May 30, 2002
NCAA South Bend Regional (May 31 – June 2)
The Notre Dame baseball team (44-15) – ranked as high as 16th nationally – looks to ride the momentum of winning its first BIG EAST Tournament title when it plays host to a four-team NCAA Regional (see double-elimination format at right) … the field includes three other conference champs: top seed South Alabama (Atlantic Sun reg. season), No. 3 seed Ohio State (Big Ten tournament) and fourth-seeded Kent State (Mid-American tourn.) … ND is one of nine schools to serve as an NCAA Regional host at least three times since the field expanded to 64 in 1999 … the Irish have won 35 of their last 40 games – matching the 35-5 streak that opened ND’s 2001 season (and earned the No. 1 ranking) … all ND games will be carried live by South Bend’s ESPN Radio affiliate, WDND 1620 AM (also on the internet, at www.und.com) … livestats for the entire Regional are available at www.und.com.
Junior Peter Ogilvie (see below) and freshman Grant Johnson (both RHPs) are slated to start ND’s first two games of the NCAAs … ND is ranked 9th in the nation for ERA (3.41) and joins Texas and Rice as the only teams in the top-20 for ERA each of the past three seasons (ND was 16th in ’00, 5th in 01) … senior CF Steve Stanley became the first BIG EAST player ever to repeat as the league’s player of the year … senior C Paul O’Toole and junior LF Brian Stavisky and sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann were named 2nd team all-BIG EAST (senior 3B Andrew Bushey and senior DH Matt Bok were 3rd team) … freshman SS Matt Macri (elbow surgery) and Matt Edwards (broken leg) both were lost for the year near the midseason point while several other ND starters were slowed by early-season injuries (Stavisky was sidelined by a pair of injuries that held him out for a pair of nine-game stretches).
Game One Starter – Peter Ogilvie, Jr., RHP (relief vs. SIU, UConn, G’town)
(14 GP/11 GS, 3 CG, 3.57, 7-3, 68.0 IP, 75 H, 52 K/20 BB, .291 opp. avg., 4 WP, 4 HB, 81 GO)
vs. Missouri (2/22; 7-6) GS, 3.0 IP, 6 H, 4 /3 ER, BB, 3 K
vs. Sacred Heart (3/3; 4-1) win, GS, 5.0 IP, 6 H, R, 4 K
vs. Texas-Pan American (3/10; 5-6) loss, GS, 5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R/2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 WP
vs. Southern Illinois (3/16; 3-2) win, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 K
at Connecticut (3/24; 6-13) 0.2 IP, 2 H, R
vs. Georgetown (3/30; 12-3) 2.0 IP, 3 H, R, K
Valparaiso (4/3; 12-1) win, 4.0 IP, 2 H, R, 5 K
Virginia Tech (4/12 4-2) win, 9.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 6 K/BB, WP
at Seton Hall (4/21; 6-1) win, 7.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 6 BB, 7 K
vs. Michigan, in Comstock Park (4/30, 7-4) 2.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, BB
Rutgers loss, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R/3 ER, 3 BB, K
vs. Villanova, in Philadelphia win, 6.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 BB,6 K
Boston College win, 9.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 8 K
vs. Rutgers, BIG EAST Tournament loss, 8.0 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 6 K
Situationally: .435 leaodd on-base pct., .244 opp. batting with 2 outs, .243 w/ runners on
Nine-Inning Averages: 9.9 H, 2.6 BB, 6.9 K, 10.7 GO, 38.5 BF
- Notre Dame holds a 24-18 series edge vs. OSU but the teams have met just once since 1991 – a 5-4 win for OSU at the 2000 Service Academies Classic in Millington, Tenn. … that game was one of just seven that were lost by four-year All-American Aaron Heilman during his 43-7 career (he won 25 of his final 26 decisions after that loss) … the Irish held a 4-0 lead in that seven-inning game but OSU rallied for the win, with Heilman’s errant throw to second base on a double-play ball leading to a pair of unearned runs … just three current OSU players – 1B Nick Swisher (1-for-3, K), DH Joe Wilkins (0-for-3, K) and RHP E.J. Laratta (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, BB, 4 K) – played in the 2000 ND-OSU game while five current Irish players were active in that game: DH Matt Bok (2-for-3, 2 R, SB), 3B Andrew Bushey (0-for-3), C Paul O’Toole (1-for-3, 2 RBI, SF), CF Steve Stanley (2-for-2, RBI, BB) and LF Brian Stavisky (1-for-3, 2B).
- ND and Kent State have split 12 previous meetings but the teams have not met during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era.
- ND and South Alabama are slotted in the same Regional for the third time in the last seven years but ND and USA did not face each other in ’96 (at Alabama) or 2000 (at Mississippi State) … the only series meeting came in 1991 (a 7-9 home win for the Jaguars).
OSU went 3-3 vs. teams that ND also played in 2002 (the Irish were 3-1 vs. those teams) … OSU posted wins over Toledo and Detroit (2), with losses to Detroit (4-6), Oakland (5-10) and Florida International (6-7) … the Irish beat Toledo, Detroit and Oakland but dropped a 13-4 game vs. FIU.
Several ND players have cranked up their production in previous NCAAs (see box at right), led by the entire starting outfield of Steve Stanley (.434), Kris Billmaier (.429) and Brian Stavisky (.390), plus catcher Paul O’Toole (.380) … O’Toole was named to the 1999 and 2000 all-Regional teams, as was Billmaier in 1999 and Stanley in 2000 … 3B Andrew Bushey and RHP Peter Ogilvie also were all-Regional picks in 2000.
