March 23, 2002
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES
at Connecticut … March 23-24, 2002
The Notre Dama baseball team (9-6) takes its four-game winning streak on the road this week with a three-game series at Connecticut (Saturday doubleheader on March 23, single game on Sunday, with noon start times), as the Irish near the end of their season-opening 22-game road streak … Notre Dame opened Spring Break with a rough 1-3 showing at the Express College Classic (at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas) before sweeping to the title at the Irish Baseball Classic, at San Antonio’s Wolff Stadium … UConn is 5-5 but had a pair of midweek games called off this week (see www.uconnhuskies for more info. on UConn) … Notre Dame is embarking on the quest for its fourth 1st-place finish in seven years of BIG EAST play, including the dominating 2001 season (22-4, most league wins in BIG EAST history).
RADIO COVERAGE: South Bend’s ESPN Radio 1620 AM (WDND) and its sister station WHLY 1580 AM are slated to broadcast Notre Dame’s entire 56-game schedule in 2002 (plus all postseason action) … a real-audio link to internet broadcasts of the games may be accessed at www.und.com while real-time stats for home games – including updated play-by-play – likewise can be accessed at und.com.
PROBABLE ROTATION: Notre Dame is slated to start a rare rotation of three straight freshman (all righthanders), with the below threesome also starting the first three games at the Irish Baseball Classic (in the order of Axford-Johnson-Niesel) … it’s believed to be the first time an ND baseball team has started three consecutive rookies on the mound since the talented foursome of David Sinnes, Pat Leahy, Alan Walania and lefty Chris Michalak began their Irish careers in 1990 … here’s is ND’s planned rotation for the UConn series (the Huskies have yet to provide a probable rotation):
Game 1 (7-inning game) … Grant Johnson (3.21, 2-1, 4 GP/3 GS, 28 IP, 22 K/2 BB)
Game 2 … Chris Niesel (3.63, 1-0. 4 GS, 22.1 IP, 25 K/4 BB)
Game 3 … John Axford (2.45, 1-1, 4 GP/1 GS, 14.2 IP, 10 K/9 BB)
SOME STREAKS FOR ALL SEASONS: Senior CF Steve Stanley (203) – who stands just two hits shy of the Notre Dame career record, with 294 – is on the verge of breaking the Notre Dame record for consecutive games started (204, by Pat Pesavento) … the national player-of-the-year candidate also opened the season with a 13-game hitting streak (the fifth double-digit hitting streak of his career and second-longest overall) … Stanley – who closed the 2001 season by batting 14-for-23 in the NCAAs – already has collected three four-hit games this season, vs. Fairfield, Sacred Heart and Creighton (bringing his career total to 10 four-hit games, plus a 5-for-5 game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the 2001 NCAAs) … his career-best hitting streak lasted 16 games in the 2000 season, (he also had a 12-game hitting streak in ’99 and 10-game hitting streaks in ’00 and ’01) … Stanley’s team-best .431 season batting average includes six walks and three sacrifice bunts.
RECORD BOOK REGULAR: Stanley already has cracked the ND career top-10 list for games started (203, 8th, six behind 1993 grad. Eric Danapilis) … Stanley also is nearing Pat Pesavento’s ND record for consecutive starts (204, from April 5, 1986 to May 28, 1989) and last week moved past Craig Counsell (795, ’89-’92) into 4th at ND in career at-bats (797, with Pesavento next on the list at 806) … Stanley’s 294 hits trailing only Pesavento (296) and Eric Danapilis (295, ’90-’93) … he also ranks 6th in runs scored (191, 1997 grad. Mike Amrhein is 5th with 195) and has pushed his career batting average to .369, which would rank 4th in the ND record book (just behind Scott Sollmann’s .372, from ’94-’96).
AN SB A DAY: Stanley has averaged nearly one stolen base per game this season (11-for-15), which puts him on pace to challenge the ND single-season record set by Scott Sollmann in 1996 (52, in 62 GP) … ironically, Sollmann’s brother Steve typically bats with Stanley on base (as the Irish No. 2 hitter) … Stanley’s 95 career SBs rank second in ND history, one ahead of Pat Pesavento (’86-’89) and six shy of Sollmann’s record total of 101 (from ’94-’96).
PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN: Stanley has started all 203 games of his ND career (all in CF) while logging all but 14 innings in CF his three seasons (he has played every inning of the last 52 games, spanning 450.1 innings) … the familiar #2 – who has totaled just seven errors in 470 career fielding chances (.985) – has patrolled CF in 99.19% of the innings (1,728 of 1,742), including all but two of 513 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 2000 – a span of 764.2 consecutive innings in CF – before being replaced by 2001 grad Ben Cooke for the final five innings of the 8-1 NCAA loss at Mississippi St. (the Irish fell into an early 7-0 hole and Stanley reluctantly left the game due to illness) … in 2001, he patrolled center in all but seven of 547.2 innings – with Mike Naumann inserted into CF for the final inning vs. Texas-Pan American (14-9) while John Heintz played the position for the final four innings vs. Hillsdale (9-2) and for the final two innings of the 15-3 win over Seton Hall.
STANLEY IN THE BIG EAST RECORD BOOK: Two major BIG EAST career records also are within Stanley’s grasp, as he already ranks 6th in conference hits (108) and 7th in runs (80) … former Rutgers players Darren Fenster (108 hits) and David DJesus (80 runs) currently hold those BIG EAST records … Stanley’s six career triples in BIG EAST play rank 9th in the league record book, four shy of the shared record.
CONFERENCE COMMAND: Over the course of its first six BIG EAST seasons (’95-’01), Notre Dame ranked first in the 11-member BIG EAST Conference with a .719 overall winning pct. (264-103-1, Rutgers was scond at .644) and a .757 BIG EAST regular-season wnning pct. (103-33, RU second at .708) … ND’s 54 previous BIG EAST series have yielded 43 series wins for the Irish, five series ties and just six series losses … ND heads into 2002 with wins in 18 of its last 19 BIG EAST series … the Irish were swept in just three of 52 BIG EAST doubleheaders from 1996-2001 (winning 31, with 18 splits) – including 28 consecutive BIG EAST DHs without an opponent sweep … ND’s three-year dominance from 1999-2001 produced a 60-16 (.790) conference record.
* Freshman SS Matt Edwards suffered a season-ending injury during the March 9 game vs. USC (broken fibula and tibia in his lower right leg) … Edwards returned home to Virginia on Tuesday, March 12, after visiting with his teammates the previous night at Austin’s Brackenridge Hospital.
* Freshman SS Matt Macri has started the last 11 games at DH (batting in the third or second spot) and could make his debut in the field next week at West Virginia (due to an elbow strain).
* Yet another top middle infielder, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann, continues to recover from his quad injury suffered in the opener vs. Missouri … Sollmann currently is out indefinitely, after already missing seven starts in the first 15 games.
* Freshman C Jay Molina is out for the year as he rehabs from offseason elbow surgery (following an injury in his senior year of high school). * Notes: junior OF Brian Stavisky missed nine games with a shoulder sprain before returning to action as last week’s MVP at the Irish Baseball Classic … senior tri-captain and 3B/C Andrew Bushey (BIG EAST player-of-the-week after hitting 6-for-9 at the season-opening UNO Classic) missed four games with a shoulder sprain before returning to action at last week’s Express College Classic … … senior C Paul O’Toole has been relegated to mostly 3B (or 2B) duty, due to a sore left thumb (he has missed just one start) … lefthanded-hitting sophomore 1B Joe Thaman (shoulder) has been limited to seven starts this season, with hot-hitting senior Ken Meyer (a righthanded hitter) drawing the other starts … sophomore Javier Sanchez has made 13 starts this season while splitting time at SS, 2B and 3B (in place of Macri, Sollmann, Bushey and now Edwards) … another hot-hitting senior, Matt Bok, was Stavisky’s primary replacement in LF (Bok also has started behind the plate).
SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame holds an 8-3 series edge vs.UConn (since joining the league in 1996), including a 6-1, 13-12, 12-19 series late in the 2001 season, at Eck Stadium … the first game of that series saw ND’s Aaron Heilman post 10 strikeouts to land on 400 for his career while the Irish rallied for three 9th-inning runs in the nightcap (Steve Stanley hit a two-run, game-tying triple and scored the winning run) … the loss the next day ended ND’s BIG EAST-record winning streak at 18 games.
