcomers list (the others are transfers).
TOOL TIME: In BA’s annual “best tools” list for the BIG EAST, five Irish players combined for six of 16 citations … C Paul O’Toole, 3B Andrew Bushey and CF Steve Stanley were judged to be the best defensive players at their positions (Stanley as top all-around OF) while sophomore RF Brian Stavisky repeated as the BIG EAST player with the “best raw power,” Stanley was tabbed the “fastest runner” for the second straight year and senior RHP Aaron Heilman again was cited for being the league’s pitcher with the “best control” … BA also lauded Heilman for having college baseball’s “best pure slider” and listed him as one of three pitchers in college baseball with the “best command” of his pitches (the others were South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight and Rice’s Kenny Baugh.
DANGEROUS DUO: ND’s likely No. 3 and cleanup hitters have more in common than hitting in pressure-packed spots, as senior SS Alec Porzel and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky each were tabbed as BIG EAST preseason player of the year by different national publications (Porzel from CB and Stavisky from both BA and the BIG EAST coaches) … Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman-the 2000 BIG EAST pitcher of the year-was picked by CB as co-favorite for 2001 BIG EAST pitcher of the year, along with Rutgers sophomore RHP Bob Brownlie (who got the nod from BA and the BIG EAST coaches).
TOUGH CONFERENCE: ND was picked to win the BIG EAST by BA, CB and the BIG EAST coaches but the preseason picks differed somewhat in forecasting the runner-up (BA and the BIG EAST coaches went with Rutgers, CB with newcomer Virginia Tech).
DOMINO EFFECT: The return of Notre Dame senior RHP Aaron Heilman does more than just impact the top pitching matchup of a weekend series-in fact, the return of No. 22 could leave a mark on nearly every Irish game during the 2001 season … Heilman’s return transforms his classmate Danny Tamayo into potentially one of the BIG EAST’s top No. 2 pitchers while helping junior Matt Buchmeier ease into the role of weekend starter in the No. 3 spot (as opposed to possibly breaking in at No. 2) … sophomore J.P. Gagne also now can be used in a swingman role, as a very capable starter and tough long-reliever … finally, Heilman’s return also could impact the role of junior Drew Duff-who may have taken on a role somewhere in the starting rotation without Heilman on the staff but now is a contender for late-inning relief and for the closer role vacated by 2000 graduate and Irish all-times saves leader John Corbin.
SCORING STREAK: Notre Dame is on the verge of setting the school record for consecutive games with at least one run scored … the Irish scored in the final 58 games of ’99, in all 64 games of 2000 and all three games last week, yielding an active 125-game scoring streak that stretches back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 … the record 133-game scoring streak began with the first game of the Paul Mainieri era, a 10-6 loss to Texas at the Anaheim Classic, on Feb. 24, 1995 (the Irish were shut out by Auburn, 8-0, in their final game of the 1994 NCAA East Regional at Clemson, S.C.) … the record streak ended with a shutout loss to another Texas team, 2-0 versus Texas Pan-American in a seven-inning game on March 10, 1997 (at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … just as impressive as those two streaks is the fact that Notre Dame has scored in 98.7 percent of its games in the Mainieri era (366 of 371), with the other three shutouts coming at Seton Hall (16-0, 3/22/97), vs. St. John’s (3-0, 5/9/98) and vs. Rutgers in the BIG EAST Tournament (12-0, 5/16/98) … prior to the Mainieri era, the longest ND scoring streaks were a 121-game stretch (April 23, 1930-May 26, 1937) and a 103-game streak spanning May 25, 1907-May 17, 1912.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The Notre Dame baseball squad posted a 3.19 team grade-point average in the 2000 fall semester-the program’s best semester in the seven-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4 or higher) in the fall of 2000, with 21 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 13 times since 1982, including a pair in 2000: 2B Jeff Perconte (3.76 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government, now attending ND Law School) and current senior LHP Mike Naumann (3.92, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters, already accepted into and plans to attend Baylor Medical School) … ND was one of seven Division I baseball teams with multiple Academic All-Americans in 2000 and only two of those schools-Notre Dame and North Carolina-participated in the 2000 NCAAs … top Academic All-America candidates for 2001 include Naumann, junior 3B Andrew Bushey (3.33, finance) and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (3.69, Mendoza College of Business).
FAR & WIDE: The Notre Dame list of all-time monogram winners includes players hailing from 43 home states … current sophomore RHP Brandon Viloria (Wailuku, Hawaii) in 2000 became the first Irish baseball letterwinner from the island state while current freshman LHP Cody Wilkins (Hudson, N.C.) could become the first from the Tar Heel state … the only other states that have not produced Notre Dame baseball letterwinners include: Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Vermont.
PUSHING FORTY: Notre Dame has posted 12 straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 48 wins in 1989 and ’92, 46 victories in four seasons (’90, ’93, ’94, ’00), 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … ND’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks fourth in Division I baseball, trailing only Florida State (23), Wichita State (23) and Clemson (15).
