April 15, 1998
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash./Eastlake HS) has been named the BIG EAST player of the week for April 6-12 while Irish freshman righthander Aaron Heilman (Logansport, IN/Logansport HS) has been selected as the BIG EAST rookie of the week.
Ust led the Irish in four games during the week with a .571 batting average (8-for-14) and six RBI, plus four runs, two doubles, a triple, three walks, no strikeouts and just one error. He extended his hitting streak to eight games last week before adding hits in the first two games this week for a 10-game hitting streak.
Ust’s highlights last week included a 5-for-6 effort in the doubleheader with Villanova (4-for-4 game in the nightcap). He had three runs and a double in the opening 9-4 win before collecting two singles, an RBI triple, an RBI double and a bases-loaded walk in the second win (14-10). Ust also stroked an RBI single in the 4-3 loss to Ball State while collecting two hits, two RBI and a walk in the 11-5 win over Chicago State.
Heilman followed up a BIG EAST pitcher of the week honor with the rookie of the week honor, after logging five and two-thirds scoreless innings over three appearances to extend his shutout streak to 18.2 innings over 12 appearances (he has since pushed the streak to 21 innings over 14 appearances). Heilman allowed four hits and no walks during the week while striking out seven opposing batters. He appeared in both Villanova games, retiring two of the three batters he faced in the opener before saving the nightcap with three relief innings (4 H, 5 K). Heilman opened the week by pitching two final scoreless innings in the 4-3 loss to Ball State, facing just seven batters while striking out two and hitting one with a pitch.
Heading into this weekend’s series versus Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium, Ust has boosted his season batting average to .412. His team-leading 12 home runs and 15 doublescoupled with 28 singles and one triplehave yielded an .801 slugging pct. that is on pace to best the team record set by eventual Major Leaguer Dan Peltier in 1989 (.783). He leads the BIG EAST this season with a .600 batting average in conference games while his .446 career average in BIG EAST games is ahead of the record held by Seton Hall’s Marteese Robinson (.432, 1985-87). Ust’s other season totals include a team-leading 39 RBI and .458 on-base pct., plus 36 runs, 12 walks, four sacrifice flies and 6-of-10 stolen bases. He also leads the team in two-out batting (.404) and has reached base on a team-best 60.9 percent of his chances when leading off the inning. His .412 batting avg. would rank seventh in Irish history and best since 1993. Ust also is on pace for 91 hits (5th in Irish history), 18 home runs (2nd) and 24 doubles (2nd).
Heilman heads into the Pittsburgh series with a 1.32 season ERA over 34 innings, which would rank fifth in the nation if he were not shy of the NCAA minimum (one inning per team game, in this case 37). His 1.32 ERA would rank sixth in Irish history and would be second-lowest by an Irish pitcher in the last 26 seasons. Heilman, who is 3-0 with a team-high five saves, also has totaled 43 strikeouts and just eight walks while leading the staff in opponent batting average (.183), strikeouts per nine innings (11.4) and walk-to-strikeout ratio (5.4). During his 21-inning shutout streak, Heilman has gone 2-0 and recorded all five of his saves while totaling 31 strikeouts and seven walks. He has allowed just eight hits over those 14 appearances, for a .114 opponent batting average.