SERIES STAT LEADERS: Senior CF Steve Stanley hit .344 (11-for-32) vs. UConn in the 1999-2001 seasons (8 RBI, 10 R, 2B, 2 3B, 4 BB) while his classmates Paul O’Toole (.321, 11-for-28, 8 RBI, 7 R, 2 3B, 2 BB, 4 SB) and Ken Meyer (.313, 5-for-16, RBI, 5 R, 2B, 3B, BB) also own solid career stats vs. the Huskies …another Irish senior, Andrew Bushey, will be looking to reverse his career .191 batting vs. UConn (4-for-12) … Brian Stavisky is batting just .273 vs, UConn (6-for-22), but one of those hits was a monster home run during his freshman season (1999, at Carroll Field).
IT’S TIME FOR THEM TO SURGE: Notre Dame traditionally has faced some early-season challenges leading into BIG EAST play … here’s the pre-conference records for the past eight teams of the Paul Mainieri era: 11-10 in 1995, 10-6 in ’96, 9-8 in ’97, 12-9 in ’98, 8-6 in ’99, 13-3 in 2000, 14-2-1 in ’01 and 9-6 in ’02.
BIG EAST OPENER HISTORY: Notre Dame has won five of its six previous BIG EAST season openers while going 11-4 in the first BIG EAST series of the 1996-2001 seasons (the Irish won every series except 1997 in a rare three-game sweep, at Seton Hall).
IRISH BASEBALL CLASSIC NOTES
* Notre Dame’s starting pitchers combined for an 0.94 ERA in the four IBC games, allowing six runs (three of them earned) and 25 hits in 28 innings, with 20 strikeouts and just two walks.
* Freshman RHP John Axford had an impressive outing (7 IP, 2 UER, 4 H, 6 K/0 BB) in his first collegiate start, beating Creighton 6-2.
* Junior LF Brian Stavisky stole the day by homering on his first swing since missing the previous nine games with a shoudler sprain, before adding a two-run triple to spark a four-run 5th.
* ND entered the game with just a .154 two-out batting average but three straight Irish hits with two outs in the top of the 5th proved to be the difference.
* Stavisky’s home run was the 25th of his ND career while his 11 career triples rank 9th in ND history … he is one of three all-time ND players to hit 25-plus home runs and 10-plus triples (Ryan Topham had 34 HRs and 13 3Bs from 1993-95 while Alec Porzel totaled 37 HRs and 12 3Bs from 1998-2001).
* The win helped ND avert its first three-game losing sterak since the start of the current seniors’ freshman season (when ND was swept in three 1999 games at Florida International).
* The next day, freshman DH Matt Macri smacked his first home run of the season and added an RBI double in a 6-3 win over Southern Illinois (which saw its eight-game winning streak come to an end).
*Freshman RHP Grant Johnson logged eight strong innings (unearned run, 5 H, 6 K/0 BB).
* Stavisky then smacked a pair of towering home runs vs. Arkansas-Little Rock but the biggest hit of the night came from Joe Thaman, whose two-run blast ended the game in dramatic fashion (7-5)
* Freshman RHP Chris Niesel allowed just one run on seven hits and one walk in 7 IP (4 Ks).
* ND rallied to win the IBC title game, 3-2 vs. SIU, as Steve Stanley launched a game-tying triple in the 8th and scored on classmate Paul O’Toole’s hard-hit groundball single to the third baseman.
* ND now has won 12 consecutive tournament games in San Antonio (at the IBC/Alamo Invitational), dating back to 1998.
* Peter Ogilvie (3 IP, 12 BF, 4 H, 2 Ks) picked up the win in relief of fellow junior righthander J.P. Gagne (6 IP, 2 R, 8 H, BB, 4 Ks) who allowed just two runs on eight hits and one walk over six innings, with four strikeouts.
* Stavisky (17 total bases in 12 ABs) was named the tournament MVP, with Stanley, Thaman, Axford and Johnson joining him on the all-tournament team.