VS. THE BIG TEN:
Notre Dame is 23-14 vs. Big Ten tems during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era (7-4 vs. Michigan on April 30; rainouts vs. Purdue last two seasons) … ND’s record vs. Big Ten teams since 1995 includes 6-3 vs. Michigan, 4-1 vs. Illinois, 3-0 vs. Indiana, 5-2 vs. Purdue, 3-2 vs. Penn State, 1-3 vs. Northwestern, 1-0 vs. Iowa and 0-1 vs. Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota.
Despite seeing his final two prep seasons and first season at ND wiped out by injuries, junior RHP Peter Ogilvie steadily has pieced together a solid career that includes a 12-4 record … all five of his complete-game efforts have come in big games (in 2001 vs. Michigan and vs. Florida International in the NCAAs; in ’02 vs. VT, BC and Rutgers in the BET) … his 2.85 career ERA, spanning 120 innings, would rank 8th in the ND record book and 5th-best by an Irish pitcher in nearly 40 seasons.
Ogilvie has drawn the opening start, due in large part to his success in a 2001 NCAA game versus Florida International (with ND facing elimination) … Ogilvie went the distance in that 5-2 win, allowing nine hits and two walks in the complete-game effort … the fact that Ogilvie is a contributing member of the Irish staff is news itself, after he missed most of his final two prep seasons with a lower-back injury – before seeing his freshman season at ND wiped out due to an elbow strain … he has surrendered just two home runs in 120 career innings with the Irish and has logged some key outings during the current season, including a complete-game effort in a 4-2 win that finished a doubleheader sweep of BIG EAST contender Virginia Tech (9 H, BB, 6 K) … Ogilvie bounced back from a rocky start vs. Rutgers to post wins over Villanova and BIG EAST upstart Boston College (5-2, 9 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 8 K) before a tough-luck, 4-3 loss to Rutgers in the BIG EAST Tournament (8-inning complete game, 10 H, 3 BB, 6 K).
Two regular members of Notre Dame’s starting unit played minimal roles in the 2001 BIG EAST Tournament due to injury – but returned to Commerce Bank Ballpark last week and responded with several big plays … current junior RF Kris Billmaier (the starting LF in 2001) did not play in the 2001 BET due to a nagging back injury but returned the next week for the NCAA South Bend Regional (batting 7-for-16 with 4 RBI, 3 2B, 4 BB and 2 HBP) … Billmaier also played sparingly in the 2000 BET (1-for-3), as a reserve player (although he went on to start in LF and earn NCAA All-Regional honors the next week at Mississippi State) … 2B Steve Sollmann – the 2001 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year – played in the just the opening game of the ’01 BET, when he was hit with a 9th-inning pitch from Virginia Tech’s Chip Runyon … Sollmann stunningly returned from the wrist injury in time for the 2001 NCAAs … Billmaier played a key role in last week’s 8-4 BET win over Virginia Tech (2-run HR, 2-run 1B) while Sollmann singled and scored the 10th-inning run that beat Rutgers in the title game (3-2).
GREEN ON THE HILL:
Notre Dame’s 12 active pitchers include just six who have pitched in the NCAAs (see box on p. 2) while just three had pitched in the BIG EAST Tournament prior to last week (when freshmen Grant Johnson, Chris Niesel and John Axford all started, as did junior Peter Ogilvie in his first BET appearance) … junior RHP J.P. Gagne owned most of those pre-2002 BET innings (12.1) … senior RHP Matt Buchmeier and junior RHP Brandon Viloria also had made short relief appearances in the conference tournament … the Irish staff also includes junior Ogilvie and fellow junior RHPs Ryan Kalita and Matt Laird, plus five freshmen: RHPs Axford, Johnson, Niesel and Martin Vergara and LHP Scott Bickford.
Despite repeated success during the BIG EAST regular season, the ND baseball team had yet to solve the BIG EAST Tournament – until last week’s title-winning performance … ND’s first three trips to the tournament each resulted in the Irish being beaten twice by the same team (West Virginia in ’96, Villanova in ’97, Rutgers in ’98) … ND then opened the ’99 tournament with a win over WVU before dropping games to Seton Hall and Providence-and the same team handed ND both of its losses at the 2000 (Boston College) and 2001 (Virginia Tech) tournaments.
ALWAYS NEAR THE TOP:
ND has finished near the top of the BIG EAST regular-season standings or in the postseason tournament during each of its seven seasons in the conference … in 1996, the Irish played their way into the tournament on the last weekend before extending West Virginia to a winner-take-all title game … in ’97, ND posted the best winning pct. in the conference but lost twice to upstart Villanova in the postseason … in ’98, the Irish finished second to Rutgers in both the regular-season standings and the title game … in ’99, ND became the first BIG EAST team ever to win more than 18 conference games (20-5) en route to the regular-season title before finishing 18-7 and tied for second in 2000 (ND went 1-2 in the ’99 and 2000 BETs), followed by first-place finishes in 2001 (22-4) and ’02 (18-8).
The Irish have qualified for all seven BIG EAST baseball championships since beginning BIG EAST play in 1996, also earning the top seed in 1997, 1999 and 2001 (Villanova was the top seed in ’96, Rutgers in ’98 and ’00) … this marks just the third time in the 18-year history of the BIG EAST baseball championship – and the first since 1992 – that a team has repeated as the top seed (also Seton Hall in ’89 and ’90 and St. John’s in ’91 and ’92).
