March 5, 2000
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Junior All-American Aaron Heilman rolled up a career-high 12 strikeouts over the first eight innings and the Notre Dame offense again received balanced contributions up and down the lineup, as the Irish closed play at the Hormel Foods Classic with a 6-4 win over Georgia on Sunday night at the HHH Metrodome.
Notre Dame (4-2) finished tied with Wake Forest and Minnesota for first in the tournament, as each team held a 2-1 record. Run differential was used to break the tie, with Sunday’s rocky three-run inning in the top of the ninth causing the team trophy to slip from Notre Dame’s hands (WFU finished +6 in run differential while the Irish were +3, Minnesota +1).
Heilman improved to 1-1 for the season thanks to a dominating 120-pitch outing, with four hits allowed, an unearned run and no walks to go along with his 12 strikeouts-11 of them on called third strikes. He became just the third Irish pitcher since 1980 to throw 12-plus strikeouts in a game, joining Darin Schmalz (12 in nine innings, at Georgetown in ’96) and Brad Lidge (12 in seven innings vs. Pittsburgh, at Three Rivers Stadium in ’98) in that distinction. (See p. 2 for additional Heilman info.).
Four Irish batters shared the team lead with two hits each while five combined on the six RBI. Junior shortstop Alec Porzel completed a strong showing in the three-day tournament, with his six RBI over the weekend including a two-run double to deep left-center field on Sunday, giving the Irish a 3-1 lead.
The Irish pushed across what proved to be three crucial insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, with an RBI single from sophomore DH Matt Bok ending the day for senior righthander Chris Clark-who had entered the game with a 2-0 record and an 0.50 ERA. Sophomore catcher Paul O’Toole then greeted righthanded reliever Joey Friedman with an RBI single to right field. Four batters later, senior first baseman Jeff Felker-who had tripled and scored in the second inning-doubled home O’Toole for a 6-1 cushion.
Sophomore righthander Drew Duff struggled in the top of the ninth but still was one out away from helping the Irish secure the tournament championship, before uncorking a wild pitch that allowed Georgia’s second run to score.
But with a runner on first and the winning run at the plate, senior righthanded closer John Corbin took the mound and induced Tony Buchett into a game-ending popup to Felker.
Felker opened the bottom of the second inning with a first-pitch triple to the gap in right center before scoring on senior leftfielder Matt Nussbaum’s first-pitch groundout to the third baseman.
Georgia tied the game in the fifth, courtesy of a rare fielding miscue by Felker. Mark Thornhill reached with one out, after Felker dropped his popup. Catcher Doc Brooks then delivered a two-out double to left-center, scoring Thornhill for a 1-1 score.
The Irish answered right back in the bottom of the inning, sparked by junior second baseman Ben Cooke’s full-count single up the middle to open the frame (Cooke started in place of senior Jeff Perconte, who suffered a shoulder injury late in Saturday’s game versus Minnesota). Bok then executed a hit-and-run grounder to the right side before sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley drew a two-out, full-count walk. Porzel went with the next pitch, depositing an opposite-field double into right field to plate both runners.
The switch-hitting Cooke again was the catalyst in the pivotal bottom of the seventh, reaching on a 2-2 leadoff single to left field before stealing second and scoring on Bok’s 2-2 single through the right side (Bok took second on the play while Clark’s day came to an end).
O’Toole then sent Friedman’s first pitch through the right side of the infield, plating Bok, followed by Stanley’s first-pitch sacrifice bunt to the first baseman. Two batters later, Felker drove the first pitch he saw to right field for an RBI double and a 6-1 Irish lead.
Georgia did not go quietly, as Josh Hudson welcomed Duff to the game with a 1-2 single up the middle before taking second on a wild pitch. Jeff Keppinger then sent a 2-2 bouncer to the hole, with Porzel having no play while the runner held at second base. The second of two flyouts to center field moved Hudson to third before another wild pitch gave Georgia its second run and WFU the tournament title.
