May 5, 2000
HOME STRETCH: After playing 29 of its first 43 games away from home, the Notre Dame baseball team (38-12, 14-5 BIG EAST) is at the halfway point of a 13-game homestand to end the regular season … ND is ranked 20th in this week’s Baseball America poll … the Irish-who still have a shot at the BIG EAST regular-season title-welcome Pittsburgh to Eck Stadium for a three-game series (May 6-7) before tangling with league-leading Rutgers on May 13-14 (all games with 12:05 starts, with Saturday doubleheaders and single games on Sunday) … prior to the current homestand, the road-weary Irish had played nine road games (plus two home games) in a 12-day span, traveling to five different cities.
STILL ALIVE: Thanks to the resilient play of the Notre Dame baseball team-plus some help last week from Seton Hall (which posted a pair of 7-5 wins over Rutgers)-the BIG EAST regular-season title has yet to be clinched by league-leading Rutgers (17-3) … ND (14-5) has the best chance to catch the Knights while SHU (12-7) maintains a slim shot at the title … ND’s formula for a first-place finish includes winning at least 2-of-3 from Pittsburgh before the daunting challenge of needing to sweep Rutgers (RU only needs one win over ND to clinch the title-even if the Irish sweep Pitt) … seeding for the six-team BIG EAST Tournament is based on winning pct.
WHAT ABOUT … ?: In the event that any of ND’s remaining games are cancelled due to rain, the following would apply: (1) the Irish can’t lose twice to Pittsburgh, no matter how many games the teams play, (2) and ND can’t lose any games to Rutgers … if ND loses one game to Pitt (in a series ending 0-1, 1-1 or 2-1), then the Irish would have to beat Rutgers three times (a 2-0 series with RU would not be enough) … if ND loses no games to Pitt (in a series ending 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0), then the Irish could capture the title with a 2-0 or 3-0 series vs. RU … if the ND-Pitt series is cancelled entirely, then ND would need to beat RU three times for the title … the ND-Pitt series can use Monday as a makeup day but the ND-RU series will not have a makeup day due to the impending BIG EAST Tournament.
UPDATED BIG EAST STANDINGS
|Team||Rec.||Pct.||Gms Left||High Finish||Low Finish|
|1.||Rutgers||17-3||.850||BYE, @ND||.870 (20-3)||.739 (17-6)|
|2.||Notre Dame||14-5||.737||PITT, RUT||.800 (20-5)||.560 (14-11)|
|3.||Seton Hall||12-7||.632||@WVU, @SJ||.720 (18-7)||.480 (12-13)|
|4.||Connecticut||11-9||.550||@GU, BYE||.609 (14-9)||.478 (11-12)|
|5.||Boston College||11-9||.550||BYE, @PITT||.609 (14-9)||.478 (11-12)|
|6.||Pittsburgh||8-10||.444||@ND, BC||.583 (14-10)||.333 (8-16)|
|7.||West Virginia||7-9||.438||SHU, VILL||.591 (13-9)||.318 (7-15)|
|8.||Villanova||7-10||.412||@SJ, @WVU||.565 (13-10)||.304 (7-16)|
|9.||St. John’s||6-11||.353||VILL, SHU||.522 (12-11)||.261 (6-17)|
TIEBREAKERS (many ties are unlikely, due to previous rainouts)
would lose a tie in the standings with ND (would require two ND-Pitt rainouts)
2-1 vs. SHU, UConn, BC ,WVU and VILL … PITT would win tie if it catches ND
2-1 vs. BC, VILL … 1-2 vs. ND, UConn … TBD vs. WVU, SJU … DNP vs. PITT
2-0 vs. VILL … 2-1 vs. SHU, BC, WVU … 1-2 vs. ND, PITT … DNP vs. SJU
3-0 vs. VILL … 2-0 vs. SJ … 1-2 vs. ND, SHU, UConn … TBD vs. PITT … DNP vs. WVU
2-1 vs. UConn … 1-1 vs. WVU … 1-2 vs. VILL, SJ … DNP vs. SHU … would win tie w/ ND … TBD vs. BC
2-1 vs. SJ … 1-2 vs. ND, UConn … 1-1 vs. PITT … TBD vs. SHU, VILL … DNP vs. BC
2-1 vs. PITT … 1-2 vs. ND, SHU … 0-2 vs. UConn … 0-3 vs. BC … TBD vs. SJ, WVU
2-1 vs. PITT … 1-2 vs. ND, WVU … 0-2 vs. BC … TBD vs. VILL, SHU … DNP vs. UConn
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup * — lefthanded hitter, # — switch hitter
|DH||Ken Meyer||So.||6-0/210||Fort Myers, FL||.349 (29-for-83), 13 RBI, 21 R, 3B, 8 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR, BB, 13 K||SJU series: 8-for-12, 18 TB, HR, 6 R|
|CF||*Steve Stanley||So.||5-9/150||Upper Arlington, OH||.348, 19 RBI, 38 R, 3B, 9 2B, 3B, 25 BB, 16 K, 24-31 SB, 9 SAC||Riding 15-game hit streak (22-for-47)|
|SS||Alec Porzel||Jr.||6-0/190||Lisle, IL||.346, 40 RBI, 30 R, 5 HR, 3 3B, 18 2B, 15 BB, 18 K, 7-13 SB, 7 SF||Yet to ground into a double play|
|1B||*Jeff Felker||Sr.||6-5/190||Ellicott City, MD||.310, 41 RBI, 34 R, 6 HR, 3B, 16 2B, 10 BB, 20 K, 1-4 SB||Career vs. Pitt: .435 (10-for-23)|
|RF||*Brian Stavisky||Fr.||6-3/230||Port Allegany, PA||.295, 33 RBI, 37 R, 12 HR, 5 3B, 10 2B, 14 BB, 31 K, 1-6 SB||Owns ND freshman HR record|
|LF/C||Matt Nussbaum||Sr.||6-0/180||South Bend, IN||.272, 31 RBI, 26 R, 3B, 8 2B, 10 BB, 13 K, 4-4 SB, 3 SF||Has caught 77% of IP in last 27 gms|
|C/LF||*Paul O’Toole||So.||6-2/210||Lakewood, OH||.275, 22 RBI, 33 R, 4 HR, 3B, 6 2B, 17 BB, 21 K, 12-13 SB, 3 SF||May ’99: .353 (18-for-51), 4 HR, 12 RBI|
|3B||*Andrew Bushey||So.||6-0/200||Boardman, OH||.280, 23 RBI, 20 R, 2 HR, 3B, 7 2B, 17 BB, 9 K, 1-3 SB, 4 SF||Team-best 21.1 plate app. per K|
|2B||*Jeff Perconte||Sr.||5-11/190||Arlington Hts., IL||.219, 14 RBI, 17 R, 3B, 4 2B, 8 BB, 23 K, 0-2 SB, 2 SF, 6 SAC||Just one error in 85 chances (.988)|
|DH/LF||Matt Strickroth||So.||6-5/230||Mission Viejo, CA||.259, 11 RBI,15 R, HR, 5 2B, 5 BB, 12 K, 2-2 SB, SF||3rd on team in 2-out batting avg. (.318)|
|DH||#Matt Bok||So.||5-11/185||Akron, Ohio||.222, 10 RBI, 14 R, 3 2B, 11 BB, 12 K, 1-2 SB, SAC, SF||Hitting .375 w/ runners in scor. pos.|
|UTIL||#Ben Cooke||Jr.||5-9/170||Bay Village, OH||.209, 4 RBI, 10 R, 2 2B, 3 BB, 11 K, 2-6 SB, 3 SAC||Two 1Bs, 2 R in 6-4 win over Georgia|
|OF/IF||Kris Billmaier||Fr.||5-11/185||Woodinvale, WA||.298, 3 RBI, 10 R, 3 HR, 4 BB, 5 K, 0-1 SB||3 HRs in last 2 weeks (2 — GU, Oak.)|
|RHP||Aaron Heilman||Jr.||6-5/210||Logansport, IN||2.40, 9-1, 13 GP/10 GS, 7 CG, 78.2 IP, 94 K/18 BB, .222 opp. avg.||Has won last 9 dec., 18 Ks @WVU|
|RHP||Scott Cavey||Sr.||6-5/200||Omaha, NE||3.35, 5-2, 9 GS, 53.2 IP, 50 K/15 BB, .219 opp. avg.||Owns BE’s 2nd-lowest opp. avg.|
|RHP||J.P. Gagne||Fr.||6-0/190||Bloomington, MN||3.32, 6-1, 14 GP/9 GS, 57 IP, 34 K/18 BB, .311 opp. avg.||BE Rookie of Week (6 IP, 0 ER vs. BC)|
|LHP||Mike Naumann||Jr.||6-0/180||Tucson, AZ||3.03, 2-1, 22 GP/32.2 IP, 17 K/5 BB, .350 opp. avg.||Only LHP on Irish staff|
|RHP||Matt Buchmeier||So.||6-0/190||Greenwood, IN||3.60, 3-2, 15 GP/2 GS, 40 IP, 32 K/11 BB, .258 opp. avg.||Team-best .189 opp. avg. w/ runners on|
|RHP||Matt Laird||Fr.||6-1/190||Bellaire, TX||2.82, 5-2, 13 GP/9 GS, CG, 44.2 IP, 34 K/12 BB, .272 opp. avg.||Righthanders hitting .248 vs. him|
|RHP||John Corbin||Sr.||6-3/200||Hollywood, FL||2.45, 3-1, 11 SV, 23 GP, 33 IP, 42 K/11 BB, .205 opp. avg.||ND season & career (20) save leader|
|RHP||Brandon Viloria||Fr.||5-11/215||Wailuku, HI||3.24, 0-0, 10 GP/1 GS, 16.2 IP, 15 K/0 BB, .277 opp. avg.||Yet to walk a batter (16.2 IP)|
|RHP||Drew Duff||So.||6-0/175||Sevierville, TN||5.14, 4-2, 12 GP/8 GS, 42 IP, 35 K/13 BB, .310 opp. avg.||ND record for Ks at Eck (10 vs. IUPUI)|
|RHP||Mike Carlin||Jr.||6-5/210||Manhattan, KS||4.82, 0-0, 6 GP/9.1 IP, 5 K/8 BB, .229 opp. avg.||20 career appearances|
|RHP||Tom O’Hagan||Sr.||6-3/180||Crystal Lake, IL||2.45, 0-0, 3 GP/3.2 IP, 3 K/2 BB, .091 opp. avg.||DNP in 1999|
The Notre Dame — Pittsburgh Series
ND leads the all-time series with Pittsburgh 13-1, including three narrow ’99 wins at Eck Stadium (4-1, 3-2, 9-8) and a pair in ’98 at Three Rivers Stadium (11-1, 12-7, third game rained out) … the Irish posted a pair of home wins over Pittsburgh in ’96 (8-3, 2-0) and split a pair at Pittsburgh in ’97 (11-8, 6-7) … the teams first met in 1951 (a pair of Irish wins at Pitt, 5-3 and 10-5), with the Irish taking two from the Panthers at home in 1952 (18-3, 9-4) … the only game between the teams from 1953-95 came in 1989, a 16-9 Irish win in Orlando, Fla.