ND owns 14 straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 49 in 2001, 48 in ’89 and ’92, 46 in ’90, ’93, ’94 and ’00, 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … ND’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks 4th in Division I, behind: Florida State (25; currently 56-12), Wichita State (25; 46-14) and Clemson (17; 47-14).
RACKING UP THE Ws:
2002 marked the seventh time that an ND baseball team has reached 41 wins in the regular season but only two previous ND squads (44-10, ’90; 45-9 in ’01) headed into the postseason with more than 41 wins … the four previous ND teams that finished the regular season with 41 Ws were ’89, ’91, ’92 and ’00 … the 2001 Irish set the team record for regular-season wins (45) with a pair of victories at BC.
HOSTS WITH THE MOST:
Notre Dame is one of nine schools that have served as the host team three-plus times since the NCAA field expanded to 64 teams in 1999 (Florida State, Stanford and LSU are the only to be a host all four years) … the others include fellow 2002 hosts USC, Rice, Clemson and South Carolina (plus Miami, which was a host team from 1999-2001) … the Irish are making their 17th all-time trip to the NCAAs, including four straight and five in the eight-year Paul Mainieri era.
Notre Dame’s eight-member senior class – DH Matt Bok, 3B Andrew Bushey, C Paul O’Toole and CF Steve Stanley, plus DH Ken Meyer, OF Matt Strickroth and RHPs Matt Buchmeier and Drew Duff – has helped ND compile a four-year record of 182-64-1 (.739) from 1999-2002 … that ranks as the fourth-best four-year winning pct. in the last 87 seasons of Notre Dame baseball, trailing only the four-year runs posted concurrently by the classes of 1993 (.758/185-59, from ’90-’93), 1992 (.750/187-62-1) and 1994 (.746/185-63).
Here’s a rundown of the impressive statistics racked up by the senior class during their combined college careers (four starts shy of 1,000; seven runs short of 800; 18 RBI below 600):
- 1,253 games played, with 996 starts
- a .316 combined batting avg. (1,135-3,595)
- 582 RBI and 793 runs scored
- 64 home runs, 41 triples and 216 doubles
- 58 more walks (443) than strikeouts (385)
- 190 stolen bases and 60 sacrifice bunts
- the two pitchers have combined for a 17-7 record, 10 saves, 253 innings, 201 strikeouts and just 95 walks
Notre Dame’s trio of fourth-year starters – CF Steve Stanley, 3B Andrew Bushey and C Paul O’Toole – are the only ND classmates ever to start 200-plus games (Stanley 247, O’Toole 220 and Bushey 213) … their combined career numbers include 691 games played, 680 starts, 829 hits in 2,287 at-bats (.363), 401 RBI and 554 runs scored, 42 home runs, 26 triples and 145 doubles, 61 more walks (287) than strikeouts (226), 176 stolen bases and 56 sacrifice bunts.
Senior CF Steve Stanley (.442) and junior LF Brian Stavisky (.397) are bidding to become the third pair of ND teammates ever to hit above .400 in the same season (and the first to do so in seven years) … another outfield duo did it in 1993, when LF Edwin Hartwell set the still-standing ND record (.447) while CF Eric Danapilis was hitting .438 (they dueled atop the NCAA charts for much of ’93) … one season later, IF Robbie Kent and CF Scott Sollmann both hit .402 in ’94.
Notre Dame (16th in ’00, 5th in ’01, 9th in ’02 at 3.41) joins Texas and Rice as the nation’s only teams ranked in the top 20 for team ERA each of the past three years … the top eight currently include Texas (2.80), Rice (2.86), Wichita St. (2.94), Houston (3.07), Marist (3.11), Oral Roberts (3.14), Ill.-Chicago (3.31) and Coastal Carolina (3.34).
BOK’S BIG HITS:
Senior DH Matt Bok (Akron, Ohio) has delivered in clutch fashion several times in recent weeks:
- His seventh-inning single broke a 2-2 tie in the series finale versus St. John’s and led to a three-run inning in that 5-2 win (April 7).
- Two days later, he poked a single into left field to plate Javier Sanchez with the game-winning run as the Irish rallied for a 5-4 win over Western Michigan.
- His most vivid play came in the seven-inning opener versus Virginia Tech (April 12), when he led off the bottom of the 11th with a triple to the rightfield wall before scoring for the tense 2-1 win.?
- Bok’s hit vs. Arizona State (April 26) came earlier in the game (5th) than the above three but had the added drama of a tie score, two outs and a 1-2 count. Bok came through on a 1-2 pitch, drilling the two-run single into right for the 6-4 lead (ND won 9-4)
- He then provided the go-ahead single for a 4-3 lead in the 6th inning of the 7-4 win over Michigan (April 30, in Grand Rapids).
- In the BIG EAST Tournament, Bok’s 2-run double pushed ND ahead of Virginia Tech in the 8th inning of the pivotal second game (an 8-4 win). His 6th-inning RBI double then forged a 2-2 tie in the title game vs. Rutgers (3-2 in 10 innings).