* O’Toole followed the profession of Steve Sollmann, Matt Bok and Kris Billmaier as the fourth different ND player to start at 2B (six total ND players have started at 2B thus far) … O’Toole’s solid performance has him slated to play 2B this week at UConn, with next week’s possible debut of Macri at SS allowing Javier Sanchez to move over the second.
COLLEGE EXPRESS CLASSIC NOTES
* ND was one out away from a hard-fought, 3-2 opening victory over TCU before seeing the Horned Frogs rally for six straight hits and a 7-3 win.
* Freshman RHP Grant Johnson suffered the hard-luck loss despite another impressive outing (8.2 IP, 6 R, 7 H, BB, 8 Ks) … Johnson allowed a pair of 1st-inning hits but held TCU to just one hit in the next seven innings.
* ND tied the TCU game with solo home runs from Paul O’Toole and Ken Meyer.
* One night later, ND overcame the loss of injured SS Matt Edwards (broken lef)by rallying from an 8-4 deficit to beat perennial power USC, 15-8.
* ND began to mount its comeback with three runs in the 6th, sparked by Steve Stanley’s leadoff single to the opposite field and a walk by Javier Sanchez (who had entered the game in place of Edwards) … O’Toole also stroked and RBI double and Meyer added a sacrifice fly, cutting USC’s lead to 8-7.
* The Irish surged ahead in the eighth, with O’Toole leading off by sending a single through the right side on a 2-2 pitch … Meyer then sent a slow groundout to the third baseman and O’Toole – already running on the play – kept going past the second-base bag and beat the return throw to third … with the infield drawn in, Andrew Bushey then drilled a 1-2 pitch up the middle and Kris Billmaier followed by picking a perfect time for his first RBI of the season, sending an opposite-field, first-pitch double down the rightfield line to score Bushey all the way from first for the 9-8 Irish lead.
* ND then put the game out of reach in the top of the 9th, pushing across six runs via four hits, an error, a failed fielder’s choice, two wild pitches and a passed ball.
* Freshman RHP Martin Vergara (1-1) picked up the win with 3.2 shutout innings in relief of classmate Chris Niesel while junior RHP Brandon Viloria closed the final two innings for the save.
* In the 6-5 loss to Texas-Pan American, senior LHP Frank James limited Notre Dame to two runs over the first eight innings before a 9th-inning Irish rally ended with the bases loaded.
* Junior RHP Peter Ogilvie (1-1) took the hard-luck loss (5.2 IP, 4 R/2 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks).
* The pivotal top of the 6th saw UTPA surge to a 4-2 lead with three runs on three hits and an error.
* ND’s 9th-inning rally saw O’Toole draw a full-count leadoff walk before Meyer sent the next pitch through the left side … Matt Bok kept the rally alive with a two-out walk and O’Toole scored on a fielding error before Stanley drove a two-run single up the middle, cutting the lead to 6-5 … RHP Jacob Pierce then hit Javier Sanchez with a 1-2 pitch to load the bases, but Pearce induced a foul popup on the next pitch, ending the game.
* ND had opened the scoring vs. UTPA in the 2nd inning, thanks to O’Toole’s leadoff triple to right-center (the seventh triple of his career) and Meyer’s RBI single to center.
* The Irish closed the Express Classic with an 8-6 loss to Creighton, which posted a four-run first inning and then held off another 9th-inning rally by ND.
* ND – which brought the tying run to the plate after scoring twice in the 9th – standed 12 baserunners vs. CU while hitting into three double plays (the Irish left 39 runners on base during their four games at Dell Diamond, while totaling 29 runs).
* Junior RHP J.P. Gagne allowed just two earned runs by CU in six innings (6 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 Ks).
* Stanley led the Irish offense with a 4-for-5 day, boosting his season average to .471.