CAREER STATS VS. PITT:
Senior 1B Jeff Felker owns a .435 career batting avg. vs. the Panthers (10-for-23, 5 RBI, 4 R, 4 2B, BB, 2 K, 1-1 SB), with other veteran numbers including: junior SS Alec Porzel (.467, 7-for-15, 4 RBI, 7 R, 2 2B, 2 HR , 2 BB) and senior 2B Jeff Perconte (.345, 8-for-23, 5 RBI, 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 K, 1-2 SB) … other ND career offensive numbers vs. Pitt include: sophomore LF/DH Matt Strickroth (3-for-4, 3 RBI, R, HR), sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole (.364, 4-for-11, 3 RBI, 3 R, 2 HR, BB, 3 K), junior utility player Ben Cooke (.250, 3-for-12, 3 R, 5 K, 2-2 SB), sophomore CF Steve Stanley (.250, 3-for-12, RBI, R, 2-3 SB) and senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (.100, 1-for-10, R, K) … six ND pitchers have faced Pitt earlier in their careers, with junior RHP Aaron Heilman posting a complete-game win in ’99 (1.29, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 8 K, BB, HB) while senior RHP Scott Cavey has made two relief appearances vs. the Panthers (3.38, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 K) … other ND career pitching numbers vs. Pitt: sophomore RHP Drew Duff (1-0, 1.1 shutout IP, 3 K, WP) and senior RHPs John Corbin (9.00, 1-0, 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 K, BB, WP, HB) and Tom O’Hagan (9.00, 0-1, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, K).
RECAPPING THE 1999 Notre Dame-Pittsburgh SERIES (4-1, 3-2, 9-8 at Eck Stadium)
GAME 1 (4-1) — Aaron Heilman (7-1) faced just 25 batters while posting his 5th complete game of the season and 7th straight win (1 R, 2 H, BB, 8 K, 9 groundouts, 86 pitches) … John Schultz took the complete-game loss (4 R, 11 H, 6 K) … every ND starter collected a hit, led by Jeff Felker’s 3-for-3 day (RBI double) … ND opened the scoring in the 3rd, as Steve Stanley converted a one-out bunt single, stole second and took third when catcher Doug Caraway’s throw skipped into CF … Paul O’Toole then singled up the middle past a drawn-in infield … ND added a run in the 4th, when Ben Cooke sent a two-out single past diving 2B Lou Melucci, stole second and scored on Jeff Perconte’s 1-0 single to center … consecutive doubles from O’Toole, Jeff Wagner and Felker produced two more runs in the 5th … Heilman’s shutout bid ended in the 5th, when Stanley misjudged a sharply-hit fly ball from Chris Delsignore, who hustled to a triple before scoring on Stuart Rykaceski’s sacrifice bunt. PITTSBURGH 0-0-0 0-1-0 0 1 2 3 NOTRE DAME 0-0-1 1-2-0 X 4 11 1 J. Schultz and Caraway. Heilman and O’Toole.
GAME 2 (3-2) — Matt Strickroth’s winnin single capped a tense game that saw ND score in the 6th and 8th only to see Pittsburgh score twice in the 9th … Strickroth — a late defensive substitution who was hitting just .159 in 63 ABs — then sent a two-out, first-pitch single through the right side for his fourth RBI of ’99 … Alex Shilliday had no decision (6 shutout IP, 3 H, BB, 6 K, 7 groundouts) while Drew Duff set down Pitt in the 7th before John Corbin picked up the blown-save win … Corbin worked out of a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the 8th but served up a two-run, game-tying HR by Steve Dickinson in the 9th … Jory Coughenour was the hard-luck loser (9 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 2 K) … Alec Porzel opened the 9th with a first-pitch single to left before Brant Ust battled back to earn a full-count walk … Wagner then hit a groundball to the 3B but Porzel alertly backed away from the tag, eliminating any chance at a double play … Felker moved Ust to third on a groundball to the SS before Strickroth’s game-winning hit … ND had ended the scoreless game in the 6th, behind Perconte’s double down the LF line, Stanley’s bunt single to the 2B Melucci and O’Toole’s double-play ball … ND added a run in the 8th, after Cooke’s single up the middle, Perconte’s single through the right side and Stanley’s sacrifice fly … Pitt threatened in the 8th, after Delsignore’s leadoff single to right, a muffed catch by Felker at 1B and a controversial hit-by-pitch call on Rykaceski (on a bunt try) … but Corbin struck out Mike Pokrzywinski and Melucci on three straight pitches (both swinging) before inducing a Joe Lydic groundout … the Panthers cashed in their 9th-inning chance, when Brad Rea drew a full-count walk and Dickinson launched his 11th home run of the season into the gusting wind and over the fence in LC field. PITTSBURGH 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 2 7 0 NOTRE DAME 0-0-0 0-0-1 0-1-1 3 9 2 Coughenour and Hoopes. Shilliday, Duff (7), Corbin (8) and O’Toole.
GAME 3 (9-8) — O’Toole hit two home runs but Porzel stole the show, drilling a first-pitch HR in the 9th … ND needed to overcome two deficits (1-0, 4-2) before claiming an 8-4 lead (Pitt scores twice in the 7th, twice in the 9th) … the Panthers collected 14 hi1ts, led by Lydic (2-for-5, two-run HR, 3 R) and Darrin Lenhart (3-for-5, two-run HR) … Drew Duff picked up the one-batter-faced win, after striking out Mike Gonda on a 2-2 pitch in the 9th … Tim Kalita posted his fifth no-decision of ’99 (7 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 11 H, 3 BB, 7 K) … Steve Vickroy took the loss in relief of Josh Knauff (4.1 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 3 K) … Pitt opened the scoring in the 1st, after Chris Delsignore’s single and stolen base, Lou Melucci’s bunt single and a dropped ball by the 1B Strickroth on an attempted pickoff … the Irish answered with two runs, as O’Toole sent a 2-0 pitch into the over the RF fence before Wagner’s single down the LF line plated Ust … Doug Caraway’s RBI double tied the game in the 2nd and the Panthers went back ahead with two in the 3rd, thanks to Melucci’s full-count double and Lydic’s 1-2 HR to right … O’Toole drilled another solo shot to right field, on a 3-1 pitch in the 3rd, and the Irish tied the game when Perconte’s groundout scored Cooke in the 4th … ND stretched to 8-4 in the 5th, as O’Toole walked and Porzel stroked a single to left, followed by a wild pitch and Ust’s sacrifice fly … a second wild pitch allowed Porzel to score and Wagner walked before Strickroth parked a 1-1 pitch over the fence in LC … Lenhart connected on a 1-2 pitch in the 7th and the Panthers rallied with two outs in the 9th, vs. Scott Cavey … Lenhart and Lydic reached on slow grounders to the left side before a passed ball and Dickinson’s two-run single to right … Porzel then added to his reputation for dramatic home runs, sending a first-pitch offering over the LF fence. PITTSBURGH 1-1-2 0-0-0 2-0-2 8 14 1 NOTRE DAME 2-0-1 1-4-0 0-0-1 9 10 2 Knauf, Lazeski (5), Vickroy (7) and Caraway. Kalita, Cavey (8), Duff (9) and O’Toole.
