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Baseball Ready For Stanford Rematch

June 18, 2002

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College World Series – Game #10, vs. Stanford (Tuesday, June 18, 2002)


  • Beat Florida International in a 2001 NCAA Regional rematch at ND’s Eck Stadium, with the Irish facing elimination … tossed a complete game in that 5-2 win (9 H, 2 BB, 5Ks, 136 pitches).
  • Capable of logging a complete game, owning three of ND’s six CGs in 2002 … posted two key CG wins in 2002 vs. BIG EAST challengers Virginia Tech (4-2, 9 H, BB, 6 K) and Boston College (5-2, 8 H, 3 BB, 8 K) … suffered tough-luck loss to Rutgers in BIG EAST Tournament (3-4, 8 IP, CG, 8 H, 3 BB, 8 K).
  • Looking to rebound from rocky outing as starter in second game of Super Regional at Florida State, a 12-5 loss (0.1 IP, 3 H, 8 R/7 ER, 4 BB, K) … also had no decision in 8-6 win over Ohio State at NCAA South Bend Regional (5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, BB, 4 K).
  • Has allowed just two home runs in 125.2 career innings pitched.
  • Rebounded from string of injuries (back and elbow) that wiped out his final two prep seasons and his freshman season at ND … has two years of eligibility remaining after 2002.
  • Ranks 11th in ND history for career ERA (2.94).

NCAA REMATCHES: Notre Dame owns an all-time NCAA record of 8-11 in NCAA Tournament rematches, including 2-1 this season (9-6 vs. Ohio State, 5-12 and 3-1 vs. Florida State) … in the 1999 and 2000 NCAA Regional, the Irish rebounded from losses in the winner’s bracket game to beat those teams in the rematches (7-0 at Mississippi State, 5-2 vs. Florida International) and force a decisive game.

NO 0-and-2: The 9th-inning rally vs. Rice helped ND avoid the only 0-2 effort at a postseason tournament during the eight-year tenure of ND head coach Paul Mainieri (spanning eight conference tournaments, five NCAA Regionals, a Super Regional and the CWS) … in fact, ND has gone 0-2 at a postseason tournament just twice all-time (out of 36), doing so in the 1949 NCAA First Round (two losses to Wake Forest) and 1960 (losses to Minnesota and Ohio State in the NCAA District Four Playoffs, at Minnesota) … the ND baseball program has avoided an 0-2 showing in each of its last 29 postseason tournaments (since 1960).

MR. CLUTCH: Steve Sollmann’s game-tying single in the 9th inning of the Rice game is nothing new for the sophomore second baseman, who now is batting 11-for-11 with runners in scoring position during the NCAAs (.622 overall).

SOLLMANN STREAK HITS NINE GAMES: Sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann ended a 3-for-22 slump by batting 2-for-5 in the BIG EAST Championship game vs. Rutgers (including a 2-out single and gamewinning run in 10th inning) … that effort vaulted Sollmann onto his current nine-game hitting streak that includes all eight games in the NCAAs … Sollmann now is batting .622 in the NCAA Tournament (23-for-37), with 12 RBI, 15 runs scored, a home run, two triples, a double (.838 slugging pct.), two walks, no strikeouts and just one error (plus a sac. bunt, sac. fly, stolen base and one time hit-by-pitch) …

NO MORE MASK: Due to a crack in his batting helmet, junior LF Brian Stavisky had to play without the protective football-style mask that had been attached to his helmet since his April 9th return (he missed nine games after being hit with a 90 mph fastball on March 28 at West Virginia) … Stavisky went hitless in his first four ABs vs. Rice before launching the game-ending home run.

CLASSIC BATTLER: Senior CF Steve Stanley is batting 10-for-16 (.625) in the ninth inning this season, with 14 total bases (3B, 2 2B), 5 R and 4 RBI … those 10 hits include an infield single vs. Stanford and the triple vs. Rice.

MAINSTAYS IN THE LINEUP: Senior CF Steve Stanley tonight will be playing in his 256th career game with the Irish while senior C Paul O’Toole will be playing his 240th game with ND, which will move him past former teammate Alec Porzel (’01) into 2nd on the ND list for career games played … senior C Andrew Bushey ranks 8th on that list (223rd career GP tonight) … the above three players are the first ND classmates ever to log 200-plus starters … Stanley is making his 256th start, O’Toole his 229th (4th in the ND record book) and Bushey his 217th (8th in ND history, one back of ’91 grad. Mike Coss).