KING K: When Aaron Heilman left the mound at Dudy Noble Field during the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional, his 314 career strikeouts left him one shy of tying the Notre Dame record for career Ks (315), set by David Sinnes from 1990-93 … Heilman returned to Dudy Noble last week and claimed the record with a 6-K outing vs. host Mississippi State … he also owns the top two season K totals in ND history, posting 118 in both 1999 and 2000.
BIG-TIME WINNERS: Aaron Heilman (29-7) ranks as Notre Dame’s winningest pitcher in 77 years, as his .803 career winning pct. stands fifth in the Irish record book and best since Hugh Mageveney’s 18-3 record (.857) from 1922-24 … among pitchers who have logged at least 25 decisions, Heilman is the winningest hurler in ND history … Heilman’s win last week over Mississippi State moved him out of a tie on the winning pct. list with ’93 graduate David Sinnes (32-8) and ’94 grad. Tom Price (40-10).
A LOOK BACK: Aaron Heilman’s 2000 season included a 10-2 record, 3.21 ERA, 118 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 103.2 innings pitched … the 6-5, 225-pound righthander is one of just four Baseball America 2001 preseason All-Americans (among the 15 spread across three teams) who posted 10-plus wins, 100-plus Ks and an ERA of 3.30 or lower during the 2000 season, with the others including Stetson senior Lenny DiNardo, South Carolina senior Kip Bouknight (2nd team) and Rice senior Kenny Baugh (3rd team).
WHO’S THE BEST?: Notre Dame’s Aaron Heilman joined Middle Tennessee State junior RHP Dewon Brazleton and Stetson senior LHP Lenny Dinardo as the only 2001 pitchers tabbed preseason first team All-America by both Baseball American and Collegiate Baseball … Heilman and DiNardo were teammates on the 1999 USA Baseball national team.
TOP TOOLS: Baseball America’s annual college preview edition cited Aaron Heilman for having college baseball’s “best pure slider” and listed him as one of three pitchers in college baseball with the “best command” of his pitches (the others were South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight and Rice’s Kenny Baugh).
FOUR-TIME ALL-AMERICANS – Notre Dame senior RHP Aaron Heilman could post the fourth All-America season of his career, which would place him among an elite group of Notre Dame student-athletes (he already is the first Irish baseball player ever to be a three-year All-American) … just 16 previous Notre Dame student-athletes have been four-year All-Americans, with four coming from team-oriented sports: men’s basketball player Kevin O’Shea (’47-’50) and women’s soccer players Holly Manthei (’95-’98), Jen Grubb (’96-’99) and Anne Makinen (1997-2000) … others include cross country runners Oliver Hunter (’40-’43) and Mike McWilliams (’90-’93), plus men’s fencers Mike Sullivan (’76-’79), Charles Higgs-Coulthard (’84-’87), Yehuda Kovacs (’86-’89), Leszek Nowosielski (’88-’91), Jeremy Siek (’94-’97) and Luke LaValle (’96-’99) and women’s fencers Molly Sullivan (’85-’88), Myriah Brown (’96-’99), Sarah Walsh (’96-’99) and Magda Krol (’97-’00).
30-30 – Notre Dame senior SS Alec Porzel is on the verge of becoming the first Irish player ever to reach 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in his career … Porzel has totaled 29 HRs and 26 SBs in 179 GP, leaving him on the doorstep of the 30-30 plateau … junior C Paul O’Toole (16 HR, 29 SB, 118 GP) likewise has a shot at the 30-30 distinction.
CAPE COD’S BEST: Three Notre Dame baseball players made big names for themselves as participants in the 2000 Cape Cod League-the nation’s premier wooden-bat summer league for college-age players … all three Irish players-CF Steve Stanley, OF Brian Stavisky and C Paul O’Toole-were selected as starters for the 2000 Cape Cod League all-star game (only Georgia Tech, with three, could match the Irish) … Stanley led the Cape with a .329 batting average as leadoff man for the Brewster Whitecaps, playing alongside Irish classmate O’Toole. Stanley also ranked second in the Cape for runs (31), third in on-base percentage (.429) and fourth in stolen bases (20-of-27, in 43 GP) … O’Toole hit .273 and impressed observers with his wooden-bat power, tying for fifth in the league with four home runs, plus three triples, three doubles, 24 RBI, 26 runs, 18 walks, 27 Ks and 13-of-18 SBs (41 GP). Stavisky-who finished second in the Cape batting race (.324)-saw his Hyannis Mets fall to Brewster in the title game, 6-2, while O’Toole combined with Stanley to help the East all-stars rally past the West, 7-6. Stavisky hit three home runs in the Cape (one coming as co-MVP of the all-star game) while ranking fifth in the league in slugging (.453), fourth in RBI (26), second in doubles (14) and first in hits (55), plus 19 walks, 30 Ks and four SBs (44 GP) … several players from teams on ND’s 2001 schedule were teammates of the Irish players in the Cape, including Fresno State 2B Tom Creighton (Brewster) and three players from Hyannis: Florida Atlantic RHP Dan Core, Virginia Tech RHP Jason Bush and Connecticut OF Mike Scott.
