May 22, 2003


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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES – vs. West Virginia (5/22/03)

Senior righthander and closer J.P. Gagne will draw the start vs. West Virginia to open the BIG EAST Tournament … sophomore RHP and 2003 BIG EAST pitcher of the year Chris Niesel is sidelined with a minor finger injury … senior RHP Ryan Kalita is ND’s probable starter for its second game of the tournament … Gagne’s 90 career appearances (two shy of Chris Michalak’s ND record) include 33 starts (see p.2 ) while he has logged two noteworthy six-inning stints out of the bullpen this season (vs. Wake Forest and Rutgers).

J.P. Gagne Career Stats (see PDF)

Gagne’s 2003 nine-inning averages: 7.5 hits, 3.3 walks, 6.3 Ks, 12.6 groundouts, 37.9 batters faced

Gagne’s 2003 situational pitching: .205 with runners on, .260 with 2 outs, 41-pct. leadoff batters reached

Gagne’s Career Stats vs.WVU (see PDF)

J.P. Gagne’s Career Postseason Starts (see PDF)

J.P. Gagne’s Career Starts (see PDF)

J.P. Gagne Quick Notes

* His current nine-outing, 18.2-inning streak without an earned run allowed includes the following stats: five saves, an 0-1 record, 11 hits and 7 walks (4 of them intentional) allowed and 12 Ks in 18.2 IP, a .169 opponent batting avg., no extra-base hits allowed, one wild pitch, no hit batters and 22 groundball outs … his nine-inning averages during the streak: 5.3 hits, 2.0 non-intentional walks, 5.8 Ks, 10.6 Gos and 36.2 batters faced.

* Joined former greats Chris Michalak (’90-’93; 34-13, 12 SV) and Aaron Heilman (’98-’02; 43-7, 12 SV) as only ND pitchers ever to post 20-plus wins (24-14) and 10-plus saves (18).

* His 33 career starts include 13 as a freshman, 13 as a sophomore and seven as a junior – with his previous start coming April 6, 2002, at St. John’s.

* Owns 3rd-lowest opponent slugging pct. on the 2003 staff (.277), allowing two home runs, no triples, four doubles and 37 singles in 191 opponent at-bats.

* Already has set ND single-season save record (12, good for 4th in the nation and besting John Corbin’s 11 in 2000) while his 18 career saves are two shy of Corbin’s career record (20).

* Also ranks 3rd among ND regulars in ERA (2.10) and low opp. batting (.225), 4th in strikeouts (36), 5th in wins (3-4) and innings (51.1) … his nine-inning averages include 7.5 hits allowed (3rd-best on staff), 12.6 groundouts (2nd) and 18.9 outs via Ks or GOs (4th). … also owns a 1.8 groundout-to-flyout ratio (2nd-best on the staff).

* His excellent control in 2003 includes just four traditional walks (plus seven intentional) in 51.1 innings, for an average of just 0.71 “non-intentional” walks per 9 IP … also has a 2003 ratio of nine strikeouts for every traditional walk (36/4).

* Has not hit a batter in 2003 (19 HBPs from ’00-’02, with 12 in ’02) while totaling just 12 career wild pitches (3 in ’03).

* Has lowered his opponent batting average each year with the Irish (.333-.280-.245-.225).

* Has allowed just two home runs this season, after serving up six in 2000 and ’01 and seven in ’02.

* Closed 22 of his 26 relief appearances in 2003 while covering his first 12 save chances (now 12 of 13, after unearned run in 9th inning of 19-inning loss at Rutgers).

Gagne in the Notre Dame Record Book

* 2.10 season ERA would rank 16th in ND history.

* 26 appearances rank 8th on ND season list, two back of 4th … his 90 career appearances are two shy of Chris Michalak’s ND record (’90-’93).