Chris Hays kept things going with a full-count double down the rightfield line and Josh Dorminy sent the next pitch into left field for an RBI single and a suddenly close game (6-4). Corbin then took the mound and worked to a 2-2 count before serving up the game-ending popup for his 10th career save.
Clark allowed five runs on nine hits and his first walk of the season (coming in his 22nd inning pitched), with three strikeouts.
GEORGIA (8-3) 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-3 – 4 8 0
NOTRE DAME (4-2) 0-1-0 0-2-0 3-0-X – 6 11 1
Clark, Friedman (7) and Brooks, Burchett (8). Heilman (8), Duff (9), Corbin (9) and O’Toole.
HEILMAN NOTES: Heilman’s previous career-high strikeout total was 11, versus Creighton on May 11, 1999 (in San Antonio) … his 17 career starts have yielded 10 games with eight-plus Ks, five with nine-plus and three with double-digit Ks … he faced just four batters over the eight-inning minimum (28), with four hits, a hit-batter, a dropped fly ball, a runner thrown out stealing and a double-play ball … just three Georgia batters reached three balls in their counts (they all struck out) while seven reached two-ball counts … Heilman’s 120-pitch outing included five groundouts, five flyouts and a per-inning pitch range of 11-25: 14-14-11-25-14-17-11-14 … his 12 Ks included one on an 0-2 count, five on 1-2 counts, three on 2-2 counts and three on 3-2 counts … he had Ks in every inning but the seventh (two in the second, three in the fourth and eighth) … Heilman’s first seven K’s of the game were “looking,” before Dorminy went down swinging at a 1-2 pitch in the fifth … eight different Georgia batters were K’d by Heilman, including two each by leadoff hitter Kris Edge (who fouled off four 2-2 pitches in a row before being caught looking to lead off the fourth), No. 2 hitter Hudson and Dorminy (the No. 7 hitter) … Heilman’s first 12 outs included seven Ks, with three in the fourth innings … he closed his outing by striking out each batter he faced in the eighth (on 14 pitches) … Hudson hit a 2-2 single to center in the first but O’Toole gunned him down trying to steal second … Brooks was hit by a 1-2, one-out pitch in the third but Heilman rolled up a 6-3 double play from Adam Swann on an 0-2 count … Keppinger hit a 2-1, two-out single to center field in the fourth but Brian Rainwater looked at a called strike on a full count … two runners reached in the fifth-Thornhill on the dropped fly ball and Dorminy on his double-but Swan popped up a 2-2 pitch to right field for the third out … Andy Neufeld hit a 1-0, one-out single to left in the seventh but Thornhill flew out to right and Dorminy fouled out to Felker on a 1-2 count … Heilman’s season totals include a 1-1 record in three outings (one in relief), with a 3.00 ERA, 18 Ks, 2 BB and 15 hits allowed in 15 innings (.259 opp. batting avg.) … he boosted his career record to 19-6 while lowering his career ERA to 2.59 … Heilman has moved up on the Irish career strikeout list (214, in 191 IP), passing Brian Piotrowicz (201, ’87-’90) and Tom Bujnowski (201, ’52, ’56-’57) while settling into a tie with former teammate Tim Kalita (’97-’99) for sixth on that list, 22 behind Al Walania (’90-’93) … Sunday marked Heilman’s fourth career outing of eight-plus innings (he threw several seven-inning complete games in 1999) … it marked his third career outing with no walks (min. 5 IP) and his seventh with 0-1 walks … the last Notre Dame pitcher to post 13-plus Ks in a game was Bob Bartlett (13 at Bethel in 1980) … the last to do so versus a Division I team was Frank Carpin, who set a still-standing Irish record with 19 Ks in 10 innings vs. Indiana in 1958.
