June 10, 2002
THE RUBBER MATCH: Notre Dame and Florida State will do battle in the third and deciding game of their Super Regional series, with the game slated for Monday at noon EDT (11:00 in South Bend) … ND won the pre-tournament coin toss and again will be the home team (in terms of batting last and playing out of the 3rd-base/home dugout) … that’s a switch from the BIG EAST Tournament (when ND was the visitor in two of its first three games) and last week’s NCAA South Bend Regional (when the Irish were the visitors for two of the three games) … the winner of Monday’s game will face Stanford in the eight-team College World Series, which features two four-team double-elimination brackets … one bracket begins play on Friday and the other on Saturday (the order of games will be announced later on Monday).
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES (NCAA Super Regional Game 3, vs. Florida State; June 10, 2002)
CLUTCH HITTING THE KEY: Notre Dame has posted 15-plus hits in all five of its NCAA Tournament games but batting with runners in scoring position proved to be the key factor in determining wins and losses … in its four NCAA wins, the Irish hit .516 with runners in scoring position – compared to “just” .347 in the 12-5 loss to FSU (5-for-14).
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE: Two of the top three career leaders in NCAA Division I hits still are playing, as Clemson SS Khalil Greene owns 397 career hits while Notre Dame CF Steve Stanley has amassed 379 (tying former Cal State Fullerton star John Fishel for third) … former Wichita Sate mainstay Phil Stephenson (418; ’79-’82) is the NCAA’s all-time Division I hits leader.
BATS KEEP BOOMING: Notre Dame is batting .452 (94-for-208) in five NCAA Tournament games, with 15-plus hits in each game.
RUDY, RUDY!: Two current ND players are sons of FSU graduates … today’s starter, freshman RHP Chris Niesel, was one of five pitchers in the nation who were named by Baseball America as a 2001 high school All-American (his father, Rudy Niesel, is a 1973 Florida State graduate) … senior DH Ken Meyer’s father, the late Rudy Meyer, was a 1965 FSU graduate.
BACK IN STEREO: Today’s starter, freshman RHP and Florida native Chris Niesel (Plantation/Aquinas HS), missed five weeks due to a bout with mononucleosis (April 8-May 11) before three solid relief efforts and a strong start (his first in seven weeks) vs. Ohio State in the South Bend Regional (winner in 9-6 clincher; 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 94 pitches) … Niesel steadily has regained his stamina while returning to his early-season form, when he was one of the top three pitchers in the ND starting rotation.
LOTS OF Ks IN DEBUT: Chris Niesel became the first ND freshman ever to post double-digit strikeouts in his debut, doing so vs. Southern Illinois at the New Orleans Classic (Feb. 24) … Niesel left that game with a 2-1 lead (ND lost 6-2) while racking up 10 Ks in five innings of work (5 H, 0 BB) … he then posted nine Ks and one walk the next week vs. Fairfield (at Homestead, Fla.), yielding 19 Ks and just one walk in his first 12 innings of work … Niesel (50/13) leads the ND staff with a 3.8 K-to-walk ratio.
SPECIAL SOUVENEIR: Today’s likely first pitcher out of the bullpen, junior RHP Ryan Kalita, had a unique memento from the 3-2, 10-inning game over Rutgers that clinched the BIG EAST Tournament title … Kalita had entered the game in the 5th inning of that game and proceeded to toss five shutout innings, allowing six hits and three walks (with six Ks) … what made that performance all the more remarkable was that Kalita took a linedrive off the right side of his forehead (off the bat of RU hitting ace Val Majewski), with the ball glance off Kalita’s glove before thumping off his skull … after being examined by the medical staff on hand (and monitored throughout the game), Kalita returned to the mound to continue the biggest outing of his career … a couple hours later, as the Irish celebrated their first BIG EAST title on the field at Commerce Bank Ballpark, Kalita still was sporting the major welt – a fitting souvenir to his gutsy outing that wrapped up an NCAA bid for the Irish.
ANOTHER BIG WIN: Ryan Kalita also turned in a clutch effort as the starter in ND’s key 2-1 win over Virginia Tech, on April 12 … that 7-inning game extended to 10 innings, with the Irish outlasting the Hokies ace LHP (and eventual 1st-round draft pick) Joe Saunders … Kalita logged the first six innings, allowing an unearned run on six hits and one walk, with five strikeouts … ND then won in the 10th, after Matt Bok’s pinch-hit triple and Joe Thaman’s single back to the mound (that win essentially helped ND claim the BIG EAST’s No. 1 seed, after the Irish and Hokies both finished 18-8 in league play – with ND going on to sweep the doubleheader for the tiebreaker).
MULTI-HIT MACHINE: Senior CF Steve Stanley posted the 121st multi-hit game of his career in the loss to FSU (he has 37 multi-hit games in 2002) … Stanley has 3-plus hits in 43 career games (15 in ’02) … his 113 hits this season are two shy of Dan Peltier’s ND record (115, in 1989).
DP RARITY: The ND offense had grounded into just 29 double plays in the previous 63 games before grounding into four DPs in the loss to FSU (nearly 10 times the team average of 0.46 GDPs per game).
