June 15, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame senior righthander John Corbin (Hollywood, Fla.) has been signed as a free agent by the Chicago Cubs and was scheduled to report this week to the Cubs rookie team in Mesa, Ariz.
Corbin could be reunited at some point with his classmate and close friend Jeff Felker, as the former Irish first baseman has begun his professional career as a member of the Cubs’ single-A team in the Northwest League, the Eugene, Ore., Emeralds.
Corbin-Notre Dame’s career save leader, with 20-is the fourth member of the 2000 Notre Dame baseball team to be selected in the first-year draft or sign a free-agent contract. Junior righthander Aaron Heilman was the 31st overall pick of the June 5th draft by the Minnesota Twins while senior righthander Scott Cavey was a 23rd-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays.
In addition to blowing away the previous Irish record for career saves (12), Corbin also set a Notre Dame record in 2000 by posting 11 saves in one season. He overcame a series of injuries during his first two seasons before filling Heilman’s shoes as the Irish closer in 1999 and 2000 (Heilman led the nation with a 1.61 ERA in ’98, plus nine saves and seven wins).
The final week of Corbin’s career produced one of the more memorable performances by any Irish pitcher in the program’s recent history, as Corbin logged the final five innings of an elimination-game victory at the NCAA Championship Starkville (Miss.) Regional (10-6 over Tulane, on June 27). The Irish weathered a 6-1 deficit and a 140-minute, tornado-induced rain delay to post that win, with Corbin answering the call shortly after play had resumed before turning in his longest stint of the season and second-longest of this career. His 98-pitch outing (easily the longest of his career) included just one run allowed and 22 batters faced, plus three hits, three walks and two strikeouts.
Corbin’s late-night performance (the game ended at 12:55 a.m.) seemingly sparked the Irish the next day, as junior righthander and fellow Florida native Danny Tamayo (Miami) logged the longest outing of his competitive baseball career-with a complete-game effort as Notre Dame shocked host MSU, 7-0, to force a decisive game later that day. In a game that saw the Irish rally from four deficits MSU finally won thanks to a leadoff home run in the ninth (10-9), with Corbin courageously asking to return to the mound before serving up the final hit.
CORBIN NOTES: Corbin’s ND career included a13-7 record, 4.64 ERA and 20 saves in 67 appearances (7th in ND history, with 64 coming in relief) … he averaged nearly one K per inning (112 in 114.1), plus 44 walks, 117 hits allowed, 14 wild pitches and 15 hit batters …his 30 appearances during the 2000 season led the BIG EAST Conference and rank 3rd in the ND record book, with his other 2000 stats including a 4.69 ERA, 5-4 record and 11 saves (best in the BIG EAST), plus 54 Ks (3rd on the staff, with 17 of the Ks “looking”), 20 walks, 44 hits allowed, three wild pitches and six hit batters in 48 IP … his .244 opp. batting avg. ranked 3rd on the staff (he was tops on the staff with just a .218 opp. avg. by righthanders) … Corbin finished 29 of his 30 relief outings in the 2000 season, ranked 2nd on the 2000 staff for opp. avg. with runners on base (.225) and led the ND pitchers in opp. avg. with two outs (.238) .. Corbin’s 10.13 Ks/9 IP ranked 2nd on the staff (behind Heilman’s 10.24) while Corbin’s 2.7 K-to-walk ratio was bettered only by Heilman’s 4.1 … during his final two seasons, Corbin converted 20-of-27 save opportunities (11-of-15 in 2000) while allowing just 14-of-37 inherited baserunners to score (7-of-19 in 2000) … in addition to the Tulane game, his more noteworthy outings of 2000 included a win in the early-season, 4-3 game at Memphis (1.2 IP, 2 H, BB, 3 K), a save in the 4-3 midseason win at West Virginia (2 IP, 3 H, K), a save in what proved to be a pivotal 11-5 win at Seton Hall (2 IP, 3 H, R, 2 K), a win in the 11-inning, 5-4 comeback over Michigan (3 IP, 3 H, BB, 4 K) and another three-inning effort in an 11-8 win over Pittsburgh (BB, 2 K).
IRISH BASEBALL PLAYERS SCATTER TO ALL CORNERS FOR SUMMER-LEAGUE ACTION
Three Notre Dame baseball players currently are competing in the prestigious Cape Cod League, a summer wooden-bat league that features the nation’s top collegiate players. Centerfielder Steve Stanley.-on the heels of a solid sophomore season that saw him lead the Irish with a .362 batting average- has returned to the Brewster Whitecaps (he also played for Brewster in ’99) and is joined on that team by his classmate and Irish catcher Paul O’Toole. Rightfielder Brian Stavisky has followed up his successful freshman season at Notre Dame as a member of the Hyannis Mets.
Two Irish players are spending the summer in another respected league, as senior-to-be righthander Danny Tamayo and rising junior outfielder/first baseman Matt Strickroth are playing for the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska Baseball League (Strickroth also played for Mat-Su in ’99).
Notre Dame shortstop Alec Porzel is spending the summer prior to his senior year in his native Chicago area while playing for a Prarie Gravel team that routinely makes trips to the National Baseball Congress World Series (held at the end of the summer, in Wichita, Kan.). Another Irish regular is playing close to home, as outfielder Kris Billmaier is looking to continue the hot play from his freshman season as a member of the Seattle Cruisers, which plays in a Pacific International League that converted to wooden bats in ’99.
Notre Dame has continued its recent history of placing players on the Hays (Kan.) Larks, one of the best teams in the Jayhawk League. Three Irish juniors-to-be are playing with the Larks this summer: third baseman Andrew Bushey and righthanders Drew Duff and Matt Buchmeier (Duff also played for Hays in ’99).
Junior-to-be designated hitter Matt Bok is playing in the Northeastern Collegiate League with the Newark Raptors while several other Irish players are competing with an assortment of teams located near their hometowns, with that group including rising sophomore righthanders J.P. Gagne (Bloomington, Minn.) and Matt Laird (Bellaire, Texas).