TOURNAMENT NOTES: Perconte’s status will be updated later in the week … Corbin is tied with Larry Mohs (’94-’97) for fourth in career saves at Notre Dame (10), just two behind the record shared by Heilman, Mike Coffey (’88-’90) and current Major League hopeful LHP Chris Michalak (’90-’93) … ND’s 11 hits included seven on the first pitch, plus a first-pitch RBI groundout and sacrifice bunt … the other four hits came with two strikes (one 1-2, two 2-2 and one full-count, plus a full-count walk) … Heilman was joined on the all-tournament team by Stanley, who posted the second-best batting average in the tournament (.600, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 4-4 SB) … Porzel’s .429 average (6-for-14) ranked sixth among players with 10-plus at-bats while his six RBI tied for second-most … he also had two runs, a stolen base, three doubles and a triple, ranking fourth in the tournament with 11 total bases … other ND player stats in the tournament were as follows: Perconte (3-for-6, R, 2 RBI, BB, K, SAC), Bok (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B, K), Cooke (2-for-5, 2 R, K, 1-1 SB), sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (5-for-13, 4 R, K, E), Nussbaum (4-for-12, 2 R, RBI, BB, 1-1 SB), Felker (3-for-11, 2 R, RBI, 2B, 3 B, 2 BB, 2 K, 0-1 SB, E), sophomore DH Matt Strickroth (1-for-4, RBI), freshman DH Kris Billmaier (1-for-4, R), O’Toole (3-for-13, R, 3 RBI, BB, HBP, 2 K, E, 2 PB) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (1-for-11, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 BB, 3 K) … ND led the tournament in eight different categories: team batting average (.343, 37-for-108),on-base pct. (.403), stolen bases (7-for-8), low opponent batting average (.273), team ERA (5.19), fewest hits allowed (27), fewest walks allowed (8) and most strikeouts thrown (28) … the ND offense also totaled 21 R, six 2B, two 3B, 47 total bases, 10 BB, 14 Ks and .435 slugging … the Irish pitchers logged 26 innings, with 18 runs allowed (15 earned) … the Irish also owned the tournament’s second-best fielding pct. (.973, 3 errors) … the other all-tournament selections included: WFU 3B Corey Slavik (MVP, .583, 7-for-12, 8 RBI, 14 total bases), Minnesota SS Rick Brosseau (top batting average, .714, 10-for-14, 5 R, 6 RBI), Minnesota P Mike Kobow, WFU C Dan Conway, Minnesota 1B Josh Holthaus, WFU 2B Jason Aquilante, Minnesota OF Scott Howard and Georgia OF Brian Rainwater.
SEASON NOTES: Notre Dame’s team ERA rests at 3.75, led by senior RHP Scott Cavey’s 1.50 (2-0, 12 IP, 13 Ks, 5 BB, 5 H) … the ND staff totals include 51 Ks in 48 innings, with just 15 BBs and 46 hits allowed (.258 opp. avg.) … the Irish offense owns a six-game batting average of .314, with 35 runs, 12 doubles, four triples, two HRs, .448 slugging, .360 on-base, 14 BBs, 30 Ks and 9-of-10 SBs … ND owns a .972 season fielding pct. (6 errors) … eight hitters currently check in at .300 or higher: Bok (.500, 4-for-8, 4 R, 2 RBI, 2B, K, 1-1 SB), Stanley (.450, 9-for-20, 4 R, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K, SAC, 4-4 SB), Perconte (.429, 6-for-14, 4 R, 4 RBI, 2B, BB, 4 K, 2 SAC), Cooke (.400, 2-for-5, 2 R, K, 1-1 SB), O’Toole (.333, 8-for-24, 2 R, 8 RBI, 3B, BB, HBP, 3 K, SF), Porzel (.320, 8-for-25, 3 R, 7 RBI, 4 2B, 3B, HR, 6 K, 1-1 SB), Bushey (.304, 7-for-23, 4 R, 2 RBI, 2B, BB, 3 K) and Nussbaum (.300, 6-for-20, 4 R, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 BB, 2 K, SF, 1-1 SB).