* His 289.1 career innings rank 9th in ND history, just behind Alex Shilliday (290, ’96-’99), could become 6th with 300-plus IP

* 10th on career wins list (24-14)

* Already has set ND single-season save record (12) while his 18 career saves are two shy of John Corbin’s record (20; ’97-’00).

* 10th on ND career strikeouts list (196).

* His career walk avg. of 2.52 BB per 9 IP is just outside the ND career top 10 (2.48)

* .225 opponent batting avg. would rank 10th in ND season record book.

WVU Career Stats vs. ND (’03 series listed first)

Grant Psomas(2-for-3) – P-8, 1B-6/R … 1B-RS/2 RBI (’02)

Travis D’Amico (2-for-3) – F-8 RC, 1B-8/2 RBI … 1B-7/RBI (’02)

Jarod Rine (0-for-3) – KS, KS … FC/R (’02)

Eric Grimm (1-for-3) – 4-3 … 1B-LC/R (’02) … FC, KS (’00)

Lee Fritz (0-for-1) – P-4

Tim McCabe (0-for-3) – KS … HBP/R (’02) … BB/R, L-9, P-3 (’00)

Jake Serfass (0-for-1) – 6-3

Kurtis Clinton (0-for-2) – F-9 … F-8 (’02)

Stan Posluszny (0-for-1) – E6F/R

J.P. Gagne’s Career Starts (see PDF)

Inside The Notre Dame Bullpen (see PDF)

PUTTING OUT FIRES – Several ND relievers have slammed the door when inheriting runners on base … most notably, senior set-up man Brandon Viloria has allowed just 2-of-10 inherited baserunners to score (both in game 2 vs. WVU) while senior closer J.P. Gagne has let just 1-of-9 inherited runners score (April 13, at Creighton) … freshman LHP Tom Thornton has allowed just 1-of-4 inherited runners to score but the rest of the staff has let in 8-of-12.

HOME AND AWAY – Notre Dame has hit 28 points higher at home this season (.317) than on the road (.289, including neutral-site games) … the top Irish hitters outside of Eck Stadium have included junior 3B/1B Matt Edwards (.358), freshman OF Craig Cooper (.329), junior 2B Steve Sollmann (.325) and freshman RF Cody Rizzo (.310) … four ND players are hitting higher on the road than at home: Cooper (.259 at home, 73 pts higher on the road), junior C Javi Sanchez (.284 road, .250 home), senior CF Kris Billmaier (.276 road, .247 home) and Rizzo (.300 home, 10 pts higher on road) … three Irish players have hit 100-plus points higher in the confines of Eck Stadium: sophomore SS Matt Macri (.429 home, .210 road; 219 pts higher at the Eck), junior 1B Joe Thaman (.350 home, .239 road) and Sollmann (.427 home, .325 road).

CLOSING WITH THE CLOSER – Current senior RHP and closer J.P. Gagne had some rocky moments early in the 2002 postseason but managed to post an amazing ratio of strikeouts (15) to walks (1) in 18 innings of ’02 postseason action … his best two outings came at key times, retiring nine straight to close the 10-4 opening win at Florida State before coming on to strike out the side in the 9th inning of the 3-1 clincher in that three-game NCAA Super-Regional series … he also went 7-2 in his final nine decisions of the 2002 season.


* Notre Dame sophomore righthander Chris Niesel was recognized for his season-long dominance with the BIG EAST Conference pitcher-of-the-year award while sophomore first baseman Matt Edwards joined Niesel on the all-BIG EAST first team, as six total Irish players received conference honors at Wednesday’s annual BIG EAST tournament banquet.

* Senior righthander Ryan Kalita and junior second baseman Steve Sollmann were named to the second team while senior closer J.P. Gagne and senior rightfielder Kris Billmaier received third-team honors. Notre Dame’s six honorees were second only to West Virginia’s seven, among the 37 total players who received all-BIG EAST honors. It marked the third time that three ND pitchers have been honored by the postseason BIG EAST awards (also in 1998 and 2001).

