March 31, 2000
BACK ON THE ROAD: The Notre Dame baseball team (16-5, 2-1 BIG EAST) departs on yet another roadtrip this week, as the Irish travel to Connecticut for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series (April 1-2, noon start times, with a .Sat. doubleheader) … UConn is 12-7 overall and 4-2 in the BIG EAST, after winning two-of-three from Boston College and Seton Hall … the series will be carried live by South Bend-based WJVA radio (1480 AM), with real-audio available at www.und.com … the road is all too familiar for the Irish, who have played 17 of their first 21 games away from home … the Irish took two of three on the road last week versus Villanova (4-0, 7-3 in 10 inn., 5-11, at Richie Ashburn Field in downtown Philadelphia) before dropping a 14-3 home game to Wisconsin-Milwaukee and downing Siena Heights University, 9-2 at Eck Stadium … despite dropping two of its last four games, the Irish still could become the first ND team to open with 20 wins in its first 25 games since the 1959 team posted a 20-5 regular season (that ’59 team then won its first two NCAA Tournament games before dropping the next two) … if the Irish can match that 20-5 start, it would equal the quickest ND season to 20 wins in 72 years … the all-time quickest Irish seasons to 20 wins include 1908 (20-1), 1917 (20-2), 1906 (20-5) and 1928 (20-6).
HEILMAN REPEATS AS PITCHER OF THE WEEK: ND junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named BIG EAST Conference pitcher of the week for the second time in the 2000 and the sixth time in his career, after recording 8.2 shutout IP during the week of March 20-26 … Heilman tossed 1.2 IP of relief in the 10-3 win over Detroit (1H, 3 Ks) … he then registered a one-hitter in the 4-0 win at Villanova (in the seven-inning opener), allowing a bloop single in the third from Brendan Mannix that tipped off the glove of charging CF Steve Stanley … Heilman’s 87-pitch effort in that game included 5 Ks, 8 groundouts and 2 walks … he faced one batter over the minimum (22)-thanks to a pickoff and a double-play ball-and the only VU batter to reach 2B came in the 7th, with ND conceding the base after a walk to Dave Pizzini … for the week, Heilman faced 28 batters (two over the minimum), with 8 Ks, 2 BB and 2 H … ND is the only school to produce three BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week award winners this season (senior Scott Cavey earned the honor Feb. 28) and the Irish have totaled four player and pitcher awards, second only to Rutgers’ five (Irish sophomore C Paul O’Toole was the March 13 player of the week) … Heilman joined RU’s Jim Wilson (Feb. 28, March 20) as the only BIG EAST players to earn multiple player or pitcher awards this season … the Irish have produced at least one BIG EAST award winner in four of the last five weeks … … Heilman was named BIG EAST pitcher of the week once in his All-America freshman season (April 6, 1998) before earning three weekly awards during his second All-America campaign (March 15, March 22 and April 12 of 1999).