MACRI MAKES DEBUT: Highly-touted newcomer Matt Macri – the nation’s No. 2 prospect among freshmen, according to Baseball America – had an impressive debut vs. Duquesne, batting 2-for-5 as the DH while hitting in the No. 3 hole … Macri – could return to shortstop next week at West Virginia (elbow strain) – delivered in the second at-bat of his college career, driving a 2-1 pitch from RHP Jim Popp into the leftfield corner for a no-outs double before scoring on Paul O’Toole’s three-run shot for a 3-0 ND lead in the 4th … Macri then collected his first career RBI in the 7th, smacking a 2-1 pitch through the left side of the infield (with speedy Steve Stanley scoring from second for a 5-0 cushion) … Macri added a pair of sacrifice flies later in the Homestead Challenge and ended his slump in Round Rock by collecting three hits and two RBI in the loss to Creighton … he stroked his first home run with the Irish (to left) and added an RBI double down the line and off the rightfield line in the 5-3 win over Southern Illinois, in San Antonio (he’s batting .250 overall, with a team-best 12 RBI).
TWO DOWN, EIGHT TO GO: Senior Paul O’Toole’s home run vs. Duquesne was the 21st of his career, to go along with 46 stolen bases – easily the most SBs ever by an ND catcher and 6th among all Irish players … O’Toole, who also homered in Round Rock vs. TCU, needs to average roughly one home run every five games for the rest of the 2002 regular season to reach 30 HRs for his career … in the process, he would join former teammate Alec Porzel (37 HRs, 32 SBs) as the only “30-30” players in Notre Dame baseball history … O’Toole hit eight home runs as both a freshman and sophomore and four as a junior (10 of his first 20 home runs came during lateseason games played in May).
‘GOOSE BACK ON THE LOOSE: Senior DH Ken Meyer – nicknamed the Mongoose due to his hustland deceptive speed – could be dialed in for a strong final season, after batting .360 in the first 15 games … Meyer already has collected four doubles and nine runs (both second on team), plus six RBI while starting two games at DH, eight at first base and two at each corner outield spot … his home run forged a 2-2 in the opening game of the Express College Classic vs. TCU (the Horned Frogs rallied for a 7-3 win) … Meyer saw his batting average dip from .326 in 2000 to .271 in 2001, when he was affected by season-long shoulder problems … he owns a solid .465 career slugging pct., with eight home runs, five triples, 25 doubles and 68 singles (165 total bases) in 355 at-bats.
WHO’S ON FIRST?: Notre Dame’s rotating starting lineups included the following combinations in the first 15 games (senior DHs Ken Meyer and Matt Bok have combined for just two DH starts, due to the Irish needing them at other positions while freshman SS Matt Macri has been relegated to just DH starts):
Catcher … Andrew Bushey (8, shoulder injury), Paul O’Toole (3, hand), Matt Bok (4)
First Base … Ken Meyer (8), Joe Thaman (7, shoulder)
Second Base … Steve Sollmann (8, quad), Javier Sanchez (3), Geoff Milsom (1), Matt Bok (1), Kris Billmaier (1), Paul O’Toole (1)
Shortstop … Matt Edwards (8, leg), Javier Sanchez (7)
Third Base … Paul O’Toole (10), Javier Sanchez (3), Andrew Bushey (2, shoulder)
Left Field … Matt Bok (6), Brian Stavisky (4, shoulder), Kris Billmaier (2), Ken Meyer (2), Brent Weiss (1)
Center Field … Steve Stanley (15)
Right Field … Kris Billmaier (10), Brian Stavisky (2), Matt Strickroth (1), Ken Meyer (2) DH … Matt Macri (11, elbow), Brent Weiss (2), Ken Meyer (1), Matt Bok (1)
MR. VERSATILITY: Miami native Javier Sanchez (Columbus HS) started at three infield positions in the first four games of the season: at SS vs. Missouri, at 2B vs. UNO and SIU, and at 3B vs. Duquesne … Sanchez has played solid defense while batting .216 with three RBI and eight runs scored.
O.T. OPERATOS – Notre Dame’s 10-inning win over Missouri at the season-opening UNO Classic pushed ND’s recent extra-inning success to 11-1-1 in the last 13 extra-inning games (dating back to 1997), including a 5-1-1 record in the 2001 season (highlighted by wins over Mississippi State, Fresno State and Rutgers – plus UCSB, in the NCAAs) – with the lone loss in that stretch coming vs. FIU in the 2001 NCAAs (7-6, in 10).