SHILLIDAY, LIDGE LEAD DOMINATING DH AT THREE RIVERS:
Alex Shilliday and Brad Lidge highlighted a dominating 25-strikeout doubleheader by the ND pitching staff, vs. Pitt on April 18, 1998, at Three Rivers Stadium (11-0, 12-1) … Shilliday and Lidge both pitched seven innings while Steve Szczepanski and Scott Cavey closed the nightcap … the 48 outs broke down as follows: 25 Ks, 15 groundouts, 3 DP balls, 3 popups, 1 caught stealing, 1 flyout … ND allowed nine baserunners (4 H, 4 BB, HP) while facing 53 batters, five over the minimum … Shilliday was working on a no-hitter in the 6th before Aaron Vicari’s first-pitch bunt down the 1B line … Shilliday needed just 79 pitches and faced 23 batters (1 H, 1 HP, 9 Ks, 8 GOs) … the game marked the first solo one-hitter by an Irish pitcher in five years, since David Sinnes posted a 6-0 win at Evansville on April 24, 1993 (9 IP, 1 BB, 1 HP, 5 K’s, 31 BF) … Chis McKeown and Tim Kalita one-hit Bowling Green in ’97 … Shilliday allowed one ball to leave the infield?Harry Ciavarella’s game-ending flyout to center … Lidge (109 pitchers) racked up a career-best 12 Ks and faced just 25 batters over 7 IP (2 H, 3 BB, 6 GOs) … Lidge’s 12 Ks equaled the most by an ND pitcher since Bob Bartlett’s 13 vs. Bethel in 1980 .
PUSHING 40: A sweep in the May 6 DH vs. Pittsburgh would land the ND baseball team (38-12) on 40 victories in the second-fewest games in team history (trailing only the 1990 team, which opened 40-10) … ND is on the verge of securing the Irish baseball program’s 12th consecutive season with 40-plus victories … ND entered 2000 with the nation’s fifth-longest streak of consecutive seasons with 40-plus wins, but just one of the four teams with longer streaks already has reached 40 (Florida State is 41-9, for its 23rd straight 40-win season) … Wichita State (32-15) needs a late surge to reach 40 wins for the 23rd straight season while Oklahoma State (30-18) could see an end to its streak of 20 straight seasons with 40-plus wins … Clemson (37-12) is on the verge of its 15th straight season with 40-plus (the Tigers’ still have three-game series vs. Florida State and Virginia, plus a single game vs. Liberty).
RADIO & TV COVERAGE: The Pittsburgh series will be carried live by South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM), with real-audio (plus real-time stats) available via the ND website (www.und.com) … WHME TV-46 will broadcast the nine-inning game on May 6, with a delayed airtime of 11:00 p.m.
HEILMAN LOOKS FOR 10 STRAIGHT: Irish junior RHP Aaron Heilman heads into the Pittsburgh series with victories in each of his last nine decisions (he lost to Ohio State, 5-4, in the second week of the series, after his errant double-play throw led to two unearned runs and a squandered 4-0 lead) … if he is able to defeat the Panthers, Heilman would become just the second ND pitcher-and the first since 1908-to win 10 straight decisions (Frank Scanlan posted a 10-0 record in ’08).
ND REMAINS AMONG NATION’S ERA LEADERS: ND entered the week with the 2nd-best team ERA in the nation (3.06) but has slipped into a tie with BIG EAST rival Rutgers for 4th, at 3.23-trailing Louisiana-Lafayette (2.79), Florida State (3.09) and South Carolina (3.21) … ND finished ’98 ranked 12th in the nation with a 4.02 ERA … ND posted a 5.15 ERA in ’99, with all 13 current ND pitchers having an ERA that is lower than that number (11 are under 3.60) … 6th-year ND pitching coach Brian O’Connor-who pitched in the CWS while at Creighton-has overseen the ND pitching staff’s rise among the national ERA leaders … the 13-member staff includes four freshmen, two sophomores, a junior who missed most of ’98 and all of ’99 before “Tommy John” surgery and a senior who did not pitch in ’99 while preparing for his medical school tests … just three of the nine veterans had logged 50-plus career innings prior to 2000: junior Aaron Heilman (176) and seniors Scott Cavey (94.1) and John Corbin (66.1) … the Irish lost three of their top pitchers from ’99: senior Alex Shilliday (career stats of 65 GP, 290 IP, 25-17, 4.41, 265 Ks), senior LHP Chris McKeown (53 GP, 182.1 IP, 13-7, 3.85, 153 Ks) and junior LHP Tim Kalita (47 GP, 214 IP, 11-3, 4.00, 214 KS) … that threesome combined for 165 career appearances, 687 IP, a 49-27 record and 664 Ks … in individual NCAA stats, Heilman ranks 30th with a 2.40 ERA while Corbin is tied for 12th in saves (11) … ND owns the nation’s 7th-best winning pct. (38-12, .760).
MORE ON THE ND STAFF: The current 3.23 ERA would rank best by an ND staff since the vaunted ’92 Irish pitchers finished at 3.06 … equally as impressive, the ND pitchers have nearly a 3-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (2.98, 376/126), which would blow away the team record of 2.40 (set in ’63) … the staff’s 2.68 BB/9 IP (126/423) also is on pace for a team record (2.82 in ’94) … the ND defense (.962) is on pace to challenge the team record for fielding pct. (.965) and has turned nearly one double play per game (44 in 50) … finally, the ND pitchers have a huge ratio in favor of groundouts (464) over flyouts (355) … ND’s opponents in 2000 have included four of the nation’s top hitting teams (three-game series vs. BC, plus games vs. Air Force, Chicago State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and two of the nation’s top-scoring teams (Wake Forest and Georgia), plus noteworthy games vs. Ohio State, Minnesota, Georgia, North Florida (the nation’s top-ranked Div. II team) and Illinois (2) … two of O’Connor’s former pitchers-RHP Brad Lidge (’96-’98, 17th pick in 1st round by Houston) and LHP Tim Kalita (’97-’99, 7th-round in ’99 by Detroit)-developed into high draft picks while at ND (Lidge was a 42nd-rounder out of HS, Kalita was not drafted) … current junior RHP Aaron Heilman currently is rated as high as the No. 3 prospect in college baseball, after being a 54th-round pick out of HS.
A WINNING TRADITION: In five BIG EAST seasons, ND has posted 32 series wins, five series losses and four series ties … the Irish have won 15 of their last 17 BIG EAST series (with one tie) and 27 of the last 32 (with three ties) … Notre Dame has played 39 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 20 of them (with 17 splits and just two sweeps by the opponent) … the Irish have played 30 straight BIG EAST doubleheaders since the last time they were swept by the opponent (at Seton Hall, early in ’97) … the only other doubleheader sweep by a BIG EAST team over ND was by West Virginia in ’96 (at ND) … the Irish have played 21 BIG EAST series at Eck Stadium, winning 17 of them (plus one tie) … St. John’s is the only team to post a series win over the Irish in ND’s last 16 BIG EAST series (at the end of the ’99 season) … ND has played 38 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 19 (with 18 splits, two opp. sweeps) … the Irish have played 30 straight BIG EAST doubleheaders-and 37 straight overall-without being swept (since dropping two at Seton Hall on May 22, 1997).
THE X FACTORS: Three Notre Dame players have shown noticeably different production in the Irish wins and losses this season: sophomore DH Ken Meyer (.422 batting avg. in wins, .105 in losses-for a .317 differential), senior 1B Jeff Felker (.357 in wins, .159 in losses, .198 differential) and sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole (.330 in wins, .140 in losses, .190 diff.) … in fact, during ND’s last four losses, the above three players have combined to hit just 5-for-47 (.106):
* West Virginia (1-for-12)
Meyer 0-for-4 … O’Toole 0-for-4 … Felker 1-for-4
* Western Michigan (1-for-12)
Meyer 0-for-4 … O’Toole 0-for-4 … Felker 1-for-4
* St. John’s (2-for-10)
Meyer 1-for-3 … O’Toole 1-for-3 … Felker 0-for-4
* Northwestern (1-for-13)
Meyer 0-for-5 … O’Toole 0-for-4 … Felker 1-for-4
WHO’S HOT?: Sophomore CF Steve Stanley heads into the Pitt series riding a career-best 13 games (he had a 12-game streak in 1999) … Stanley’s streak is third-longest by an ND player this season, trailing streaks by Porzel (15 games) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (14) … Stanley is hitting .467 during the 13-game streak (22-for-47), with 17 runs scored, seven RBI, seven stolen bases, six doubles (he had just three before the streak), six walks and just two strikeouts … he has raised his batting average during the streak from .307 to .348 (just shy of Ken Meyer’s team-leading .349) … ND’s top hitters during the last 10 games included Stanley (.486, 15 R, 5 RBI, 4 2B, 6 BB, 6-7 SB) and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (.406, 13-for-32, 5 RBI, 4 R, HR, 3B, 2B, 4 BB, HP, K, SF, SH, 1-1 SB) … players who are looking to end recent hitting slumps include senior 2B Jeff Perconte (2-for-19/.105 in last 10 games), sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole (.148, 4-for-27) and senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (.229, 8-for-35).