PAUL MAINIERI UPDATE: Eighth-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri – the second-winningest coach in ND baseball history – owns a 686-420-1 record (.620) in 20 seasons as a college head coach, including 354-141-1 (.715) with the Irish.

MULTI-HIT MACHINE: Despite his 1-for-5 game vs. Rice, senior CF Steve Stanley owns 122 career multi-hit games (38 in 2002) – led by one five-hit game, 12 games with four hits and 31 three-hit games (44 with three-plus) … his 117 hits this season are an ND record, besting the 115 posted by future Major Leaguer Dan Peltier in 1989.

FIFTY IS NIFTY: Notre Dame has set the team record for wins in each of the past two seasons, going 49-13-1 in 2001 while sporting a 50-17 mark this season … ND’s current streak of 14 consecutive seasons with 40-plus wins ranks as the fourth-longest active streak in Division I baseball, behind Florida State and Wichita State (both with 25) and Clemson (17).

STAVISKY, IRISH WALK OFF AS WINNERS: Notre Dame players have smacked game-ending home runs nine times during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era, including twice in 2002 … sophomore 1B Joe Thaman launched a two-run shot to beat Arkansas-Little Rock (7-5) at the Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio (March 15) … then, in yesterday’s 5-3 win over Rice, junior LF Brian Stavisky then pulled a 1-2 curveball from lefthander Justin Crowder into a 15 mph crosswind and over the rightfield fence for another gamewinning home run … Stavisky joins former teammates Jeff Felker and Alec Porzel (both with 2) as the only ND players to hit multiple game-ending HRs in the Mainieri era … Stavisky’s 2-run shot to deep right-center beat Rutgers on May 13, 2000, at Eck Stadium (4-3) … that blast also came vs. a LHP (Buddy Gallagher), with Kris Billmaier on base, no outs and an 0-1 count.

POSTSEASON BOMBS: Junior LF Brian Stavisky has racked up seven home runs in his last 13 NCAA Tournament games.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS: With Notre Dame two outs from the end of its 2002 season in yesterday’s thriller vs. Rice, there still was plenty of hope as the top of the batting order came to the plate … senior CF Steve Stanley responded with an eight-pitch battle vs. LHP Justin Crowder (ending in a full-count triple to the right-center gap) before sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann sent the game-tying single up the middle … moments later, junior LF Brian Stavisky ended the game by launching a 1-2 curveball into the teeth of the wind and over the rightfield fence for the game-ending home run (5-3) … last-inning heroics are nothing new for that trio:

  • May 27, 2001 – Down to its last out in the top of the 9th in an NCAA elimination game vs. UC Santa Barbara, Stanley sent a 2-2 pitch to left field that scored Paul O’Toole for a 10-10 tie … Stavisky’s solo HR then provided the gamewinner in the 10th.
  • May 4, 2002 – Facing Rutgers ace Bobby Brownlie in the bottom of the 7th and final inning, ND rallied from a 5-1 deficit to win 6-5 … Stanley followed Joe Thaman’s RBI single with an 0-1 single to left field, loading the bases … Sollmann then dropped a two-run single into center field, with Stanley motoring all the way home when the CF misplayed the ball for the dramatic win.
  • May 25, 2002 – ND posted another thrilling win over Rutgers to win the BIG EAST Tournament, 3-2 in 10 innings … Sollmann delivered on a 2-out, 1-2 pitch with a single into the right-center gap and Stavisky then sent a full-count double past the third baseman and down the line – with Sollmann scoring all the way from first as the LF fumbled with the ball.

CAPE COD REUNION: Several former Cape Cod League teammates from ND and Stanford had a chance to reunite at Thursday’s night’s tournament dinner … ND senior C Paul O’Toole, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann and senior 3B Andrew Bushey took the time to catch up with three former Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (a.k.a YDR) teammates: sophomore LF Brian Hall, junior DH Jason Cooper and senior RHP J.D. Wilcox … a couple tables over, ND junior LF Brian Stavisky was visiting with his former Hyannis Mets teammates: junior C Ryan Garko and junior LHP Tim Cunningham … Irish senior CF Steve Stanley played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the summers of 1999 and 2000, with his Brewster teammates including Stanford senior LHP Dan Rich … ND senior DH Matt Bok also was a late Cape Cod addition in 2002, playing for the Bourne Braves … O’Toole played for Brewster in 2000 while Stavisky played for Hyannis in 2000 and ’01 …. Bushey played just the first month of ’01 with YDR before electing to have surgery on his non-throwing shoulder (he played behind the plate in 12 of his 14 games with YDR).

