March 28, 2002
vs. West Virginia (March 28) and Georgetown (March 30)
The Notre Dame baseball team (9-9) will look to bounce back after dropping a three-game series last week at Connecticut (3-4, 8-9 in 10 innings, 6-13), with doubleheaders at West Virginia (Thursday, March 28, 1:00 p.m.) and vs. Georgetown at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md. (Saturday, March 30, 11:00 a.m.) … the ND-GU start was moved up an hour from the original schedule … Povich Field is located in Cabin John Park, near the Montgomery Mall (via the Beltway exit for Democracy Boulevard, with a crossstreet of West Lake Drive … ND is wrapping up a stretch of playing its first 22 games of the season away from home … freshman RHP Grant Johnson and junior J.P. Gagne are slated to start at WVU, followed by freshman RHPs Chris Niesel and John Axford vs. the Hoyas … freshman SS Matt Macri could make his debut in the field (easing in at second base, after serving as the DH in recent weeks) while sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann could serve as a DH this week (he still is nursing a quad injury).
RADIO COVERAGE: 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.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Notre Dame’s tough start to the 2002 season can be traced to several factors:
- The team batting average (.286) is nearly 40 points below the final 2001 season avg. (.322), despite the fact that three starters are batting .400-plus (countered by six regulars who are batting under .250).
- ND is outhitting its opponents (.286-.284) and has a 63-47 edge in walks, but the Irish have been outscored (103-105) due to ND leaving 154 runners on base (136 for the opponents). The Irish are batting just .272 with runners in scoring position (compared to .318 in 2001), while also hitting just .235 with two outs (.264 by the opponents) and 3-for-18 (.167) with the bases loaded.
- A high number of errors (40) have led to a .944 fielding pct., down 20 points from 2001 (.964). Those errors have led to 32 unearned runs for the opponents (nearly two per game).
- The Irish bullpen owns just a 4.42 season ERA while opposing batters have hit .329 vs. the ND relief pitchers.
- ND has struggled in the first inning (batting .177 while being outscored 11-2) while the Irish also have had trouble in the 8th inning (outscored 22-9). ND’s big inning has been the 5th (21-3 scoring edge).
- ND has a 12-8 edge on its opponents in home runs but the long ball has hurt the Irish several times this season. ND’s 12 home runs have plated just 18 runners while the eight opponent HRs have led to 20 runs (including two grand slams).
- An assortment of injuries have played their part in the offensive and defensive struggles (see below).
STANLEY MAKES HIS MARK: Senior CF Steve Stanley last week became Notre Dame’s all-time hits leader (298) while also setting the ND record for consecutive starts (now 206) … the national player-of-the-year candidate has hits in 17 of 18 games this season and owns a .368 career batting average with the Irish (see notes later in release).
INJURY REPORT: Freshman SS Matt Edwards suffered a season-ending injury during the March 9 game vs. USC (broken fibula and tibia in his lower right leg) … freshman SS Matt Macri has started the last 14 games at DH (batting in the third or second spot) and could make his debut in the field this week at 2B (due to an elbow strain) … yet another top middle infielder, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann, continues to recover from his quad injury suffered in the opener vs. Missouri (he has missed 10 total starts but could DH this week) … freshman C Jay Molina is out for the year as he rehabs from offseason elbow surgery (following an injury in his senior year of high school) … junior OF Brian Stavisky missed nine games with a shoulder sprain before returning to action as MVP at the Irish Baseball Classic … senior tri-captain and 3B/C Andrew Bushey (BIG EAST player-of-the-week after hitting 6-for-9 at the season-opening UNO Classic) missed four games with a shoulder sprain … senior C Paul O’Toole has been relegated to mostly 3B (or 2B) duty, due to a sore left thumb (he has missed just one start) … lefthanded-hitting sophomore 1B Joe Thaman (shoulder) has been limited to 10 starts.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAINEERS: West Virginia is 10-8, after opening BIG EAST play last week by taking two of three from Georgetown at Shirley Povich Field (4-0, 3-6, 8-2) … WVU is batting .281 as a team (5.4 runs/9 IP, 11 HR, 18 SB), paced by the leadoff batter, senior 2B Chad Blevins (.383, 8 RBI, 6 2B, 10 BB), and the team’s cleanup hitter, junior 3B Tim McCabe (.333, 13 RBI, HR) … WVU owns a solid .966 fielding pct. (22 E, just 12 opp. unearned runs) and a 2.70 team ERA, with 142 Ks, 52 walks and a .247 opp. avg. … junior RHP Billy Biggs is the staff ace (2.70, 3-3) – with an eye-popping 43-to-3 K-to-walk ratio (plus a .205 opp. avg.) … WVU returned just 13 of 23 letterwinners from its 2001 team that went 27-26 overall and finished 7th in the BIG EAST (12-14) … WVU’s top returning hitters include senior CF Mike Frownfelter (.296, 21 RBI), McCabe (.337, 10 HR, 38 RBI) and junior SS Eric Grimm (.358, 2 HR, 30 RBI) … Biggs’ stellar 2001 season (3rd team all-BIG EAST) included a 6-2 record and 1.65 ERA, with 57 Ks in 43.2 IP).