Three Chicago-area natives have emerged among Notre Dame’s top-five starting pitchers in the 2002 season: junior RHPs Peter Ogilvie (Buffalo Grove/Stevenson HS) and Ryan Kalita (Oak Park/OP-River Forest HS) and freshman RHP Grant Johnson … that Windy City trio has combined for a 19-7 record and 3.42 ERA, with 161 strikeouts, 68 walks and 198 hits allowed in 182 innings … some of the top players in the eight-year Paul Mainieri era have hailed from Chicagoland, including IF/C Mike Amrhein (OPRF HS), CF Randall Brooks (Hazelcrest/Hillcrest HS), C Bob Lisanti (Chicago/Fenwick HS) and SS Alec Porzel (Lisle/Naperville North HS) – plus pitchers Tim Kalita (Ryan’s brother) and Darin Schmalz (Barrington HS).
Notre Dame’s impressive home record during the 2002 season (23-3, .885) ranks as the third-best home winning pct. in the program’s history (min. 15 home games) … the 1997 squad went 25-2 at Eck Stadium while the 1980 team won 19 of its 20 home games at Jake Kline Field … ND’s all-time home record in 110 seasons is 1,059-330 (.762), well above the program’s overall winning pct. of .623.
BRINGING ‘EM HOME:
In the 11 games prior to the Rutgers loss, Notre Dame totaled 19 more runs (93) than runners left on base (74), batting .439 with runners in scoring position during that 11-game span (an impressive 125 points higher than the team’s .314 overall batting in those games) … in fact, the Irish hit just .247 during those 11 games in “non-RBI” at-bats, before cranking it up nearly 200 points higher with runners in scoring position … ND then hit 0-for-4 with RBI opp’s in the loss to Rutgers (1-for-10 in all ABs with runners on) … for the season, ND owns nearly a 1-to-1 ratio of runs scored/LOB (421/449; 0.94), compared to just an 0.55 ratio for the opponents (250/456) – with the Irish also owning a huge edge in season batting with runners in scoring position (.324-.221).
ROCKETS LIGHT THE SPARK:
The 15-4 win over Toledo on April 17 saw Notre Dame post nearly a 4-to-1 ratio of runs scored versus runners left on base (4) … prior to the Toledo game, ND had been batting just .307 with runners in scoring position (below the .310 overall avg. at that time) – but since the 6-for-12 effort with RBI’s opp’s vs. Toledo, the Irish are batting .361 with runners in scoring position in their last 24 games (compared to just .309 overall in that stretch).
Notre Dame has won nearly 82% of its games in April during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era (since ’95), with that 158-36 April record including a 39-4 mark during the past two seasons (20-2 in ’01, 19-2 in ’02).
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI:
Eighth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 680-418-1 (.619) record in 20 college seasons … in addition to his 348-139-1 (.714) mark in eight seasons at ND, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri’s ND teams have combined for a 121-41(.747) record in regular-season BIG EAST games, making the Irish skipper the winningest coach in BIG EAST history (based on winning pct.).
Junior LF Brian Stavisky’s return from his second nine-game layoff led to stability in a Notre Dame lineup that was all over the map in the first half of the season … the Irish are 27-4 since Stavisky’s return (April 9 vs. Western Michigan), with four players – Stavisky, senior CF Steve Stanley, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann and senior 3B Andrew Bushey – starting all 31 games in that span while sophomore SS Javier Sanchez has started 30 of the last 31 games and three others have made 29 starts in that span: junior RF Kris Billmaier, sophomore 1B Joe Thaman and senior C Paul O’Toole … senior DH Matt Bok has started 25 of the last 31 games to complete the stable lineup during the second half of the season … the batting order likewise has gained some consistency, with Stanley, Sollmann and Stavisky occupying the top three spots, followed by Bushey, O’Toole and Billmaier, with Bok, Sanchez and Thaman typically in the final three spots.
DIFFERENT PATH, SAME RESULTS:
Notre Dame’s regular-season victory total (41) ended up just four shy of the landmark 2001 season, which featured 18 complete games and just eight saves during the regular-season slate … the Irish now head into the NCAAs (44-15) with just two fewer wins than prior to the 2001 NCAAs (46-11-1) … the young 2002 staff took a different path to 40-plus wins, with junior RHP Peter Ogilvie accounting for the team’s only complete games (3) while the bullpen already has set the team record for saves in a season (16, besting the 15 from 1999 and 2000) … eight different pitchers have posted saves in 2002, led by junior J.P. Gagne (4), senior Matt Buchmeier and junior Brandon Viloria (both with 3) and freshman Chris Niesel (2) … senior Drew Duff, junior Matt Laird and freshmen Scott Bickford and Tyler Jones also have chipped in saves to the record-setting total.
DON’T LEAVE THE YARD:
Another impressive season trend by the ND pitching staff has been the low home-run total by the opposing batters (24), comparable to the 22 HRs allowed by the 2001 staff … the current low total of opponent HRs is all the more noteworthy when considering that the 2000 staff served up 33 and the ’99 pitchers were touched for 55 HRs (prior to the bat restrictions) … four regulars – freshmen John Axford and Martin Vergara, junior Brandon Viloria, senior Drew Duff – have yielded just one HR this season while juniors Peter Ogilvie and Ryan Kalita have been touched for just two HRs.
