March 2, 2002
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES
vs. Fairfield (2:00 p.m.) and Florida International (7:00 p.m.)
Saturday, March 2 … Homestead Challenge (Homestead, Fla.)
PLAY 2 ON DAY 2: The 8th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team will look to carry the momentum of Friday’s 6-0 win over Duquesne into today’s action at the Homestead Challenge vs. Fairfield (2:00 p.m.) and Florida International (7:00 p.m.) … the Fairfield game originally was scheduled for a 2:30 start before being bumped up 30 minutes.
RADIO COVERAGE: The Fairfield game will be broadcast in South Bend on ESPN radio 1620 AM (WDND) while the FIU game will air on sister station 1580 AM (WHLY) … both games also will be available via the internet at www.und.com … Sunday’s noon game vs. Sacred Heart will be broadcast on 1620 WDND.
FAMILIAR FOES: Notre Dame sophomore IF and Miami native Javier Sanchez (Columbus HS) has plenty of connections to the current FIU players … FIU’s leading hitter, IF Alex Ansoleaga, also is a graduate of Columbus HS and a close friend of Javier and his brother J.C. Sanchez … FIU pitcher Michael Baluja and IF Orlando Garcia also are Columbus grads, with Garcia playing SS in 2000 while Sanchez was the starter at 2B … FIU pitcher Luiz Gazitua is a former little-league teammate of Sanchez (his twin brother Carlos plays in the BIG EAST Conference, at Georgetown) … Panthers pitcher Michael Mendez is a familt friend of the Sanchez’s while three other FIU players were district rivals of Sanchez: C Adrian Casanova (Coral Park HS) and C Tommy Duenas and P Ozzie Lugo (both Coral Gables HS).
MACRI MAKES DEBUT: Highly-touted newcomer Matt Macri – the nation’s No. 2 prospect among freshmen, according to Baseball America – had an impressive debut vs. Duquesne, batting 2-for-5 as the DH while hitting in the No. 3 hole … Macri – who likely won’t return to shortstop until early April (elbow strain) – delivered in the second at-bat of his college career, driving a 2-1 pitch from RHP Jim Popp into the leftfield corner for a no-outs double before scoring on Paul O’Toole’s three-run shot for a 3-0 ND lead in the 4th … Macri then collected his first career RBI in the 7th, smacking a 2-1 pitch through the left side of the infield (with speedy Steve Stanley scoring from second for a 5-0 cushion) … Macri also had an impressive drive to left-center in the 9th, with the strong wind holding up the ball for a flyout.
POWER POSITION: Senior catcher Paul O’Toole was up to the challenge of batting cleanup while shaking off his sore left thumb to return behind the plate … O’Toole typically has batted 5th-7th in his career, with several starts at leadoff and the No. 2 hole early in his career, while making four starts in the cleanup spot as a sophomore … O’Toole delivered the biggest hit of the night in the 3rd inning, despite falling behind on an 0-2 count vs. RHP Jim Popp … O’Toole then showed his veteran poise by laying off two close curveballs before lifting the next pitch over the rightfield wall for the 3-0 Irish lead .. O’Toole – who started the season batting 1-for-14 – then led off the 6th by sending a 1-1 pitch through the right side of the infield for a single.
ONE DOWN, NINE TO GO: O’Toole’s home run was the 21st of his career, to go along with 45 stolen bases – easily the most ever by an ND catcher and 7th among all Irish players (just one behind 1993 graduate Eric Danapilis) … O’Toole needs to average roughly one home run every six games for the rest of the 2002 season to reach 30 HRs for his career … in the process, he would join former teammate Alec Porzel (37 HRs, 32 SBs) as the only “30-30” players in Notre Dame baseball history … O’Toole hit eight home runs as both a freshman and sophomore and four as a junior (10 of his first 20 home runs came during lateseason games played in May).
DOUBLE DOUBLE: Sophomore 1B Joe Thaman opened the 2001 season by collecting six doubles in his first seven hits, with the 6-4 lefthander’s first two hits of 2002 also going for two bases … his final 2001 stat line included two home runs, one triple, 15 doubles and 41 singles.