* Notre Dame has produced four of the last six BIG EAST pitchers of the year, with Niesel joining Brad Lidge (’98) and Aaron Heilman (’00, ’01) as Irish pitchers who have received the top honor – with ND now owning the most BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-year honors in the league’s 18 years of baseball play (Seton Hall and Providence have three each).

* Sollmann becomes the sixth Notre Dame player ever to receive three-plus all-BIG EAST honors, after garnering first-team honors in 2001 and second team in ’02. Others to be three- or four-time honorees include DH Jeff Wagner (’96-’99), IF Brant Ust (’97-’99), Heilman (’98-’01) and OFs Steve Stanley (’99, ’01-’02) and Brian Stavisky (’00-’02).

* Gagne repeated the third-team honors he received as a sophomore and is the third ND pitcher ever to earn multiple all-BIG EAST honors, joining Heilman and Darin Schmalz (2nd team in ’96 and ’97) in that distinction.

* The awards held special significance for Edwards – who has completed a comeback from a broken leg that sidelined him for most of the 2002 season – and Kalita, a former walk-on who has emerged as one of the team’s top starting pitchers.

* Niesel’s BIG EAST dominance included a 7-0 record and 2.58 ERA in eight league starts, plus a .247 opponent batting average and better than an 8-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (49/6) in those eight BIG EAST games. He joined WVU’s Zac Cline (9-2) as the only pitchers to post seven league wins while BC’s Kevin Shephard and Chris Lambert (both 2.36) were the only full-time starters with better ERA’s in conference action. Niesel nearly averaged one strikeout per inning in BIG EAST play (49 in 52.1) while averaging just 1.03 walks per nine innings in conference games (his 49 Ks were 4th-best in the league).

* In overall games, Niesel ranked fourth among BIG EAST pitchers with a 2.69 ERA (Shephard was the only starter better, at 2.44) while also ranking second in wins (9-1, behind Cline’s 11-3), third in Ks (82, behind the 88 posted by Lambert and Cline), sixth in lowest opponent batting average (.233) and second in innings pitched (90.1). His nine-inning averages in the 2003 regular season included just 8.0 hits and 1.5 walks allowed per nine innings, with 8.2 Ks per 9 IP and a 5.5 K-to-walk ratio (82/15).

* Edwards – ND’s first 1B ever to be named all-BIG EAST – shared the BIG EAST overall RBI lead with Virginia Tech sophomore catcher Wyatt Toregas (60) while his 26 RBI in BIG EAST games tied VT senior second baseman Marc Tugwell for best in the conference (with Tugwell playing two more games). Edwards also finished the regular season ranked fifth among BIG EAST player in total bases (124), sixth in overall hits (73), seventh in slugging. His other season stats included team-bests in batting average (.372) and on-base percentage (.436) and 21 walks.

* Kalita finished third among BIG EAST pitchers in conference ERA (2.09), adding a 4-1 conference record and .214 opponent batting average in league play (his overall stats included a 3.67 ERA and 5-1 record). Sollmann ranked among the BIG EAST regular-season leaders with 80 overall hits, 31 stolen bases, 60 runs scored, five triples and 16 doubles, plus a .370 batting average and 36 RBI from his leadoff spot.

* Gagne’s 1.09 ERA in conference action was second-best among BIG EAST pitchers, with his overall stats including a team-record 12 saves, three wins, a 2.10 ERA and a .225 opponent batting average.

* Billmaier also ranked among the BIG EAST doubles leaders (15) while batting .264 in the regular season, with 37 RBI, four home runs and 22 walks. He becomes the fifth ND outfielder to earn all-BIG EAST honors, joining 1st-team CFs Scott Sollmann (’96) and Randall Brooks (’97), Stanley and Stavisky in that regard.

* Kalita is the seventh ND pitcher to receive all-BIG EAST honors, following Schmalz, Lidge, Heilman, Alex Shilliday (2nd, ’98), Danny Tamayo (1st, ’01) and Gagne.