MORE CAPE COD CONNECTIONS: Other Cape Cod players in the CWS include four from Hyannis: Clemson junior OF Frank, Georgia Tech junior OF John Henry Kail and junior 1B/OF Jason Perry and South Carolina senior RHP Blake Taylor (that’s seven Mets teammates in the CWS, including ND’s Stavisky).

OTHER ND-STANFORD TIES: ND senior OF Matt Strickroth and today’s Stanford starter, sophomore RHP John Hudgins, were teammates on the 1992 South Mission Viejo (Calif.) Little League All-Stars team … current ND head coaches Bobby Clark (men’s soccer) and Tyrone Willingham (football) previously were head coaches at Stanford.

TWO-OUT TERROR: Sophomore RF Kris Billmaier has collected six 2-out RBI in the NCAAs, nearly matching the total for the rest of the team (7).

ONE YEAR LATER: The Notre Dame baseball team has ended its 45-year CWS drought – led by a veteran lineup (nine of top 10 batters returned) and a highly-touted freshman class (ranked No. 1 by Baseball America) that includes three of the team’s top pitchers (led by top starters Grant Johnson and Chris Niesel) … the Irish had to replace their pair of ace pitchers from the 2001 season – Aaron Heilman and Danny Tamayo – who combined for a 23-3 record and 2.22 ERA in 227 innings during the 2002 season, with 217 strikeouts (8.6 per 9 IP), just 48 walks (1.9 per 9 IP) and 177 hits allowed (7.0 per 9 IP).

BACK-TO-BACK LOSSES RARE: Since its 9-10 start, the Irish have suffered back-to-back losses just once in the last 48 games … Rutgers ended ND’s scoring streak at 230 games with an 11-0 win at Eck Stadium on May 5 while the next game saw a late Villanova rally yield an 8-7 ND loss on May 11 in Philadelphia … since that loss to VU, the Irish are 16-3 in their last 19 games (4-3 loss to Rutgers in BIG EAST Tournament, 12-5 loss at Florida State in Super Regional and Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Stanford).

BATS STILL HOT IN NCAAs: After batting just .208 in the 2002 BIG EAST Tournament, the Irish now have compiled a .390 team batting average in eight NCAA Tournament games – led by five games with 14-plus hits and nine-plus hits in every game except the 3-1 Super Regional-clinching win at FSU (7 H) … more impressively, the Irish are batting 64 points higher with runners in scoring position (.454) during the NCAAs.

STANLEY POISED FOR 256th CONSECUTIVE START: Notre Dame senior CF Steve Stanley has started every game of his ND career and today will move into second in NCAA Division I record by starting his 256th consecutive game (Arizona’s Chip Hale started all 255 in his career, from 1984-87) … Hale was thought to be the recordholder but current Clemson SS Khalil Greene is riding a streak of 266 consecutive starts … Stanley also has played nearly every inning of his ND career (98.9 percent, or 2,158 of 2,183) – including 566.1 of 576.1 in the 2002 season … the ND leadoff hitter also has played every inning of the last 27 games (230 innings) … he did not play CF for the final two innings of both games in the April 3 doubleheader vs. Valparaiso and again yielded to George Howard for the final inning vs. Toledo on April 17 (Howard also played the final five innings in the April 23 game vs. Chicago State).

ERRORS, Ks RARE FOR NO. 2: Steve Stanley has racked up plenty of stats in his ND career – but errors and strikeouts are not among them … Stanley has made just one error in the last 78 games, with his lone error of 2002 coming on a controversial “dropped ball” call in the final game at Seton Hall on April 21 (he made a diving catch in shallow right-center, popped up and threw the ball back to the infield but the play was ruled a no-catch) … Stanley’s four-year career includes just eight errors in 2,183 innings played (or 273 innings per E) … he also has struck out just 11 times in 318 total plate appearances this season (28.9 PAs per K).

SANCHEZ CONTINUES TO SURPRISE: Sophomore SS Javier Sanchez has posted four of his five home runs this season outside of Eck Stadium, including two in the postseason (he also homered in the first BIG EAST title matchup vs. Rutgers) … Sanchez is batting .318 in all 2002 postseason games (14-for-44, 7 RBI, 9 R).