THE WVU SERIES: Notre Dame has faced West Virginia more than any other BIG EAST opponent, with the Irish holding a 22-10 series edge (13-7 since both began BIG EAST play in 1996) … the Irish have won nine of the last 10 games in the series, including 4-1, 8-1 at Eck Stadium in 2001 … WVU’s only win in the series since 1998 came in the middle game of the 2000 series, at WVU (7-2) … ND has won eight of 12 games at WVU (5-2 since ’96) … the teams were big rivals in the late 1990s, meeting in the BIG EAST Tournament every year from 1996-99 (including three in ’96, with WVU winning the 7-4 title game) … ND beat WVU in a ’97 BET elimination game and opened the ’98 BET with a 5-4 win over the Mountaineers – before a 7-2 win over WVU to open the ’99 BET (that game stretched over two days due to a rain delay) … three of the last 11 games in the series have gone to extra innings, with ND winning two (including the longest game in Eck Stadium history, a 5-3, 15-inning game in ’98 that ended on a home run by then-freshman Alec Porzel) … ND’s last visit to Hawley Field featured a memorable outing from former ND pitcher Aaron Heilman, who racked up 18 strikeouts in the 3-1 opener (stretched from 7 to 10 innings) … the first ND-WVU game was in 1902 (9-5 win at ND), with the teams also meeting in 1910 (@ND), ’12 and ’14 (@WVU), ’27 and ’28 (@ND) and ’55 and ’58 (@WVU) – plus a 1956 game played at Florida A&M in Tallahasse, Fla. … ND head coach Paul Mainieri was born in Morgantown and his father Demie was inducted into the WVU physical education Hall of Fame. GAGNE VS. WVU: Current junior RHP J.P. Gagne was the losing pitcher in the middle game of ND’s 2000 series at WVU (7-2), allowing four runs, seven hits and one walk in five innings (with four Ks and two wild pitches) … his classmate Matt Laird (1 IP, 2 H, 3 UER, BB, 2 K, WP) is the only other current member of the ND staff who has pitched vs, WVU.
WVU SERIES STAT LEADERS: Senior DH Matt Bok hit 6-for-10 vs. WVU in 2000 and ’01 (4 GP/3 GS), with three RBI, two doubles, a triple and a run scored … junior OF Brian Stavisky (.389, 7-for-18, HR, 5 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB) is the only other ND player with a career average vs. WVU that is above .325 … senior CF Stave Stanley (.354 overall, .250 vs. WVU) and senior C Paul O’Toole (.319 overall, .192 vs. WVU) both are hitting 100-plus points lower vs. WVU than overall vs. BIG EAST teams.
