May 16, 2000
Notre Dame junior righthander Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named the BIG EAST Conference pitcher of the year while junior shortstop Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.) and freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) were named second team All-BIG EAST, in presentations made Tuesday night at the 2000 BIG EAST Baseball Championship banquet.
Heilman also was the only unanimous choice among the 13 players who earned first-team All-BIG EAST honors and was the only repeat selection from the 1999 first team. Heilman joined current St. John’s junior righthander Kevin McGerry as the only pitchers ever to earn all-BIG EAST honors in three consecutive seasons (Heilman was a second-team honoree in 1998 while McGerry earned first team honors in `98 and was a second-teamer the past two seasons).
Stavisky was one of two freshmen-and the only position player-to earn All-BIG EAST honors for the 2000 season (a distinction earned in `99 by current Irish sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley). Stavisky was joined on the 12-player BIG EAST All-Rookie team by Irish freshman righthander J.P. Gagne (Bloomington, Minn.) and the Notre Dame duo were two of six unanimous picks to the all-rookie team.
Rutgers pulled down two of the other major awards, as senior shortstop Darren Fenster was named player of the year and freshman righthander Bob Brownlie was named rookie of the year. Boston College second-year coach Peter Hughes was named BIG EAST coach of the year.
Boston College-Notre Dame’s opening-round opponent in the BIG EAST Tournament-also produced five all-conference selections: junior 1B Joe Kealty (1st team), senior 2B Mike Gambino (1st team), sophomore OF Neal McCarthy (2nd team) and senior Steve Langone, who was named the 1st-team DH and a 2nd-team pitcher.
Rutgers placed six players on the first team, including Fenster, Brownlie, junior 3B Jake Daubert, junior OFs David DeJesus and Joe B. Cirone and sophomore DH Mike Popowski.
Other players named to the first team included Seton Hall junior RHP Damon Ponce de Leon, St. John’s senior C Mike Niksa and Villanova sophomore OF Dave Pizzini.
Notre Dame has produced three major BIG EAST award winners during the past three seasons, including 1998 pitcher of the year Brad Lidge and ’98 player of the year Brant Ust.
Heilman ranks 3rd among BIG EAST players with a 2.56 overall season ERA while leading the conference in overall victories (10-2), strikeouts (108) and complete games (8). He also ranks 4th in the BIG EAST for lowest opponent batting avg. (.222) and innings pitched (91.1). Heilman finished the BIG EAST regular season ranked 1st in conference Ks (66), wins (7-1) and complete games (7), plus 3rd in opponent batting avg. (.229), 4th in innings (55.2) and 8th in ERA (3.07).
Heilman this season became the first BIG EAST player ever to earn four player or pitcher-of-the-week awards from the conference while totaling eight weekly awards from the BIG EAST (no other BIG EAST player has totaled more than four, since the awards began in 1985).
Porzel likely would have earned first-team honors in any other season but had to contend with the player-of-the-year recipient at that position in RU’s Fenster. Porzel’s play during BIG EAST regular-season conference games produced the league’s 6th-best batting avg. (.375) while he led the BIG EAST in RBI (27) and doubles (11). Porzel ranked 2nd in conference slugging pct. (.667), 3rd in total bases (125) and 4th in hits (36), home runs (5) and triples (4). His overall season totals included ranking 2nd among BIG EAST players in doubles (20), 3rd in hits (73) and total bases (125), 4th in triples (4), 6th in RBI (50), 7th in home runs (8) and 9th in slugging (.601).
Stavisky finished second during the BIG EAST regular season with seven home runs in conference play while his 14 overall home runs rank 3rd among BIG EAST players. The 6-3, 230-pound lefthander also leads the league with five overall triples and is 2nd with three triples in BIG EAST play. He finished the BIG EAST regular season ranked 3rd in slugging pct. (.663) and 6th in RBI (21) while ranking 2nd for total bases both overall (126) and in league play (61). His .586 overall slugging pct. currently ranks 10th among BIG EAST players while his 23 runs scored in BIG EAST play ranked 4th.
Gagne emerged in midseason as one of Notre Dame’s top weekend starters and has compiled a 7-1 overall record that places him 4th on the victories chart for BIG EAST players. He also ranked 4th for victories in BIG EAST games (5-1) while his other overall season statistics include a 3.98 ERA, 38 strikeouts, 21 walks and 80 hits allowed in 63.1 innings pitched. Gagne-who is one win shy of becoming the first Irish freshman to post eight wins since 1990-ranked 2nd on the Irish squad with a 3.76 ERA during BIG EAST regular-season games, plus 17 Ks, 15 walks and 49 hits allowed in 38.1 innings.