NCAA VETERANS: Notre Dame’s starting lineup has combined for 158 starts in the NCAA Tournament (including today), led by senior CF Steve Stanley, senior C Paul O’Toole and senior 3B Andrew Bushey (each is making his 22nd NCAA start today) … junior LF Brian Stavisky and junior RF Kris Billmaier each are making their 19th career NCAA start today …Stavisky has racked up 29 RBI in NCAA games (25 in the last three seasons) while six ND players have 25-plus hits in NCAA Tournament games: Stanley (38), Billmaier (32), Stavisky (31), O’Toole (30), Sollmann (28) and Bushey (25).

FACING NO. 1 … AGAIN: Notre Dame last week posted a pair of wins over consensus No. 1 Florida State (10-4, 3-1) and added another win yesterday vs. the new top-ranked team in the latest polls (5-3 vs. Rice) … ND also beat No. 1 teams during the NCAAs twice in the early 1990s, winning 6-3 at Miami in the 1992 Atlantic Regional and 8-1 at Clemson in the 1994 East Regional.

POWER SURGE: Notre Dame is averaging a home run per game in the 2002 postseason (12 HRs in 12 games), led by three from junior LF Brian Stavisky and two each from senior DH Matt Bok and sophomore SS Javier Sanchez … six other ND players also have homered in the 2002 postseason.

CLASSY CLASS: The eight-member senior class has helped ND win nearly 75 percent of its games during the past four seasons (188-66-1) while combining for 1,292 games played, 1,028 starts, 1,181 hits, 602 RBI, 815 runs, 68 home runs, 42 triples, 222 doubles, 395 walks, 190 stolen bases and 257 innings pitched … the 188 wins are the most ever by an ND baseball class, besting the 187 posted by the class of 1992 (led by two-time World Series champ Craig Counsell) … the class of 2002’s .739 winning pct. ranks as the 4th-best by an ND class in the last 87 seasons.

BATTING ORDER NOTES (same 1-3 hitters in last 27 games)
Stanley – 59th start in leadoff spot this season (36 straight)
Sollmann – 33rd start in No. 2 hole (27 straight)
Stavisky – 45th start in 3rd spot (40 straight)
Bushey – 26th start in cleanup spot (22 of last 24)

Stanley – 68th start in CF
Sollmann – 56th start at 2B (49 straight)
Stavisky – 46th start in LF (36 straight)
Bushey – 49th start at 3B (21 of last 24, 13 straight)
O’Toole – 46th start at catcher (21 of last 24, 13 straight)
Bok – 35th start at DH (30 of last 35)
Billmaier – 58th start at RF (36 of last 37)
Sanchez – 59th start at SS (58 of last 60)
Thaman – 58th start at 1B (54 of last 56)
(Average of 53 starts at respective positions)

THREE OF THE BEST: Notre Dame’s first three batters in the lineup also rank among ND’s all-time leaders for career batting average: senior CF Steve Stanley (.383, 3rd), sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann (.365, 8th) and junior LF Brian Stavisky (.357, 11th).

QUADRUPLE TRIPLES: Four ND players have posted four-plus triples in 2002, led by five from junior LF Brian Stavisky and four each by senior CF Steve Stanley, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann and senior C Paul O’Toole.