RECAPPING THE 2001 ND-WVU SERIES
ND’s Aaron Heilman and Danny Tamayo made another strong statement for being one of the nation’s the top 1-2 pitching combinations, in a pair of complete-game victories over visiting WVU (4-1, 8-1) … they combined to allow just one earned run on 10 hits and two walks over 16 innings, with all but six of their 48 outs coming via Ks (12), groundball outs (24), infield popups (4), pickoffs (1) and runners thrown out trying to advance (1) … nearly 70% of their 218 pitches went for strikes (147) … Brian Stavisky’s home run provided the Irish a pair of insurance runs in the 5th inning of the opener … Andrew Bushey had a hand in half of the Irish runs in the nightcap (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 R) … Heilman scattered one run, four hits, one walk and 11 groundouts and just three flyouts over the 7-inning opener … Tamayo was one out away from his third shutout of the season before an unearned run in the 9th inning of the nightcap -and he held WVU to six hits and one walk, registering 24 of his 27 outs via strikeouts (7), groundballs (13, including one double play) and infield popups (4) … Vance McCracken took the loss in the first game (Tim McCabe had a double) while Brian Tarajack dropped the nightcap (with Mike Frownfelter and Josh Cisneros doubling for WVU).
FRIEND OR FOE?: Notre Dame senior Matt Bok – who has started this season at OF, C, 2B and his usual DH – played for Georgetown in 1999 before transfering to Notre Dame … four ND players – pitchers Ryan Kalita, Mike Morgalis and Cody Wilkins, plus 1B Mike Holba – were teammates of Georgtown pitcher Eric Sutton on the Waynesboro (Va.) Generals during the summer of 2001.
THE GU SERIES: The Irish own a 16-2 series edge vs. the Hoyas, including wins in the last 15 meetings (15-1 since starting BIG EAST play in 1996) … the teams first met in 1908 (an 11-2 ND win at GU), followed by a GU home win in ’14 (4-1) …. the Hoyas won the first BIG EAST game between the teams (6-3) but the Irish have won the last 15 while outscoring GU 166-48 (average margin of 11-3 in that stretch) … the 15-4, 17-10 wins over GU at Eck Stadium in 2001 represented ND’s most combined runs (32) in a BIG EAST doubleheader.
SCOUTING THE HOYAS: Georgetown heads into the week with a 7-21 record, after dropping two of three games last weekend to West Virginia (check back Friday for more on GU).
GU SERIES STAT LEADERS: Six different ND players have hit above .400 in previous games vs. the Hoyas, most notably junior OF Brian Stavisky (7-for-14, 8 RBI, 7 R, 3 HR, 2 2B, 1.286 slugging pct., 3 BB) and senior C Paul O’Toole (9-for-20, 9 RBI, 4 R, 3 2B, 3 BB) … two other fourth-year starters – 3B Andrew Bushey (.417, 10-for-24, 8 RBI, 7 R, 2 HR, 3B, 4 2B, .917 slugging, 2 BB, K) and CF Steve Stanley (.400, 12-for-30, 5 RBI, 8 R, 6 2B, 2 BB, 5-6 SB) – also own strong career stats vs. GU, as do sophomore 1B Joe Thaman (4-for-6, RBI, 5 R) and junior OF Kris Billmaier (5-for-9, 6 RBI, 6 R, 2 HR, 2 2B) … the above six players have combined for 47 hits, seven home runs, one triple and 17 doubles vs. the Hoyas (plus 37 RBI, 37 runs and 14 walks).
RECAPPING THE 2001 ND-GU SERIES
The Irish racked up their most combined runs ever in a BIG EAST doubleheader (15-4, 17-10) amidst heavy and swirling winds at Eck Stadium, with 17 hits in each game while amassing 55 total bases in the two games (11 doubles, three triples, home runs from Brian Stavisky and Alec Porzel … five Irish players collected four-plus hits in the doubleheader, led by Porzel’s nine-RBI day … other top hitters included Paul O’Toole (5-for-9, 5 RBI, 2B), Steve Stanley (5-for-11, 5 R, 2 2B) and Andrew Bushey (4-for-9, 3 RBI, 3, 2 2B) while Joe Thaman hit 4-for-6 and scored five runs … J.P. Gagne turned in his fifth strong start of the season (5 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 4 H, BB, 3 Ks) while Drew Dufff won the nightcap (7 IP, 6 R, 9 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks) … the doubleheader marked the first time that the Irish had reached 15 runs in consecutive games since the 1993 postseason, when Notre Dame 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) … Eric Sutton was the losing pitcher in the first game (GU’s Carlos Gazitua hit a double).
