Feb. 15, 2001

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THE RETURN TRIP: After winning over literally thousands of local fans at the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional, the 12th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team is set to begin its 2001 season on the same field where it ended the previous campaign-by competing in the National Bank of Commerce Classic at Mississippi State’s Dudy-Noble Field … Notre Dame is slated to arrive in Starkville late Friday night before playing a pair of games on Saturday versus defending Sun Belt Conference champion New Orleans (10:00 a.m. central) and host Mississippi State (1:00 p.m.) … the Irish and Bulldogs then will meet again on Sunday, also at 1:00 … this weekend’s action will mark the first time in the 109-year history of Notre Dame baseball that the team has opened a season by travelling to a field where it ended the previous year.

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.

IN THE POLLS: Notre Dame holds similar standing in all three national polls, checking in at 12th according to Baseball America, 14th in the Collegiate Baseball poll and 13th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll … the Irish were ranked ninth in BA’s preseason poll while maintaining their preseason rankings in the other two polls.

RUN-OF-THE-MILL: Notre Dame’s participation in the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional included: two late-inning comeback wins for the Irish over Tulane (8-4, 10-6), a tornado-induced delay that lasted 2:19 and pushed the second win over Tulane past midnight, a stunning three-hit shutout by little-used junior RHP Danny Tamayo (who was completing a season-long comeback from “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery), as Tamayo shocked the host Bulldogs in ND’s 7-0 win, and a classic championship game followed by a classic postgame scene (the Irish tied the game four times but lost 10-9 on a ninth-inning home run, with the Dudy-Noble fans flocking to hug and thank the Notre Dame players for their inspiring effort during the three-day “whirlwind”).

THE FIELD: Notre Dame returns the bulk of its lineup from the 2000 team that posted a 46-18 final record … nine of ND’s top-10 batters are back, as are the top-six ERA leaders from 2000 … the returning Irish pitchers accounted for 35 wins in 2000 while helping the Irish finish 16th in the nation with a 3.93 season ERA … New Orleans faces a sizable rebuilding project after losing 16 of 25 letterwinners from its 2000 team that won the Sun Belt Conference title, advanced to the NCAAs and finished 38-25 overall … Mississippi State welcomes back 17 of 29 letterwinners from its 2000 team that were 41-20 overall and finished second in the Southeastern Conference western division (17-10) … for more on the Irish opponents, consult their websites at www.unoprivateers.com and www.mstateathletics.com.

ND IN MS: The Notre Dame baseball team has played 17 all-time games vs. teams from Mississippi (4-12-1): 1-6-1 vs. Delta State, 1-4 vs. Mississippi and 2-2 vs. MSU … the 2000 Starkville Regional marked ND’s first visit to Mississippi in 19 years, as the prior two games versus MS teams were on neutral fields: the ’93 NCAA win over MSU at FSU (15-1) and an 11-5 loss to Mississippi at the ’97 Long Beach State Classic … ND’s first game in Mississippi was April 4, 1953, a 6-5 win over Ol’ Miss (in Oxford) … the Irish played an early-season game at the Univ. of Mississippi in ’59 (losing 3-2) and did not return to the state until a split of early-April games at Delta State in ’72 … ND then dropped three games at Delta State (located in Cleveland, Miss.), in both the ’77 and ’81 seasons, with the latter followed by a pair of ’81 games vs. Mississippi in Oxford (11-5, 7-5 losses).

Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup (* – lefthanded hitter, # – switch hitter)

Pos. … Player … Yr. … Ht./Wt. … Hometown … 2000 Stats … Notes

DH … Ken Meyer …Jr. …6-0/210 …Fort Myers, FL ….326 (45-for-138), 20 RBI, 32 R, 3 HR, 5 3B, 13 2B, 5 BB, 23 K …Hit .478 in 2000 BIG EAST games

CF …*Steve Stanley …Jr. …5-7/150 …Upper Arlington, OH ….362, 24 RBI, 51 R, 2 3B, 10 2B, 34 BB, 19 K, 29-40 SB, 13 SAC …Started all 125 games last two seasons

SS …Alec Porzel …Sr. …6-0/195…Lisle, IL ….342, 58 RBI, 44 R, 9 HR, 4 3B, 24 2B, 18 BB, 23 K, 10-16 SB, 8 SF …Preseason BIG EAST Player of Year (CB)

RF …*Brian Stavisky …So. …6-3/220 …Port Allegany, PA ….298, 45 RBI, 50 R, 14 HR, 5 3B, 15 2B, 18 BB, 39 K, 5-10 SB …MVP of 2000 Cape Cod All-Star Game

C …*Paul O’Toole …Jr. …6-2/215 …Lakewood, OH ….302, 39 RBI, 49 R, 8 HR, 3B, 10 2B, 20 BB, 28 K, 16-17 SB, 3 SF …5-for-10 vs. MSU in 2000 NCAAs

LF …Kris Billmaier …So. …5-9/195 …Woodinville, WA ….354 (29-for-82), 19 RBI, 18 R, 4 HR, 3 2B, 8 BB, 10 K, 0-2 SB …Team-best 8-for-19 (.421) at 2000 NCAAs

3B …*Andrew Bushey …Jr. …5-10/190 …Boardman, OH ….275, 30 RBI, 27 R, 3 HR, 3B, 10 2B, 24 BB, 12 K, 3-5 SB, 5 SF …Team-best 18.9 plate app. per K in 2000

