May 1, 2001
The Notre Dame baseball team (40-6-1, 18-2 BIG EAST)-ranked as high as 1st in the national polls-resumes its rivalry with Michigan at Old Kent Park (just outside of Grand Rapids), with a 7:30 eastern start time on Tuesday, May 1 … the Irish pushed the nation’s longest active winning streak to 16 games last week with a 7-3 win over Valparaiso on April 25 before losing the nightcap, 4-2 … ND then clinched a BIG EAST Tournament spot with a sweep at St. John’s (3-2, 5-0, 7-3) … ND’s 16 consecutive BIG EAST Conference wins are a BIG EAST single-season record (Seton Hall’s vaunted 1989 team won 11 straight) … the previous record for consecutive BIG EAST wins was a two-year, 15-game run by St. John’s in 1990 (5) and ’91 (10).
RADIO COVERAGE – South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM) is scheduled to carry live broadcasts of Notre Dame’s entire 56-game schedule in 2001 (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.
LIVE STATS POSSIBLE – Notre Dame will attempt to provide live in-game stats during the Michigan game (check und.com on gameday).
IRISH CLIMB TO TOP RANKING – The Notre Dame baseball team continued its season-long climb up the national polls by earning a No. 1 ranking in this week’s Collegiate Baseball poll (ND was 2nd last week) while rising from 5th to 2nd in the Baseball America poll and from 6th to 4th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll (see p. 4 for complete polls) … ND joined Stanford (last week’s consensus No. 1) as the only teams currently ranked in the top four of all three polls … each of the rankings is the highest ever for ND in each poll … another Midwest team-Nebraska (35-9)-sits atop the BA poll and narrowly trailed Stanford in the coaches poll (the Huskers lost earlier this week to Creighton) … the baseball team becomes the fourth ND sport to earn a No. national ranking in 2000-01, with the others including the women’s soccer team, the men’s fencing squad and the national championship women’s basketball team.
WIN STREAK HITS 16 – ND last week pushed its winning streak to 16 games-matching the 3rd-longest single-season streak in the program’s history, behind an 18-game run in 1991 and a 17-game winning streak by the 1907 team (as part of a 21-game overall streak from 1906-07) … the 2001 ND squad also became the quickest Irish team ever to reach the 30-win plateau, after opening 30-5-1 (the 1990, ’94, ’99 and 2000 teams all started 30-9) … the longest previous winning streak of the Paul Mainieri era (since 1995) was a 13-game run from April 8-23, 1999 while the 16-game streak matched a late-season run by the 1988 ND team.
AROUND THE BIG EAST – Notre Dame (18-2) now owns a six-game lead in the loss column of the BIG EAST standings, followed by Rutgers (15-8), Seton Hall (12-7-1) and Virginia Tech (13-9-1) … Connecticut (12-11), St. John’s (13-10), West Virginia (9-11) and Boston College (7-11) also remain in the hunt for one of the four BIG EAST Tournament spots … this week’s schedule includes UConn at ND, 10thplace Georgetown at WVU and SHU at BC (RU, SJU and VT have byes).
FIRST THINGS FIRST – ND has clinched a spot in the BIG EAST Tournament and its magic number is now just “1” to clinch the BIG EAST regular-season title (Seton Hall is the only team that still could pass the Irish in the standings).
THE SERIES – Michigan and Notre Dame meet tonight for the 111th time and for the seventh straight season … Michigan leads the all-time series 72-38 but ND has won four of the last seven … the most-common opponents in the 109-year history of the ND baseball program include Northwestern (130 games), Michigan State (125) Wisconsin (119), Purdue (114), Michigan (111), Indiana (99), Western Michigan (99th schedules for tomorrow), Detroit (97), Butler (80) and Valparaiso (82) … ND’s first varsity baseball game was versus Michigan on April 21, 1892 (a 6-4 ND win).