GOING, GOING … NOT GONE: Home runs truly have been at a premium in college baseball during the 2000 season, as the national average has dipped 20 percent-from 0.95 per game to 0.77 … the HR production has dropped even more among BIG EAST teams (from 1.01/gm in ’99 to 0.70 this season-a drop of 30 percent) … Notre Dame has totaled 35 home runs in its first 50 games of the 2000 season (compared to 56 HRs at the 50-game point in ’99) and the Irish likely will post their lowest season home run total since the 1994 season (39, followed by season HR totals of 60-58-66-73-70 from ’95-’99) … freshman RF Brian Stavisky (12) has accounted for one-third of the Irish home run total in the 2000 season, with just three others players owning more than three HRs: senior 1B Jeff Felker (6), junior SS Alec Porzel (5) and sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole (3) … the loss of the team’s top two career HR leaders (Jeff Wagner, 49, and Brant Ust, 46) has left a void in the Irish lineup but several players are capable of closing with a home run flurry.
THE PRECIOUS LONG BALL: The dropoff in home runs has made them even more pivotal to the Irish success this season, as Notre Dame is just 16-10 in games this season when not hitting a home run, compated to 22-2 when the Irish hit a least one homer (7-0 with two-plus).
SIX-RUN PLATEAU: Despite ND’s dropoff in team batting average (.307 in ’99, .293 in 2000) and scoring (from 7.5 runs/9 IP to 6.7), the Irish have used consistently effective pitching and defense to compile one of the nation’s top won-loss records … in fact, ND is 22-2 this season when scoring six-plus runs-with the only losses coming in the second week of the season to Minnesota (9-7) and in the recent 11-7 loss to Western Michigan.
MAKING ‘EM EARN IT: The Notre Dame position players have compiled one of the top defensive seasons in Irish baseball history and defense has played a tangible role in the won-loss column, as four of ND’s 12 losses in 2000 have been a result of unearned runs … the Irish are just 9-9 this season when making two-plus errors but own a sparkling 29-3 mark when making 0-1 miscues in the field … the current .962 season fielding pct. (70 errors in 50 games, 1.4/gm) ranks third in Irish history, trailing the .965 posted by the 1982 and ’92 ND squads … the Irish have posted 14 error-free games in 2000, plus 18 with one error, nine with two errors and nine with three-plus Es … the Irish defense also is averaging nearly one double play per game (44), on pace to challenge the team record of 60 DPs set in 1998 … ND heads into the Pitt series with just three errors in the last four games … senior 2B Jeff Perconte opened the season with 34 error-free games and has totaled just four errors for a .972 percentage … the other starter on the leftside also has just four errors, as senior 1B Jeff Felker owns a .991 fielding pct. … sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (.923, 11 E) has turned in a solid season at the hot corner while sophomore CF Steve Stanley has made just two errors (.984).
GETTING IT OUT OF THE WAY: ND’s current streak of 40-win seasons has seen the Irish reach that mark six times during the regular season and five times during the postseason … with a current mark of 38-12 and six games left on the schedule, ND still has a chance to tie the team record for most regular-season wins (the 1990 team went 44-10), with four other teams tied for the second-most wins at 41: 1989 (41-16-1), 1991 (41-16), 1992 (41-13) and 1999 (41-15) … that ’99 season marked the first time in the Paul Mainieri era that the Irish didn’t need the postseason to reach 40 wins (it took three wins in the ’95 MCC Tournament, one at the ’96 and ’97 BIG EAST Tournaments and two at the ’98 BET) … ND’s current winning pct. (.780) ranks as the second-best regular-season record by an Irish team during the past 12 seasons, trailing only the ’90 team (44-10, .815) and narrowly ahead of the ’92 squad (41-13, .759).
NOTES FROM THE DH WITH OAKLAND (May 3):
* ND rode a complete-game from Matt Laird (8 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks) and a seven-run 2nd inning to win the 9-3 opener and the Irish pitchers struck out 16 in the 5-3 nightcap, in a pair of 7-inning games.
* Laird registered the first complete game by an ND pitcher other than Aaron Heilman … ND opened the day with a 2-run inning, thanks to Alec Porzel’s fifth home run of the season … the big 2nd inning was highlighted by Jeff Felker’s two-out, two-run double an ND team that had averaged just one run per game during the first two innings of the previous 48 games (the Irish had yet to score more than three runs in the first two innings prior to the nine-run explosion).
* ND again jumped ahead early in the nightcap, scoring three in the 1st … Kris Billmaier launched his third HR of the season to left in the 4th, for a 4-0 lead … Danny Tamayo earned his first win in over two years while tying his career-best with seven Ks (3 IP, 2 R, 4 BB) … John Corbin (2 IP, H, BB, 5 Ks) closed the game to set the ND single-season save record (11) … ND set an Eck Stadium record for most Ks thrown by one team (16), besting the 15 by the Irish in an 11-inning game vs. Bowling Green in ’98.
NOTES FROM NORTHWESTERN (May 2):
* Zach Schara (2 ER, 9 H, 4 Ks) tossed nine solid innings while Northwestern’s 9-4 win included big contributions from the top of its lineup (12 H, 7 RBI), in the annual “Turn-Back-The-Clock Night” at Frank Eck Stadium … Drew Duff took the loss after a rocky first three innings (5 R, 8 H, K).
* Northwestern’s 18-hit total represents the third-most hits ever turned in by an ND opponent at Eck Stadium (which opened in 1994).
* ND’s Alec Porzel hit 3-for-4, with a two-out RBI single in the 3rd … Jeff Felker also had an RBI single and RBI groundout.
FELKER, IRISH WALK OFF WITH SJU SERIES: Senior 1B Jeff Felker-who provided the game-winning hit earlier in the week, in an 11-inning, 5-4 win over Michigan-again came through in the clutch, as the lanky lefthander delivered a walkoff home run to punctuate another wild game with St. John’s, 9-8 in the series finale on April 30 at Eck Stadium … Sunday’s wild finish saw the teams combine for 12 runs and 11 hits (3 HRs) in the final three innings … St. John’s strategy of holding back its ace Kevin McGerry (7 IP, 9 H, 4 BB) was wrecked by the Irish offense … ND countered with the lesser-heralded J.P. Gagne, but the freshman RHP responded in fine fashion and was in line for the win after six solid innings (8 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks) … Irish sophomore DH Ken Meyer completed an 8-for-13 weekend by batting 4-for-5 from the leadoff spot, highlighted by his third career home run (second of the season), plus a double and one other run scored … the teams combined for five home runs, including the first opposite-field shot of the season from Irish freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky — a three-run blast over the leftfield fence that pushed the Irish to a 7-5 lead in the 7th … John Corbin replaced sophomore reliever Matt Buchmeier in the 9th — with two runners on and no outs — before serving up Pete Graham’s RBI single, a sacrifice bunt and Michael Niksa’s game-tying groundout … with go-ahead run at third, Corbin forced Jason Kane to hit a groundout to the right side … Despite facing a lefthander in freshman Tom Klemm, Felker went with the first pitch and drove the ball over the fence — just 20 feet left of the dark screen in center field (for a rare opposite-field shot from Felker) … nearly half of the runs in the ND-SJU series came in the 7th-9th innings (17 of 38).
IRISH SPLIT DH WITH ST. JOHN’S (April 29)
Game One (8-3): Aaron Heilman posted his 9th consecutive winning decision while registering his BIG EAST-leading 7th complete game of the season (7 H, BB, 9 Ks) … Kevin Zaug took the loss (5 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks) … Ken Meyer enjoyed a 4-for-8 doubleheader from the leadoff spot, with triples in each game and two doubles in the opener … other key contributors to the opening win included Jeff Felker (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 R), Matt Nussbaum (2-for-3, 3 RBI) and Andrew Bushey (3-for-3, RBI) … ND opened with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Meyer’s leadoff double and Felker’s RBI single … Meyer sparked the Irish again in the 3rd with a leadoff double down the LF line, followed by Stanley’s sac. bunt, a fielding error and RBI single for a 3-0 score.