1B …*Joe Thaman …Fr. …6-4/205 …St. Louis, MO …Latest in line of strong defensive 1B at ND

2B …Scott Sollmann …Fr. …5-10/180 …Cincinnati, OH …Brother of former Irish OF Scott Sollmann


DH/LF …#Matt Bok …Jr. …5-10/190 …Akron, Ohio ….259 (22-for-85), 14 RBI, 20 R, 4 2B, 12 BB, 15 K, 1-2 SB, SAC, SF …Hitting .348 w/ runners in scor. pos. (2000)

3B …Javier Sanchez …Fr. …6-2/190 …Miami, FL …(Christopher Columbus HS) …Attended same HS as Paul Mainieri

OF/1B …Matt Strickroth …Jr. …6-5/230 …Mission Viejo, CA ….286 (20-for-70), 14 RBI,18 R, HR, 6 2B, 5 BB, 13 K, 2-2 SB …Tm-best .435 w/ RBI opp’s (2000)

UTIL …#Ben Cooke …Sr. …5-9/175 …Bay Village, OH ….224 (11-for-49), 5 RBI, 15 R, 2 2B, 3 BB, 13 K, 2-6 SB, 3 SAC …Two 1Bs, 2 R in 2000 win over Georgia

1B …Mike Holba …So. …6-7/225 …Lansing, IL …2-for-4, R, HP, 2 Ks

C …Soran Leahy …Fr. …6-1/180 …Buffalo Grove, IL

Probable STARTING ROTATION (Tamayo vs. UNO, rest is TBA)

RHP …Danny Tamayo …Sr. …6-1/240 …Miami, FL …3.62, 3-1, 10 GP/5 GS, 32.1 IP, 24 K/17 BB, .238 opp. avg. …3-hit shutout vs. MSU in 2000 NCAAs

RHP …Aaron Heilman …Sr. …6-5/225 …Logansport, IN …3.21, 10-2, 17 GP/14 GS, 8 CG, 103.2 IP, 118 K/29 BB, .234 opp. avg. …Needs two Ks for ND career record

RHP …Matt Buchmeier …Jr. …6-0/190 …Greenwood, IN …3.88, 4-2, 20 GP/2 GS, 53.1 IP, 38 K/16 BB, .260 opp. avg. …Team-best .190 opp. avg. w/ runners on

RHP …J.P. Gagne …So. …6-0/200vBloomington, MN …4.46, 7-1, 19 GP/13 GS, 72.2 IP, 44 K/25 BB, .333 opp. avg. …Opened his Irish career 5-0


RHP …Drew Duff …Jr. …5-10/185 …Sevierville, TN …5.05, 4-2, 15 GP/8 GS, 51.2 IP, 40 K/18 BB, .302 opp. avg. …ND record for Ks at Eck (10 vs. IUPUI)

RHP …Matt Laird …So. …6-0/200 …Bellaire, TX …3.83, 5-2, 15 GP/9 GS, CG, 47.0 IP, 34 K/15 BB, .284 opp. avg. ….281 opp. avg. w/ runners on (2000)

LHP …Mike Naumann …Sr. … 6-0/180 …Tucson, AZ 3.48, 2-1, 24 GP/33.2 IP, 17 K/7 BB, .361 opp. avg. …CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2000

RHP …Brandon Viloria …So. 5-11/215 …Wailuku, HI …3.18, 0-0, 11 GP/1 GS, 17 IP, 15 K/1 BB, .284 opp. avg. …Lefties hit just .130 vs. him in 2000

RHP …Aaron Edwards …Fr. …6-2/195 …Chambersburg, PA …BIG EAST preseason rookie of the year (BA)

RHP …Peter Ogilvie …So. …6-4/210 …Buffalo Grove, IL …(injured)


THEY GO WAY BACK: Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri and New Orleans’ Randy Bush will have plenty of memories this weekend-as they have been close friends for nearly 25 years while their college careers ended in a 1979 NCAA Tournament loss at Mississippi State … Mainieri was one year ahead of Bush during their undergraduate days but they still managed to be teammates with three different squads … both attended high school in Miami (Bush at Carol City and Mainieri at Christopher Columbus) … they became teammates in the 1977 season, when Mainieri transferred from LSU to Miami-Dade North C.C. (where they played for Mainieri’s father, Demie) … Mainieri then headed to the University of New Orleans but they were reunited in the summer of 1978 as teammates with the Wareham Gateman in the Cape Cod League (Bush played first base, Mainieri was at second) … Bush then was recruited to UNO and was Mainieri’s roommate during the 1978-79 school year … UNO’s 1979 team all but one member of its starting lineup (plus three pitchers) get drafted and the Privateers were ranked as high as fourth during a season that ended in NCAA regional action at Mississippi State’s Dudy-Noble Field … Bush was drafted after his junior year, going in the second round to the Minnesota Twins (launching an 11-year Major League career) … Mainieri was a 26th-round pick of the Chicago White Sox and played two minor-league seasons before pursuing his coaching career … the longtime friends were groomsmen in each other’s weddings (one year and one day apart) and Mainieri’s first child (Nick) was born 22 hours before the birth of Bush’s first child … the pair remain close friends and Bush has attended two Notre Dame football weekends, bringing one of his sons with him for each visit.

