Feb. 23, 2002
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES
University of New Orleans Ron Maestri Classic
vs. New Orleans (Saturday, Feb. 23, 1:00 p.m.)
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 … any baseball games that conflict with ND hockey or women’s basketball broadcasts on WDND 1620 typically will be shifted to WHLY 1580 (including Saturday’s baseball game vs. UNO).
SERIES NOTES: New Orleans owns a 5-4 series edge vs. the Irish, with ND posting two 10-inning wins over the Ron Maestri-led Privateers in 1974 (6-5, 3-2) before dropping a 2-1 game in that Spring Break trip (UNO then was known as Louisiana State University-New Orleans) … ND dropped two of three at UNO in 1996 (8-3, 7-11, 7-12) and lost an 11-inning game at UNO in 1998 (3-4) before beating the Privateers at the 1999 UNO Invitational (14-11) and losing the 2001 opener vs. UNO (6-7, at the Mississippi State Classic) … the Irish own a 3-2 series edge vs. Southern Illinois, including a pair of wins in San Antonio (6-2 in 1996, 4-3 in ’98) and a 15-5 win over SIU at the 1999 UNO Invitational (SIU beat ND twice in 1970 NCAA District Playoffs at Ohio State, 2-10 and 0-1).
UNO OWNS RARE SERIES LEAD VS. ND: New Orleans is one of just 13 current college baseball programs that has played Notre Dame nine-plus times and holds a series lead vs. the Irish (4-5), with the others including Georgia Tech (4-6), Illinois (22-37), Illinois State (8-12), Indiana State (5-7, Miami, Fla. (5-14), Miami, Ohio (1-11), Michigan (40-72), Michigan State (53-72), Ohio (14-16), Oral Roberts (3-9), Tulane (5-9) and Western Michigan (58-63-1).
RECORD BOOK UPDATE: Senior CF Steve Stanley – who is slated to make his 190th consecutive start (all in CF) today – went 2-for-5 in the win over Missouri, bumpting his career batting average to .364 (good for 7th in ND history) while his 268 career hits rank 6th in ND history, just one behind Mike Amrhein (’97) and five back of J.J. Brock (’98) … Stanley’s 180 runs scored are 8th in ND history (three behind 2001 grad. Alec Porzel) while his 86 stolen bases rank 3rd, eight behind Pat Pesavento’s 1986-89 total … senior C Paul O’Toole owns the most stolen bases ever by an Irish catcher (44), good for 7th in ND history and just two behind Eric Danapilis (’93) … O’Toole had six putouts vs. Missouri, making him the 5th ND player ever to surpass 1,000 career putouts (1,003, 5th in ND history and 26 behind 1996 grad. Bob Lisanti).
FRIEND OR FOE?: Today’s game reunites Notre Dame senior DH Ken Meyer (Fort Myers, FL) and three of his former Bishop Verot HS teammates: senior IF J.D. Huether, sophomore SS Chandler Rose and sophomore OF Justin LoFranco.
INJURY UPDATE: Notre Dame freshman SS Matt Macri is out indefinitely with an elbow strain while sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann likely will not play vs. UNO or SIU due to a left quad strain suffered as he ran to first base in the 5th inning of the Missouri game … sophomore Javier Sanchez (2B) and freshman Matt Edwards (SS) are the likely replacements vs. UNO, as the Irish face the rare challenge of playing without both of their starting middle infielders (first team all-BIG EAST shortstop Alec Porzel was the only starting position player lost from the 2001 squad).
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS: Junior RHP, J.P. Gagne (12-6, 4.90 career), is slated to start opposite UNO sophomore LHP Jeff Stander (no decision in 4-1 win over Lamar, 2.2 IP, H, UER, 3 BB, 3 Ks) … RHP Chris Niesel then is scheduled to be the first ND freshman to start on the opening weekend since Christian Parker’s 1995 win vs. Pepperdine at the Anaheim Classic (14-5) … Niesel likely will be opposed by SIU’s Luke Nelson, who had no decision in the 7-6 loss to La.-Monroe (9 H, 6 R/3 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks) … freshman RHP John Axford is expected to relieve Gagne while Niesel will be backed up by classmate Martin Vergara.