Notre Dame’s five starters from Ohio each earned all-BIG EAST honors for the second consecutive season, with senior CF Steve Stanley (Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington) repeating as player of the year while senior C Paul O’Toole (Cleveland suburb of Lakewood) again was a 2nd-team pick and senior DH Matt Bok (Akron) repeated as a 3rd-teamer … senior 3B Andrew Bushey (Youngstown suburb of Boardman) also was named to the 3rd team (he was a 1st-teamer in ’01) and sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann (Cincinnati) was named to the 2nd team, after being a 1st-team pick and BIG EAST rookie of the year in ’01 … ND’s Ohio connection also includes third-year assistant coach Dusty Lepper (a Findlay native and University of Toledo graduate) and senior manager Katie Furman (Akron), who served as valedictorian at the Saint Mary’s College graduation ceremonies (she had a 3.98 cumulative GPA as a management/marketing double major).
Freshman RHP Grant Johnson has a chance to post one of the highest strikeout totals ever by a ND freshman, with his 74 Ks ranking just four behind the freshman record set by Aaron Heilman in 1998 (78) … David Sinnes posted 77 Ks as a freshman in 1990 while Tom Price’s rookie season included 69 Ks … Johnson (7-4) also is the seventh ND freshman ever to post 7-plus wins in his rookie season, with that group led by the 1990 tandem of Sinnes (9-2) and fellow RHP Pat Leahy (8-1), plus seven-game winners Price (7-2), Dan Stavisky (7-1 in ’96), Heilman (7-3, mostly in relief) and J.P. Gagne (7-1 in ’00) … Johnson’s 80.2 innings pitched rank third all-time among ND freshmen, just behind Leahy (83.0) and Price (81.1) … since 1991, the best opponent batting averages compiled by ND freshmen have come from Heilman (.198), Larry Mohs (.201) and Stavisky (.235) – with two current freshmen having a chance to crack that threesome: Martin Vergara (.236) and John Axford (.239).
One of the game-by-game goals of the ND baseball team is two make “two great defensive plays” but the Irish went well beyond those expectations in the season-ending sweep of Boston College … ND made no errors in the three games vs. BC while totaling four double plays and 14 “defensive gems,” with sophomore 1B Joe Thaman accounting for seven of the stellar plays … one of the more noteworthy fielding plays came from junior LF Brian Stavisky, who threw a strike to senior C Paul O’Toole to complete a key double play in the first game.
Notre Dame boasts one of the nation’s top defensive tandems on the infield corners, with sophomore 1B Joe Thaman and 3B Andrew Bushey both living up their reputations as the BIG EAST’s top defensive players at their respective positions (per Baseball America’s college preview issue).
Freshman RHP John Axford often has bailed out his high walk total and leadoff on-base pct. by serving up a team-high 18 double plays (the rest of the staff has 39) … all but one of Axford’s double plays have come via the groundball (plus a P4-2), including six 4-6-3s, four 6-4-3s and four 5-4-3s (plus a 4-3, 1-6-3 and 5-3) … the ND defense has turned multiple DPs in seven of Axford’s outings, including four in one game at Seton Hall (plus 2 DPs in games vs. New Orleans, Creighton, Southern Illinois, Arizona State and Rutgers).
MORE ON THE DPs:
Notre Dame’s other pitchers with the most double plays include junior RHPs Peter Ogilvie (11) and J.P. Gagne (7) and freshman RHP Grant Johnson (6), plus three each from freshman Chris Niesel and junior Brandon Viloria, two each behind seniors Matt Buchmeier and Drew Duff, junior Ryan Kalita and freshman Martin Vergara, and one with freshman Scott Bickford on the mound … ND’s double plays include 44 via groundballs, led by the 6-4-3 (15), 4-6-3 (10) and 5-4-3 (6), plus six 6-3s and two each of the 6-3, 1-6-3, 1-2-3 and 4-3 variety (plus a 5-3) … the other 13 double plays include three unassisted lineout plays by sophomore 1B Joe Thaman and three 5-3 lineout DPs, plus a 1-3 lineout, a rare P4-2 and five DPs started by outfielders (9-6, 8-6, 9-2, 8-3 and 7-2) … the most-common innings for the Irish DPs include the 4th (11), 2nd (9), 7th (8) and 3rd (7), plus six in the 6th and 1st, five in the 5th, three in the 8th and two in the 9th.
Sophomore 1B Joe Thaman hit only two home runs as a freshman and had totaled just four career home runs in his first 230 career at-bats before launching his first of two HRs in the Mother’s Day doubleheader vs. Villanova (in Philadelphia) … Thaman was not done with his long-ball assault, as he blasted a pair of grand slams in consecutive games of the season-ending Boston College series … that home run binge included 4 HRs in just 14 ABs, well below the total of 230 ABs that Thaman needed for his first 4 career homers.
ANOTHER WAKEUP CALL:
The sweep of BC completed an 18-4 turnaround in the conference standings for Notre Dame (after an 0-4 start), bringing back memories of the 1997 campaign in which the Irish were swept in the first weekend at Seton Hall before winning 15 of the final 18 to claim the top seed in the BIG EAST Tournament (with several rainouts).
Four current players rank among ND’s top-13 leaders in career doubles, led by senior 3B Andrew Bushey (6th with 53) … the other three are bunched just outside the top 10: senior C Paul O’Toole (47), senior CF Steve Stanley (45) and junior LF Brian Stavisky (44).