NIESEL MAKES HISTORY: Chris Niesel’s impressive debut at the UNO Classic vs. Southern Illinois was noteworthy in several respects:
* His 10 strikeouts equaled the second-most ever by an ND freshman and are the most by an Irish freshman in his first start … LHP Don Wolfe posted 12 Ks as a freshman in a 10-0 win over Butler on April 20, 1975, while RHP David Sinnes had 10 Ks in a nine-inning win at Xavier on April 16, 1990 (2-0).
* Niesel also became the first Notre Dame freshman pitcher to start an opening-week game Christian Parker’s gem that beat Pepperdine (14-5) at the 1995 Anaheim Classic (Parker started for the New York Yankees in the opening week of the 2001 season and currently is on the Yankees 40-man spring training roster).
* Just two previous Notre Dame pitchers have posted a double-digit strikeout game in February, with Alex Shilliday totaling 10 Ks in a 6-1 win over Evansville on Feb. 27, 1998 (8 IP, at the Diamond Classic) while Danny Tamayo had 10 Ks last season in the 7-4 win over Sam Houston State at the Alamo Invitational (Feb. 25, 6 IP).
FAR & WIDE: Notre Dame’s 2002 roster includes 35 players from 21 different home states/provinces … the top 10 position players and top three starting pitchers hail from eight different states, including five from Ohio and two from Florida, plus one each from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Washington, Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota.
THE SHIFT: Notre Dame’s 2002 lineup includes several position switches, with junior Brian Stavisky shifting from RF to LF (flipping with classmate Kris Billmaier) while seniors Paul O’Toole and Andrew Bushey are slated to split time behind the plate (where O’Toole made 128 starts from 1999-2001) and at third base, where Bushey owns 148 career starts … sophomore Javier Sanchez also could develop into a solid backup option at 1B, after playing mostly at 3B and in the middle infield during previous seasons.
ROAD TRIPPERS: Notre Dame is slated to play its first 22 games away from home, in seven different cities: New Orleans, Homestead, Fla., Round Rock and San Antonio, Texas, Storrs, Conn., Morgantown, W.Va., and Washington, D.C. … the Irish then will spend virtually all of April (18 of 22 games) in the friendly confines of Eck Stadium, including the first 14 games of the month (before an April 20-21 series at Seton Hall, plus the April 30 game vs. Michigan in Grand Rapids) … ND’s 12 regular-season games in the month of May will include eight at home, plus a May 11-12 road series vs. Villanova and the May 14 game at Purdue … all told, the Irish will play 26 of their final 34 games at Eck Stadium.
WHO’S BACK, WHO’S GONE?: Notre Dame returned many of the key elements from its landmark 2001 season (49-13-1), including the top five hitters, nine of the top 10 position players and 16 total letterwinners … top losses included starting SS Alec Porzel and the squad’s top starting pitchers, four-year All-American Aaron Heilman and fellow first team all-BIG EAST performer Danny Tamayo … the veteran core includes five senior and two juniors among the top nine returning position players … the ND returning offensive players combined for 91% of the team’s stolen bases in 2001, plus 86% of the walks, 85% of the hits, 82% of the RBI and 81% of the home runs … the returning pitchers totaled 26 of ND’s 49 wins last season while logging 49% of the innings, 30 of 63 starts, 43% of the Ks and all eight saves.
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Eighth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 645-409-1 (.612) record in 19-plus college seasons … in addition to his 313-130-1 (.706) mark at ND, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … his 313 wins rank 3rd all-time at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 27 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball (19 via the draft), with RHP Christian Parker being the first to reach the Majors (as the N.Y. Yankees No. 5 starter, making his debut vs. Toronto on April 6 at Yankees Stadium -with Mainieri and others from ND on hand) … 15 of his players at St. Thomas went on to pro ball, including three – Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier – who have played in the Majors … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to top 500 wins … Demie won 1,018 in 30 years at Miami-Dade North CC.