VS. MICHIGAN IN THE MAINIERI ERA: Notre Dame is 4-3 vs. Michigan during the six-plus seasons of the Paul Mainieri era (3-2 at Old Kent Park) … Michigan won an epic game at OKP in 1995 (7-6, in 16 innings) while the Irish posted an 8-3 home win over the Wolverines late in the ?96 season … Michigan won the ?97 game at OKP (5-3), with all of the Wolverines runs coming unearned after ND made three erros in the 7th … ND?s 9-1 win in ?98 featured Tim Kalita?s dominating 7.1 innings (2 H, UER, 3 BB, 5 Ks) … ND pushed across two runs in the 1st and added a pair in the 7th before breaking the game open with a five-run 9th (Aaron Heilman picked up the save, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 Ks) … Allen Greene collected three RBI and scored twice from the Irish leadoff spot … the Irish then won the ’99 game at OKP (14-4, see recap below) before Michigan beat ND in the 1999 NCAAs (11-5), at Eck Stadium … see a recap of the 2000 ND-Michigan game (and series boxscores) at end of this release.
RECAPPING THE 1999 GAME AT OLD KENT PARK: Steve Stanley continued his hot hitting while Scott Cavey tossed six strong innings, as ND coasted to a 14-4 victory over Michigan on April 20, 1999 … Michigan suffered through a sloppy game in the field, committing six errors that led to three unearned runs … lefthander Bryan Cranson had a rocky outing (1.2 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 2 BB, K) … Stanley entered the game on the heels of a 9-for-13 weekend series vs. Boston College and then collected hits in his first four ABs vs. the Wolverines before just missing a five-hit game on a sinking line drive that was nabbed by CF Brian Bush … Cavey (6 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 4 Ks) turned in one of the best efforts of his career, tossing five shutout innings before yielding a two-run home run by Mike Cervenak … Chris McKeown closed the game for his first career save (3 IP, 2 UER, 3 H, 2 Ks) … the Irish put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first, sparked by Stanley’s deep bunt single to the right side and Paul O’Toole’s first pitch double down the rightfield line … Alec Porzel-who matched O’Toole by factoring in five of the Irish runs-then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field and O’Toole scored when Bush’s throw sailed into the Irish thirdbase dugout … ND erupted for six runs in fourth, with O?Toole providing the big hit on a two-run ingle through the right side … ND put the game out of reach with four runs in the eighth.
PUSHING FORTY – Notre Dame has postied its 13th straight season with 40-plus wins, including 48 wins in 1989 and ’92, 46 victories in four seasons (’90, ’93, ’94, ’00), 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95 … ND’s active streak of seasons with 40-plus wins ranks fourth in Division I baseball, trailing three others who have yet to reach 40 wins this season: Florida State (23, currently 35-14), Wichita State (23, 34-20) and Clemson (15, 31-17).
PAYBACK PLAN – Notre Dame’s Aaron Heilman owns a 9-1 career record when facing a team that beat him earlier in his career, with the lone loss coming to Rutgers late in the 2000 season (16-6, after losing 7-6 in 10 inn. to RU at the 1998 BIG EAST Tournament) … Heilman then avenged that second loss to the Knights this season, by registering a 10-2 win at RU on April 7 … since losing an 11-9, 10-inn. game to West Virginia on May 2, 1998, Heilman has posted a 5-0 record vs. WVU in his last six apperances-with two relief wins and three complete-game wins (highlighted by an 18-K performance in 2000) … Heilman also beat St. John’s last season (8-3, his first decision vs. SJU since a 6-5 loss in ’98) and beat the Red Storm again last week (3-2) … he also avenged his 1999 loss to Boston College (10-7) by beating the Eagles in 2000 (10-6) … he has pitched 14 previous games vs. teams that owned a rare win vs. the Irish ace, with the following stats in those games: 9-1, 2.68 ERA, 63.2 IP, 50 hits allowed (7.07/9 IP), 17 walks (2.40/9 IP), 79 Ks (11174/9 IP) and a 4.6 K-to-walk ratio … Heilman is 17-2 in his career vs. non-BIG EAST teams (both losses came in first outings of a season) but he has not had the chance to avenge his 1999 loss to Florida International or his 2000 loss to Ohio State (although both FIU and OSU are 2001 NCAA tournament hopefuls).
BYOB(rooms)?: – Notre Dame has seen firsthand how challenging it can be to sweep a three-game series on the road in BIG EAST play-despite being the league’s winningest team since 1996 (96-31, .756) … during their first five seasons in the league, ND managed to sweep just two of 10 three-game series at opposing BIG EAST stadiums: at BC in ’98 and at Georgetown in ’99 … the brooms were dusted off earlier this season when ND became the first BIG EAST team ever to sweep a three-game series at Rutgers (10-2, 8-2 and 5-4 in 11 inn.) before doing it again at St. John’s last week (3-2, 5-0, 7-3) … ND’s other three-game BIG EAST road series have included: at GU in ’96 (2-1), at Seton Hall in ’97 (0-3), at RU in ’97 (2-1), at SHU in ’98 (2-1), at SJU in ’99 (1-2), at 2000 series at Villanova, UConn and West Virginia (all 2-1) … the Irish never played a three-game series at Providence and have yet to do so at Pittsburgh … ND’s all-time road record in three-game BIG EAST series is 22-11.