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup
* – lefthanded hitter, # – switch hitter
|CF||*Steve Stanley||So.||5-9/150||Upper Arlington, OH||.359, 9 RBI, 10 R, 2 2B, 11 BB, 7 K, 12-16 SB, 2 SAC, SF||Has returned to leadoff spot (’99)|
|RF||*Brian Stavisky||Fr.||6-3/230||Port Allegany, PA||.293, 13 RBI, 17 R, 5 HR, 3 3B, 3 2B, 6 BB, 15 K, 0-1 SB||13-game hitting streak|
|SS||Alec Porzel||Jr.||6-0/190||Lisle, IL||.300, 16 RBI, 10 R, 2 HR, 3 3B, 6 2B, 7 BB, 9 K, 2-5 SB, 2 SF||6 RBI in Hormel Foods Classic|
|1B||*Jeff Felker||Sr.||6-5/190||Ellicott City, MD||.295, 9 RBI, 13 R, HR, 3B, 8 2B, 3 BB, 5 K, 1-3 SB||Team-best .414 in ’99 BIG EAST gms|
|C/LF||*Paul O’Toole||So.||6-2/210||Lakewood, OH||.289, 13 RBI, 17 R, 2 HR, 3B, 2 2B, 9 BB, 8 K, 6-6 SB, SF||Hitting .433 w/ runners in scoring pos.|
|3B||*Andrew Bushey||So.||6-0/200||Boardman, OH||.333, 8 RBI, 8 R, 4 2B, 6 BB, 4 K, 0-2 SB||Hitting .406 with runners on base|
|DH||#Matt Bok||So.||5-11/185||Akron, Ohio||.278, 6 RBI, 9 R, 2 2B, 4 BB, 8 K, 1-1 SB, SAC, SF||8-for-15 (.533) with runners on base|
|or||Matt Strickroth||So.||6-5/230||Mission Viejo, CA||.229, 9 RBI, 8 R, HR, 5 2B, BB, 7 K, 1-1 SB, SF||’99 BIG EAST gms: .318, 12 RBI|
|LF/C||Matt Nussbaum||Sr.||6-0/180||South Bend, IN||.288, 7 RBI, 9 R, 3B, 2 2B, 4 BB, 4 K, 1-1 SB, SF||Hitting 6-for-14 in last 4 games|
|or||#Jeff Perconte||Sr.||5-11/190||Arlington Hts., IL||.290, 8 RBI, 6 R, 2B, 2 BB, 6 K, SF, 2 SAC||Hitting .353 w/ runners in scoring pos.|
|OTHER TOP RESERVES|
|IF||#Ben Cooke||Jr.||5-9/170||Bay Village, OH||.250, 4 RBI, 8 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 9 K, 2-6 SB, 3 SAC||Two 1Bs, 2 R in win over Georgia|
|IF||Kris Billmaier||Fr.||5-11/185||Woodinvale, WA||.267, 3 RBI, 4 R, BB, 2 K||Hitting 6-for-17 (.353) with runners on|
|1B||Ken Meyer||So.||6-0/210||Fort Myers, FL||.375 (3-for-8), RBI, 2 R, 2B, 2 K||Hit first career HR vs. Miami (’99)|
|IF/OF||Ed Golom||So.||5-9/175||Lockport, IL||0-for-4, K||HR on 1st career pitch (@FIU, ’99)|
|RHP||Aaron Heilman||Jr.||6-5/210||Logansport, IN||1.55, 4-1, 7 GP/5 GS, 40.2 IP, 45 K/7 BB, .190 opp. avg.||Last 5 GP: 4-0, 0.54, 33.2 IP, 39 K/5 BB|
|RHP||Scott Cavey||Sr.||6-5/200||Omaha, NE||1.88, 3-0, 4 GS, 24 IP, 21 K/10 BB, .152 opp. avg.||Last 8 GP: 7-0, 1.88, 48 IP, 43 K/13 BB|
|RHP||J.P. Gagne||Fr.||6-0/190||Bloomington, MN||3.60, 3-0, 7 GP/2 GS, 20 IP, 13 K/3 BB, .329 opp. avg.||2 relief wins in Jack. (8 shutout IP)|
|RHP||Drew Duff||So.||6-0/175||Sevierville, TN||6.92, 0-1, 6 GP/3 GS, 13 IP, 7 K/8 BB, .414 opp. avg.||Win in ’98 fall exhibition vs. MSU|
|LHP||Mike Naumann||Jr.||6-0/180||Tucson, AZ||2.79, 1-1, 12 GP/19.1 IP, 11 K/2 BB, .346 opp. avg.||Has retired 18 of 23 leadoff batters|
|RHP||Matt Laird||Fr.||6-1/190||Bellaire, TX||2.04, 2-1, 6 GP/4 GS, 17.2 IP, 10 K/5 BB, .271 opp. avg.||Played for nation’s No. 1-ranked HS tm|
|RHP||John Corbin||Sr.||6-3/200||Hollywood, FL||3.65, 1-0, 4 SV, 11 GP/12.1 IP, 16 K/7 BB, .209 opp. avg.||Holds ND record for career saves (13)|
|RHP||Matt Buchmeier||So.||6-0/190||Greenwood, IN||2.93, 2-1, 6 GP/2 GS, 15.1 IP, 10 K/3 BB, .262 opp. avg.||.236 opp. avg. w/ runners on base|
|RHP||Brandon Viloria||Fr.||5-11/215||Wailuku, HI||0.00, 0-0, 2 GP/6 IP, 5 K/0 BB, .150 opp. avg.||Could be ND’s 1st letterwinner from HI|