‘GOOSE BACK ON THE LOOSE: Senior DH Ken Meyer – nicknamed the Mongoose due to his hustle and deceptive speed – could be dialed in for a strong final season, after batting 5-for-10 in the first two games (including 2-for-2 as a pinch-hitter) … Meyer already has collected three doubles, two runs and an RBI and filled in vs. Duquesne as the starting 1B (Joe Thaman missed the start due to his sore shoulder) … Meyer saw his batting average dip from .326 in 2000 to .271 in 2001, when he was affected by season-long shoulder problems.
SHUFFLE THE DECK: Head coach Paul Mainieri’s 2002 lineup cards have featured few similarities, due to an assortment of injuries and position shifts … just four games into the season, senior CF Steve Stanley holds the distinction of being the only ND player to start every game at the same position (that’s only fitting, since he has started all 192 games of his ND career in CF) … senior Ken Meyer started at 1B vs. Duquesne (for injured sophomore Joe Thaman), sophomore Javier Sanchez has made two starts at 2B (for injured 2B Steve Sollmann) and one at SS (where freshman SS Matt Edwards has started the other three, in place of his injured classmate Matt Macri) while 3B has seen starts from Sanchez and the senior duo of Andrew Bushey and Paul O’Toole (2) … O’Toole (2), Bushey and fellow senior Matt Bok each have started behind the plate, with Bok and juniors Brian Stavisky (2) and Kris Billmaier each starting in LF … Billmaier has made three starts in RF, plus one from senior Matt Strickroth … each game has featured a different DH: Bok, Meyer and freshmen Brent Weiss and Macri … Stanley is one of just four players who have started every game this season, with the others including Sanchez, O’Toole and Billmaier.
UPDATED CAREER STATS
Steve Stanley … 192 GP/192 GS, .361 (271-750), 86 RBI, 183 R, 1 HR-8 3B-31 2B, 90 BB/55 K, 3 HBP, 89-106 SB, 22 SAC, 12 SF
Steve Sollmann … 63 GP/63 GS, .355 (81-228), 37 RBI, 53 R, 5 HR-2 3B-9 2B, 30 BB/29 K, 4 HBP, 23-34 SB, 6 SAC, 4 SF
Paul O’Toole … 177 GP/168 GS, .310 (189-609), 114 RBI, 146 R, 21 HR-6 3B-37 2B, 62 BB/67 K, 22 HBP, 45-63 SB, 6 SAC, 7 SF
Kris Billmaier … 93 GP/80 GS, .276 (78-281), 56 RBI, 54 R, 7 HR-12 2B, 39 BB/26 K, 11 HBP, 4-8 SB, 2 SAC, 4 SF
Ken Meyer … 118 GP/73 GS, .295 (93-315), 47 RBI, 60 R, 7 HR-5 3B-24 2B, 19 BB/56 K, 9 HBP, 3-3 SB, 4 SF
Matt Bok … 122 GP/82 GS, .275 (80-291), 50 RBI, 53 R, 4 HR-6 3B-18 2B, 28 BB/44 K, 12 HBP, 4-8 SB, 4 SAC, 3 SF
Joe Thaman … 65 GP/63 GS, .279 (61-219), 26 RBI, 31 R, 2 HR-1 3B-17 2B, 11 BB/35 K, 2 HBP, 1-3 SB, 3 SAC, 3 SF
Matt Strickroth … 113 GP/65 GS, .236 (57-242), 41 RBI, 44 R, 8 HR-1 3B-12 2B, 24 BB/73 K, 12 HBP, 3-6 SB, 2 SF
Matt Buchmeier … 42 GP/8 GS … 5-3, 5 SV, 5.01 ERA, 109.2 IP, 74 K/37 BB, 133 H, 13 WP, 7 HB
SERIES STATS: Notre Dame’ six games vs. Florida International hold a unique place in the career of Irish senior CF Steve Stanley, who opened his freshman season by batting 0-for-17 (including 0-for-10 in three games at FIU) … Stanley went on to bat .326 in 1999 and owns a .361 career batting average, with 271 hits … the All-American hit 6-for-13 in the three 2001 NCAA Tournament games vs. FIU (RBI, 3 R, BB, SB).