SO MANY STRONG STARTS – Sophomore RHPs Peter Ogilvie (1.20, 3-1 in five starts) will be looking to extend the impressive performances by ND starting pitchers in 2001, as the Irish starters have combined for a sparkling 1.91 ERA through the first 47 games … the bulk of those starts (20) have come from the lethal combination of senior RHPs Aaron Heilman (1.43, 8th in the nation) and Danny Tamayo (1.42, 7th) while sophomore RHP J.P. Gagne (3.40, 2.64 as starter) has turned in solid efforts in each of his seven starts … junior RHP Matt Buchmeier (3.81) logged five decent starts during the first half of the season while sophomore RHP Ryan Kalita (1.13, 2-0 in two starts) has turned in a pair of solid midweek starts … senior LHP Mike Naumann recently jumped into the act with two quality starts (0.60, 2-0) … the other combined stats for ND starting pitchers in 2001 include a 33-3 record in 306 IP (65 earned runs), with 246 Ks, 63 walks and 207 hits allowed (for 9-inning averages of 7.2 Ks, 1.9 BBs and 6.1 hits) … ND’s overall 2.51 team ERA includes a 4.28 by the bullpen-led by sophomore RHP Matt Laird (1.59, 3-0, 4 SV).
THE SKIPPER: Seventh-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 627-396-1 (.613) record in 18-plus college seasons … in addition to his 295-117-1 (.716) 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 295 wins rank 3rd all-time at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 24 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball (16 via the draft), with RHP Christian Parker being the first to reach the Majors (he earned a spot as the N.Y. Yankees No. 5 starter and made his debut vs. Toronto on April 6 at Yankees Stadium-with Mainieri and others from ND watching on) … 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 major leagues … 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.
MAINIERI’S MILESTONES – Mainieri reached the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) before reaching his 600th win this season in memorable fashion: on St. Patrick’s Day in the 7-6 win over Portland in the title game of the Fresno State Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic (the Irish wore special green jerseys) … Mainieri experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return with the Irish to the UNO (where he played) and his third return as the ND coach to his hometown of Miami … Mainieri coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20, 1998, at the University of Miami, after a Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out … he notched his 499th career win in the ’99 season opener vs. James Madison, in Miami at Fla. International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at ND in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999, and his 1,000th on March 29 vs. Hillsdale College.
ANOTHER WINNING SEASON – ND needed just 36 games (30-5-1) to clinch the 78th winning season in the baseball program’s 109-year history, including 14 straight (the 1987 team went 15-29).
PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN – Junior Steve Stanley has started all 172 games of his ND career (all in center field) while logging all but 14 innings in CF during his three seasons … in fact, during the 1999-2001 seasons, the familiar #2 has patrolled center field for the Irish in 99.0 percent of the innings (1,409 of 1,423)-including all but two out of 513.2 during his freshman season (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 center field-before being replaced by current senior Ben Cooke for the final five innings of the 8-1 NCAA Tournament loss at Mississippi State (the Irish fell into an early 7-0 hole and Stanley reluctantly left the game due to illness) … this season, he has patrolled center in all but six of 360.1 innings-with Mike Naumann inserted into CF for the final inning vs. Texas-Pan American (a 14-9 win) while John Heintz played the position for the final four innings vs. Hillsdale (a 9-2 win) and for the final two innings of the 15-3 win over Seton Hall … Naumann-who had plenty of OF experience as a prep-turned in a play during that brief stint vs. UTPA that Stanley would be proud of, sprinting to the warning track and crashing into the wall while holding on to a flyout off the bat of Caleb Schmidt (who homered earlier in the game) … here’s a breakdown of Stanley’s innings played in center field:
1999: 511.2 of 513.2 (final 267.2)
2000: 539 of 544 (497 consec. to start)
2001: 367.1 of 385.1
Total: 1,434 of 1,448 (99.03 percent)
THE IRON MEN – By starting each of ND’s final eight regular-season games, Steve Stanley would move past former teammate Brant Ust (1997-99) for second place on the ND all-time list for consecutive starts (179) … Ust’s three-year career saw him split starts at 3B, 2B and SS in ’97 before playing primarily 3B in ’98 and SS in ’99 … the Irish record for consecutive starts is held by another former SS, as Pat Pesavento started 204 consecutive games during the 1986-89 seasons (starting with the final 31 games of ’86) … based on research recently conducted by the Arkansas-Little Rock sports information office, Pesavento’s streak would rank as one of the longest in Division I history.