|RHP||Mike Carlin||Jr.||6-5/210||Manhattan, KS||4.50, 0-0, 3 GP/6 IP, 5 K/6 BB, .227 opp. avg.||17 career appearances|
A WINNING TRADITION: In four-plus BIG EAST seasons, ND has posted 26 series wins, five series losses and five series ties … the Irish have won nine of their last 11 BIG EAST series (with one tie) and 21 of the last 26 (with three ties) … Notre Dame has played 33 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 18 of them (with 13 splits and just two sweeps by the opponent) … the Irish have played 24 BIG EAST doubleheaders since the last time they were swept by the opponent (at Seton Hall, early in ’97) … the only other doubleheader sweep by a BIG EAST team over ND was by West Virginia in ’96.
NOTES FROM VU SERIES: The Irish relied on a common theme in winning the doubleheader (4-0, 7-3 in 10 inn.), thanks to strong pitching, error-free defense and a balanced offense … the first game marked the 3,000th official game in 108 seasons of varsity baseball at ND, with the team commemorating the milestone with a ceremonial team photo, complete with the word “3,000” spelled out in baseballs in front of the team members … freshman RF Brian Stavisky gave the Irish a 1st-inning lead with his team-leading fifth HR of the season, a two-run shot to right-center … VU forced a 3-3 tie with a pair of runs in the fifth inning of the nightcap before the Irish offense awakened with four runs in the 10th … freshman RHP J.P. Gagne picked up the win, facing seven batters in the 8th and 9th while allowing three hits … senior RHP Scott Cavey tossed seven strong innings (3 R, 4 H, 5 BB, 5 Ks) … the winning rally included Stavisky’s leadoff walk and five straight singles, from junior SS Alec Porzel, senior 1B Jeff Felker, sophomore DH Paul O’Toole, senior C Matt Nussbaum and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey … in the series-ending loss (11-5), ND suffered a dropoff in its usually reliable defense (three errors) and pitching (seven earned runs, tying the season high) while seeing its eight-game winning streak come to an end.
MIDWEEK GAME NOTES: The 14-3 loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee featured the most hits by an ND opponent (20) in 132 games, since the Miami Hurricanes totaled 22 hits versus the Irish on Feb. 21, 1998 … the lopsided loss is a rarity for Notre Dame at Eck Stadium, as the Irish have won 82 percent of their home games in seven seasons at the facility (152-34) while losing by seven-plus runs just three times previously at The Eck … the loss was just the second double-digit defeat ever for the Irish at Eck Stadium and the first in 183 home games-stretching back to the second game ever played at the stadium (a 19-7 loss to the Miami Hurricanes) … ND’s previous 33 losses at Eck Stadium came by an average margin of just 3.5 runs … UWM became just the third team to post three-plus victories over the Irish at Eck Stadium (also in ’95 and ’97), joining the University of Miami (4) and West Virginia (3) … the nine-inning win over Siena Heights (9-2) was quick even by seven-inning standards, with just 2:02 of game time … the Irish avoided a rare three-game losing streak, as ND has dropped three straight games just seven times during the six-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri (including two four-game skids, longest of the Mainieri era).
