March 11, 2000
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Notre Dame baseball team used two more strong pitching performances and continued timely hitting throughout the lineup to post a pair of wins Saturday afternoon, 5-1 over Duquesne and 5-0 versus Central Michigan, in doubleheader action at Wolfson Park, home of the Detroit Tigers AA-affiliate Jacksonville Suns.
The Irish are one of 20 teams that are participating in the Kennel Club Classic, a three-week rotating event that features various teams competing during their respective spring breaks. The Irish will spend nine days in Jacksonville, with six more games scheduled at the University of North Florida’s Harmon Stadium.
Notre Dame’s 7-2 record represents the best early-season start by the Irish baseball program since the 1992 team opened 8-1, en route to a 48-15 season that ended one win shy of the College World Series.
Junior All-American righthander Aaron Heilman (2-1) combined with senior righty Scott Cavey (3-0) for a dominating 1-2 punch in Saturday’s action. Heilman limited Duquesne to no runs on four hits and three walks over eight innings, with eight strikeouts and 12 groundouts. Cavey’s five-inning shutout stint versus CMU included three strikeouts, no walks and three hits allowed.
Both games featured seven batters combining for 10 Irish hits, with three Notre Dame players accounting for the team’s four RBI in the opener while four different Irish players drove in runs versus the Chippewas.
The offensive highlights included three massive home runs by Irish players, with sophomore catcher Paul O’Toole opening the day with an opposite-field shot over the 20-foot wall in left field. Righthanded-hitting sophomore leftfielder Matt Strickroth added his own blast to a similar spot later in the Duquesne game while freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky punctuated the CMU game by crushing a two-run shot to dead center field.
Junior lefthander Mike Naumann followed up Cavey’s start with two and two-thirds shutout innings (allowing four hits) while senior righthander John Corbin registered the final four outs for his second save of the season and the 11th of his career, one shy of the Irish record shared by Heilman, Mike Coffey (’88-’90) and current lefthanded Major League hopeful Chris Michalak (’90-’93).
Duquesne saw its season record fall to 2-6 while CMU dropped to 6-4.
DUQUESNE GAME RECAP: Freshman RHP Josh Cramer (1-1) took the loss (6.2 IP, 4 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 3 Ks) … after O’Toole’s home run (his second of the season, 10th of his career, sixth in the last 12 games), ND added single runs in the fourth and fifth … senior 1B Jeff Felker stroked a two-out single to center in the fourth, advanced on the throwing error and scored on sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey’s hard-hit ball past flat-footed SS Jason Startari … O’Toole delivered his own two-out hit in the fifth, sending a 2-0 single that fell just out of the reach of sliding RF Chad Williams … a stolen base and ensuing throwing error moved O’Toole to third before sophomore CF Steve Stanley placed a perfect bunt between the pitcher and both rightside infielders … Bushey opened the seventh with a first-pitch, opposite-field double down the leftfield line, followed by sophomore DH Matt Bok’s RHP Tom Murtha deep over the wall in left for his first home run of the season and the fourth of his ND career … the Dukes ended the shutout bid in the ninth, vs. freshman RHP J.P. Gagne … Nick Danzuso and Jerry Pepe opened the inning with singles before Gagne induced Jed Ficus into a 5-4-3 double play … Rockey Kravets plated the only run by an ND opponent all day, singling past diving junior 2B Ben Cooke.
CMU GAME RECAP: Senior LHP Adam Bolthouse fell to 1-1 with the loss (7 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 Ks) … Cavey set down the first nine batters before Matt Crowley’s linedrive hit the lanky RHP in the leg and ricocheted into four territory (Cavey quickly rolled up a 6-4-3 double play from the next batter, Scott Pierrat) … ND took a 1-0 lead in the third, as sophomore DH Ken Meyer sent a one-out double down the leftfield line before scoring on Stanley’s double to the same part of the field … CMU threatened in the fifth-with runners on second and third and two outs-but Cavey forced Brian Issit into a rally-killing groundout to junior SS Alec Porzel … Naumann had runners on the corners in the sixth but served up a lazy fly ball to left field from Mike Galloway, ending the threat … ND finally added to its lead with two runs in the eighth, with Porzel reaching on a two-out fielding error by the third baseman Tim Bullinger … Stavisky then exhibited his raw power that has been dubbed “best in the BIG EAST” by Baseball America, smacking an 0-1 pitch to deep center field-sailing over the 20-foot wall, 401-plus feet from home plate … in the bottom of the eighth, Pieratt doubled off Naumann and Corbin issued a walk to Josh Sandborn-followed by a double steal-but Corbin blew a 2-2 offering by pinch hitter Mike Steele to end the inning … in the ninth, Felker stroked the first pitch off the wall for a single before Bushey ripped a 3-2 pitch through the left side of the infield … Cooke then came through in the clutch with a one-out, 2-2 single through the left side (plating Felker) before Meyer drove home the final run with a single between the diving 3B Bullinger and backup SS Mike Meinhart.
NOTES: ND’s impressive team ERA now stands at 2.64, with the staff combining for 72 Ks in 75 innings, with just 24 walks and 65 hits allowed … Heilman lowered his season ERA to 1.98, with 26 Ks, 5 BB and 19 hits allowed in 23 innings … he boosted his career record to 20-6 (tied for the 10th-most wins in ND history) while lowering his career ERA to 2.49 (tied for second-lowest in ND history, with Jack Mitchell, 1959-61) .. Nick Palihnich (2.36, ’59-’61) holds the ND career ERA record … Heilman moved past former teammate Tim Kalita (214, ’97-’99) into sixth place on the ND career strikeout list (222, in 199 IP), just 14 Ks behind Al Walania (’90-’93) … Saturday marked Heilman’s fifth career outing of eight-plus innings (he threw several seven-inning complete games in 1999) … his 18 career starts have yielded 11 games with eight-plus Ks … Cavey dropped his season ERA to 1.06 (he has allowed two earned runs in 17 innings), plus 16 Ks, 5 BB and five hits allowed … Cavey has registered a win in each of his last seven appearances (including the final four in ’99), with a 1.54 ERA in those games, plus 38 Ks, 8 BB and 35 hits allowed in 41 IP … his career walk average now sits at 1.94 per 9 IP … he has boosted his career record to 12-1 (.923), which puts him above the ND record for career winning pct. set by Herb Kelly from 1912-14 (22-2, .917) … Cavey’s career K-to-walk ratio now sits at 3.88 … Stavisky is batting just .219 but his seven hits have amassed 17 total bases (two HRs, one 3B, two 2Bs) and he has chipped in six RBI, plus five runs scored … the 1992 Irish team that opened 8-1 lost its next game, 7-3 to BYU at the Seattle Kingdome … if the Irish win Sunday night versus Illinois, they will equal the best 10-game start by an ND baseball team since the 1960 squad opened 9-1 (that team improved to 9-1 and finished 19-7, with a trip the NCAAs) … the ’92 team opened with wins over Army, Navy, Air Force, Memphis, Louisville, Indiana, Kentucky and Washington, with a loss to Kentucky in the sixth game
Notre Dame 1-0-0 1-1-0 1-0-1 - 5 10 0Duquesne 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-1 - 1 7 3
Heilman, Gagne (9) and O’Toole. Cramer, Murtha (7) and Fiscus.
Notre Dame 0-0-1 0-0-0 0-2-2 - 5 10 0Central Michigan 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 - 0 8 1
Cavey, Naumann (6), Corbin (8) and Nussbaum. Bolthouse, Zastrow (8) and Gragg, McCullough (7).