REMEMBER 1979?: The final games of Paul Mainieri’s playing career were played at Mississippi State, in the 1979 NCAA South I. Regional … New Orleans came into the NCAAs as one of the nation’s top teams (48-12) and handed the host Bulldogs a 13-11 loss before UNO lost a 16-15 heartbreaker to Murray State … MSU then ended UNO’s season with a 13-10 win, with Mainieri making his team’s final out of his final game.

HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Seventh-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 587-390 (.601) record in 18 college seasons, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 255-111 (.697) mark with the Irish, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in his six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return to the University of New Orleans (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach … 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 1999 season opener versus James Madison, in a game played in Miami at Florida International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri’s 255 wins rank third 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, with 16 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of his players at St. Thomas went on to pro baseball, 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 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 in his 30-year career at Miami-Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame 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 is on pace to coach his 1,000th career game in the 23rd game of the 2001 season (which tentatively would be the March 27th home game vs. Western Michigan).

THE ND-MSU SERIES (2-2): Prior to the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional games (see p.3), the only previous meeting between ND and MSU also came in the postseason, as the Irish opened play at the ’93 East Regional with a 15-1 win over 2nd-seeded Mississippi State … ND made a spirited run at advancing to the ’93 College World Series, with a 10-inning loss to host Florida State (7-3), followed by wins over Central Florida (12-3) and FSU (4-3) before being eliminated by the Seminoles (13-3) … MSU failed to bounce back from its loss to ND and was eliminated in its next game by Long Beach State (2-1) … ND’s 15-1 win represented the most runs ever scored vs. the Bulldogs in an NCAA regional and the most allowed by any MSU team in Ron Polk’s first 18 seasons as head coach … it also marked MSU’s first loss in the first round of a regional since ’84 … senior RHP David Sinnes (8 IP, 6 H, BB, 9 Ks) had the win while ND’s 21-hit attack included six players with three-plus hits, led by Edwin Hartwell (3-for-4, 4 RBI, 2 R, HR) and Eric Danapilis (3-for-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 17-game hitting streak) … pitcher Chris Michalak was inserted at 1B for defense and responded with a 3-for-6 day while Matt Haas batted 4-for-6 (Hartwell, Michalak and Haas were named to the all-regional team) … ND-which left 14 runners on base-blew the game open with a six-run 5th vs. ace Carlton Loewer (season-low 4.1 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 9 H, 5 BB, 2 Ks).

THE ND-UNO SERIES: Notre Dame and New Orleans have met five times previously, with UNO holding a 3-2 series edge … the teams played three games at UNO early in the 1996 season, with the Irish winning the first game (8-3) before dropping the next two (11-7, 12-7) … ND then dropped a rough 4-3, 11-inning game at UNO in 1998 (the teams were rained out the next day) but the Irish avenged that loss with a 14-11 win over the Privateers at the 1999 UNO Invitational (Missouri and Southern Illinois rounded out a field that included four teams all coached by former UNO players) … in the 1998 meeting, UNO came back from three deficits while visiting ND stranded 12 runners (eight in scoring position) … UNO’s Joe Cordo forced extra innings with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth before backup catcher Bryan Bruno won the game with a two-out double in the 11th … Jon Watson-who also hit a solo shot in the 7th-picked up the victory after facing four batters in the top of the 11th (2 Ks, BB) … current Irish senior RHP Danny Tamayo took the loss in his first career decision, allowing two hits and two walks over the final two innings, with one K … ND’s Alex Shilliday had 7 IP in the no-decision (2 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 Ks) while UNO’s David Miller worked into the seventh (2 R, 8 H, 3 BB, 3 Ks) … ND tied a team record with seven home runs in the ’99 win over UNO … the Irish scored 12 runs in the first three innings of that game, which fittingly provided Mainieri his 500th college coaching win … the home run heroics included a pair of blasts from Jeff Wagner and Matt Nussbaum, with current junior 3B Andrew Bushey, Jeff Felker and Brant Ust Ust leaving the yard … ND received a strong relief effort from winning pitcher John Corbin (R, 4 H, 3.1 IP, 2 Ks) … current senior RHP Aaron Heilman picked up the save (2 IP, 8 BF, 2 H, 2 Ks) … UNO lefthander Brian Justine took the loss.


FAN MAIL: At first, they began to trickle in but then there was no stopping them, as literally hundreds of e-mails, faxes and chatboard posts came flooding through the information highway in praise of the Notre Dame baseball team and the way it competed at the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional … a large portion of the comments came from the rabid Bulldogs fans, who formally had inducted the names of Notre Dame players such as Stanley, Billmaier, Tamayo, Felker, Nussbaum, Porzel and Corbin into the storied history of Dudy-Noble Field … a common thread throughout all the e-mails originating from Mississippi was a desire for the Irish to make a return visit … and it didn’t take long to work out those logistics, as Notre Dame will open its 2001 season at Mississippi State’s National Bank of Commerce Classic, on Feb. 17-18.