  • Senior C Paul O’Toole’s 805 career at-bats rank 5th in ND history, just behind Pat Pesavento’s 806 (’86-’89) … O’Toole’s hit vs. Stanford and two vs. Rice give him 246 for his career, edging past Brant Ust (243; ’97-’99) and tying another former teammate Jeff Felker (’97-’00) for 8th in the ND record book (Felker is one of several former ND players in Omaha for the CWS) … Dan Peltier is 7th on the ND career hits list, with 257 (’87-’89) … O’Toole’s 192 career runs scored rank 7th in the ND record book, three shy of Mike Amrhein (’97).
  • Senior CF Steve Stanley has landed on 1,000 at-bats for his career … his 459 career total bases are tied Eric Danapilis (459;’93) for 2nd in the ND record book, behind Alec Porzel’s 487 … Stanley’s two hits vs. Stanford and one vs. Rice give him an ND record 117 for the season (future Major Leaguer Dan Peltier had 115 in 1989) … Stanley scored his 76th career run vs. Rice in the of the season – with only Pat Pesavento (88, in ’89; 81, in ’88) and Peltier (81, in ’89) scoring more runs in a season than Stanley … he smacked his 12th career triple in the 9th inning of the Rice game, tying former teammate Alec Porzel (’01) for 9th on the ND career triples list.
  • Junior LF Brian Stavisky (165) and senior C Paul O’Toole (162) are on the verge of cracking the ND career top-10 list for RBI (needing 166 for a share of 9th) … O’Toole’s next double will be the 50th of his career and would earn him a share of 8th on that ND list.
  • Senior 3B Andrew Bushey’s next double will be his 20th of the season, good for a share of 10th in the ND record book.
  • Junior RHP J.P. Gagne (21-10) needs one more win to crack the ND list for career victories … Gagne’s next appearance will be his 28th of the season (only three ND pitchers have made more than 28 appearances in a season).
  • The ND pitchers have totaled 480 strikeouts, besting the team record (478) set in 1999.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: Notre Dame and Stanford consistently have ranked among the national leaders for graduate rates of their student-athletes … ND and Stanford recently joined Nebraska, Alabama and Air Force as the only schools with two players on the Verizon CoSIDA Academic All-America team (junior LF Brian Stavisky and senior 3B Andrew Bushey were the ND honorees) and Notre Dame ranks second all-time with 141 Academic All-Americans …

Dominance In The Middle – The Irish pitching staff has been nearly untouchable in the 5th inning this season, allowing just nine earned runs in the 67 games (equivalent to a 1.21 team ERA, well ahead of the second-best inning, a 2.96 in the 2nd) … opponents are batting just .205 vs. the ND pitchers in the 5th, with 54 Ks, 25 walks and just one home run allowed in the 5th.

FAR & WIDE: The 2002 Notre Dame baseball team includes players from 21 states/provinces, with junior RHP Brandon Viloria (Wailuku) becoming the first Hawaii native ever to letter with the ND baseball program (which has produced nearly 700 all-time letterwinners, from 43 different states) … Viloria’s parents Adelfo and Sandra are in Omaha and have the chance to see their son pitch for just the third time in his ND career … they also attended this season’s March 30th doubleheader vs. Georgetown, in Bethesda, Md., in addition to attending the St. John’s series the following weekend at Eck Stadium, on April 6-7.

IRISH OVERCOME EARLY INJURY BUG – Notre Dame survived major injuries during the first half of the season, including the loss of one of the nation’s top-rated freshmen (SS Matt Macri) … five players that were slated to start on opening day or who assumed an early starting job due to another’s injury (Matt Edwards for Macri) have combined to miss 135 games due to injuries … Macri and several other ND players who are not on the 25-man CWS roster are in Omaha to cheer on their teammates (that group includes freshman catcher Jay Molina, a versatile defensive player who has missed the entire season due to “Tommy John” reconstructive elbow surgery) … the below list details the major injuries and does not include several other players who missed spot duty (many of them in that early-season stretch:

  • Shortstop (50/58) – Highly-touted Matt Macri, the No. 2-rated prospect among the nation’s freshmen (according to Baseball America) never had the chance to play his natural position, with two starts at 2B and 14 at DH due to an elbow strain that ultimately required “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery … all told, Macri has missed 48 games, with his last action coming on March 28 at West Virginia … Macri’s replacement at SS, classmate Matt Edwards, also was lost for the year after suffering a broken leg when he collided with a teammate chasing a popup into left field during the March 9 win over USC … Edwards now has missed 56 games … Edwards also was a candidate to see time in the outfield, at third base or as a DH … sophomore Javier Sanchez was the third option at SS and has done a solid job at the new position (he played mostly 3B and 2B prior to 2002).
  • Left Field (18) – Preseason All-American and two-time Cape Cod League all-star Brian Stavisky was sidelined for a pair of nine-game stretches in the first half of the season: Feb. 23-March 11 (after injuring his shoulder on a slide into third, after tripling in the game at UNO) … ND went just 4-5 during his first nine-game absence … Stavisky then was lost for nine more games (March 28-April 7) after he as hit in the face by a 90-mph fastball in the first game of a doubleheader at West Virginia (ND lost that game to fall to 9-10 but then rallied to go 8-1 with Stavisky out of the lineup).
  • Second Base (8) – Another preseason All-American, sophomore Steve Sollmann, was hampered for much of the year with a pulled quadriceps (he played through the injury in many games) … he first hurt the quad in the fourth inning of the season (vs. Missouri, at UNO on Feb. 22) and then missed eight of the next 17 games (including the three losses at UConn on March 23-24) … with Macri and Edwards also sidelined for the March 8-11 Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio, ND actually tried four different players as the starting 2B in the four games of that tournament.
  • Third Base (5) – Senior Andrew Bushey suffered a freak shoulder injury while reaching for a ball during infield practice prior to the Feb. 23 game vs. SIU … Bushey missed the next five games (including all four at the Homestead Challenge) … Bushey also shares time behind the plate with classmate Paul O’Toole, whose ability to catch was limited early in the season due to a thumb injury.