Game 2 (4-6): St. John’s scored five late runs to earn the split … ND’s Scott Cavey had no decision in the nightcap, despite 7.1 strong innings (3 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks) … John Corbin took the loss (3 R, 4 H), after serving up the game-winning triple down the leftfield line by Charles Bilezikjian (on a two-out, 1-2 pitch) … ND’s Alec Porzel took a 1st-inning, first-pitch offering from Keith Stamler and sent it over the fence in right-center field … SJU tied the game in the 4th but ND claimed its second of three leads in the 5th (2-1), sparked by Paul O’Toole’s leadoff double … Cavey returned to the mound in the 8th but had just one more out left in him, with SJU ultimately taking a 3-2 lead on Pete Graham’s run-scoring groundout and Eric Potts’ RBI single to right … the lead then swung back to ND (4-3) thanks to Meyer’s triple, Stanley’s double and Porzel’s go-ahead single.
ND RECORD BOOK UPDATE: Jeff Felker is tied for 7th on the career games played list (217) and could move past four others before the end of the regular season: Joe Binkiewicz (217, ’89-’92), Pat Pesavento (218, ’86-’89) and former Irish assistant coach Cory Mee (219, ’89-’92) … Felker’s 208 career starts rank 6th all-time, three behind Eric Danapilis (’90-’93) … he also ranks 4th in career at-bats (751) and has cracked the career hits top-10 list, with 234 … Porzel has moved past one of his predecessors at SS, J.J. Brock, into 9th place on the career doubles list, with 44 (Felker is 4th, with 54) … Corbin’s 60 appearances rank 10th in Irish history … Stanley (24-for-31) has joined Pesavento (38 in both ’88 and ’89) as the only ND players ever to steal 24-plus bases in consecutive seasons (he also had 24 in ’99).
APRIL IN THE BOOKS: Notre Dame turned in a solid 20-6 record during the month of April (.769), representing the eighth season in which an ND baseball team has won 20-plus games in its last full month of competition … the more noteworthy April records turned in by recent ND teams include 20-3 in 1998, 22-5 in ’94, 21-5 in ’90, 24-6 in ’95 and 22-6 in ’80.
STRESS RELIEVER: The strength of ND’s pitching and defense in 2000 has led to a downturn in the team’s number of close finishes and comeback wins … in fact, the Irish have needed to rally in their final turn at-bat just five times in the 2000 season (and three of those came in extra innings)-compared to 13 final-AB wins in ’99 (just one in extra innings)-while posting just 10 wins with a margin of 1-2 runs (17 in ’99) … ND also has posted 15 “blowout” wins (5-plus runs) this season (just 11 in ’99), with the team’s average margin of victory rising from 3.6 in ’99 to 4.4 this season.
|Wins in final turn at-bat||13||5|
|Record in 1-run games||10-4||7-1|
|Record in 1 or 2-run games||17-6||10-4|
|Average win margin||3.6||4.4|
WINDY ROAD TO SAVE RECORD: Notre Dame senior righthander John Corbin (Hollywood, Fla.) set the Irish single-season record with his 11th save of the 2000 campaign, in the 5-3 nightcap vs. Oakland on May 3 … Corbin-who had squandered two save chances during the previous weekend in the St. John’s series-also is the ND career save leader with 20, well ahead of the three players who previously had held the record with 12 (current junior Aaron Heilman was one of those previous record-holders).
A “CLOSER” LOOK: Despite his rocky weekend vs. the Red Storm, John Corbin has compiled a steady 2000 season that includes a 2.45 ERA (2nd on the staff, behind Aaron Heilman’s 2.40), a 3-1 record, 42 strikeouts (3rd on the staff) and just 11 walks in 33 IP … he has yielded just 24 hits for a .205 opponent batting avg. that ranks 5th-best by an ND pitcher since ’91 … Corbin has proven highly effective in key situations, as he leads the staff in low opponent two-out batting average (.190) and ranks 2nd among the ND pitchers for opponent avg. with runners on base (.209) … righthanded batters are hitting just .189 vs. Corbin and he leads the staff with 11.45 Ks per game (his 3.8 K-to-walk ratio trails only Heilman’s 5.2) … he has yet to allow a home run in 33 IP-which would rank as the 4th-most IP by an ND pitcher without giving up a HR (since ’87, with A.J. Jones next on the list at 40.1, in ’93) … opposing batters have totaled just a .274 slugging pct. vs. Corbin (three 2B, three 3B) … Corbin leads the BIG EAST in saves and appearances (23, 8th in ND history) … his 11 saves are tied for 12th in the nation, with East Carolina’s Cory Scott owning an eye-popping 20 … during his two seasons as the ND closer, Corbin has converted 20 of 26 save opportunities (11-of-14 in 2000) while allowing 14 of 35 inherited baserunners to score (7-of-17 this season) … Corbin had left nine straight inherited runners on base before letting 5-of-6 score in his last three outings with inherited runners (the 7-5 loss to Purdue and the final two SJU games) … after missing most of his first two seasons due to injury, Corbin’s past two seasons have seen him have a hand in 30 ND wins while yielding the following two-year stats: a 3.68 ERA, 10-4 record, 20 saves, 86 Ks in 80.2 IP, 29 walks and 73 hits allowed.
SEE THE BALL, HIT THE BALL: Notre Dame sophomore DH Ken Meyer has compiled an unusually high ratio of hits to walks during the 2000 season, as the righthander has totaled 29 hits while drawing just one walk … Meyer also has shown an affection for extra-base hits, as just half of his hits (15) have produced singles, plus eight 2B, four 3B and two HRs- producing his team-best .614 slugging pct.
ACADEMICS: The ND baseball program posted a 3.10 team GPA in the ’99 fall semester-the program’s best semester in the six-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4-plus) in the fall of ’99, with 19 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 11 times since ’82, with top candidates in 2000 including senior 2B Jeff Perconte (3.73 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government) and junior LHP Mike Naumann (3.95, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters) … senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (3.28, government) and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (3.49, business) also have been nominated for Academic All-America honors.
CONFERENCE WINNING PCT.: Over the course of its first four seasons in the BIG EAST Conference (1996-99), ND ranked first in the 11-member conference with: a .701 overall winning pct. (169-72, Rutgers was second at .618), a .741 BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. (63-22, Rutgers was second at .692) and a .709 winning pct. in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (73-30, Rutgers was second at .665) … St. John’s owned the best BIG EAST Tournament winning pct. during the past four seasons (.625, 9-6), followed by Notre Dame at .556 (10-8) … in fact, the double-elimination tournament has been the ultimate bugaboo for Notre Dame, with the same team providing the Irish losses during each of the first three seasons (WVU in `96, Villanova in `97, RU in `98) before the Irish were beaten by complete game-efforts from Seton Hall and Providence in `99.
THE ECK: ND has enjoyed great success at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southeast corner of campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 pct. of their games at “The Eck” in six-plus seasons (165-38, .813, since ’94), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in ’97 and a 136-31 home record (.814) during five-plus years under head coach Paul Mainieri … ND has posted victories in 92 of its last 112 games (.821) at Eck (since late in the ’96 season), including a 39-7 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.
THREE THOUSAND GAMES: The Notre Dame baseball program has amassed 3,015 official games in 108 seasons as a varsity sport-reaching the 3,000-game milestone on Saturday, March 25, in the first game of the doubleheader at Villanova.
RARE DOUBLE: Notre Dame posted an .878 (36-5) combined BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. in 1999 in baseball (20-5) and softball (16-0, first unbeaten season in BIG EAST history) … that .878 combined winning pct. ranks first in BIG EAST history, since the conference started sponsoring softball in 1992 (Notre Dame held the previous record of .800, set by the baseball and softball teams of 1996 and ’98) … Notre Dame also became the first BIG EAST school ever to post the top conference regular-season winning percentages in baseball and softball during the same season … thus far in the 2000 season, the ND baseball (43-12) and softball (32-10) teams have combined for a .773 overall winning pct.
NARROWEST OF MARGINS: The ND baseball team has posted a 7-1 mark in one-run games during the 2000 season, with wins in seven straight after a 5-4 defeat to Ohio State in the second game of the season … the one-run wins include the following: Memphis (4-3), Butler (3-2), Iowa (3-2), Bowling Green (2-1), West Virginia (4-3), Michigan (5-4, 11 inn.) and St. John’s (9-8) … the Irish are 10-4 overall in games decided by 1-2 runs, with the best ND hitters in those “close games” including sophomore DH Ken Meyer (.429, 9-for-21), junior SS Alec Porzel (.389, 21-for-54) and sophomore CF Steve Stanley (.380, 19-for-50).
GAGNE EARNS BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THR WEEK: ND RHP J.P. Gagne (Bloomington, Minn.) was named BIG EAST rookie of the week, after an impressive victory as the game one starter in the BC series (April 8) … Gagne was moved into the role of first-game starter, after the BC series shifted to a DH on the second day (due to weather) … Gagne scattered six hits and four walks over six IP in the 12-1 win, allowing one unearned run while recording three Ks and six groundouts.