EASY AS 1-2-3: ND’s starting rotation of senior RHPs Aaron Heilman (6-0, T-1st), Danny Tamayo (5-0) and J.P. Gagne (5-1) are three of four BIG EAST pitchers who have won five or six league games this season … more impressively, Tamayo (2nd, 0.94), Heilman (3rd, 1.22) and Gagne (5th, 2.19) rank among the BIG EAST leaders for ERA in conference games … Rutgers is the only school with multiple players on that top-10 league ERA list.
KEEP ON CRANKING – Freshman 2B Steve Sollmann has seen his season average dip to .392 but he is very familiar with the last Irish player to hit .400-plus, as his brother Scott hit .402 in ’94 and .405 in ’95 … Sollmann’s 1-for-5 effort vs. Central Michigan dropped his average under .400 for the first time since March 14-when a 2-for-4 game at Fresno State had raised his average from .372 to .381 … the next day, he batted 3-for-4 and jumped to .412 … Sollmann’s highest season avg. (at the end of a game) was .444 on April 17, after batting 3-for-4 in the first win at Rutgers (he then batted .265, or 9-for-34, after hitting that high-water mark) … the Irish record for batting average by a freshman is .429, posted by future All-American Eric Danapilis in 1990.
IN LIKE A LION – Junior C Paul O’Toole has a jumpstart on his usual hot-hitting month of May, as his .407 batting average during the current 19-1 run (since April 4) leads the team … O’Toole also owns impressive batting averages during that 20-game span with runners on base (.394) and in scoring position (.444, 7-for-18) … O’Toole’s strong showings in May the past two seasons were capped by his selection to the NCAA all-regional team in 1999 and again in 2000 … his combined stats during the month of May for 1999 and 2000 were as follows: .378 batting avg .in 29 games (45-for-119), with a .740 slugging pct. (9 HR, 3 3B, 10 2B), 33 RBI, 34 R, 7-10 SB, 7 BB and 9 Ks (matching his HR total).
+30 … AND BEYOND – The Irish are 30-plus games over .500 (now +34) for the fourth season in ND history (first ever prior to May) … the 1989 ND team was the first to do it, after winning five straight games to claim the MCC title and push its record to 47-17-1 (on May 20) … the 1990 Irish followed suit by swelling to a 40-10 record on May 6th (with a 14-4 win over Xavier) before topping out at 35 games over .500 in the MCC Tournament (45-10 and then 46-11) … finally, the 1992 Irish pushed their record to 43-13 with a 10-1 win over Dayton in the MCCs and surged as high as 34 games over .500 (48-14) thanks to wins in the NCAAs over Miami, Delaware and South Carolina.
JUNIOR JUMP – One of the hidden keys to ND’s success in 2001 has been the play of junior 3B Andrew Bushey, who has provided solid offense batting mostly in the No. 7 hole (he is 4th on the team with a .351 batting avg., plus 12 doubles, 3 triples and a .477 slugging pct.) … Bushey’s batting avg. is up 80 points from his combined avg. in 1999 and 2000 (.271) while his slugging is up 96 points (.381 first two seasons) … his 3 triples are more than the previous 2 seasons combined (2) while he hit just 18 combined doubles in 1999 and 2000 … his .443 BIG EAST average leads the conference.