QUICK NOTES FROM THE 7-6 WIN OVER MISSOURI
* Johnson Has Impressive Debut – Freshman RHP Grant Johnson logged six strong innings of relief to pick up the win … Johnson registered 15 outs on the final 16 batters he faced, including eight straight batters retired at one point (plus three fielders choice plays in the 5th and a clutch double-play ball to first baseman Joe Thaman in the 9th) … the 6-6, 220-pound rookie did not walk a batter in his 97-pitch outing while four of the six hits he allowed came in his first two innings of work (the 4th and 5th, in relief of junior Peter Ogilvie) … Johnson was tagged for just two runs, with 13 of his 18 outs coming via groundballs (12) or strikeouts (1).
* DHs Deliver – The senior DH randem of Matt Bok and Ken Meyer provided two of the biggest hits in the win over Missouri … Bok started ND’s three-run 5th by taking a 1-2 pitch from freshman RHP Justin James and drilling the second home run of his ND career over the rightfield fence (his only home run of 2001 was ND’s second of the season, vs. Texas-Pan American at the Alamo Invitational (moments after Paul O’Toole had homered) … Meyer then gave ND a 6-5 lead in the 5th with his pinch-hit double to left field, on a 1-2 pitch from senior LHP Aaron Paterson (pushing his career pinch-hitting average to a solid 9-for-30).
* Irish Rally – ND traied 5-1 after four innings before plating three runs in the 5th and two more in the 6th … Missouri then tied the game on Cody Ehler’s solo home run in the bottom of the 6th, with two errors later helping the Irish push across the winning run in the 10th.
* Sanchez Leads Reserves – Sophomore Javier Sanchez had a solid game as ND’s starting shortstop, in place of injured freshman Matt Macri (out indefinitely with an elbow strain) – with shortstop being the only position where the Irish lost a starter (graduated Alec Porzel) from the record-setting 2001 season … preseason All-American Steve Sollmann then missed the final four-and-a half innings, after suffering a leg injury as he ran to first base in the top of the 5th … a pair of freshman helped fill Sollmann’s spot in the lineup, with Geoff Milsom playing at second base in the 5th and 6th innings while the righthanded-hitting Matt Edwards pinch-hit in the top of the 7th before closing the game at shortstop (with Sanchez moving to second) … Edwards played the middle-man in a 3-6-3 double play that sent the game into extra innings … Sanchez made a huge play in the 5th, throwing out Lee Laskowski as he tried to score from 3rd on a groundball to the left side.
* Buch Notches Save – Senior righthander Matt Buchmeier picked up his third career save in the Missouri game, after retiring three of the four batters he faced in the 10th.
* Extra-Inning Streak – Notre Dame pushed its 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, Rutgers and then UCSB in the NCAAs).
* Opener Success – The Irish now have won four of their last five season openers, with the loss coming to UNO last season at Mississippi State (7-6).
RECAPPING THE 2001 ND-UNO GAME: The Privateers held on for a 7-6 win over the Irish at Mississippi State’s Commerce Bank Classic … ND left 13 runners on base but nearly rallied in the bottom of the 9th, plating three runs for the final margin … two ND errors led to three unearned runs and a 3-2 UNO lead in the 5th … LHP Tom Lipari (5.1 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 3 BB) picked up the win while Danny Tamayo (5 IP, 3 R/2 ER, 6 H, 3 Ks) suffered the tough-luck loss … both teams received strong games from their second basemen, as Steve Sollmann had an impressive first game for the Irish (4-for-5, 2 RBI, R, SB) while UNO’s Steve Rowell hit 2-for-5 (2 RBI, R, 2B, SB).