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Eighth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 645-412-1 (.610) record in 19-plus college seasons … in addition to his 313-133-1 (.701) 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 313 wins rank 3rd all-time at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … 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.
UCONN SWEEP A RARITY: Prior to last week’s games at UConn (3-4, 8-9, 6-13) – ND’s first three-game losing streak since early in 1999 – Notre Dame had been swept just once in 30 previous BIG EAST three-game series, with the previous 3-0 opponent sweep coming five seasons and 27 series ago (at Seton Hall, on the first weekend of the 1997 BIG EAST season) … the Irish now have lost just six of 56 all-time BIG EAST series, with UConn’s series win representing the first by an ND opponent in a three-game series since the Irish dropped 2-of-3 at St. John’s to close the 1999 regular season (ND had won 14 straight three-game BIG EAST series prior to this weekend’s action) … ND left 31 on base in the three-game series (16 in the finale), compared to 17 runs scored … the Irish also dropped their BIG EAST opener for just the second time since joining the league in ’96 while the ND was swept for just the forth time in 53 BIG EAST doubleheaders … ND was 11-1-1 in its previous 13 extra-inning games before the 9-8 loss.
WHO’S ON FIRST?: NDs rotating lineups included the following combinations in the first 18 games (senior DHs Ken Meyer and Matt Bok have combined for just two DH starts, due to the Irish needing them at other positions while freshman SS Matt Macri has been relegated to just DH starts):
C … Andrew Bushey (8, shoulder injury), Matt Bok (7), Paul O’Toole (3, hand),
1B … Joe Thaman (10, shoulder), Ken Meyer (8)
2B … Steve Sollmann (8, quad), Paul O’Toole (4), Javier Sanchez (3), Geoff Milsom (1), Matt Bok (1), Kris Billmaier (1)
SS … Javier Sanchez (10), Matt Edwards (8, leg)
3B … Paul O’Toole (10), Andrew Bushey (5, shoulder), Javier Sanchez (3)
LF … Matt Bok (6), Brian Stavisky (5, shoulder), Ken Meyer (4), Kris Billmaier (2), Brent Weiss (1)
CF … Steve Stanley (18)
RF… Kris Billmaier (11), Brian Stavisky (4), Matt Strickroth (1), Ken Meyer (2).
DH … Matt Macri (14, elbow), Brent Weiss (2), Ken Meyer (1), Matt Bok (1)
SOME STREAKS FOR ALL SEASONS: Senior CF and national player-of-the-year candidate Steve Stanley opened the season with a 13-game hitting streak (the fifth double-digit hitting streak of his career and second-longest overall) … Stanley – who closed the 2001 season by batting 14-for-23 in the NCAAs – already has collected 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 .431 season batting average includes six walks and three sacrifice bunts … he takes a four-game hitting streak to WVU, with hits in 17 of 18 games overall..
RECORD BOOK REGULAR: Stanley already has cracked the ND career top-10 list for games started (206, 8th, three behind 1993 grad. Eric Danapilis) … Stanley also has moved into 3rd on the ND career at-bats list (807), ranks 6th in runs scored (192, ’97 grad. Mike Amrhein is 5th with 195) and has pushed his career batting average to .368, which would rank 4th in the ND record book (just behind Scott Sollmann’s .372, from ’94-’96).
AN SB A DAY: Stanley has swiped 11-of-14 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 95 career SBs rank second in ND history, one ahead of Pat Pesavento (’86-’89) and six shy of Sollmann’s record total of 101 (from ’94-’96).
PENCIL HIM IN, OR USE PEN: Stanley has started all 206 games of his ND career (all in CF) while logging all but 16 innings in CF during his four seasons (he has played every inning of the last 55 games, spanning 475.0 innings) … the familiar #2 – who has totaled just seven errors in 473 career fielding chances (.985) – has patrolled CF in 99.09% of the innings (1,750.2 of 1,766.2), 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).