ACES ALL AROUND: ND’s eye-popping 2.75 team ERA is within range of the team record of 2.60, set by the 1957 College World Series team and equaled in 1960 … in 39 seasons since 1960, the ND pitchers have posted just five team ERAs of 3.20 or lower: 3.12 in 1963, 2.95 in ’69, 2.83 in ’75, 3.00 in 1990 and 3.06 in ’92 … since 1975, the 1990, ’92 and ’94 (3.25) Irish pitching staffs have posted the only ND team ERAs under 3.81 … other noteworthy facts on the Irish pitching include the following:
The ND pitchers have allowed 0-2 earned runs in 11 of the last 15 games (35 total, in 132 innings), for a 2.39 ERA during that stretch.
One of the hidden keys to ND’s pitching success has been effectiveness vs. leadoff batters, as just 25.1 percent of opposing leadoff batters have reached base safely this season (compared to 37.2 percent in 1999) … the top ND pitchers versus leadoff batters have included junior LHP Mike Naumann (.217, 4-for-23), sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier (.188, 2-for-16) and junior RHP Aaron Heilman (.100, 4-for-40).
Several ND pitchers have been tough with runners on base, as opponents are hitting just .265 with runners on, .251 with runners in scoring position … senior closer John Corbin has allowed just five hits in 28 ABs with runners on (.179) while other top ND pitchers with runners on include senior RHP Scott Cavey (.182, 4-for-22), Buchmeier (.226, 6-for-31), freshman RHP Matt Laird (.235, 8-for-34) and Heilman (.234, 11-for-47).
The ND pitching staff’s ratio of 2.66 strikeouts per walk would best the 37-year-old team record of 2.40 (set in 1963) … the top ratios belong to Naumann (5.5, 11/2), Heilman (6.4, 45/7), Buchmeier (3.3, 10/3) and freshman RHP J.P. Gagne (4.3, 13/3) … the team’s leaders in Ks per 9 IP include Corbin (11.7), Heilman (10.0) and Cavey (7.9) … the Irish pitchers have totaled just 56 walks in 180 innings, for another record-setting pace of 2.80 BBs per 9 IP (the existing ND record of 2.82 was set in 1994) … the lowest nine-inning walk ratios belong to Naumann (0.9), Heilman (1.5), Gagne (1.4) and Buchmeier (1.8) … the ND pitchers have racked up nearly an 3-to-1 ratio during the last nine games (56 Ks/20 BBs).
ND’s 16-5 start has included victories from seven different pitchers, with five owning multiple wins: Cavey (3-0), junior RHP Heilman (4-1), Buchmeier (2-0), Gagne (3-0) and Laird (2-1).
Pitchers with the biggest groundout-flyout ratios include Gagne (30/9), Naumann (26/16), Laird (25/15) and Heilman (42/28).
Two Irish pitchers have yet to hit a batter or throw a wild pitch: Naumann (19.1 IP) and Gagne (20 IP), with Cavey totaling one WP and o HBs in 24 IP … Laird also has yielded a low total of extra-base hits (one double, one triple, no home runs and 16 singles).
THE SERIES: Notre Dame leads its brief series with Connecticut, 4-1 … the Irish split a doubleheader with UConn at Eck Stadium in 1996 (7-6, 9-10) before winning in 1997 at UConn (7-2), with the second game that day halted in the 4th inning due to rain (4-4) … Jeff Wagner had hit a home run that ended up not counting in that game (due to the cancellation) … the teams were scheduled to play at UConn in 1998 but the DH was cancelled due to weather … ND swept an April 3 DH at home from UConn in 1999 (11-7, 11-8), with the first game featuring consecutive home runs from Wagner, Jeff Felker and Matt Nussbaum (Jeff Perconte also homered, two batters later) … Wagner had homered earlier in that game, on the first pitch he had seen in five weeks (due to a foot injury) … Wagner added a towering blast in the ’99 nightcap while Felker went 2-for-4 (HR, 2 R, BB) … current junior LHP Mike Naumann picked up the win in the first game (3.2 IP) while ’99 grad Alex Shilliday won the second (4 IP).