Prior to the 1999 season, no BIG EAST baseball team ever had posted more than 18 conference wins in a season … ND became the first team to break the 18-win barrier by going 20-5 in 1999 and then finished 18-7 in 2000 before a record-setting 22-4 mark in 2001 and 18-8 this season … that four-year run adds up to 78-24 (.765) and boosts ND’s all-time record in seven seasons of BIG EAST regular-season games to 121-41 (.747), the best conference winning pct. by a BIG EAST team during that 1996-2002 span.
ANOTHER WINNING SEASON:
ND has posted 79 winning seasons in the program’s 110-year history, including 15 straight (the ’87 team was 15-29).
ND owns a 52-14 scoring edge (+38) in the 5th inning this season, with Arizona State’s 4-run output in the 5th-inning on April 26th nearly matching the total number of 5th-inning runs allowed by the Irish in the previous 41 games (5) … ND’s most dominating innings span the 3rd (+24, 59-35), 4th (+26,52-26) and 5th – with the Irish owning a +88 scoring edge in that three-inning span (163-75)… the opponents own an edge vs. ND in only the 8th (-3, 31-34).
Junior RHP Brandon Viloria has averaged just 1.66 walks per 9 IP during his career (11/59.2) – which would challenge the ND record of 1.64 set by Alan Walania from 1990-93 (59/324) … Viloria owns a 2.14 ERA (second-best on the staff), plus a 2-1 record and three saves this season, with just five walks in 21 IP (no wild pitches and one hit batter) … he has yet to throw a wild pitch in 60 career innings, with just one hit batter.
Sophomore 2B and 2-hole hitter Steve Sollmann has begun to round into form in recent weeks, after being hampered by a nagging quad injury for much of the season (the injury has led to him totaling just four SBs in 2002, after swiping 23 in ’01) … Sollmann posted a pair of 6-RBI doubleheaders in consecutive weekends vs. Rutgers (3-for-7, R, 3B, 2 SAC) and Villanova (4-for-8, 11 TB 3 R, HR, 3B, 2 2B, SF) … he headed into April with just a .250 season batting average but went on to hit .365 in the month of April (.389 in the 16-game win streak), pushing his season average to .321 as May rolled around … Sollmann’s stellar (and healthy) rookie season in 2001 saw him earn first team all-BIG EAST and BIG EAST rookie-of-the-year awards while also being dubbed a consensus first team Freshman All-American, after batting .362 with 36 RBI, five home runs, two triples, nine doubles, 52 runs scored and 23 SBs … he heads into the 2002 NCAAs with a .314 average, plus 35 RBI, one home run, two triples, seven doubles, 38 runs and four SBs.
Junior Javier Sanchez (Miami, Fla.) headed into 2002 projected as a utility infielder, with the ability to play 1B vs. LHPs while also filling in at B, 3B or SS … a few months later, Sanchez is one of the more pleasantly-surprising stories of the 2002 season … Sanchez has served virtually the entire season as the team,s starting shortstop, following injuries to freshmen Matt Macri (elbow strain, “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery on April 9) and Matt Edwards (broken leg in March 9 USC game) … Sanchez is ND’s hottest hitter over the last 10 games, batting .414 (12-for-29) with 12 runs scored, a home run, a triple, three walks and just three Ks … his current 10-game hitting streak has been bested in 2002 by just two ND players: senior CF Steve Stanley (13 and 11) and junior LF Brian Stavisky (11) … Sanchez ranks second on the team for games (57) and starts (56) and is third on the squad in hits (60) and runs (45) … his combined total of home runs (4) and triples (3) actually is more than his doubles total (6) while his steady defense has included 38 error-free games (plus a hand in 33 of the team’s 57 double plays, three shy of the team record) … Sanchez played a key role in the pivotal 10-inning win at West Virginia, with his two-run double giving ND the lead in extra innings … two weeks later, he hit the game-tying double and then scored the winning run as ND rallied for a pair of 9th-inning runs in a 5-4 win over Western Michigan … Sanchez hit a team-best .357 at the BIG EAST Tournament (5-for-14), including a 2-run shot for an early lead in the first title game vs. Rutgers (4-3 loss).
WIN STREAK HALTED AT 16:
The recent 16-game winning streak (April 12-May 4) matched the longest of the eight-year Paul Mainieri era, third-longest in the program’s 110-year history (behind 18-game streak in ’91, 17-game streak in 1907) … the ’91 squad remains the only ND team in the last 85 seasons to win more than 16 consecutive games in a season.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS:
The depth of the Irish pitching staff fittingly was seen at the BIG EAST Tournament banquet, as no ND pitchers received all-conference honors (due to their similar stats and impact) … the Irish pitching depth includes three righthanders – junior Peter Ogilvie, freshman Grant Johnson and junior relief ace J.P. Gagne – with seven wins each, plus three other pitchers with five wins … the staff’s nine regulars each own an ERA below 4.20, led by six with ERAs in the 1.86 – 3.57 range.
BACK IN THE GROOVE:
Freshman RHP Chris Niesel – a regular member of the rotation who opened his career by totaling 10 and 9 Ks in his first two starts – closed the 10-6 win over BC to pick up his second save in as many weeks, facing just seven batters over the final two innings (H, K) … Niesel then had five solid innings as the starter in the BIG EAST Tournament rally vs. Virginia Tech (5 IP, 6 H, R, 5 K) … since returning from a five-week bout with mononucleosis, Niesel has allowed just one run in 9 1/3 innings (dropping his ERA to 3.88), with 10 Ks, one walk and seven hits allowed.