PRIME-TIME SHUTOUT: Righthanders Chuck Symeon’s and Danny Tamayo’s careers at Notre Dame are separated by more than 40 seasons, yet they are the only members of a very exclusive club-by virtue of tossing shutouts in NCAA Championship play (the only shutouts ever posted by Notre Dame in 57 all-time NCAA games) … despite being separated by two generations, Symeon and Tamayo have another thing in common-as both of their gems were covered by longtime South Bend Tribune writer Forrest “Woody” Miller (whose first year with the paper coincided with Symeon’s big game) … Symeon’s shutout capped his string of 14 shutout innings at the 1957 College World Series, as he opened the Colorado State game with four no-hit innings (the Irish raced to a 14-0 lead and won easily, 23-2) before returning the next day (June 10) to eliminate tournament favorite Texas, 9-0 … the junior paced himself by holding back on his patented fastball while scattering five singles and five walks over the nine innings, with seven Ks, three double plays and a pickoff play (the Longhorns stranded five) … Tamayo’s NCAA shutout came at the 2000 Starkville Regional, with the Irish facing elimination in front of a raucous crowd of 10,000-plus fans rooting mostly for homestanding Mississippi State … Tamayo-who had completed a successful return from “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery but had pitched sparingly in 2000-shackled the potent Bulldogs with his tough changeup and his 105-pitch gem marked the first time since ’83 that Mississippi State was blanked in an NCAA regional (ending a 59-game regional scoring streak) … Tamayo took a no-hitter into the seventh and faced just 30 batters, with one K, 10 groundouts and 15 flyouts in his longest career outing (his previous best was five innings, two weeks earlier vs. Rutgers).

LOVE THAT DUDY-NOBLE: Five Notre Dame players were named to the 2000 NCAA all-Starkville Regional team, with all but graduated 1B Jeff Felker returning this weekend (the others are RHP Danny Tamayo, SS Alec Porzel, LF Kris Billmaier and C Paul O’Toole) … O’Toole-who has hit nine of his 16 career home runs in May (four of them in NCAA play)-had a busy regional that included a 6-for-18 effort at the plate, six runs, four RBI, three doubles, a booming home run, two walks and a stolen base … Billmaier (.421, 8-for-19, R, 2B, 2 BB, 4 RBI) was ND’s hottest hitter after being inserted into the lineup at LF and batting 5th (the regular LF Matt Nussbaum was shifted to 2B) … two of ND’s best hitters actually failed to make the all-regional team: 3B Andrew Bushey (.412, 7-for-17, 2 R, 2B, 3 BB, 2 RBI, SB) and CF Steve Stanley (.368, 7-for-19, 3B, 2 BB, RBI, 2 SB) … O’Toole batted .500 in the three games vs. MSU (5-for-10) with 10 total bases (HR, 2 2B), four RBI and three runs scored.

NARROWEST OF MARGINS: The three ND-MSU games played in the 2000 NCAAs saw the Bulldogs total 18 runs while the Irish pushed across 17 … MSU held a 34-30 edge in hits and stranded 18 runners (to ND’s 24).


For recaps and boxscores of the three Notre Dame-Mississippi State games played during the 2000 NCAA Regional, please consult the following links (or refer to hard copies at end of pressbox release):



Notre Dame Stats in the 2000 Starkville Regional

Player …G/GS …AB …R …H …2B/3B/HR …BB/K …RBI …SB …AVG.