CAREER STATS VS. FIU
Steve Stanley … 6-for-23 (.261), RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 4 K, SB, E (2001 NCAAs: 6-for-13, RBI, 3 R, BB, SB)
Paul O’Toole … 4-for-16 (.250), 2 RBI, 3 R, HR, 3B, BB, K, E, SB (2001 NCAAs: 4-for-13, 2 RBI, 2 R, HR, 3B, BB, K, E, SB)
Ken Meyer … 1-for-8 (.125), 5 K (2001 NCAAs: 0-for-3, 2 K)
Matt Strickroth … 0-for-8, BB, 5 K (2001 NCAAs: 1 GP)
vs. FIU in the 2001 NCAAs
Steve Sollmann: 4-for-11, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3B, 2 BB, K, HBP, E, SB
Kris Billmaier: 3-for-8, 2 RBI, 2 2B, 3 BB, 2 HBP
Matt Bok: 0-for-4, R
Joe Thaman: 2-for-10, R, SAC
Matt Laird: 1.1 IP to close final game (BB, 4 BF)
1999 Series at FIU
Matt Buchmeier … closed 14-1 loss (2.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R/4 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, WP)
Drew Duff … relieved Aaron Heilman in 12-0 loss (2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, BB)
FIU STATS VS. ND AT THE 2001 NCAAs
Hector Nunez … 6-for-13, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 K, HR, E
Michael New … 3-for-8, RBI, 3 R, 2 K
Daniel Bustamante …5-for-10, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, K, SAC
Tommy Duenas …1-for-3
Arthur Santos … 3.1 IP, H, 2 K, 50 pitches, 11 BF (in 5-4 win)
Michael Baluja … 8 IP, 8 H, 5 R/3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 2 HB, 105 pitches (in 5-2 loss)
Michael Mendez … 2 BF, 2 BB in 7-6 win
Note: Brad Eldred went 0-for-3 vs. ND in the 1999 series while Peter Kocur tossed two innings in FIU’s 12-0 win over ND in 1999 (H, 2 BB, K).
ND PLAYERS VS. SANTOS AT 2001 NCAAs
Andrew Bushey … FC 6-4 (bases loaded, 1-1 pitch), 1U (3-2 pitch)
Matt Bok … P-3 (2-1 pitch)
Joe Thaman … 3-1 (0-0 pitch)
Steve Stanley … F-7 (1-0 pitch)
Steve Sollmann … 1B-9 (2-1 pitch)
Alec Porzel … KS (2-2 pitch)
Brian Stavisky … KS (3-2 pitch)
Kris Billmaier … P-3 (2-2 pitch)
Paul O’Toole … F-7 (3-2 pitch)
Ken Meyer … P-6 (2-2 pitch)
LEARNING FAST: Notre Dame’s 14 field players on the Florida trip include the veteran leadership of five seniors and junior Kris Billmaier, but the Irish contingent also features four freshmen (two in the starting lineup) and four sophomores (with Javier Sanchez and Zach Sisko playing sparingly in 2001, with no starts and just one hit between them prior to 2001).
MR. VERSATILITY: Miami native Javier Sanchez (Columbus HS) already has started at three infield positions this season: at SS vs. Missouri, at 2B vs. UNO and SIU and at 3B vs. Duquesne … Sanchez has played solid defense (just one error) while batting 5-for-17 (.294) with an RBI and run scored.
SUBTLE STAR: Senior CF and leadoff batter Steve Stanley had a modest line in Friday’s boxscore (1-for-4, R, BB) but he had several key plays in the game … his groundball to the right side plate Ken Meyer in the 5th for a 4-0 lead (he was not credited with an RBI due to hitting into a rare double play for the speedy lefthanded hitter) … in the 6th, Stanley made a running catch into shallow right-center and threw to second base for the inning-ending double play … in the 7th, he beat out an intended sacrifice bunt to the left side, adding his 5th stolen base of the young season and scoring on Matt Macri’s single for a 5-0 lead.
RECORD BOOK UPDATE: Stanley’s next stolen base will be the 90th of his career … just two previous ND players have totaled more career SBs: Pat Pesavento (94, 1986-89) and Scott Sollmann (101, 1994-96), the brother of current ND sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann … Stanley scored the 236th run of his career, tying him with former teammate Alec Pozel (’01) for 7th in ND history, just four behind Scott Sollmann … his 271 career hits leave him one shy of tying J.J. Brock (’94-’98) for 4th in Irish history, with the top three on that list including Pat Pesavento (296), Eric Danapilis (295, ’90-’93) and Porzel (279).