Junior LF Brian Stavisky returned to action in the 5-4 win over Western Michigan on April 9, after missing nine games due to a facial fracture (he was hit by a pitch early in the March 28 doubleheader at West Virginia, suffering two broken bones on the left side of his face) … since Stavisky’s return, the Irish have won 27 of their last 31 games … the WMU game marked just the third game this season (in the first 27) that ND’s three preseason All-Americans – Stavisky, senior CF Steve Stanley and sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann – had started in the same game (also the opener vs. Missouri, when Sollmann left with a 4th-inning quad injury, and March 13 vs. Creighton).
Starting outfielders Steve Stanley and Brian Stavisky turned in a pair of memorable showings at the 2001 NCAA South Bend Regional … Stanley hit 14-for-23 (.609) with eight runs scored (5-for-5 in the opener vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee, still his only career five-hit game) … Stavisky’s dominating five-game stretch included 25 total bases in 21 at-bats – with four home runs, three doubles and three singles (10-for-21), plus 11 RBI, eight runs and four walks.
Senior C Paul O’Toole will be hoping to rediscover his “May Magic,” after batting just .211 (8-for-38, 7 RBI, R) for the month so far … O’Toole first three seasons saw him hit 10 of his 20 home runs in the month of May, including five in the NCAAs (three in ’99, one in ’00, one in ’01).
Three of the principle players in Notre Dame’s 3-2, BIG EAST title-winning victory over Rutgers have a brother or cousin who was part of ND’s seven-year agony at the BIG EAST Tournament … sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann’s brother Scott played one season in the BIG EAST (as a junior, in 1996), earning all-conference honors as the Irish CF … junior LF Brian Stavisky’s cousin Dan was a pitcher for the Irish from 1995-98 (he posted a 4-0 win over St. John’s as the Irish battled through the loser,s bracket in ’96) … finally, junior RHP Ryan Kalita’s brother Tim was a lefthanded starter for ND from 1997-99 … the elder Kalita actually started the 1998 winners-bracket game vs. Rutgers, which was won 7-6 by RU in 10 innings (ND and RU are the only teams to play multiple extra-inning gamesvs. Each other at the BET, with the Kalita brothers pitching key innings in both games, four years apart).
Here’s a quick update on senior CENTERFIELDER Steve Stanley:
- Owns ND career records for hits (367), stolen bases (115), consecutive starts (247, 2nd in NCAA history behind Chip Hale’s 255 with Arizona in ’84-’87) and at-bats (963), plus tied for the runs record (246) with Pat Pesavento (’86-’89).
- Also owns BIG EAST career records for hits (154) and runs scored (110) in BIG EAST regular-season games.
- Entered the week ranked 6th in the nation for batting average (.442).
- His 367 career hits rank sixth in Division I history and are third-most since the 56-game schedule limit was implemented.
- Owns three double-digit hit streaks this season (13-10-11) and seven in his career.
- Has struck out just eight times in 276 total plate appearances (34.5 per K).
- Has hits in 50 of 59 games this season and in 57 of his last 65 with the Irish.
- Went 50 games without an error, before a controversial dropped-ball call at Seton Hall, and has just eight career Es.
- His 102 hits this season are tied with his 2001 total for 2nd in ND history, behind Dan Peltier’s 115 in 1989.
- Stanley’s 31 stolen bases match his career-best and rank 4th all-time at ND (Pesavento had 38 in both ’88 and ’89 while Scott Sollmann swiped 52 in 1996)
- He is the team leader in batting average by 45 points, hits by 41, runs by 22, total bases by 26, stolen bases by 20, on-base pct. by 50 pts, batting with runners in scoring position by 59 points and hardest to K by 21.8 plate appearances.
BEST OF THE BEST:
Senior CF Steve Stanley is on pace to challenge team records for two of the three season batting percentages, with his .442 batting average ranking five points shy of Edwin Hartwell’s 1993 mark (.447) while Stanley’s .517 on-base pct. is 14 points behind the .531 posted by Hartwell’s classmate Eric Danapilis (in 1991).
In addition to his stellar all-around numbers, senior CF Steve Stanley leads ND in batting with runners in scoring position (.500) and on-base pct. when leading off an inning (.553) … junior LF Brian Stavisky (.448) is far-and-away the best 2-out hitter on a team that is batting just .286 when facing its last out (compared to a .309 team avg. with 2 outs in 2001), with Stanley a distant second on the list of the team’s top two-out hitters (.382) … ND’s leaders in two-out RBI include surging sophomore 1B Joe Thaman (15), plus Stavisky, senior C Paul O’Toole, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann and senior DH Matt Bok (each with 13) while Stavisky (.642), Stanley (.623) and senior 3B Andrew Bushey (.603) are the team leaders for pct. of runners advanced (Bushey has advanced a team-high 39 runners).
PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN:
Senior Steve Stanley has started all 247 games of his ND career (all in center field) while logging all but 25 innings in CF his four seasons … the familiar #2 has patrolled center field for the Irish in 98.8 percent of the innings (2,087 of 2,112) – including all but two out of 513.2 as a freshman (his classmate Paul O’Toole played the final two innings in a 20-10 loss at Northwestern on April 6, 1999) … Stanley then played in CF for the final 267.2 innings of ’99 and the first 497 of his sophomore season – a span of 764.2 consecutive innings in CF … the other players who have replaced Stanley with short stints in CF include Ben Cooke (’00-’01), Mike Naumann (’01), John Heintz (’01) and George Howard (’02).