GOOSE ON THE LOOSE: Sophomore DH Ken Meyer-nicknamed “Mongoose” due to his deceptive speed-continues to spark the Irish from the leadoff spot and turned in an impressive series last week vs. St. John’s, batting 8-for-12 (.667) with 18 total bases, including a home run, two triples and three doubles … he reached base nine times in the SJU series (also a HBP) and scored six runs in the three games (he reached on 11-of-15/.773 of his leadoff at-bats during the entire week) … in the 8-3 win over SJU, Meyer doubled and scored in both the 1st and 3rd before tripling and scoring in the 6th (all were leadoff ABs) … in the 6-4 loss to SJU, he hit another leadoff triple and scored … in the 9-8 series finale, Meyer singled in the 1st and, doubled and scored in the 7th and hit a huge solo HR in the 8th (for an 8-6 ND lead).
THAT’S WHY THERE’S FOUR BASES: The ND pitching staff opened the season with solid success versus leadoff batters, but the season average of leadoff batters reaching base has risen to 34.5 percent … despite allowing an average of three leadoff batters to reach base in every 9-inning game, the Irish pitchers have buckled down with runners on base (.252 opponent batting average), with runners in scoring position (.246) and with two outs (.259)-all of which fall below the overall opponent batting avg. (.261) … the ND pitchers have sliced their opponent batting avg. with runners in scoring position nearly 40 pct. points from 1999 (.284 to .246).
GO THE DISTANCE: ND surprisingly has produced three of the BIG EAST’s leaders in triples: freshman RF Brian Stavisky (1st, with five), sophomore DH Ken Meyer (3rd, with four) and junior SS Alec Porzel (5th, with three) … Stavisky totaled just three triples in his entire high school career (due primarily to the smaller ballparks) while Meyer did not have a triple in 60 ABs during his freshman season at ND … Porzel tripled in four consecutive games early in the ’99 season (that ended up being his season total) and is tied for 9th in Irish history with nine career triples.
SENIORS RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS HONORS: Both of the Notre Dame baseball team’s senior captains were honored at the annual All-Sports Banquet, as Jeff Perconte (Arlington Heights, Ill.) was one of five student-athletes to receive the Byron Kanaley Award while Matt Nussbaum (South Bend, Ind.) was one of two to receive the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award … the Kanaley Awards are the most prestigious honors presented to senior student-athletes at the University … since 1927, they have been awarded annually to monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as both students and leaders … selected by the Notre Dame Faculty Board on Athletics, the awards are named in honor of Byron V. Kanaley, a 1904 graduate who played baseball for the Irish … following his graduation, Kanaley went on to enjoy a successful banking career in Chicago, Ill. … he then served on the University’s Alumni Association as a lay trustee until his death in 1960 . Perconte was hitting .429 until a shoulder injury caused him to miss 11 games early in the 2000 season … a tri-captain and starting second baseman, he played 34 error-free games to open the season … a six-time Dean’s List student, he carries a 3.73 GPA as a double major in economics and government … Perconte earned GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 1999 and is a member of the Academic Honors faculty mentoring program … he is a two-time Rockne Student-Athlete Award winner and serves as a resident assistant at Knott Hall … Perconte is the 11th baseball player to win the honor and the first since Erik Madsen won the award in 1989 … Perconte will attend Notre Dame’s law school in the fall … the other Kanaley Award recipients included swimming standouts Elizabeth Barger and Ray Fitzpatrick, baseball star Jeff Perconte, women’s soccer All-American Jenny Streiffer (Baton Rouge, La.) and rowing headliner Katrina Ten Eyck. Nussbaum joined women’s tennis captain Kelly Zalinksi as the 1999-2000 recipients of the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award … since 1993, the University has presented this award named for a student-athlete who died in 1973 following his freshman year at Notre Dame … Pat O’Connor was the son of William “Bucky” O’Connor who played guard in football for Notre Dame in the 1940’s … the award honors one female and one male student-athlete who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions and inspirations to their respective teams … to be considered, student athletes must possess those qualities attributed to Pat O’Connor himself – caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, honesty, humor, kindness and patience … Nussbaum first joined the baseball program as walk-on freshman in 1997 and played sparingly during his first two seasons before bursting onto the scene as a two-year starter and as one of the team’s top situational hitters … he has played in 47 games while helping the Irish post a 38-12 record and earn a national top-25 ranking … he has started at left field, in addition to making 30 starts this season at catcher, despite just picking up that position in the summer of ’99, and ranks fourth on the 2000 team with 30 runs batted in.
IRON MAN: Due to a midseason arm injury to sophomore Paul O’Toole, ND senior Matt Nussbaum has shouldered much of the recent catching duties for the Irish and has logged 57 percent of the innings behind the plate this season (242 of 423) … Nussbaum caught 19 straight games fro April 1-22 (he caught 136 of 160 innings in that stretch, or 85%) and he turned in one 11-game stretch from April 11-22 that saw him behind the plate for 88 of 91 innings.
HARD TO K: Senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum again has proven to be a tough out at the plate, averaging 14.0 plate appearances per strikeout (182/13) … sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey has been the toughest ND player to strike out in 2000, with 21.1 plate appearances per K (190/9) … true to his season average, Bushey heads into the Pitt series with just one K in his last 41 plate appearances … Nussbaum (4) and Bushey (2) have struck out “looking” just a handful of times in the 2000 season (senior 1B Jeff Felker has just three KLs this season.
WINS & LOSSES: ND’s team stats have some glaring differences when comparing the 38 wins to the 12 losses, including: a .311 team batting avg. in the wins, .237 in the losses, a .972 team fielding pct. in the wins, .934 in the losses, and 19 unearned runs in the wins (0.5/gm), compared to 30 in the losses (2.5/gm).
CLEARING THE COBWEBS: After early first-inning struggles, ND now owns a 26-21 scoring edge in the 1st inning and a 101-65 in the first three innings … the Irish have dominated most in the 4th inning (34-14) and own a 148-104 scoring edge from the 5th-8th innings (+44, in 50 games).
IN THE CLUTCH: Despite hitting just .293 as a team, the ND offense has performed noticeably better with runners on base (.310) but is hitting just .296 with runners in scoring position … top Irish hitters with runners in scoring position include sophomore CF Steve Stanley (.395), sophomore DH Matt Bok (.375), sophomore DH Ken Meyer (.360) and senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (.355).
HEILMAN EARNS SEVENTH BIG EAST WEEKLY PITCHER AWARD: Notre Dame junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named the BIG EAST Conference baseball pitcher of the week for the third time in the 2000 season and the seventh time in his career, after turning in an historic 18-strikeout game in the 10-inning win at West Virginia on April 15 … Collegiate Baseball magazine also named Heilman as one of the three Louisville Slugger national players of the week, making Heilman one of just two players in the nation *UCLA lefty Rob Henkel is the other) to receive that honor twice this season … Heilman-who is the only BIG EAST player ever to receive more than four weekly BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week awards during his career.
HEILMAN UPGRADED TO NO. 3 PROSPECT: In another noteworthy release from a national publication, Baseball America magazine upgraded Heilman to the No. 3-rated prospect in college baseball, based on reports filed in early April (prior to Heilman’s 18-K game at WVU) … Heilman entered the 2000 season as the No. 9-rated prospect in college baseball, according to BA’s annual survey of major league scouting directors.
BASEBALL AMERICA UPDATED DRAFT FORECAST (April 15): ” … The best attribute among other top pitching prospects has been consistency. No scouting director with a pick among the first 10 in the draft will come out and say, ‘Id love to get a shot at Justin Wayne or Aaron Heilman or Beau Hale,’ but most acknowledge that all three would be on a short list. … Wayne has compiled a 22-2 record in three years at Stanford and has been unhittable at times this spring. His stuff is solid across the board and he pitches with maturity and purpose. … Heilman had limited opportunity to impress scouts because of Notre Dame’s early schedule, but his 93 mph sinking fastball is one of the most effective pitches in college baseball. … Hale throws harder than either Wayne or Heilman, consistently touching 94-95 mph, but he doesn’t have the secondary pitches or movement on his fastball of the other two. … “
BA’s Top 25 College Prospects (April 15): 1. Ben Diggins, rhp/1b, Arizona , 2. Justin Wayne, rhp, Stanford, 3. Aaron Heilman, rhp, Notre Dame, 4. Dane Sardinha, c, Pepperdine, 5. Tyrell Godwin, of, North Carolina, 6. Xavier Nady, 3b, California, 7. Beau Hale, rhp, Texas, 8. Daylan Holt, of, Texas A&M, 9. Joe Borchard, of, Stanford, 10. Chris Bootcheck, rhp, Auburn, 11. Patrick Boyd, of, Clemson, 12. Taggert Bozied, 1b, San Francisco, 13. Jason Young, rhp, Stanford, 14. Rob Henkel, lhp, UCLA, 15. Adam Johnson, rhp, CS Fullerton, 16. Chase Utley, 2b, UCLA, 17. Chad Qualls, rhp, Nevada , 18. Tim Hummel, ss, Old Dominion, 19. Mike Tonis, c, California, 20. Eric Henderson, lhp, North Carolina, 21. Lance Niekro, 3b, Florida Southern, 22. Tommy Murphy, ss, Florida Atlantic, 23. Aaron Krawiec, lhp, Villanova, 24. Bill Traber, lhp, Loyola Marymount, 25. Cory Vance, lhp, Georgia Tech.