RUDY, RUDY, RUDY!: ND head coach Paul Mainieri was busy earlier this week with the task of checking his voicemail, jotting down the names of the callers and then erasing the messages to free up his voicemail … the calls rolled in from all corners of baseball and elsewhere, including former and current Major League managers (such as Tommy Lasorda and Don Baylor) and scores of head coaches from Northern baseball schools … one unique call came from Rudy Ruettiger, the former ND football walk-on whose story is depicted in the movie “Rudy,” who told Mainieri he was inspired by the baseball team’s underdog triumph at top-ranked Florida State … Ruettiger is not the only “Rudy” who has a connection to Notre Dame baseball and last week’s Super Regional – as two of ND’s three Florida natives have fathers named Rudy … freshman RHP Chris Niesel won the decisive third game at FSU, with his father Rudy Niesel looking on … senior DH Ken Meyer – who hit 2-for-3 in the first Super Regional game – also is the son of a father by the same name (Rudy Meyer passed away in 1998).

FAMILIAR FACE: Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tommy Lasorda was the keynote speaker at the Notre Dame baseball team’s season-opening “ballpark-style” dinner (Feb. 18) that drew nearly 1,000 fans to the Joyce Center Fieldhouse … Lasorda fittingly was in Omaha for Thursday night’s festivities that kicked off the College World Series and he then gave the ND team an inspirational speech at its team breakfast on Friday morning.

DRAFT DAY RECAP: Four Notre Dame position players were selected in last week’s Major League draft, led by a pair of Oakland A’s draftees (senior CF Steve Stanley in the 2nd round and junior LF Brian Stavisky in the 6th) … senior 3B/C Andrew Bushey then was the 15th-round pick of the Colorado Rockies and senior C Paul O’Toole went to the Chicago Cubs in the 21st round … here’s some notes on the draft’s significance:

  • Stanley was the 67th overall pick and the 27th U.S. college player selected … he was the ninth outfielder drafted and the third college OF selected, just behind Jeremy Reed of Long Beach State (59th) and Fred Lewis of Southern University (66th).
  • Stanley is the 4th-higest-drafted player in ND baseball history, plus the program’s 2nd-highest drafted senior and second-highest drafted position player … the top three all-time ND draft picks include catcher Ken Plesha (17th overall pick of Chicago White Sox, 1965) and the RHP tandem of Brad Lidge (17th overall pick of Houston Astros in 1998) and Aaron Heilman (31st pick by Minnesota Twins in 2000, returned for senior season and drafted in 2001 by New York Mets with 18th pick of first round).
  • Stanley and Stavisky became the first ND teammates ever drafted in the first six rounds while no previous Irish team had produced four players all drafted in the first 21 rounds (the 2001 squad had four in the first 33 rounds).
  • Stavisky has been drafted twice previously – by the Montreal Expos in 1999 (12th round) and by the Cubs in the 33rd round of 2001 … Stanley, Bushey and O’Toole all were undrafted out of high school … both O’Toole (48th rd, San Francisco Giants) and Stanley (50th rd, Florida Marlins) were late-round picks in 2002.
  • Stanley and Stavisky (188th pick) were the highest-drafted outfielders from the same team … Val Majewski of Rutgers (3rd rd, 76th overall pick of Baltimore Orioles) actually gave the BIG EAST Conference three outfielders that were picked in the first six rounds (no other conference can match the BIG EAST with three outfielders drafted that high).
  • The BIG EAST also produced three highly-drafted pitchers: Virginia Tech LHP Joe Saunders (12th overall, Anaheim), Rutgers RHP Bobby Bronwlie (21st pick, Cubs) and Villanova RHP Brian Slocum (63rd pick, Cleveland) … again, no other conference could match that level of high draft picks among pitchers.
  • The BIG EAST’s total of four players selected in the first two rounds was second only to the ACC’s five.
  • There was plenty of representation from the Midwest region among the top picks … in fact, five players from Indiana colleges were among the top 67 selections: Ball State RHP Brian Bullington (1st overall pick) and BSU lefthander Luke Hagerty (32nd), Purdue RHP Chadd Blasko (36th), Evansville RHP Steve Obenchain (37th) and Stanley.
  • Four players in the CWS were drafted higher than Stanley: South Carolina SS Drew Meyer (10th overall, Rangers), Clemson SS Khalil Greene (13th, Padres), Stanford RHP Jeremy Guthrie (22nd, Indians) and Clemson 1B Michael Johnson (54th, Padres).
  • In addition to Stanley and Stavisky, just two other CWS outfielders were picked in the first six rounds: Stanford’s Jason Cooper (82nd, Indians) and Georgia Tech’s Jason Perry (176th, Blue Jays).