STANLEY IN THE BIG EAST RECORD BOOK: Two major BIG EAST career records also are within Stanley’s grasp, as he already ranks 6th in conference hits (112) and 7th in runs (81) … former Rutgers players Darren Fenster (138 hits) and David DeJesus (93 runs) currently hold those BIG EAST records … Stanley’s six career triples in BIG EAST play rank 9th in the league record book, four shy of the shared record … others in the BIG EAST top five for career hits include Pete Zoccolillo (130, Rutgers, ’96-’99), Mike Scott (126, Providence/UConn, ’99-’01) and UConn teammates Clarke Caudill (117, ’97-’00) and Billy Rich (113, ’96-’98) – with Stanley needing six hits to move into 4th on that list … others ahead of Stanley on the BIG EAST runs list include Fenster (90), Brian Fili (88, Villanova, ’94-’97), Zoccolillo (87), Dana Brown (84, ’86-’89) and Scott (83).
FOUR DOWN, SIX TO GO: Senior Paul O’Toole’s home run vs. Duquesne was the 21st of his career, to go along with 46 stolen bases – easily the most SBs ever by an ND catcher and 6th among all Irish players … O’Toole, who also homered in Round Rock vs. TCU and added a pair of long balls in the series at UConn, needs to average roughly one home run every six games for the rest of the 2002 regular 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).
FAR & WIDE: Notre Dame’s 2002 roster includes 35 players from 21 different home states/provinces … the top 10 position players and top three starting pitchers hail from eight different states, including five from Ohio and two from Florida, plus one each from Iowa, Pennsylvania, Washington, Missouri, Illinois and Minnesota.
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 could play 2B at West Virginia (he’s been relegated to DH due to an 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 added a pair of sacrifice flies later in the Homestead Challenge and ended his slump in Round Rock by collecting three hits and two RBI in the loss to Creighton … he stroked his first home run with the Irish (to left) and added an RBI double down the line and off the rightfield line in the 5-3 win over Southern Illinois, in San Antonio (he’s batting .230 overall, with a team-best 13 RBI).
NIESEL MAKES HISTORY: Chris Niesel’s impressive debut at the UNO Classic vs. Southern Illinois was noteworthy in several respects:
- His 10 strikeouts equaled the second-most ever by an ND freshman and are the most by an Irish freshman in his first start … LHP Don Wolfe posted 12 Ks as a freshman in a 10-0 win over Butler on April 20, 1975, while RHP David Sinnes had 10 Ks in a nine-inning win at Xavier on April 16, 1990 (2-0).
- Niesel also became the first Notre Dame freshman pitcher to start an opening-week game Christian Parker’s gem that beat Pepperdine (14-5) at the 1995 Anaheim Classic (Parker started for the New York Yankees in the opening week of the 2001 season and currently is on the Yankees 40-man spring training roster).
- Just two previous Notre Dame pitchers have posted a double-digit strikeout game in February, with Alex Shilliday totaling 10 Ks in a 6-1 win over Evansville on Feb. 27, 1998 (8 IP, at the Diamond Classic) while Danny Tamayo had 10 Ks last season in the 7-4 win over Sam Houston State at the Alamo Invitational (Feb. 25, 6 IP).
ROAD TRIPPERS: Notre Dame is slated to play its first 22 games away from home, in seven different cities: New Orleans, Homestead, Fla., Round Rock and San Antonio, Texas, Storrs, Conn., Morgantown, W.Va., and Washington, D.C. … the Irish then will spend virtually all of April (18 of 22 games) in the friendly confines of Eck Stadium, including the first 14 games of the month (before an April 20-21 series at Seton Hall, plus the April 30 game vs. Michigan in Grand Rapids) … ND’s 12 regular-season games in the month of May will include eight at home, plus a May 11-12 road series vs. Villanova and the May 14 game at Purdue … all told, the Irish will play 26 of their final 34 games at Eck Stadium.
