April 9, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame baseball team (17-11, 5-5 BIG EAST) resumes its 14-game homestand with a Tuesday-night game vs. Western Michigan on April 9 (6:05 EST) … the Irish have won eight of their last nine games, following a BIG EAST series win over St. John’s (4-1, 3-4, 5-2) … junior LF Brian Stavisky is slated to return to action vs. WMU, after missing nine games due to a facial fracture (he was hit by a pitch early in the March 28 doubleheader at West Virginia) … it would mark just the third game this season that ND’s three preseason All-Americans – Stavisky, Steve Stanley and Steve Sollmann – have started in the same game (the others were the opener vs. Missouri, when Sollmann left with a 4th-inning quad injury, and March 13 vs. Creighton) … the Notre Dame bullpen has yielded just two earned runs in the last 10 games (spanning nearly 32 innings) … three ND pitchers have three wins and four others have two wins – accounting for all 17 of the team’s victories … Stanley’s .447 season batting average includes just three strikeouts in 114 at-bats (Stavisky has just one in 36 ABs).
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 … all remaining ND baseball games in 2002 are slated to air on WDND 1620.
Today’s Probable ND Starting Pitcher
Martin Vergara, Fr., RHP (start vs. Valpo)
(6 GP, 2.87, 2-1, 15.2 IP, 14 H, 19 K/7 BB, .250 opp. avg., 4 WP, 5 HB)
vs. Southern Illinois (2/24, 2-6) loss, 1.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, BB, K, 2 HB
vs. Sacred Heart (3/3, 4-1) 3.2 IP, 3 H, BB, 5 K, WP, HB
vs. USC (3/9, 15-8) win, 3.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 K, HB
vs. Arkansas-Little Rock (3/15, 7-5) 3 R/1 ER, BB, WP, HB
at West Virginia (3/28, 10-6) win, 3.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 3 K, WP
vs. Valparaiso (4/3, 16-0) win, 4.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, BB, 7 K, WP
Situationally: 8-of-18 leadoff batters reached (.444), 0-for-14 opp. batting with 2 outs, .217 with runners on base (5-for-21), 12 groundouts, 13 flyouts
TURNING THE CORNER:
In addition to early-season injury woes, Notre Dame’s 9-9 start also could be traced to other factors, including:
Batting With Runners In Scoring Position
First 18 games .272
Last 10 games .375
Two-Out Batting Average
First 18 games .235
Last 10 games .280
Batting With Bases Loaded
First 18 games .167 (3-for-18)
Last 10 games .412 (8-for-17)
Fielding Percentage (Errors)
First 18 games .964 (40, 2.2/gm)
Last 10 games .974 (9, 0.9/gm)
Opponent Unearned Runs
First 18 games 32 (1.8/gm)
Last 10 games 7 (0.7/gm)
First 18 games 4.42
Last 10 games 0.57 (2 ER, 31.1 IP)
Bullpen Opponent Batting Average
First 18 games .329
Last 10 games .174 (17-for-98)
First-Inning Scoring Margin
First 18 games 2-11
Last 10 games 15-9
First-Inning Batting Average
First 18 games .177
Last 10 games .423
RBI Margin Via Home Runs
First 18 games 18 (on 12 HRs) – 20 (on 8)
Last 10 games 12 (on 5) – 2 (on 1)
Big Innings (5-Plus Runs)
First 18 games 2
Last 10 games 5
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI:
Eighth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 653-414-1 (.612) record in 19-plus college seasons … in addition to his 321-135-1 (.704) 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 321 wins now rank 2nd all-time at ND, behind Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75), with Pat Murphy posting a 318-116-1 record from 1988-94 … 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.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION:
The ND pitching staff once again owns an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.34, 192/82), which would rank 4th in team history … the low walk total (3.08/9 IP) would rank 5th in ND history … ND starting pitchers have posted a 3.02 K-to-walk ratio (139/46) in 2002 starts, led by juniors J.P. Gagne (27/8) and Peter Ogilvie (14/3) and freshmen Chris Niesel (35/10), John Axford (23/12), Grant Johnson (33/12) and Martin Vergara (7/1).
Notre Dame’s six freshman pitchers have combined for a 10-6 record in 30 appearances and 17 starts, plus a 3.64 combined ERA in 136 innings, with 120 strikeouts, just 55 walks and 129 hits allowed.
Several Irish players have recovered from early-season slumps to post solid offensive numbers during the past 13 games, most notably: sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann (.414, 12-for-29, 7 RBI), senior C Paul O’Toole (.396, 19-for-48, 15 RBI), junior RF Kris Billmaier (.372, 16-for-43, 8 RBI) and sophomore 1B Joe Thaman (.293, 12-for-41, 6 RBI) … in the first 15 games, those players’ stats were as follows: Sollmann (.188, 2 RBI), O’Toole (.216, 7 RBI) and Billmaier (.184, 4 RBI) and Thaman (.200, 5 RBI).
Senior CF and national player-of-the-year candidate Steve Stanley already has claimed three ND career records, for consecutive starts (now 216), hits (317) and stolen bases (103) … he also has moved into 3rd on the ND career at-bats list (846), ranks 5th in runs scored (202, ’92 grad. Craig Counsell is 4th with 204) and has pushed his career batting average to .375, which would rank 3rd in ND history.
STREAKS FOR ALL SEASONS:
Stanley opened the season with a 13-game hitting streak (the fifth double-digit hitting streak of his career and second-longest overall) before adding a 10-game hitting streak that ended in his short stint during the nightcap vs. Valparaiso (0-for-2) … Stanley – who closed the 2001 season by batting 14-for-23 in the NCAAs – has 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 .447 season batting average includes 13 walks, five sacrifice bunts and just three strikeouts … he has registered hits in 26 of 28 games in 2002 (33 of the last 35, including the final seven of 2001).
AN SB A DAY:
Stanley has swiped 19-of-23 stolen bases this season, 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 103 career SBs rank first in ND history, besting Sollmann’s record total of 101 (from ’94-’96).
PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN:
Stanley has started all 213 games of his ND career (all in CF) while logging all but 20 innings in CF during his four seasons (he played every inning of 60 straight games, before yielding to George Howard late in the 6th inning of both 7-inning Valparaiso games) … the familiar #2 – who has totaled just seven errors in 494 career fielding chances (.986) – has patrolled CF in 98.92% of the innings (1,826.2 of 1,846.2), 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 nine of 547.2 innings – with Mike Naumann inserted into CF for the final inning vs. Texas-Pan American (14-9) while Cooke played the final two frames in the second 3-0 at Pittsburgh and 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 (becoming the only ND player other than Stanley to play CF at Eck Stadium during the past four seasons, prior to Howard last week).
Several Notre Dame players are approaching (or recently reached) career milestones. Here’s their current stats that are approaching noteworthy milestones:
Senior CF Steve Stanley
202 runs scored
103 stolen bases
Senior 3B Andrew Bushey
99 runs scored
Senior DH Matt Bok
Sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann
Senior C Paul O’Toole
200 games played
48 stolen bases
Junior RF Kris Billmaier