May 16, 2001
The Notre Dame baseball team (45-9-1, 20-3 BIG EAST)-ranked as high as 3rd in the national polls-heads into the postseason looking for its first BIG EAST Tournament championship … the Irish ran away with the BIG EAST regular season title (ND also won in ’99 and had the league’s best overall winning pct. in ’97, winning the western division) … ND saw its record-setting, 18-game BIG EAST winning streak end in the recent UConn series before winning two of three last week at BC (8-2, 8-4, 6-7) … the Irish have bested the ND record for regular-season wins (44, in ’90) … the UConn game marked just the second time this season that ND has lost by more than two runs (also 6-1 to South Florida, in game that was 1-1 in the 8th) … ND has dropped to 4th in the nation with a 3.02 team ERA (Rice leads at 2.80) … four ND players have been named to the Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-District V team (see p. 5) and now advance to the national Academic All-American ballot (that team will be announced in mid-June): senior LHP Mike Naumann, junior 3B Andrew Bushey, sophomore RF Brian Stavisky and sophomore RHP Matt Laird (ND is the only school with multiple players on the 11-player all-district team) … seventh-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri reached his 300th win at Notre Dame last weekend at Boston College.
RADIO COVERAGE – South Bend’s WJVA radio (1580 AM) carries 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 (the BIG EAST also may provide real-time stats-check bigeast.org or und.com on gamedays).
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE – ND will play fourth-seeded Virginia Tech (14-11-1) in Thursday’s early game at Commerce Bank Park in Bridgewater, N.J. (3:30 eastern), followed by the game between Rutgers (18-8) and Seton Hall (14-11-1) … the losers of those game’s then will meet in Friday’s elimination game (noon) and the winner’s will meet at 3:30 on Friday, followed by another elimination game on Friday night at 7:00 … Saturday’s championship game is slated for 3:30 p.m. (a second game will follow, if necessary in the double-elimination format) … the winner of the tournament receives an automatic NCAA bid.
ND SELECTED AS REGIONAL SITE – Notre Dame has been selected as one of 16 regional sites for the 55th annual NCAA Baseball Championship and will play host to the four-team, double-elimination regional at Frank Eck Stadium from May 25-27, with two games on Friday, three on Saturday and one or two on Sunday (game times are to be announced … the entire 64-team tournament field and pairings will be announced live on ESPN, on Monday, May 21, at 2:00 p.m. EST … the winner of the South Bend regional will advance to the super regional round, which will feature eight best-of-three series on June 1-3 … the eight Super Regional winners then will advance to the College World Series, to be held June 8-16 in Omaha, Neb. … ND-which also hosted an NCAA regional in ’99-is one of 11 schools to be a multiple host during the past three years … ND previously played host to NCAA Tournament games in ’49 and ’59, prior to the current regional format (which began in 1975) … tickets may be ordered by calling (219) 631-7356.
REPEAT CUSTOMERS – Notre Dame and Rutgers-which joined the BIG EAST beginning with the 1996 season (as did West Virignia)-have tied a BIG EAST record by each advancing to their sixth straight BIG EAST Baseball Tournament (1996-2001) … in 2000, ND and RU became the first to make five straight BETs since Villanova qualified every season from ’87-’91 … the only other team to qualify for five-plus years in a row was the 1985-90 Seton Hall squads … the three teams that joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96 have made a big impact on the baseball championship, as ND, RU and WVU have combined to make 16 appearances in the conference tournament during the past six years.
BIG BUGABOO – Despite repeated success during the BIG EAST regular season, the ND baseball team has yet to solve the BIG EAST Tournament … ND’s first three trips to the tournament each resulted in the Irish being beaten twice by the same team (West Virginia in ’96, Villanova in ’97, Rutgers in ’98) … ND then opened the ’99 tournament with a win over WVU before dropping games to Seton Hall and Providence-and the same team (Boston College) handed ND both of its losses at the 2000 BET.
(Check back Thursday for full release)