Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Field Announced for NCAA Regional in South Bend

May 24, 1999

The Notre Dame baseball team will play host to Cal State University at Fullerton, Creighton University and the University of Michigan in the NCAA Baseball Championship South Bend Regional, as announced today by the NCAA executive baseball committee.

The three-day, double-elimination tournament will be held at Frank Eck Stadium, the six-year home of Notre Dame baseball which is located on the southeast corner of the campus.

The regional will open on Friday, May 28, with the No. 1 seed Cal State Fullerton Titans facing the No. 4-seeded Michigan Wolverines at 3:00 p.m. EST (which corresponds to central time, as South Bend does not change its clocks). The second-seeded Irish then will face the No. 3-seeded Creighton Bluejays in the 7:00 p.m. game.

The tournament will continue with three games on Saturday, May 29, and the championship round on Sunday, May 30. The losers of the Thursday games will meet at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday while the first-day winners will play at 3:00 p.m., with the winner advancing to Sunday’s title round. The winner of Saturday’s first game and the loser of the second game then will play at 7:00 p.m., with the winner advancing to Sunday.

The first championship game will be played on Sunday, May 30 at 1:00 p.m., with a second game to be played at 6:00 p.m. if necessary (if two teams remain with one loss).

Each of the teams that will be visiting South Bend are previous participants n the eight-team College World Series.

Notre Dame is very familiar with both Creighton and Michigan. The Irish beat the Bluejays twice in early March of the 1999 season, at the Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio, Texas, by scores of 5-4 and 5-3 (championship game). The teams also split a pair of games in San Antonio during the 1997 season, with the Irish winning 7-3 while the Bluejays won the rematch in the IBC title game (8-5).

Fifth-year Notre Dame pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Brian O’Connor is a 1993 graduate of Creighton and was a four-regular on the Bluejays pitching staff. He pitched with Creighton in the 1991 College World Series, as the Bluejays enjoyed playing in front of their hometown fans. O’Connor hails from Council Bluffs, Iowa, which lies just over the Missouri River from Omaha.

Irish junior righthander Scott Cavey is an Omaha native and a graduate of Creighton Prep, where he played alongside four current Creighton players, including starting second baseman Vince Pietro. Michigan and Notre Dame have played each of the past four seasons, with the Irish winning 14-4 in a game earlier this season that was played at Old Kent Park in Grand Rapids, Mich. (April 20). The last three games between the teams have averaged 4,058 fans, including 5,350 in 1997. Notre Dame’s first varsity baseball game was played against Michigan on April 21, 1892 and the teams have met a total of 108 times during the past 108 seasons.

Notre Dame and Cal State Fullerton have met just once previously, at the season-opening Anaheim Classic in 1995 (the Titans won, 20-3). Notre Dame junior shortstop Brant Ust and Fullerton junior third baseman Ryan Owens were teammates during the summer of 1998 on the USA Baseball team (they split time at third base for Team USA).

Notre Dame is one of six schools that will be hosting an NCAA Baseball Regional for the first time, since the tournament shifted from a district to regional format in 1975. Notre Dame previously played host to NCAA tournament games following the 1949 and 1959 seasons.

The winner of the South Bend regional will advance to the Super Regional round, which will feature eight best two-of-three series on June 4-6. The eight Super Regional winners then will advance to the College World Series, to be held June 11-19 in Omaha, Neb.

Tickets for the South Bend Regional may be purchased at the Notre Dame Joyce Center Ticket Office or by calling (219) 631-7356 for credit cards orders. Tickets must be purchased on a single-game basis or as an entire regional package and a new ticket will be required for every game (including a potential second title game on Sunday).

Single-game prices are: $7.00 for adult reserved, $5.00 for adult general admission and $3.00 for college students and youth. Complete ticket packages for the entire regional are available for the following prices: $30.00 for adult reserved, $22.00 for adult general admission and $14.00 for college students and youth.

NCAA South Bend Regional Game Schedule

Day       Game     Teams                          Time/Result Friday    Gm 1  1. CS Fullerton vs 4. Michigan      3 p.m. Friday    Gm 2  2. Notre Dame vs 3. Creighton       7 p.m. Saturday  Gm 3     Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 2    11 a.m.  Saturday  Gm 4     Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 2   3 p.m. Saturday  Gm 5     Winner Game 3 vs Loser Game 4    7 p.m. Sunday    Gm 6     Winner Game 4 vs Winner Game 5   1 p.m. Sunday    Gm 7     Loser Game 6 vs. Winner Game 6   *
*If Necessary 6 p.m.

The South Bend Regional Champion will advance to meet the Columbus Regional Champ.


LOCAL CONNECTIONS: Creighton has six players who hail from Illinois, including several from the Chicago area. Those players include: sophomore LHP Dan Gooris (Skokie/Niles North HS), junior OF Ovid Valentin (Oak Park/Oak Park-River Forest HS), senior RHP C.J. Keating (Chicago/Brother Rice HS), freshman IF/OF Scott Allen (St. Charles/St. Charles HS), junior IF Dan Vrbancic (Schaumburg/Schaumburg HS) and freshman 1B Rhett Dwyer (Tinley Park/Vincent J. Andrew HS). Gooris is the Bluejays No. 2 starter, with a 10-6 record, 6.39 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 94.1 innings. Valentin, a prep teammate of Irish junior LHP Tim Kalita, is hitting .263 with five home runs and 43 RBI in 190 ABs. Keating is 3-4 with a 6.60 ERA and 48 Ks in 45 innings. Allen is hitting .33 with five home runs and 23 RBI in 117 ABs. Vrbancic is hitting .325 with one home run and eight RBI in 40 ABs. Dwyer is hitting .216 with two home runs and nine RBI in 51 ABs. Michigan has one player on the 25-man NCAA roster who hails from Indiana or Illinois: sophomore RHP Vince Pistilli (Highland, Ind./Highland HS), who is 3-3 with a 7.46 ERA and 14 Ks in 44.2 innings. All but one of Fullerton’s players hail from California (the other is from Draper, Utah).

CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTES: The Titans received the No. 3 overall seed in the 64-team NCAA field, after compiling a 44-11 regular-season record. Fullerton did not put in a bid as a regional host, due to graduation ceremonies this weekend. Fullerton won the Big West Conference regular-season title and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAAs (the Big West does not hold a postseason baseball tournament). The Titans team stats for the 1999 season include a .345 batting average, 75 home runs, 133 stolen bases, a 4.41 ERA and a .961 fielding percentage. Top players include: junior 1B Chris Beck (.415, 7 HR, 70 RBI, 27 SB, 43 BB), junior LF and Big West Player of the Year Spencer Oborn (.412, 14 Hr, 79 RBI, 21 SB) and junior 3B Ryan Owens (.363, 18 HR, 67 RBI, 15 SB). The Titans’ top pitchers are sophomore RHPs Adam Johnson (3.24, 9-3, 102.2 IP, 127 Ks, 40 BB, 86 H) and Matt Sorenson (4.11, 11-0, 105 IP, 73 Ks, 34 BB, 119 H).

FULLERTON HISTORY: The Titans and are making their 21st appearance in the NCAA baseball championship, all of which have come on the road due to graduation ceremonies during the same weekend. Fullerton, which will be visiting its 13th different regional site, has advanced to the eight-team College World Series nine times, winning the NCAA title in 1979, ’84 and ’95 while finishing as runner-up to Pepperdine in ’92. Fullerton ranks as the ninth winningest team in NCAA Division I baseball for the decade of the 1990s, with a .712 winning percentage (430-174).

NOTRE DAME NOTES: The Irish carry an overall record of 42-16 and posted a 20-5 record as the regular season champion of the BIG EAST Conference, becoming the first BIGEAST team ever to win more than 18 conference games in a season. Notre Dame’s 41 regular-season wins rank second in the program’s 107-year history while the Irish late-season highlights include a 1-0, near-no-hit win over No. 2 Miami (the Hurricanes secured their lone hit with two out and two strikes in the ninth). Notre Dame’s team stats for the 1999 season include a .309 batting average, 66 home runs, 82 stolen bases, a 5.15 ERA and a .955 fielding percentage. Top players include: junior SS Brant Ust (.370, 17 HR, 56 RBI, 10 BB), junior 1B Jeff Felker (.353, 9 HR, 40 RBI), freshman CF Steve Stanley (.333, 29 RBI, 48 R, 23 SB) and sophomore 2B Alec Porzel (.329, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 10 SB). The top Irish pitchers include sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman (3.33, 10-2, 100 IP, 11 Ks, 31 BB, 84 H) and junior LHP Tim Kalita (4.92, 4-1, 86 IP, 91 Ks, 42 BB, 88 H).

NOTRE DAME HISTORY: The Irish will be making their 14th appearance in the NCAAs and first since 1996, when Notre Dame traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Notre Dame has made one appearance in the College World Series, doing so in 1957. Notre Dame ranks as the seventh winningest team in NCAA Division I baseball for the decade of the 1990s, with a .726 winning percentage (439-166).

CREIGHTON NOTES: The Bluejays carry a 38-23 overall record and posted an 18-13 record in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season standings before advancing to the championship game of the MVC tournament, where Creighton lost 11-2 to Wichita State. The Bluejays’ team stats for the 1999 season include a .329 batting average, 77 home runs, 48 stolen bases, a 5.42 ERA and a .965 fielding percentage. Top players include: junior 3B Ryan Gripp (.396, 24 HR, 23 2B, 84 RBI, 49 BB), sophomore1B/C Dan Lawler (.360, 7 HR, 53 RBI) and junior 2B Vince Pietro (.359, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 60 R). Senior RHP Peyton Lewis also plays at first base while compiling impressive stats at the plate (.350, 19 HR, 76 RBI) and on the mound (2.97, 10-0, 97.0 IP, 106 Ks, 47 BB, 84 H). Creighton’s other top starter is sophomore LHP Dan Gooris (6.39, 10-6, 94.1 IP, 66 Ks, 28 BB, 127 H).

CREIGHTON HISTORY: The Bluejays will be making their fifth appearance in the NCAAs and first since 1992, a year after they advanced to the 1991 College World Series in their hometown of Omaha.

MICHIGAN NOTES: The Wolverines played their way into the NCAAs by winning the Big Ten tournament championship, with a 12-11 win over Minnesota in the second title game. Michigan carries an overall record of 32-28 and finished fourth in the Big Ten regular season standings at 15-13. The Wolverines’ team stats for the 1999 season include a .306 batting average, 58 home runs, 39 stolen bases, a 5.95 ERA and a .956 fielding percentage. Top players include: senior 2B Bobby Scales (.368, 9 HR, 47 RBI, 4 SB, 39 BB), senior OF Brian Bush (.352, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 12 SB) and sophomore C David Parrish (.328, 9 HR, 39 RBI). The Wolverines’ top pitchers are junior RHP Bryce Ralston (3.51, 8-1, 74.1 IP, 41 Ks, 19 BB, 85 H) and senior RHP Luke Bonner (5.13, 5-6, 66.2 IP, 53 Ks, 26 BB, 77 H).

MICHIGAN HISTORY: The Wolverines will be making their 17th appearance in the NCAAs and first since 1989. Michigan has made seven appearance in the College World Series, with the Wolverines’ last trip to Omaha coming in 1984.