JUMPIN’ JAYHAWKERS – Three other Irish players also experienced summer success on a high level, as member of the Hays (Kansas) Larks team that advanced to the championship game of the annual National Baseball Congress World Series (held in Wichita) … current junior RHP Matt Buchmeier was named all-Jayhawk League, after posting a 1.75 ERA and 6-3 record in 70 IP during the summer of 2000 … Buchmeier handed the potent Santa Barbara Foresters an 8-1 loss in the late rounds of the NBC World Series (7-inning CG, 7 Ks, BB, 4 H, UER) … current junior 3B Andrew Bushey also was named first team all-Jayhawk League after leading the Larks with a .346 summer batting average (62-for-179) … Bushey likewise was named to the NBC World Series all-Midwest Regional team (he hit .308 and scored seven runs) … junior RHP Drew Duff did his part as well, posting a 4-1 mid-tournament win over the Santa Maria Indians (9 IP, R, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks) before turning in a solid outing in the 3-1 championship game loss to the Liberal (Kansas) Bee Jays.
OH BROTHER: Current Irish sophomore Ryan Kalita could follow in the footsteps of his brother Tim (’97-’99), by lettering with the Notre Dame baseball program, as could freshman Steve Sollmann (his brother Scott played for the Irish as an all-conference outfielder from ’94-’96 and currently is a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization).
SIX-HIT CYCLE – Current senior SS Alec Porzel was more than just an observer in Notre Dame’s wild 22-18 loss to Pittsburgh on May 7, 2000, at Eck Stadium-as Porzel turned in one of the most noteworthy accomplishments in ND baseball history by batting 6-for-6 and hitting for the cycle-including both a traditional and an inside-the-park home run. … he became the first player to record six hits in a game in the 108-year history of ND baseball and is the first Irish player to hit for the cycle since at least the mid-1980s (boxscore records are incomplete prior to ’85)-with the addition of an inside-the-park HR making his day one of the more unique accomplishments in baseball … Porzel tied the BIG EAST single-game hit record and his 15 total bases came three shy of the BIG EAST record … he is just the second known Irish player to record five-plus hits in a losing effort … Porzel had registered four-plus hits just once previously and it marked just the second game in his Irish career that Porzel had been credited with two home runs … his previous 2-HR game also was unconventional, as he hit one on May 19, 1999, and one the next day-in a rain-suspended BIG EAST Tournament game vs. West Virginia … the six-hit game included: an RBI triple to right-center in the first (1 out, 0-2 pitch), a two-out, 2-1 hit to shallow left-center that kicked past the sliding centerfielder and rolled to the track for a third-inning HR, a two-out, first-pitch single to center in the fifth, and three straight leadoff hits in the seventh (full-count double to left-center), eighth (2-2 home run to left) and ninth (1-0 single through the left side).
GAME-ENDING HOME RUNS – Senior SS Alec Porzel has made a name for himself when it comes to game-ending home runs … in addition to his 10th-inning blast vs. Pittsburgh (11-8) on May 7, 2000, Porzel also beat the Panthers with a first-pitch, walkoff home run to cap the ’99 Pittsburgh series (3-2, in the ninth) … as a freshman, he ended the longest game in Eck Stadium history with a 15th-inning homer vs. West Virginia (5-3) … most recently, Porzel’s first career grand slam broke an 7-7 tie in the eighth inning of the 15-7 BIG EAST Tournament win over Pittsburgh in 2000.
REVERSE TRANSFORMATION: During the previous six seasons of the Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame, several prep shortstops have been converted into Irish outfielders … current ND freshman Steve Sollmann has completed what seemingly has been a seamless transition in the other direction, by moving from his typical outfielder position to second base for the Irish … Sollmann has filled one Mainieri staple, as the team’s No. 9 batter (providing a “second leadoff hitter” in hopes of jumpstarting big innings).
YOU THE MANN … SORRY THE MAN: You’ll have to forgive those close to the Notre Dame baseball program for causing confusion over the proper spelling of Irish freshman 1B Joe Thaman’s last name … Thaman’s last name is of the one-n variety-putting him in the lofty company of three-time All-America pitcher Aaron Heilman but leaving him another “n” short of his rightside infield partner (freshman 2B Steve Sollmann) and senior LHP Mike Naumann … three other regulars in the Irish lineup have similarities to their last names: junior DH Ken Meyer, junior RHP Matt Buchmeier and sophomore LF Kris Billmaier.
AYE, CAPTAIN: Notre Dame’s tri-captains for the 2001 season are senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.), senior SS Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.) and junior 3B Andrew Bushey (Boardman, Ohio) … Bushey-whose .271 career batting average at Notre Dame includes a 9-for-25 effort in the NCAAs (.360)-is just the fifth junior to serve as an Irish baseball captain since 1991, with the others including Heilman, SS Brant Ust (’99), C Bob Lisanti (’94) and 1B Joe Binkiewicz (’91) … Heilman joins Binkiewicz (’91-’92), Lisanti (’94-’96) and IF J.J. Brock (’97-’98) as just the fourth multi-year captains at Notre Dame in the last 22 seasons (Lisanti and Brock both were five-year players).