Sixth Sense – The Notre Dame offense has enjoyed its best success in the 6th inning, with a .362 team batting average in the 6th (15 points higher than any other inning), plus 54 runs scored, six home runs, a .509 team slugging pct. and a .429 team on-base pct. (both team bests) … the veteran hitting skill of senior CF and leadoff batter Steve Stanley can be seen in his strong batting in the 6th (typically his third at-bat), with a .542 batting avg. in the 6th (13-for-24), plus an .875 slugging pct. (HR, 3B, 3 2B), eight runs, five RBI, six walks and just one strikeout …five other ND regulars are batting above .400 in the 6th inning: sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann (.524, 11-for-21, 9 R, 5 RBI, 5 BB/0 K), junior RF Kris Billmaier (.516, 16-for-31, 6 R, 8 RBI, 2 HR, 2 BB/3 K), senior DH Matt Bok (.476, 10-for-21, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB/4 K) and sophomore SS Javier Sanchez (.400, 12-for-30, 8 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB/4 K).

Strong Starter … and Finisher – Leadoff batter Steve Stanley typically has been ready to hit right out of the box this season, with a .459 batting average during the 1st inning of ND’s 2002 games (28-for-61, 22 R, just 2 Ks) … Stanley also is ND’s top hitter in the 9th inning, with an eye-popping .625 average (10-for-16 with 14 total bases, 5 R, 4 RBI, 3B, 2 2B) – including 9th-inning hits in the CWS vs. Stanford and Rice.

EXTRA-INNING SUCCESS: Notre Dame has posted a 14-2 record in extra-inning games during the past three seasons, including 4-1 in 2002, 5-1 in ’01, 4-0 in ’00 and 1-1 in ’99.

MAINIERI RETURNS: Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri made a short departure from Omaha on Sunday morning in order to be with his wife Karen in Oregon, Ohio … Karen’s father Bill Fejes passed away on Friday morning, with his funeral service to be held Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. … Mainieri’s time of return to Omaha was contingent on ND’s result in the first game (he returned Sunday night, prior to Monday morning’s funeral) … Karen Mainieri was scheduled to fly into Omaha on Tuesday in time for the rematch with Stanford.

OPENING WINS: Notre Dame has won the opening game in each of its previous three 2002 postseason competitions: 8-3 vs. Rutgers (BIG EAST Tournament), 8-6 vs. Ohio State (NCAA South Bend Regional) and 10-4 at Florida State (NCAA Super Regional) … the Irish now are 9-3 overall in the 2002 postseason.

Notre Dame’s Record When Scoring …
1 run: 1-0
2 runs: 1-2
3 runs: 4-5
3-plus runs: 48-14
4 runs: 4-1
4-plus runs: 44-9
5 runs: 5-3
5-plus runs: 40-8
6 runs: 5-2
6-plus runs: 35-5
7 runs: 4-2
7-plus runs: 30-3
8 runs: 5-1
8-plus runs: 26-1 (9-8 loss at UConn on March 23)
9 runs: 4-0
9-plus runs: 21-0

Notre Dame’s Record When Totaling
0-4 hits: 0-2
5-plus hits: 50-15
6-plus hits: 47-15
7-plus hits: 46-13
8-plus hits: 40-12
9-plus hits: 33-12
10-plus hits: 27-9
11-plus hits: 22-6
12-plus hits: 19-6
13-plus hits: 17-4
14-plus hits: 13-3
15-plus hits: 8-1 (18 hits in 12-5 loss at Florida State on June 9)