RECAPPING THE 1999 ND-UNO GAME: The Irish plated 12 runs in the first three innings, en route to tying the team record for HRs in a game (7) before posting the 14-11 win (the 500th of Paul Mainieri’s college coaching career) … Jeff Wagner and unheralded Matt Nussbaum both hit two HRs in the game, while current senior 3B Andrew Bushey, Brant Ust and Jeff Felker also left the yard … John Corbin (3.2 IP, R, 4 H, 2 Ks) picked up the win in relief of Tim Kalita, with Aaron Heilman notching the save (2 IP, 8 BF, 2 H, 2 Ks) … LHP Brian Justine suffered the loss (1-plus IP, 8 R, 7 H, 2 WP) … Steve Stanley ended the 0-for-17 start to his ND career by batting 2-for-3 (3RBI, R, 2 SB, 2 SF).
RECAPPING THE 1999 ND-SIU GAME: The Irish posted a 15-5 win, sparked by a seven-run spurt in the 3rd and 4th that yielded a 7-7 tie … LHP Chris McKeown tossed three shutout innings of relief for the win (3 H, 3 Ks) while Jeff Perconte was ND’s hitting leader (4-for-4, 2 RBI, 4 R).
AT PRIVATEER FIELD: Senior CF Steve Stanley has hit 7-for-17 in four career games at UNO (8 RBI, 3 R, 3 SB) while senior C Paul O’Toole hit 4-for-15 in those games and senior 3B Andrew Bushey was 3-for-16.
TOURNAMENT TOUGH – Notre Dame is 55-18-1 (.750) in regular-season tournaments during the Paul Mainieri era (1995- ), including a 1998 win over Florida St., wins in 2000 over Wake Forest, Georgia and Illinois (2) and the 2001 season’s wins over Mississippi State (2), Fresno State and Illinois … the Irish head into today’s UNO game with a record of 20-3-1 in their previous 24 regular-season tournament games, dating back to a 9-7 loss to Minnesota on March 4, 2000 … ND has not had a losing record in its last 11 regular-season tournaments (33-6-1 in those events) – since a 1-2 showing at the ACC Disney Blast early in 1998 … the current 20-3-1 stretch in regular-season tournaments includes wins over Georgia, Illinois (3), Mississippi State (2), Florida Atlantic and Fresno State … ND has played in 21 previous regular-season tournaments during the Mainieri era, posting an even record in 16 of them and splitting its games in two others, with only three losing records (1-2 at the 1995 Anaheim Classic, 0-3 at the 1997 Long Beach State Classic and 1-2 at the 1998 ACC Disney Blast).
FOR OPENERS: Notre Dame now owns an all-time record of 73-33-1 in season openers, including 4-4 in the Paul Mainieri era (with wins in four of the last five).
PAYBACKS: Notre Dame posted a 21-3 record during the 2001 season when facing a team that the Irish had lost to in the previous campaign (2000), with those 2001 payback games coming versus Mississippi State (2-0), Pittsburgh (2-0), Rutgers (4-0), West Virginia (2-0) , Villanova (3-0), St. John’s (3-0), UConn (2-1), BC (2-1) and Wissonsin-Milwaukee (12-4 win in the NCAAs), plus a 7-6 loss to Western Michigan (the only other teams that beat ND in the 46-18 season of 2000 were Ohio State, Minnesota, North Florida and Northwestern) … the Irish will have the chance to avenge 12 of their 13 losses from the record-setting 2001 season, with that first payback chance coming versus the host team at the New Orleans Classic (UNO held off ND, 7-6, at the 2001 Mississippi State Classic) … two teams – Virginia Tech and Florida International – combined to post nearly half (6) of ND’s 2001 losses, with the Irish having a shot at revenge vs. FIU at the Homestead Challenge on March 2 (FIU beat ND in the 2001 NCAAs, 7-6 and 5-4) … Virginia Tech wil visit Eck Stadium for a rare Friday-night doubleheader on April 12 (ND lost a DH last season in Blacksburg, 3-2 and 9-8, while the Hokies posted two wins over the Irish at the 2001 BIG EAST Tournament (4-3, 5-2) … ND also will have the change to avenge its only other two BIG EAST losses of the 2001 season (19-12 vs. UConn, 7-6 at BC) and also will be looking to return the favor vs. Midwestern rivals Ball State (4-3) Valparaiso (4-2) and Western Michigan (7-6) … the only other team that beat ND in 2001 was South Florida.