Kris Billmaier … 5/5 … 19 … 1 … 8 … 1/0/0 … 2/4 … 4 … 0-0 … .421

Andrew Bushey … 5/5 … 17 … 2 … 7 … 1/0/0 … 3/0 … 2 … 1-1 … .412

Steve Stanley … 5/5 … 19 … 5 … 7 … 0/1/0 … 2/3 … 1 … 2-4 … .368

Paul O’Toole … 5/5 … 18 … 6 … 6 … 3/0/1 … 2/2 … 4 … 1-1 … .333

Matt Bok … 4/1 … 9 … 3 … 3 … 1/0/0 … 0/3 3 … 0-0 … .333

Alec Porzel … 5/5 … 22 4 … 7 … 2/0/0 … 2/2 … 4 … 1-1 … .318

Brian Stavisky … 5/5 … 20 … 4 … 6 … 1/0/0 … 2/6 … 4 … 1-1 … .300

Ken Meyer … 5/4 … 15 … 1 … 1 … 1/0/0 … 2/4 … 1 … 1-1 … .067

Ben Cooke … 3/0 … 2 … 1 … 0 … 0/0/0 … 0/1 0 … 0-0 … .000

Matt Strickroth … 2/0 … 1 … 1 … 0 … 0/0/0 … 0/1 … 0 … 0-0 … .000

Player … G/GS … W-L (SV) … IP … H … R … ER … K/BB … WP/HB … ERA

Danny Tamayo … 1/1 … 1-0 (0) … 9.0 … 3 … 0 … 0 … 1/1 … 0/0 … 0.00

Matt Laird … 1/0 … 0-0 (0) … 2.0 … 1 … 0 … 0 … 0/1 … 0/1 … 0.00

Drew Duff … 1/0 … 0-0 (0) … 5.0 … 4 … 1 … 1 … 0/0 … 0/0 … 1.80

Aaron Heilman … 1/1 0-0 (0) … 6.0 … 5 … 4 … 4 … 5/5 … 0/0 … 6.00

Matt Buchmeier … 2/0 … 1-0 (0) … 7.0 … 8 … 5 … 5 … 0/4 … 1/1 … 6.43

J.P. Gagne … 2/2 … 0-0 (0) … 3.1 … 11 … 7 … 7 … 1/2 … 0/0 … 18.90


PRESEASON POLLS: Notre Dame was a consensus top-14 team in 2001 preseason polls: 9th in Baseball America, 14th by Collegiate Baseball and 13th in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll … the ranking of No. 9 in the BA poll is ND’s highest rank in the history of that poll (since ’81), at any time in the season … the Irish have been ranked in the BA top 10 once previously, as the ’92 squad was ranked as high as 10th in a two-week stretch in mid-February … the No. 9 ranking is the highest ever in the BA poll for a BIG EAST team, with Rutgers holding the previous best mark after rising to 14th in 2000 (St. John’s was ranked as high as 14th in ’81, four years prior to BIG EAST baseball) … ND has been ranked in the BA preseason top 25 five times previously: 15th in ’91, 11th in ’92, 15th in ’93, 20th in ’94 and 20th in 2000 … ND was one of three “northern” teams on BA’s preseason top 25 (the others were 5th-ranked Nebraska and 24th-ranked Minnesota).

PROSPECTS: ND senior RHP Aaron Heilman is listed seventh on BA’s annual list of top pro prospects in college baseball (14th overall when including high school players, seventh among all pitchers) … Heilman ranks fourth among college pitchers, behind his former Team USA teammates Mark Prior (transfer from USC to Vanderbilt, 2nd) and Josh Karp (UCLA, 3rd) and Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazleton (5th) … other top prospects include: Georgia Tech 3B Mark Texiera (1st), LSU transfer (from Washington) OF Todd Linden (4th) and Auburn OF Gave Gross (6th).

PROSPECTS, PART II: ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky was listed by BA as the No. 17 prospect (8th among position players)-making ND and Georgia Tech (three) the only schools with multiple players in the top 28 … Irish junior C Paul O’Toole checked in at 46th, with ND again joining Georgia Tech (four) as the only school with three-plus players in the top 55 (just four others had two) … position players listed before Stavisky include Teixeira, Linden and Gross, plus Long Beach State SS Bobby Crosby, San Francisco 1B/3B Taggert Bozied, LSU 2B Mike Fontenot and Southwest Missouri 1B Ryan Howard … O’Toole is the 22nd position player and third catcher on that list, behind Georgia C/1B Doc Brooks (21st) and Oklahoma State’s Ryan Budde (28th).

PROSPECTS, PART III: ND’s three top-50 prospects are more than the total from 25 of the nation’s 30 Div. I conferences, with just the ACC (9), the SEC (8), the Pac-10 (5) and the Missouri Valley (4) conferences having more than three … Heilman combined with Evansville RHP Preston Larrison (9th) to give Indiana schools two players among the top 12 (California schools have four players in the top 12 while two currently play at schools in Tennessee, one a USC transfer) … Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) is not the only Indiana native on the list, as Ball State’s Justin Wechsler (Anderson, Ind.) is listed 37th … only four states-Florida (5) and California, Texas and Missouri (3 each)-can claim more than two natives among the top 37 prospects … in addition to Wechsler, five other players from teams on ND’s 2001 schedule were included on BA’s list of college baseball’s top 100 prospects for 2001: New Mexico OF Donny Sevieri (66th), Fresno St. RHP Zach Minor (81st), Mississippi St. RHP Tanner Brock (88th) and St. John’s OF Charlie Bilezikjian (97th).

TOP-FIVE CONFERENCE: BIG EAST baseball heads into 2001 with a prestigious ranking from BA, which rated the BIG EAST as the nation’s fifth-best conference, behind the SEC, ACC, Pac-10 and Big 12 … four current BIG EAST teams participated in the 2000 NCAAs: ND, Rutgers, Seton Hall and newcomer Virginia Tech (formerly of the Atlantic-10) … five other current BIG EAST teams advanced to the NCAAs in the ’90s while the league consistently has produced high draft picks and NCAA statistical leaders … the BIG EAST had seven teams in BA’s preason top 100-ND (9), RU (35), Virginia Tech (40), SHU (69), UConn (86), St. John’s (92) and Boston College (100)-trailing only the SEC (11), Pac-10 (8) and Big-12 (8).

CREAM OF THE CROP: ND joined LSU as the only teams to place multiple players on BA’s 14-player list of first-team preseason All-Americans-senior RHP Aaron Heilman and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky-as selected by Major League scouting directors (LSU junior OF Todd Linden is a transfer from Washington) … Heilman and San Francisco 1B Taggert Bozied were the only seniors on the team while Stavisky and LSU 2B Mike Fontenot were the only sophomores … Heilman was joined on BA’s first-team pitching staff by two of his former teammates from the ’99 USA National Team–UCLA junior RHP Josh Karp and Stetson senior LHP Len Dinardo-plus Mark Prior (Vanderbilt transfer from USC) and Middle Tennessee’s Dewon Brazelton … Stavisky was joined in the first-team outfield by LSU’s Linden and Auburn junior Gabe Gross … just seven of the 29 other BA preseason All-Americans hit more home runs than Stavisky (14) in 2000 … CB made Heilman one of three pitchers named first team preseason All-America by both BA and CB (which placed Stavisky on its second team for 2001 preseason All-Americans).