COMEBACKS: Notre Dame now has posted 22 come-from behind victories in 2002, with 13 wins in which the Irish scored the gamewinning run in the final three innings (including some games in which ND never trailed) … ND has won 10 times in its final at-bat (each of the below games, except for the wins over USC, SJU and VT) … here’s a look at the late-game rallies (prior to the win over Rice):

  • ND 7, Missouri 6 (10) – The Tigers held a 4-1 edge after four innings in the season opener at the UNO Classic
  • ND 15, USC 8 – The Trojans held an 8-5 lead after four innings, with the Irish suffering a major setback in the bottom of the 4th when freshman SS Matt Edwards broke his leg in a collision while chasing a popup into left field.
  • ND 7, Arkansas-Little Rock 5 – UALR scored three times in the top of the 8th to forge a 4-4 tie and ND retook the lead with a run in the bottom of the 8th, followed by another UALR run in the top of the 9th (5-5) … the game then ended on Joe Thaman’s 2-run blast.
  • ND 3, Southern Illinois – One day after the win over UALR, the homestanding Irish score twice in the bottom of the 8th to beat SIU in the title game of the Irish Baseball Classic (at San Antonio’s Wolff Stadium).
  • ND 10, West Virginia 6 (10) – WVU jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the 1st inning but ND chipped away before surging ahead in the 10th on an RBI single from Javi Sanchez.
  • ND 5, St. John’s – The Irish broke a 2-2 tie by plating three runs in the bottom of the 7th.
  • ND 5, Western Michigan 4 – A 9th-inning rally saw the Irish push across two runs for the win.
  • ND 2, Virginia Tech 1 (11) – The 7-inning opener extended to four extra frames, with the key win ending on Matt Bok’s RBI triple and Joe Thaman’s hard single back to the mound.
  • ND 3, Bowling Green 2 (6) – Kris Billmaier’s solo shot in the bottom of the 6th beat the impending rain.
  • ND 6, Rutgers 5 – The Irish rallied for four runs in bottom of the 7th and final inning, vs. RU ace Bobby Brownlie.
  • ND 8, Virginia Tech 4 – The Irish faced a 4-3 deficit heading into the 8th inning of the key winner’s bracket game of the BIG EAST Tournament, with ND putting four runs on the board and adding another in the 9th for the win.
  • ND 3, Rutgers 2 (10) – The BIG EAST Championship was decided in the bottom of the 10th, when Brian Stavisky’s double into the leftfield corner helped bring Steve Sollmann home all the way from first base for ND’s first BIG EAST tournament title.

VS. FIRST ROUNDERS: Notre Dame – which battled Stanford All-American and Cleveland Indians 1st-round draft pick Jeremy Guthrie on Saturday – had some earlier experience this season facing a pitcher who ended up being a 1st-round pick in the 2002 Major League draft, with the Irish winning all three of those games:

  • April 12 – The first showdown produced one of the key victories in ND’s 2002 season, as the Irish rode the strong pitching of replacement starter Ryan Kalita (subbing for Chris Niesel, who was out with mono) and surging closer J.P. Gagne to outlast Virginia Tech ace lefthander Joe Saunders (the 12th overall pick, by the Anaheim Angels) … that 7-inning game extended to 11 innings, with ND winning 2-1 behind Matt Bok’s pinch-hit triple and Joe Thaman’s single back to the box … Saunders allowed the single run on eight hits and no walks over eight innings while racking up 11 Ks in his 134-pitch outing – but Kalita (6 IP, UER, BB, 5 K) and Gagne (5 IP, 3 H, BB, K) matched the pitcher who was rated as the top lefty in college baseball.
  • May 4 – The next matchup vs. a top pitcher saw ND rally in its final at-bat of the 7-inning opener to beat Rutgers and its ace righthander Bobby Brownlie, 6-5 … Brownlie was touched for nine hits and one walk in his 91-pitch outing while failing to strike out an ND batter (the first time in his career that he failed to register a K)
  • May 23 – The Irish later jumped all over Brownlie in the opener of BIG EAST Tournament, knocking the RU ace out of that 8-3 game after five innings (6 H, 7 R/6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K).
  • Notre Dame also faced an eventual 2nd-round draft pick in the May 11 game vs. Villanova in Philadelphia, with VU rallying in the 9th for an 8-7 win … ND roughed up ace RHP Brian Slocum over the first 5.1 innings (6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 Ks) but VU came back from the 6-4 deficit to get the win.