CLASSY CLASS: The current eight-member senior class has played a leading role in ND’s 186-65-1 record (.740) during the 1999-2002 seasons … if the Irish win today, the class of 2002 would match the class of 1992 (187-62-1) as the winningest classes in Notre Dame baseball history … that class of ’92 was led by current Arizona Diamondbacks 3B and two-time World Series champion Craig Counsell, IF Cory Mee, 1B Joe Binkiewicz and CF Dan Bautch.
ERRORLESS STREAK ENDS: ND’s string of errorless play in the 2002 NCAAs ended in the first inning of the FSU loss, when two errors helped the Seminoles amass their quick 8-0 lead.
HITTING STREAKS Junior LF Brian Stavisky and sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann both are riding six-game hitting streaks(the longest active ND hit streaks).
QUADRUPLE DOUBLES: Four current Notre Dame players each have totaled 45-plus doubles in their careers: senior 3B Andrew Bushey (54; 6th in ND history), senior C Paul O’Toole (49; 10th), senior CF Steve Stanley (47; 11th) and junior LF Brian Stavisky (46; 12th).
RECORD BOOK UPDATE
* Senior CF Steve Stanley will be making his 253rd consecutive start today, just two shy of the NCAA Division I record set by Arizona’s Chip Hale from 1994-87 .. Stanley also holds ND career records for hits (379), runs (254) and stolen bases (115) … his 454 total bases trail only Eric Danapilis (459; ’90-’92) and Alec Porzel (487; ’98-’01) in the ND record book.
* Stanley’s .445 season batting avg. is just shy of the ND record (.447, by Edwin Hartwell in 1993) while junior LF Brian Stavisky’s .415 season avg. would rank 7th in the ND record book .. Stanley’s 113 hits are two shy of Dan Peltier’s ND season record (’89) while his 254 at-bats are within range of the ND record (Peltier had 258 Abs in ’89 while Stanley had 255 in 2001) … Stanley has scored 75 runs in 2002, good for 6th in the ND record book (Pat Pesavento had 88 runs in ’89 and ’88 in ’81, Peltier 81 in ’89, Craig DeSensi 76 in ’95 and Stanley 76 in ’01).
* Senior C Paul O’Toole is playing in his 237th game with the Irish, edging past ’92 graduate Craig Counsell into 4th in ND history – just behind J.J. Brock (238, ’94-’98) and Alec Porzel (239; ’98-’01) … O’Toole is making his 226th start, trailing only Porzel (234), Brock (238) and classmate Steve Stanley (253) … O’Toole’s 795 career at-bats are tied with Counsell for 5th in ND history … O’Toole stands 10th on the ND career hits list (241), two shy of Brant Ust (’97-’99) and five behind another former teammate, Jeff Felker (’97-’00).
* Senior 3B Andrew Bushey is playing his 220th career game, good for 8th in ND history (former ND infielder and assistant coach Cory Mee started 219 games, from 1989-92) … Bushey also is making his 214th start, also ranking 8th in the ND record book … Bushey’s 762 career at-bats likewise rank 8th in ND history … Bushey’s 233 career hits are eight shy of cracking the ND career top-10.
* ND’s .325 team batting average ranks 5th in ND history and is the best since the 1997 team hit .334 (as did the 1989 and ’93 team, with the 1980 team hitting .332).
* ND’s pitchers have logged the most innings (549.1) in the program’s history while the staff’s 461 strikeouts trail only the 478 posted by the 1999 squad in the ND record book.
UPDATED CAREER NCAA STATS
Billmaier – 15 GS, 29-for-53 (.547), 16 RBI, 7 R, 3B, 7 2B, 6 BB, 7 K, 0-1 SB
Sollmann – 10 GS, 24-for-45 (.533), 11 RBI, 17 R, HR, 3 3B, 2B, 4 BB, 3 K, 2-2 SB
Stanley – 18 GS, 34-for-76 (.447), 9 RBI, 25 R, 3B, 5 2B, 12 BB, 7 K, 4-8 SB
Stavisky – 15 GS, 29-for-68 (.426), 27 RBI, 20 R, 6 HR, 6 2B, 6 BB, 9 K, 2-3 SB
O’Toole – 18 GS, 24-for-70 (.343), 16 RBI, 18 R, 6 HR, 3B, 6 2B, 11 BB, 7 K, 2-3 SB
Bushey – 18 GS, 22-for-71 (.310), 12 RBI, 7 R, HR, 3 2B, 7 BB, 6 K, 1-1 SB
Bok – 12 GP/6 GS, 9-for-29 (.310), 9 RBI, 7 R, 2 HR, 2B, BB, 8 K
Thaman – 10 GS, 11-for-38 (.282), 3 RBI, 9 R, 2B, 2 BB, K, 0-1 SB
Meyer – 15 GP/6 GS, 6-for-35 (.171), 2 R, 2B, 3 BB, 6 K, 1-1 SB
Career NCAA Slugging Percentages: Stavisky (.779), Sollmann (.778), Billmaier (.717), O’Toole (.714)