THE MASK FACTOR? – Andrew Bushey’s sudden jump in batting average brings back memories of another recent Irish player-Mike Amrhein (1994-97)-who made the switch to catcher prior to making big strides at the plate (Bushey began training as classmate Paul O’Toole’s backup last fall and has made nine starts behind the plate this season) … Amrhein-who credited his experience as a catcher with improving his abilities to see the ball as a hitter and understand the strategy of opposing pitchers-was a 99th-round draft choice of the New York Yankees before returning to Notre Dame for his senior season in 1997 … after playing mostly OF and 3B in his first three seasons, Amrhein split catching duties with Jeff Wagner in ’97 and responded with a monster season that included a 21-game hitting streak … Amrhein entered that season with a .346 career batting avg. but hit nearly 50 points higher than that in ’97 (.394) while amassing 91 hits, 14 home runs, three triples, 13 doubles, 71 RBI, 33 walks and just 17 Ks (nearly matching his HR total) … Amrhein’s big final season prompted the Chicago Cubs to select him in the 10th round of the ’97 draft (only three ND seniors ever have been drafted higher) and he is in the midst of his 5th season within the Cubs organization (he was a non-roster invitee at Cubs spring training each of the past two seasons and currently is playing with the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx in the double-A Southern League).
MORE HITS, MORE Ks – Andrew Bushey nearly has matched his 2000 hit total (58, with 53 this season) but his improved batting avg. has included a surprising rise in his strikeout total, as Bushey K’d just 12 times as a sophomore but already has 19 strikeouts in 2001 (his on-base pct. has jumped from .352 in 2000 to .396 this season).
BAKER’S DOZEN?: – Notre Dame just ended a 13-game homestand that originally was slated to include 13 games before the April 17 game with Purdue was cancelled (it became 13 again when ND and Valparaiso switched to a doubleheader) … the Irish enjoyed 19 straight days without a road trip and played at home on consecutive weekends for the first time all season … the first six weekends of ND’s 2001 season-and seven of the first eight-were spent on the road, traversing some 14,000 miles with destinations in seven widespread states (Mississippi, Texas, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey).
BIG EAST BOOST – ND owns a .332 team batting average in BIG EAST games (.321 overall, up 24 points from 2000) and is averaging 9.0 runs per inning in conference games (155 in 156 inn.).
COULD IT BE BETTER? – ND took over the national ERA lead despite not having the services of two members of its 5-man rotation-junior RHP Matt Buchmeier (1-0, SV, 5 GS, 3.09) and sophomore RHP Peter Ogilvie (3-1, 5 GS, 1.20)-during the past 2-3 weeks … both were out with sore shoulders but Buchmeier returned to pitch one inning vs. Central Michigan and another vs. Villanova (his first action since starting the second game at Virginia Tech on March 25) before logging 4 IP to save the 5-2 win over Bowling Green and the 8-3 game at St. John’s … Ogilvie returned to post the 7-3 win over Valparaiso-his first outing since being the hard-luck loss vs. Ball State on April 3.
EXPLOSION – The 15-4, 17-10 wins over Georgetown represented ND’s most combined runs (32) ever in a BIG EAST doubleheader … it also marked the first time that the Irish had reached 15 runs in consecutive games since the 1993 postseason, when ND beat Evansville 22-5 in the title game of the MCC Tournament before downing Mississippi State 15-1 in the NCAA East Regional (at Florida State).
NEARLY UNSINKABLE – Sophomore closer Matt Laird saw his 15-inning, 10-game shutout streak end when he gave two runs in the 7th and final inning of the loss to Valparaiso (4-2) … Navy is the only other team to score vs. Laird this season (2), with his ERA at 1.59 in 16 appearances and 22.2 IP (21 Ks, 9 BB) … one of Laird’s recent outings was over in seven pitches, with two Ks and a 1st-pitch flyout to set up ND’s rally vs. Central Michigan in the bottom of the 9th.
CUTTING THE Ks – Sophomore RF Brian Stavisky continues to made strides as an all-around offensive force, as the dangerous power hitter has struck out just 15 times in 175 plate appearances (11.67 PAs per K)-a considerable improvement from his 2000 average of 6.95 … Stavisky’s strikeout numbers are more impressive within BIG EAST play, as he has K’d just five times in 81 BIG EAST plate appearances (16.2 PAs/K) … he heads into the Michigangame with just one K in the last 16 games while owning the same number of home runs (3) as Ks during ND’s current 24-2 run.