FANTASTIC FIVE: The preseason all-BIG EAST teams released by the conference office and BA included just seven repeat selections, with ND producing five: senior RHP Aaron Heilman, senior SS Alec Porzel, junior C Paul O’Toole, junior CF Steve Stanley and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky … Rutgers (3) and Virginia Tech (2) were the only other schools with multiple players on BA’s 14-player all-BIG EAST team … the 15-player BIG EAST coaches all-conference team included three UConn players and two from Seton Hall (Heilman and Rutgers RHP Bob Brownlie were the only unanimous selections).

TOP FROSH: BA listed three Irish players among the BIG EAST’s top five newcomers: RHP Aaron Edwards (3rd), 2B Steve Sollmann (4th) and 1B Joe Thaman (5th) … BA tabbed Edwards for BIG EAST rookie of the year while Edwards, Sollmann and Thamann were the only freshmen on the newcomers list (the others are transfers).

TOOL TIME: In BA’s annual “best tools” list for the BIG EAST, five Irish players combined for six of 16 citations … C Paul O’Toole, 3B Andrew Bushey and CF Steve Stanley were judged to be the best defensive players at their positions (Stanley as top all-around OF) while sophomore RF Brian Stavisky repeated as the BIG EAST player with the “best raw power,” Stanley was tabbed the “fastest runner” for the second straight year and senior RHP Aaron Heilman again was cited for being the league’s pitcher with the “best control” … BA also lauded 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 were South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight and Rice’s Kenny Baugh.

DANGEROUS DUO: ND’s likely No. 3 and cleanup hitters have more in common than hitting in pressure-packed spots, as senior SS Alec Porzel and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky each were tabbed as BIG EAST preseason player of the year by different national publications (Porzel from CB and Stavisky from both BA and the BIG EAST coaches) … Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman-the 2000 BIG EAST pitcher of the year-was picked by CB as co-favorite for 2001 BIG EAST pitcher of the year, along with Rutgers sophomore RHP Bob Brownlie (who got the nod from BA and the BIG EAST coaches).

TOUGH CONFERENCE: ND was picked to win the BIG EAST by BA, CB and the BIG EAST coaches but the preseason picks differed somewhat in forecasting the runner-up (BA and the BIG EAST coaches went with Rutgers, CB with newcomer Virginia Tech).


DOMINO EFFECT: The return of Notre Dame senior RHP Aaron Heilman does more than just impact the top pitching matchup of a weekend series-in fact, the return of No. 22 could leave a mark on nearly every Irish game during the 2001 season … Heilman’s return transforms his classmate Danny Tamayo into potentially one of the BIG EAST’s top No. 2 pitchers while helping junior Matt Buchmeier ease into the role of weekend starter in the No. 3 spot (as opposed to possibly breaking in at No. 2) … sophomore J.P. Gagne also now can be used in a swingman role, as a very capable starter and tough long-reliever … finally, Heilman’s return also could impact the role of junior Drew Duff-who may have taken on a role somewhere in the starting rotation without Heilman on the staff but now is a leading contender for the closer role vacated by 2000 graduate and Irish all-times saves leader John Corbin.

SCORING STREAK: Notre Dame heads into 2001 on the verge of setting the school record for consecutive games with at least one run scored … the Irish scored in the final 58 games of the ’99 and in all 64 games of 2000, yielding an active 122-game scoring streak that stretches back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 … the 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 their final game of the 1994 NCAA East Regional at Clemson, S.C.) … the record streak ended with a shutout loss to another Texas team, 2-0 versus Texas Pan-American in a seven-inning game on March 10, 1997 (at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … just as impressive as those two streaks is the fact that Notre Dame has scored in 98.6 percent of its games in the Mainieri era (363 of 368), with the other three shutouts coming 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 a 121-game stretch (April 23, 1930-May 26, 1937) and a 103-game streak spanning May 25, 1907-May 17, 1912.

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The Notre Dame baseball squad posted a 3.19 team grade-point average in the 2000 fall semester-the program’s best semester in the seven-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … nine players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4 or higher) in the fall of 2000, with 21 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 13 times since 1982, including a pair in 2000: 2B Jeff Perconte (3.76 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government, now attending ND Law School) and current senior LHP Mike Naumann (3.92, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters, already accepted into and plans to attend Baylor Medical School) … ND was one of seven Division I baseball teams with multiple Academic All-Americans in 2000 and only two of those schools-Notre Dame and North Carolina-participated in the 2000 NCAAs … top Academic All-America candidates for 2001 include Naumann, junior 3B Andrew Bushey (3.33, finance) and sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (3.69, Mendoza College of Business).

FAR & WIDE: The Notre Dame list of all-time monogram winners includes players hailing from 43 home states … current sophomore RHP Brandon Viloria (Wailuku, Hawaii) in 2000 became the first Irish baseball letterwinner from the island state while current freshman LHP Cody Wilkins (Hudson, N.C.) could become the first from the Tar Heel state … the only other states that have not produced Notre Dame baseball letterwinners include: Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Vermont.

PUSHING FORTY: Notre Dame has posted 12 straight seasons 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 only Florida State (23), Wichita State (23) and Clemson (15).


ON THE VERGE: The last time that Aaron Heilman pitched at Dudy-Noble Field, he left the mound one strikeout shy of tying the Notre Dame record for career Ks (315), set by David Sinnes from 1990-93 … Heilman’s five Ks that day versus Tulane also left him one shy of breaking his own Irish record for Ks in a season, as he K’d 118 batters in both 1999 and 2000.