2000 Draft Order (June 5-7): 1. Florida, 2. Minnesota, 3. Chicago Cubs, 4. Kansas City, 5. Montreal, 6. Tampa Bay, 7. Colorado, 8. Detroit, 9. San Diego, 10. California, 11. Milwaukee, 12. Chicago White Sox, 13. St. Louis, 14. Baltimore, 15. Philadelphia, 16. N.Y. Mets, 17. Los Angeles, 18. Toronto, 19. Pittsburgh, 20. California, 21. San Francisco, 22. Boston, 23. Cincinnati, 24. St. Louis, 25. Texas, 26. Cleveland, 27. Houston, 28. N.Y. Yankees, 29. Atlanta.
HEILMAN IN THE ND RECORD BOOK: Irish junior RHP Aaron Heilman owns 290 career Ks in 254.2 IP, ranking 2nd on the ND career K list behind David Sinnes (315, ’90-’93) … Heilman has averaged 10.25 Ks per 9 IP during his career, the best ratio ever posted by an ND pitcher with 140-plus career Ks … his 2.51 career ERA ranks 3rd-best in ND history, behind the 1959-61 duo of Nick Palihnich (2.36) and Jack Mitchell (2.49) … his .222 opponent batting avg. ranks 9th in ND single-season history … his 27-6 career record ranks as the 6th-most wins ever by an ND pitcher while his .818 career winning pct. ranks 4th-best and is the best mark since ’24 (min. 16 decisions, with Heilman ranking as the winningest among Irish pitchers with 25-plus decisions) … he ranks 9th in Irish history with 64 appearances (26 of them starts) and already has cracked 10th place on the Irish career list for IP (9th, at 254.2) … currently at 9-1, he could join Price (14 wins in ’94, 12 in ’93) as the only Irish pitchers ever to win 12-plus games in a season … Heilman (12 vs. Georgia, 18 at WVU) joined future Chicago Cubs World Series championship team member Ed Reulbach as the only ND pitchers ever to post 12-plus Ks in multiple games (Reulbach had 16 vs. both Indiana and Beloit in the 1904 season).
STAVISKY, CAVEY HONORED BY BIG EAST: The Notre Dame baseball team picked up two more weekly awards from the BIG EAST Conference, as freshman RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) was named the league player of the week while senior RHP Scott Cavey (Omaha, Neb.) was tabbed as co-pitcher of the week-following a string a six wins and no losses for the Irish during the April 17-23 period … Stavisky-the first BIG EAST freshman to earn a player or pitcher-of-the-week award this season-led the Irish during the week with a .455 batting average (10-for-22) … e also paced the team during the week with 10 hits, eight RBI, seven runs, three home runs and 25 total bases, plus two triples, two walks, just two strikeouts, a 1.136 slugging pct. and a .500 on-base pct … the 6-5, 230-pound lefthander extended hit hitting streak to nine games while boosting his season batting average to .300-his highest mark since March 26 … Cavey earned his second BIG EAST pitcher award of the season, after tossing six shutout innings in the 5-1 win at Georgetown on April 22 … the lanky senior allowed four hits and no walks while posing four strikeouts and five groundouts. He did not allow a GU leadoff batter to reach base.
MORE BIG EAST AWARD INFO.: ND has compiled eight BIG EAST weekly awards in 2000 (second only to Rutgers’ 11), with junior RHP Aaron Heilman picking up the pitcher award three times (March 6, March 27, April 17), sophomore C Paul O’Toole earning the March 13 player award and RHP J.P. Gagne picking up the April 10 rookie award (Cavey earlier had earned the Feb. 28 pitcher award) … ND has matched Rutgers by producing five different players that have earned a weekly BIG EAST award while the Irish are the runaway leader with five total pitcher-of-the-week awards (Rutgers and Seton Hall are next, with two each) … ND has produced at least one award winner in seven of 10 weeks this season and is one of five schools to produce the player and pitcher award winners in the same week (Rutgers has done it twice) … Rutgers and Notre Dame have dominated the BIG EAST weekly awards during the 2000 season-combining for nearly half of the 40 awards, followed by Seton Hall, Villanova, Boston College and Connecticut (all 4 each), Georgetown (2 each) and Pittsburgh, St. John’s and West Virginia (1 each).
Heilman Ties BIG EAST Record With 18-Strikeout Game At West Virginia * Notre Dame junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) tied a BIG EAST Conference record and came just shy of the Irish record with an 18-strikeout effort, lifting Notre Dame to a 3-1 victory in 10 innings at West Virginia on April 15 (the game was scheduled for seven innings) … Heilman-whose previous career best was 12 Ks, earlier this season vs. Georgia-seemingly got stronger as the game wore on, spotting his patented tough slider with regularity in the closing innings 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 batters he faced, including seven straight before yielding a single by Todd Cisneros with two outs in the bottom of the 10th … Kevin Olkowski-who had two of WVU’s six hits in the game-went down swinging on three straight pitches to end the game. * Heilman tied the BIG EAST record set by Seton Hall’s Jason Grilli in a 7-2 win over UConn ’97 (Grilli went on to become the 4th pick in the ’97 draft, by the S.F. Giants) … Frank Carpin is the only other Notre Dame 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) … one mark that did fall was the Hawley Field record for strikeouts in a game, as former WVU pitchers Kim West (vs. Geneva, 1971) and Wes Shaw (vs. Fairmont State, 1989) had shared that record with 16-strikeout games. * Heilman’s memorable day included just six hits and two BB, with 11 groundball outs and just one flyout … all nine WVU starters–plus reserve Matt McGee–were strikeout victims, with Mike Frownfelter and Eddie Weightman each registering three (four others had two each) … Heilman’s Ks by inning progressed as follows: 1-3-0-2-2-0-2-2-3-3 … six came on called third strikes while just two came on 3-2 counts (three on 0-2) … Heilman reached three-ball counts vs. just seven of the 39 batters he faced in the game … WVU scored its lone run in the 2nd inning.
NOTES FROM CLEVELAND STATE GAME (April 28)
* ND found itself in familiar territory, claiming a big lead in the early innings before needing some late runs to secure a 9-6 win over visiting Cleveland State … the Irish erupted for five runs in the 3rd only to see CSU tie the game with two in the 4th and four in the 7th … the Irish then pushed across three runs in the bottom of the 7th and junior righthander Danny Tamayo (H, BB, 3 Ks) closed out the final two innings for his first career save at Notre Dame.
* For the second straight night, members of the senior class provided big plays for the Irish … Jeff Perconte-whose junior season was ended by a shoulder injury suffered on a hustling slide at home plate versus CSU-fittingly provided a two-run double in the 3rd while Jeff Felker capped the inning with his 5th home run of the season.
* Junior LHP Mike Naumann was the Irish pitcher of record, yielding an unearned run and two hits while recording the final out in the top of the seventh (the Irish then took the lead in the bottom of the inning) … Drew Duff (6 IP, 2 R, 6 H, BB, 7 Ks)
IRISH WIN WILD GAME WITH MICHIGAN (April 26)
* Senior C and tri-captain Matt Nussbaum-who was featured in a Grand Rapids Press article earlier in the week-was involved in two of the game’s biggest plays , as ND pulled even with Michigan in the 9th inning, went ahead 5-4 in the 11th and won on a play at the plate, in annual “Baseball Bash” action at Old Kent Park … ND held a 3-0 lead in the 5th, only to see Michigan surge ahead, 4-3 … the teams combined for 24 runners left on base (13 by ND)
* ND’s game-long frustrations on the bases continued in the 9th, when Ken Meyer was picked off second (with Stanley at first) … Alec Porzel kept the Irish alive with a single to center and Nussbaum came through with two outs on a 2-0 count-lofting a single that landed inside the RF line.
* Michigan had a chance to end the game in regulation-with runners on second and third-but John Corbin forced Jay Dines into an inning-ending flyout to center.
* Steve Stanley ignited the winning rally, drilling a 1-1 pitch that tucked inside the leftfield line for a single … Felker went with a one-out first pitch and drove the ball into the gap in right-center-with Stanley again motoring all the way home as the Irish dugout erupted with the 5-4 lead.
* Corbin struck out Blake Rutkowski to lead off the 11th, but Jeff Quinn then sent a full-count pitch up the middle and Scott Tousa flied out to center, before David Parrish worked to an 0-2 count .. with Quinn running, Parrish sent a tricky groundball to the left of the 2B bag … Porzel ranged to his left in pursuit of the tough play but the ball then ricocheted off his body-bouncing in unusual fashion into shallow RC field … Quinn was waved home as four Irish players converged on the ball … Stanley was charging from CF and offered to make the throw but Porzel quickly overruled him, grabbed the ball and threw a strike to Nussbaum, on the first-base side of the plate .. as Quinn began his slide, Nussbaum dove across the plate and applied the tag-ending the game in the most dramatic of fashions.