NICE ROUND NUMBERS: With two regular-season starts (plus postseason) left in his All-America career, Aaron Heilman stands just one victory and 10 strikeouts shy of reaching a pair of significant miletones: 40 wins and 400 strikeouts … a preliminary survey by the BIG EAST Conference Office has revealed that just a handful of previous Division I baseball players have reached 40 wins and 400 Ks … one of the more noteworthy is former Auburn workhorse John Powell, who posted a 43-20 career record while totaling 602 Ks in 477 IP from 1990-94 … others include Richard Wortham (Texas, 1973-76, 50 wins, 481 Ks, John Hoover (Fresno State, ’81-’84, 44 wins, 411Ks), Greg Swindell (Texas, ’84-’86, 43 wins, 501Ks), Brian Barris (Clemson, ’86-’89, 44 wins, 513 Ks), Kirk Dressendorfer (Texas, ’88-’90, 45 wins, 462 Ks) and Doug Creek (Georgia Tech, ’88-’91, 41 wins, 458 Ks).
DOUBLE-DIGITS CUBED: Heilman is the first ND pitched ever to post double-digit victory totals in three seasons, going 11-2 in 1999, 10-2 in 2000 and currently 11-0 in 2001 … Tom Price (12-2 in ’93, 14-5 in ’94) is the only other ND pitcher to reach 10-plus wins in multiple seasons … Heilman needs one more win to join Price as the only Irish hurlers ever to reach 12 victories in a single season.
GO THE DISTANCE: Heilman has turned in seven straight complete games: 9 innings vs. Illinois and Pittsburgh before closing out 7-inning games vs. SHU, Rutgers, WVU, Villanova and St. John’s … he opened the season on a shorter pitch count vs. Mississippi St. and Texas-San Antonio (6 IP vs. each) but essentially has pitched one inning under the maximum (71) during the course of the last nine games (with 9 IP vs. FAU , 8 at UOP) … Heilman is one CG shy of becoming just the 6th ND pitcher-and 4th since 1910-to post nine or more complete games in one season … his owns 22 complete games in his career-good for 3rd in the ND record book behind Tom Price (24, ’91-’94) and Norwood Gibson (28, 1896-1900).
OWNER OF THE BE RECORD BOOK: Heilman’s 10-2 win at Rutgers on April 7 ended his personal struggles vs. the Knights (his two previous outings vs. RU yielded two losses, a 7.56 ERA and 11 hits allowed in 8.1 IP) while also pushing his career record in BIG EAST regular-season games to 18-4 (now 21-4)-besting the record held by former Providence hurler Todd Incantalupo (’95-’97, 17-4) … Heilman had six Ks in that RU game and-after adding his first two of five the next week vs. West Virginia-became the BIG EAST all-time leader for Ks in BE games … the previous record was held by former Seton Hall ace and current Florida Marlin Jason Grilli (164 Ks in 143.2 IP, ’95-’97) … Heilman’s record K total now stands at 184 (in 174 IP) … Heilman also now owns the BIG EAST record for career complete games (16, besting Incantalupo’s 15) while his 2.50 career ERA in BIG EAST games ranks 5th among pitchers with 70-plus innings (he has 169.1) … his ERA is 2nd-best among that group since 1990 and is tops since current major leaguer C.J. Nitkowski posted a 1.93 in 102.2 IP with St. John’s in 1993 and ’94 (Heilman’s career ERA is best among any BIG EAST pitcher with more than 105 career IP).
THERE’S MORE: Heilman’s current 1.23 ERA in BIG EAST games (and terammate Danny Tamayo’s 1.23) puts them in the running to best the BIG EAST record currently held by former Seton Hall pitcher Kevin Morton, who posted an 0.92 in 49 IP during the 1989 season … Heilman (6 CGs) also could surpass the BIG EAST record for complete games in a season (7), shared by three former BE hurlers … finally, by winning his final two BIG EAST starts, Heilman would tie the league record for wins in season (Chris Enochs won eight BIG EAST games for West Virginia in 1997 and Marc DesRoches did it for Providence in ’99).
#22 BY THE NUMBERS: Aaron Heilman’s previous 39 college starts have yielded 31 wins, four losses and a 2.83 ERA-plus 9-inning averages as a started of 9.3 Ks, 2.6 BBs and 7.2 hits allowed … Heilman’s average start has lasted 7.2 innings, including 13 seven-inning complete games (35 of his 39 starts have gone at least six innings) … he has allowed more than four earned runs as a starter just six times while allowing more than eight hits in just five of his starts … Heilman has walked more than four batters in just five of his starts while posting 8-plus Ks in 20 of his starts.