BIG-TIME WINNERS: Aaron Heilman (28-7) is tied with 1993 graduate David Sinnes (32-8) and ’94 grad. Tom Price (40-10) for the fifth-best career winning percentage in Notre Dame baseball history (min. 16 decisions-as each owns an even .800 mark … that trio ranks as the winningest Notre Dame pitchers in 77 years, dating back to Hugh Mageveney’s 18-3 record (.857) from 1922-24.

A LOOK BACK: Aaron Heilman’s 2000 season included a 10-2 record, 3.21 ERA, 118 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 103.2 innings pitched. The 6-5, 225-pound righthander is one of just four Baseball America 2001 preseason All-Americans (among the 15 spread across three teams) who posted 10-plus wins, 100-plus Ks and an ERA of 3.30 or lower during the 2000 season, with the others including Stetson senior Lenny DiNardo, South Carolina senior Kip Bouknight (2nd team) and Rice senior Kenny Baugh (3rd team).

WHO’S THE BEST?: Notre Dame’s Aaron Heilman joined Middle Tennessee State junior RHP Dewon Brazleton and Stetson senior LHP Lenny Dinardo as the only 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 were South Carolina’s Kip Bouknight and Rice’s Kenny Baugh).

FOUR-TIME ALL-AMERICANS – Notre Dame senior RHP Aaron Heilman could post the fourth All-America season of his career, which would place him among an elite group of Notre Dame student-athletes (he already is the first Irish baseball player ever to be a three-year All-American) … just 16 previous Notre Dame student-athletes have been four-year All-Americans, with four coming from team-oriented sports: men’s basketball player Kevin O’Shea (’47-’50) and women’s soccer players Holly Manthei (’95-’98), Jen Grubb (’96-’99) and Anne Makinen (1997-2000) … others include cross country runners Oliver Hunter (’40-’43) and Mike McWilliams (’90-’93), plus men’s fencers Mike Sullivan (’76-’79), Charles Higgs-Coulthard (’84-’87), Yehuda Kovacs (’86-’89), Leszek Nowosielski (’88-’91), Jeremy Siek (’94-’97) and Luke LaValle (’96-’99) and women’s fencers Molly Sullivan (’85-’88), Myriah Brown (’96-’99), Sarah Walsh (’96-’99) and Magda Krol (’97-’00).

EIGHT(EEN) Ks IS ENOUGH – Current Irish senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) tied a BIG EAST record and came just shy of the Notre Dame record with an 18-strikeout effort in a 3-1, 10-inning win at West Virginia on April 15, 2000 (the game was scheduled for seven innings). Heilman seemingly became stronger as the game wore on, spotting his tough slider with regularity while delivering a fastball that still touched 91 miles-per-hour in the lategoing. He retired 15 straight batters from the 5th-10th innings and struck out 10 of the final 12 he faced, including seven straight before yielding a single with two outs in the 10th. Kevin Olkowski-who had two of his team’s six hits-went down swinging on three pitches to end the game. Heilman’s 18 Ks tied the BIG EAST record set by Seton Hall’s Jason Grilli in a 7-2 win over Connecticut in ’97 (Grilli went on to become the fourth pick in the ’97 draft, by the San Francisco Giants). Frank Carpin is the only other Irish pitcher ever to record 18-plus Ks in a game, with 19 in a 10-inning win over Indiana on April 16, 1958 (12-10). Heilman’s memorable day included just two walks, with 11 groundball outs and one flyout. All nine Mountaineers starters-plus reserve Matt McGee-were K victims.


30-30 – Notre Dame senior SS Alec Porzel heads into 2001 on the verge of becoming the first Irish player ever to reach 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in his career … Porzel totaled 29 HRs and 26 SBs in his first three seasons (in 176 GP), leaving him on the doorstep of the 30-30 plateau … junior C Paul O’Toole (16 HR, 28 SB, 115 GP) likewise has a shot at the 30-30 distinction.

CAPE COD’S BEST: Three Notre Dame baseball players made big names for themselves as participants in the 2000 Cape Cod League-the nation’s premier wooden-bat summer league for college-age players … all three Irish players-CF Steve Stanley, OF Brian Stavisky and C Paul O’Toole-were selected as starters for the 2000 Cape Cod League all-star game (only Georgia Tech, with three, could match the Irish) … Stanley led the Cape with a .329 batting average as leadoff man for the Brewster Whitecaps, playing alongside Irish classmate O’Toole. Stanley also ranked second in the Cape for runs (31), third in on-base percentage (.429) and fourth in stolen bases (20-of-27, in 43 GP) … O’Toole hit .273 and impressed observers with his wooden-bat power, tying for fifth in the league with four home runs, plus three triples, three doubles, 24 RBI, 26 runs, 18 walks, 27 Ks and 13-of-18 SBs (41 GP). Stavisky-who finished second in the Cape batting race (.324)-saw his Hyannis Mets fall to Brewster in the title game, 6-2, while O’Toole combined with Stanley to help the East all-stars rally past the West, 7-6. Stavisky hit three home runs in the Cape (one coming as co-MVP of the all-star game) while ranking fifth in the league in slugging (.453), fourth in RBI (26), second in doubles (14) and first in hits (55), plus 19 walks, 30 Ks and four SBs (44 GP) … several players from teams on ND’s 2001 schedule were teammates of the Irish players in the Cape, including Fresno State 2B Tom Creighton (Brewster) and three players from Hyannis: Florida Atlantic RHP Dan Core, Virginia Tech RHP Jason Bush and Connecticut OF Mike Scott.