TOP PROSPECTS: Notre Dame junior LF Brian Stavisky is listed 25th on Baseball America’s annual list of top pro prospects in college baseball … Stavisky is the 8th position player and 2nd OF on the list, behind Stanford’s Jason Cooper (12) … ND was the only school with multiple outfielders on BA’s list of the top 100 college prospects, with senior CF Steve Stanley listed 80th (he’s the 34th position player and 14th OF on the list) … only seven teams had more than two players listed among the top 80 on that list … ND (7) joined Stanford (10) as the schools with the most players among BA’s top-40 prospects by college class: Stanley (9th among seniors), C/3B Paul O’Toole (31st senior), Stavisky (25th junior), 2B Steve Sollmann (37th sophomore), SS Matt Macri (2nd freshman) and freshman RHPs Chris Niesel (11th) and Martin Vergara (15th).
SCORING STREAK: Notre Dame heads to UConn riding the school record for consecutive games with at least one run scored (200) … the Irish scored in the final 58 games of 1999 and in every game of 2000 (64), ’01 (63) and ’02 (15), for a streak that stretches back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 … the previous 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 the 1994 NCAA East Regional at Clemson) … the previous record streak ended vs. another Texas team, 2-0 vs. Texas Pan-American in a seven-inning game on March 10, 1997 (at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … ND has scored in 98.9 pct. of its games in the Mainieri era (439 of 444), with other shutouts 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: 121-games (April 23, 1930-May 26, 1937) and 103-games (May 25, 1907-May 17, 1912).
FALL SIGNEES: 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.
BACK-TO-BACK LOSSES RARE: Prior to the Texas-Pan American and Creighton games at the Express College Classic, Notre Dame had not lost consecutive games at a regular-season tournament since the 1998 season-opening ACC/Disney Blast, when the Irish dropped a 10-8 game to North Carolina State and a 3-1 game vs. Duke (after knocking off Florida State, 10-1, in the opener) … ND played 52 consecutive regular-season tournament games without back-to-back losses (39-12-1 in those games)… the Irish lost consecutive games just one during the entire 2001 season (49-13-1), dropping a DH at Virginia Tech, 2-3 and 8-9 (the Hokies rallied in the late innings for both wins) … ND also lost two straight at the 2002 UNO Classic (7-8 vs. UNO, 2-6 vs. SIU) … the last time the Irish dropped three straight came in the first weekend of the current seniors’ careers, when ND was swept in a three-game series at Florida International on Feb. 19-21, 1999 (1-14, 2-3, 0-12).
TRAVEL: Notre Dame’s schedule regularly takes the baseball team to top-notch facilities and noteworthy cities … in Paul Mainieri’s eight seasons, the Irish have visited: Fullerton and Long Beach, Calif., Seattle, Wash. (Kingdome), San Antonio and Round Rock, Texas, five Florida cities (Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg and Homestead), Atlanta, New Orleans, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Minneapolis, Minn. (Metrodome).
MLB CONNECTIONS: Several Notre Dame graduates currently serve as top executives in Major League Baseball: Oakland A’s president Mike Crowley (’85), Cleveland Indians CEO and president Lawrence Dolan (’54, also ’56 ND Law School grad.), Arizona Diamondbacks GM Joe Garagiola, Jr. (’72), L.A. Dodgers V.P. of External Affairs Tommy Hawkins (’59), Tampa Bay Devil Rays GM John McHale (’71), Tampa Bay owner and CEO Vince Naimoli (’59) and MLB Director of Special Events Brian O’Gara (’89) … Hawkins, a star basketball player for the Irish, played with the NBA’s L.A. Lakers before going into broadcasting.
SPLITTING UP SPRING BREAK: For just the second time in the eight-year Paul Mainieri era, Notre Dame spent several days in multiple cities during its Spring Break trip … ND opened Spring Break in 1996 by playing at the Husky Classic (in the Seattle Kingdome) before flying to San Antonio as the host team for the Irish Baseball Classic … ND played in San Antonio throughout the break in ’95, ’97, ’98 and ’99 before playing at the 2000 Kennel Clubs Classic in Jacksonville, Fla. … the Irish made a short stop in Stockton, Calif., to open the 2001 Spring Break swing (beating UOP and Eastern Michigan) before spending seven days in Fresno at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic … ND now is 30-16 in Texas during the Mainieri era.