SHUTOUT CITY: Heilman’s pair of 3-0 shutouts this season (vs. FAU and Pitt) and his 6-0 blanking of Seton Hall give him six shutouts for his career, becoming just the 5th ND pitcher ever to post six-plus shutouts while joining current Toronto Blue Jays starter Chris Michalak (7, ’90-’93) as the only Irish pitchers in 87 years that have reached a half-dozen shutouts … Herb Kelly shut out six opponents from 1912-14 while Michalak currently shares the record of seven shutouts with former teammates Jean Dubuc (1907-08) and Frank “Dreams” Scanlan (’07-’09) … Heilman’s other career shutouts came in back-to-back years vs. Villanova, at Richie Ashburn Park in downtown Philadelphia (4-0 in ’99 and 2000), plus a 7-0 home win over Pittsburgh in 2000 … he also tossed the final five innings for a shared shutout in the near no-hitter vs. the Miami Hurricanes on May 12, 1999, at Eck Stadium (1-0) … Heilman became the 9th ND pitcher ever to post three-plus shutouts in one season (Danny Tamayo beceame the 10th last week at SJU) and the first to do so since Michalak also had three in 1992 … Billy Burke (5, 1909) has held the ND single-season shutout record for 92 years while Dubuc (4, 1908) has been firmly entrenched in the 2nd spot on that record-book entry.
KING K: When Aaron Heilman left the mound at Dudy Noble Field at the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional, his 314 career strikeouts left him one shy of tying the ND record (315), set by David Sinnes (’93) … Heilman returned to Dudy Noble in the first week of 2001 and claimed the record with a 6-K outing vs. host Mississippi St. (he now has 390 Ks in 361.2 IP) … Heilman also owns the top season K totals in ND history, posting 118 in both 1999 and 2000.
BIG-TIME RATIO: Heilman’s 2001 stats include a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 4-to-1 (76/19), with his career ratio at 3.75-to-1 (390/104).
BORN WINNER: Heilman (39-7) ranks as ND’s winningest pitcher in 77 years, as his .848 career winning pct. stands 4th in the Irish record book and best since Hugh Mageveney’s 18-3 record (.857) from ’22-’24 … among pitchers with at least 25 decisions, Heilman is the winningest hurler in ND history … Heilman’s win in the opening week over Mississippi St. moved him out of a tie on the winning pct. list with ’93 graduate David Sinnes (32-8) and ’94 grad. Tom Price (40-10) … he has won 21 of his last 22 decisions, with the lone loss coming to BIG EAST rival Rutgers (10-2) on May 13, 2000.
A LOOK BACK: Heilman’s 2000 season included a 10-2 record, 3.21 ERA, 118 Ks and 29 walks in 103.2 IP … the 6-5, 225-pound righthander is one of just four Baseball America 2001 preseason All-Americans (among 15 spread across three teams) who posted 10-plus wins, 100-plus Ks and an ERA of 3.30 or lower in 2000 … the others: Stetson’s Lenny DiNardo, South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight (2nd team) and Rice’s Kenny Baugh (3rd team).
WHO’S THE BEST?: ND’s Aaron Heilman joined Middle Tennessee St. junior RHP Dewon Brazleton and Stetson senior LHP Lenny Dinardo as the only 2001 pitchers tabbed preseason first team All-America by both Baseball American and Collegiate Baseball … Heilman and DiNardo were teammates on the 1999 USA Baseball national team.
TOP TOOLS: Baseball America’s annual college preview edition cited Aaron Heilman for having college baseball’s “best pure slider” and listed him as one of three pitchers in college baseball with the “best command” of his pitches (the others: South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight, Rice’s Kenny Baugh).
FOUR-TIME ALL-AMERICANS: Heilman is well on his way to posting the fourth All-America season of his career, which would place him among an elite group of ND student-athletes (he already is the first Irish baseball player to be a three-year All-American) … just 16 previous ND student-athletes have been four-year All-Americans, with four coming from team-oriented sports: men’s basketball’s Kevin O’Shea (’50) and women’s soccer’s Holly Manthei (’98), Jen Grubb (’99) and Anne Makinen (’00) … others include cross country’s Oliver Hunter (’43) and Mike McWilliams (’93), plus men’s fencers Mike Sullivan (’79), Charles Higgs-Coulthard (’87), Yehuda Kovacs (’89), Leszek Nowosielski (’91), Jeremy Siek (’97) and Luke LaValle (’99) and women’s fencers Molly Sullivan (’88), Myriah Brown (’99), Sarah Walsh (’99) and Magda Krol (’97-’00).