WHO’S BACK, WHO’S GONE?: Notre Dame returned many of the key elements from its landmark 2001 season (49-13-1), including the top five hitters, nine of the top 10 position players and 16 total letterwinners … top losses included starting SS Alec Porzel and the squad’s top starting pitchers, four-year All-American Aaron Heilman and fellow first team all-BIG EAST performer Danny Tamayo … the veteran core includes five senior and two juniors among the top nine returning position players … the ND returning offensive players combined for 91% of the team’s stolen bases in 2001, plus 86% of the walks, 85% of the hits, 82% of the RBI and 81% of the home runs … the returning pitchers totaled 26 of ND’s 49 wins last season while logging 49% of the innings, 30 of 63 starts, 43% of the Ks and all eight saves.
TOP PROSPECTS: Notre Dame junior LF Brian Stavisky is listed 25th on Baseball America’s annual list of top pro prospects in college baseball … Stavisky is the 8th position player and 2nd OF on the list, behind Stanford’s Jason Cooper (12) … ND was the only school with multiple outfielders on BA’s list of the top 100 college prospects, with senior CF Steve Stanley listed 80th (he’s the 34th position player and 14th OF on the list) … only seven teams had more than two players listed among the top 80 on that list … ND (7) joined Stanford (10) as the schools with the most players among BA’s top-40 prospects by college class: Stanley (9th among seniors), C/3B Paul O’Toole (31st senior), Stavisky (25th junior), 2B Steve Sollmann (37th sophomore), SS Matt Macri (2nd freshman) and freshman RHPs Chris Niesel (11th) and Martin Vergara (15th).
SCORING STREAK: Notre Dame heads to WVU riding the school record for consecutive games with at least one run scored (203) … the Irish scored in the final 58 games of 1999 and in every game of 2000 (64), ’01 (63) and ’02 (18), for a streak that stretches back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 … the previous 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 the 1994 NCAA East Regional at Clemson) … the previous record streak ended vs. another Texas team, 2-0 vs. Texas Pan-American in a seven-inning game on March 10, 1997 (at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio) … ND has scored in 98.9 pct. of its games in the Mainieri era (439 of 444), with other shutouts 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: 121-games (April 23, 1930-May 26, 1937) and 103-games (May 25, 1907-May 17, 1912).
FALL SIGNEES: Notre Dame signed six high school seniors to national letters of intent in the 2001 fall period: C Cody Rizzo (Temecula, Calif.), SS Greg Lopez (Upper Arlington, Ohio), OFs Craig Cooper (Plainview, N.Y.) and Brennan Grogan (Tequesta, Fla.), RHP Ryan Doherty (Toms River, N.J.) and 3B/RHP Matt Bransfield (Englewood, Colo.) … Cooper, Doherty and Grogan have been listed among Team One Baseball’s top 200 high school prospects while Cooper, Doherty and Rizzo are ranked among Baseball America’s list of the nation’s top prospects … Grogan and Cooper are accomplished OFs who should add speed to the lineup while Lopez has been rated as the best infield prospect to come out of talent-rich Ohio in five years (according to The Buckeye Scout) … Rizzo is a talented all-around catcher who could make the biggest contributions as a freshman while Bransfield’s versatility could prove valuable to the 2002 squad … Doherty provides an added dimension to the class, due to his 7-1, 235-pound frame that produced plenty of interest from Division I basketball programs.
THE SHIFT: Notre Dame’s 2002 lineup includes several position switches, with junior Brian Stavisky shifting from RF to LF (flipping with classmate Kris Billmaier) while seniors Paul O’Toole and Andrew Bushey are slated to split time behind the plate (where O’Toole made 128 starts from 1999-2001) and at third base, where Bushey owns 148 career starts.
MLB CONNECTIONS: Several Notre Dame graduates currently serve as top executives in Major League Baseball: Oakland A’s president Mike Crowley (’85), Cleveland Indians CEO and president Lawrence Dolan (’54, also ’56 ND Law School grad.), Arizona Diamondbacks GM Joe Garagiola, Jr. (’72), L.A. Dodgers V.P. of External Affairs Tommy Hawkins (’59), Tampa Bay Devil Rays GM John McHale (’71), Tampa Bay owner and CEO Vince Naimoli (’59) and MLB Director of Special Events Brian O’Gara (’89) … Hawkins, a star basketball player for the Irish, played with the NBA’s L.A. Lakers before going into broadcasting.