JUMPIN’ JAYHAWKERS – Three other Irish players also experienced summer success on a high level, as member of the Hays (Kansas) Larks team that advanced to the championship game of the annual National Baseball Congress World Series (held in Wichita) … current junior RHP Matt Buchmeier was named all-Jayhawk League, after posting a 1.75 ERA and 6-3 record in 70 IP during the summer of 2000 … Buchmeier handed the potent Santa Barbara Foresters an 8-1 loss in the late rounds of the NBC World Series (7-inning CG, 7 Ks, BB, 4 H, UER) … current junior 3B Andrew Bushey also was named first team all-Jayhawk League after leading the Larks with a .346 summer batting average (62-for-179) … Bushey likewise was named to the NBC World Series all-Midwest Regional team (he hit .308 and scored seven runs) … junior RHP Drew Duff did his part as well, posting a 4-1 mid-tournament win over the Santa Maria Indians (9 IP, R, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks) before turning in a solid outing in the 3-1 championship game loss to the Liberal (Kansas) Bee Jays.

OH BROTHER: Current Irish sophomore Ryan Kalita could follow in the footsteps of his brother Tim (’97-’99), by lettering with the Notre Dame baseball program, as could freshman Steve Sollmann (his brother Scott played for the Irish as an all-conference outfielder from ’94-’96) and currently is a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization.

SIX-HIT CYCLE – Current senior SS Alec Porzel was more than just an observer in Notre Dame’s wild 22-18 loss to Pittsburgh on May 7, 2000, at Eck Stadium-as Porzel turned in one of the most noteworthy accomplishments in ND baseball history by batting 6-for-6 and hitting for the cycle-including both a traditional and an inside-the-park home run. … he became the first player to record six hits in a game in the 108-year history of ND baseball and is the first Irish player to hit for the cycle since at least the mid-1980s (boxscore records are incomplete prior to ’85)-with the addition of an inside-the-park HR making his day one of the more unique accomplishments in baseball … Porzel tied the BIG EAST single-game hit record and his 15 total bases came three shy of the BIG EAST record … he is just the second known Irish player to record five-plus hits in a losing effort … Porzel had registered four-plus hits just once previously and it marked just the second game in his Irish career that Porzel had been credited with two home runs … his previous 2-HR game also was unconventional, as he hit one on May 19, 1999, and one the next day-in a rain-suspended BIG EAST Tournament game vs. West Virginia … the six-hit game included: an RBI triple to right-center in the first (1 out, 0-2 pitch), a two-out, 2-1 hit to shallow left-center that kicked past the sliding centerfielder and rolled to the track for a third-inning HR, a two-out, first-pitch single to center in the fifth, and three straight leadoff hits in the seventh (full-count double to left-center), eighth (2-2 home run to left) and ninth (1-0 single through the left side).

GAME-ENDING HOME RUNS – Senior SS Alec Porzel has made a name for himself when it comes to game-ending home runs … in addition to his 10th-inning blast vs. Pittsburgh (11-8) on May 7, 2000, Porzel also beat the Panthers with a first-pitch, walkoff home run to cap the ’99 Pittsburgh series (3-2, in the ninth) … as a freshman, he ended the longest game in Eck Stadium history with a 15th-inning homer vs. West Virginia (5-3) … most recently, Porzel’s first career grand slam broke an 7-7 tie in the eighth inning of the 15-7 BIG EAST Tournament win over Pittsburgh in 2000.

REVERSE TRANSFORMATION: During the previous six seasons of the Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame, several prep shortstops have been converted into Irish outfielders … but current ND freshman Steve Sollmann has completed what seemingly has been a seamless transition in the other direction by moving from his typical outfielder position to second base for the Irish … Sollmann is slated to fill one Mainieri staple, as the likely No. 9 batter (providing a “second leadoff hitter” in hopes of jumpstarting big innings).

YOU THE MANN … SORRY THE MAN: You’ll have to forgive those close to the Notre Dame baseball program for causing confusion over the proper spelling of Irish freshman 1B Joe Thaman’s last name … Thaman’s last name is of the one-n variety-putting him in the lofty company of three-time All-America pitcher Aaron Heilman but leaving him another “n” short of his rightside infield partner (freshman 2B Steve Sollmann) and senior LHP Mike Naumann … three other regulars in the Irish lineup have similarities to their last names: junior DH Ken Meyer, junior RHP Matt Buchmeier and sophomore LF Kris Billmaier.

AYE, CAPTAIN: Notre Dame’s tri-captains for the 2001 season are senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.), senior SS Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.) and junior 3B Andrew Bushey (Boardman, Ohio) … Bushey-whose .271 career batting average at Notre Dame includes a 9-for-25 effort in the NCAAs (.360)-is just the fifth junior to serve as an Irish baseball captain since 1991, with the others including Heilman, SS Brant Ust (’99), C Bob Lisanti (’94) and 1B Joe Binkiewicz (’91) … Heilman joins Binkiewicz (’91-’92), Lisanti (’94-’96) and IF J.J. Brock (’97-’98) as just the fourth multi-year captains at Notre Dame in the last 22 seasons (Lisanti and Brock both were five-year players).