Stanley is on the verge of becoming the fourth ND player ever to hit .400-plus in multiple seasons (he hit .400 in 2001) … each of the previous three multiple-.400 hitters also patrolled center field for the Irish: Dan Peltier (.414 in 1988, .446 in ’89), Eric Danapilis (.429 in ’90, .438 in ’93) and Scott Sollmann (.402 in ’94, /.406 in ’95) … the above four players own the top spots at ND for career batting average: Peltier (.406, ’87-’89), Danapilis (.405, ’90-’93), Stanley (.382, ’99-’02) and Sollmann (.372, ’94-’96).
STANLEY ENTERING ELITE STATUS:
Senior CF Steve Stanley is on the verge of entering the top five of the NCAA Division I career hits list, with his 367 hits within close range of former Wichita State greats Tim Raley (370; ’84-’87) and Jim Thomas (373, ’79-’82) … he also entered the week ranked seventh in the nation for 2002 season batting average (.442) … Stanley’s career average of 1.49 hits per game is better than each of the five players above him on the list while his .382 career batting average is third-best among that group … Stanley and Clemson’s Khalil Greene (384) have the most hits of any Division I players in the last 15 years (the other four on the below list played before the 56-game schedule limits).
NCAA Division I Career Hits
1. Phil Stephenson (Wichita State, ’79-’82)
418 H, 288 GP (1.45/gm, .423 career avg.)
2. Khalil Greene (Clemson, ’99-’02)
384 H, 262 GP (1.47 H/gm, .374 career avg.)
3. John Fishel (Cal State Fullerton, ’82-’85)
379 H, 295 GP (1.29 H/gm, .340 career avg.)
4. Jim Thomas (Wichita State, ’79-’82)
373 H, 288 GP (1.30 H/gm, .351 career avg.)
5. Tim Raley (Wichita State, ’84-’87)
370 H, 273 GP (1.36 H/gm, .394 career avg.)
6. Steve Stanley (Notre Dame, ’99-’02)
367 H, 247 GP (1.49 H/gm, .382 career avg.)
Stanley continues to rank among the nation’s leaders in batting average, checking in seventh this week behind the potent Southern University tandem of Richie Weeks (.506) and Antoin Gray (.459), plus Curtis Granderson of Illinois-Chicago (.483), Clemson’s Khalil Greene (.475), Marist’s Anthony Bucchino, Marist (.449) and Maryland’s John McMurdy (.443) … the Southern players and Bucchino join Stanley in NCAA action this week.
Notre Dame signed six high school seniors to national letters of intent in the 2001 fall period: C Cody Rizzo (Temecula, Calif.), SS Greg Lopez (Upper Arlington, Ohio), OFs Craig Cooper (Plainview, N.Y.) and Brennan Grogan (Tequesta, Fla.), RHP Ryan Doherty (Toms River, N.J.) and 3B/RHP Matt Bransfield (Englewood, Colo.) … Cooper, Doherty and Grogan have been listed among Team One Baseball’s top 200 high school prospects while Cooper, Doherty and Rizzo are ranked among Baseball America’s list of the nation’s top prospects … Grogan and Cooper are accomplished OFs who should add speed to the lineup while Lopez has been rated as the best infield prospect to come out of talent-rich Ohio in five years (according to The Buckeye Scout) … Rizzo is a talented all-around catcher who could make the biggest contributions as a freshman while Bransfield’s versatility could prove valuable to the 2002 squad … Doherty provides an added dimension to the class, due to his 7-1, 235-pound frame that produced plenty of interest from Division I basketball programs.
ND INKS THORNTON IN SPRING
Notre Dame signed 6-foot-7, 210-pound LHP Tom Thornton (Middleboro, Mass.) to a national letter of intent during the spring period, completing the promising seven-member class of 2006 … Baseball America rates Thornton 165th among high school prospects while Team One Baseball ranks him 21st among prep LHPs … Team One also rated Thornton as the 7th-best prospect at its recent Perfect Game World Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. (Dec., 2001) … Thornton’s three-year varsity career at Middleboro HS includes a 16-3 record and 1.11 seven-inning ERA in 19 starts (as of April 25), with 152 Ks, just 36 walks and 59 hits allowed in 107.2 innings pitched (equating to nine-inning averages of 12.7 Ks, 3.0 walks and 4.9 hits).
The eight-year Mainieri era has seen Notre Dame sign several quality additions during the late period, including current freshman RHPs John Axford (a leading member of the weekend rotation) and Tyler Jones, who both were selected in the 2001 Major League draft … other late-period signees in the Mainieri era have included RHP Brad Lidge (a ’98 first-round draft pick who recently was called up to the Houston Astros), catcher Jeff Wagner, OFAllen Greene, LHP Tim Kalita (the top starter with the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens) and IF Brant Ust, plus three other current members of the Irish squad: DH Ken Meyer, OF Kris Billmaier and IF Javier Sanchez.
The 7-foot-1 RHP Ryan Doherty and 6-7 RHP Tom Thornton could become two of the tallest players in recorded ND baseball history, with the all-time list of letterwinners including just two players over 6-6 (data incomplete for some earlier years): 6-8 righthander Larry Mohs (Nutley, N.J.; ’94-’97) and 6-7 righthander Pat Leahy (Yakima, Wash.; ’90-’92) … current junior 1B Mike Holba (6-8) has yet to letter with the Irish.