* ND has won the last three games vs. Michigan at Old Kent Park … Stanley is now 7-for-10 in two career games at OKP.
NOTES FROM WMU LOSS (April 25)
* ND jumped out to a 6-1 lead but a season-high seven Irish errors and three WMU home runs pushed the Broncos to an 11-7 win, at the off-campus Sutherland Field in downtown Kalamazoo … ND saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end, despite claiming a 6-1 lead in the 3rd inning … Matt Buchmeier (4 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 6 H, BB, 4 Ks) suffered the loss in relief of Matt Laird … Brian Stavisky continued his torrid hitting, batting 3-for-4 while hitting his 11th home run … each of WMU’s final five runs was unearned, providing the final margin of victory.
* WMU surged to a 9-7 lead with a five-run 6th, sparked by a two-run shot from John Toner … Phil Henricksen then picked up three RBI with his first long ball of the season (to left)-moments after usually surehanded senior 2B Jeff Perconte had dropped a fading popup in shallow right field … prior to the WMU loss, ND had been 18-1 in 2000 when scoring six-plus runs (including 16 straight wins in such games, since the 9-7 loss to Minnesota on March 4) … the 11 runs equaled the 2nd-most scored by an Irish opponent in 2000.
NOTES FROM DH AT GEORGETOWN (April 22)
* ND erupted for six home runs while seven Irish pitchers combined to allow no earned runs, as the Irish swept a 5-1, 12-1 doubleheader … four Irish players combined on the six home runs, with Brian Stavisky and Kris Billmaier each smacking a pair of homers in the second game … Ken Meyer provided the big hit in the opener, with a three-run shot, while Andrew Bushey homered in the nightcap … the Irish had totaled just 21 home runs in their previous 39 games before Saturday’s barrage.
* The ND pitchers allowed just two leadoff batters to reach base in the day’s 16 innings while holding GU to a .133 batting average with runners in scoring position (2-for-15) … Scott Cavey tossed six scoreless innings in the opener (4 H, 4 Ks) while Randy Erwin took the complete-game loss (5 R, 6 H) … Drew Duff posted his second win of the week in the nightcap (5 IP, UER, 2 H, BB, 2 Ks) while Matt Arizin took the loss (3 IP, 6 R, 6 H, 2 BB, K).
* Jeff Felker’s four-year career stats vs. Georgetown include a .450 batting avg. (18-for-40), with 19 RBI, 15 runs, three home runs, five doubles, three walks and just one K … he nearly had a home run in the opener, but the ball hit off the far right pole at the top of the 30-foot fence in right field (25 feet inside the foul pole) before kicking off the scoreboard and back into play (he ended up with a double) … Bushey (3-for-4, 4 R, RBI, BB) and Stavisky (3-for-5, 4 RBI, 3 R) had big efforts in the nightcap.
NOTES FROM DH AT SETON HALL (April 20)
* Execution, clutch plays and defense made the difference, , as visiting ND swept the Pirates (11-5, 5-1) at Carroll Field … ND equaled the quickest season to 30 wins in Irish history (the `90, `94 and `99 teams also opened 30-9) … the Irish pitchers allowed 12 of 16 leadoff batters to reach base but then allowed just six hits in 45 Pirates ABs with runners on base (and just four hits in 33 ABs with runners in scoring position).
* Aaron Heilman (5 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 8 H, 5 BB, 9 Ks) and J.P. Gagne (6 IP, 1 R, 8 H, 4 BB, 3 Ks) both worked out of several jams to pick up the wins while John Corbin (2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 Ks) tied the ND record for saves in a season (10), after entering the opener with the Irish clinging to a 6-4 lead in the 6th … Matt Buchmeier (3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, K) picked up his second save of the season in the nightcap.
* The opener featured a rarity for the Irish this season, as ND erupted for two big innings-with a four-run 5th yielding a 5-2 lead while the five-run 7th put the game away.
* The Irish offense received key hits from several players, with nine collecting hits in the opener while seven had RBI … Steve Stanley and Jeff Felker each had two hits in the first game while Jeff Perconte drove in three runs.
* Six Irish players then collected hits in the nightcap (five had RBI and five scored), with Stanley, Perconte, Matt Nussbaum and Brian Stavisky each posting two hits.
* SHU left 24 runners on base in the doubleheader and managed just one run in the nightcap, despite totaling 17 baserunners (13 were stranded, three were erased on double plays) … SHU’s Alfie Critelli entered the day with a .361 batting average and 12 home runs but went 0-for-8.
* Mike Wren suffered his first loss of the season in the opener (4 IP, 5 R, 2 ER< 3=”” h,=”” 3=”” bb,=”” 2=”” ks)=”” …=”” b.j.=”” benik=”” dropped=”” the=”” nightcap=”” despite=”” a=”” solid=”” eight-inning=”” outing=”” (5=”” r,=”” 8=”” h,=”” 2=”” bb,=”” 5=””>
* Jeff Felker doubled in each game, becoming just the 7th ND player ever to total 50 career doubles.
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Sixth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 578-384 (.601) record in 17-plus seasons as a college head coach, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 246-105 (.701) 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 246 wins rank third at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 20 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 14 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of Mainieri’s 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 each top 500 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 games 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.
IRISH AMONG NUMEROUS PRESEASON PICKS: Notre Dame embarked on its 2000 season with a national ranking in two of the three major polls-the only school from the Midwest or Northeast in either poll-while several Irish players received a variety of preseason honors:
* ND was ranked 20th in the Baseball America preseason poll -marking the highest preseason ranking for the Irish since 1994. The Irish were ranked 25th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine preseason poll and received the 26th-most votes in the preseason USA Today Baseball Weekly Coaches Poll.
* Junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named a first team preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Heilman and Stanford’s Jason Young were the only pitchers named first team by both publications (each listed five).
* BA lists Heilman as the No. 9 professional prospect among draft-eligible college players (15th overall, including high school seniors). Heilman ranks fourth on that list among draft-eligible college pitchers.
* Heilman also was tabbed by both BA and the BIG EAST Conference coaches as the preseason BIG EAST pitcher of the year.
* BA lists Heilman and Young among the three prospects with the best breaking ball (both throw sliders). The magazine also singled out Heilman and Young as the pitchers who are “closest to the major leagues.”
* BA lists ND freshman RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) as the top newcomer in the BIG EAST Conference and the preseason BIG EAST freshman of the year. The magazine also projects Stavisky as the nation’s No. 5-rated prospect among current college freshmen, behind Clemson shortstop Jeff Baker, Florida third baseman Pat Osborne, Texas A&M first baseman Travis Wong and Stanford outfielder Jason Cooper.
* BA’s list of the “best tools” among BIG EAST players includes four from Notre Dame: Stavisky (“best raw power”), Heilman (“best fastball”), sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley (“fastest runner”) and senior Jeff Felker (“best defensive first baseman”).
* BA picked ND to win the 2000 BIG EAST regular-season title, followed by Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The BIG EAST coaches preseason poll forecasted Rutgers as the 2000 champion (76 voting points, five 1st-place votes), narrowly edging ND (74, 3), followed by St. John’s (69, 2), Seton Hall, WVU and Pittsburgh.
PROSPECTS: ND junior Aaron Heilman was listed 9th on Baseball America’s annual list of the top professional prospects in college baseball (15th among all players, including high schoolers) … Heilman ranked fourth on that list among draft-eligible pitchers, behind Arizona sophomore Ben Diggins (3rd), Auburn’s Chris Bootcheck (4th) and Stanford’s Jason Young (7th) … others on that list included California 3B Xavier Nady (1st), Clemson OF Patrick Boyd (2nd), North Carolina OF Tyrell Godwin (5th), Texas A&M OF Daylon Holt (6th) and Pepperdine C Dane Sardinha (8th) … Heilman’s teammates on the USA national team during the summer of ’99 included all of the above players, except for Bootcheck, Boyd and Sardinha … Heilman and Young were the only pitchers that were tabbed as preseason first team All-Americans by both BA (which also included Bootcheck, Diggins and UCLA’s Josh Karp) and Collegiate Baseball (which also included Miami’s David Gil, Florida State’s Jon McDonald, Oklahoma State’s Matt Smith and Cal State Fullerton’s Adam Johnson).
PROSPECTS, PART II: The BIG EAST placed two players in the top 25 of BA’s list of class of 2000 prospects, with St. John’s RHP Kevin McGerry checking in at No. 21 … only three conferences had more players among the top 25 prospects while the BIG EAST’s three players among the top 35 was tied for the second-most by any conference in the nation (Rutgers OF David DeJesus was rated 32nd) .. . eight BIG EAST players were listed among the top 150 prospects-ranking the BIG EAST behind just four conferences for most players in the top 150.