CAREER STATS VS. THE HUSKIES: Top Irish career batters vs. UConn include senior 1B Jeff Felker (5-for-7, 2 RBI, 5 R, 2 HR, 2B, BB), sophomore CF Steve Stanley (3-for-7, RBI, 3 R, 3B, BB, 0-1 SB) and senior 2B Jeff Perconte (2-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 R, HR, 3 Bb, K, 0-1 SB) … junior RHP Aaron Heilman has yet to face UConn while senior RHP Scott Cavey had no decision vs. UConn in a start last season (3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 4 K, HB) … other ND pitchers with past outings vs. UConn include: junior LHP Mike Naumann (1-0, 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 K, 1 BB), senior RHP John Corbin (SV, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 K) and sophomore RHP Drew Duff (1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 K, 3 BB).
MORE IRISH PITCHING NOTES
The ND pitchers posted a 1.65 ERA during the eight-game stretch in Jacksonville, allowing just 18 total runs (13 earned) in 71 IP, with 57 Ks, 18 walks and 69 hits allowed (.255 opp. batting avg.) … the ND pitchers allowed just 7 extra-base hits during the trip (6 doubles, 1 triple, 0 home runs) … the ND pitchers then allowed just three runs and nine hits in the sweep at Villanova, before giving up 25 runs and 33 hits in losses to VU and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Senior RHP Scott Cavey is 3-0 as the No. 2 starter, with a 1.88 ERA, 21 Ks, 10 walks and 12 hits allowed in 24 IP … he has registered a win in seven of his last eight appearances, with a 1.88 ERA in those games, plus 43 Ks, 13 BB and 39 hits allowed in 48 IP … his career walk average now sits at 2.17 per 9 IP (29, in 120.1 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 3.38 (91/29) … opposing baserunners have attempted just one stolen base versus Cavey in 24 innings this season (it failed)
Senior RHP John Corbin saved three wins in Jacksonville: vs. Central Michigan (5-0), Illinois (5-1) and Butler (3-2) … he also saved the 6-4 win over Georgia the week before (at Minnesota’s Hormel Foods Classic) and now stands first on the ND career saves list, with 13 (three players have 12, including Heilman). .. Corbin owns an 3.65 season ERA in 12.1 IP, with 16 Ks, 7 BB and 9 H (he also picked up the 4-3 season-opening win over Air Force) … during the past two seasons, he has had a hand in 21 Irish victories (13 saves, 8-3 record), with a 4.35 ERA and 70 Ks in 60 IP during that stretch.
Junior All-American Aaron Heilman’s solo shutout vs. VU was the second of his career (in 20 starts), with the other coming vs. VU-at the same site (RAF) in 1999 by the same 4-0 score (5 H, 8 K) … the VU win marked Heilman’s ninth career complete game and third in 2000 … Heilman has dropped his season ERA to 1.55 (7 ERs in 40.2 IP)-which would rank 8th all-time at ND and best since David Sinnes’ 1.05 in ’90 … his other 2000 totals include 45 Ks, 7 BB and 27 hits allowed … his .190 opponent batting average would rank 2nd-best by an Irish pitcher since the stat was first recorded in ’91 (Sinnes allowed .163 in ’92) … his career ERA has dropped to 2.37 (57 ER, 216.2 IP), just shy of the ND record held by Nick Palihnich (2.36, ’59-’61) … Heilman remains on pace to challenge the Irish career K record, ranking 5th with 241, behind: 32-game winner Sinnes (315, ’90-’93), 40-game winner and lefty Tom Price (276, ’91-’94), former teammate and 25-game winner Alex Shilliday (265, ’96-’99) and 34-game winner and lefty Chris Michalak (263, ’90-’93) … Heilman is averaging 10.01 Ks and just 3.03 BBs per 9 IP inning during his career … his last five appearance (four starts) have yielded four wins and just two earned runs in 33.2 IP, for an 0.54 ERA in that stretch (39 Ks, 5 BB, 16 H) … his 22-6 career record puts him into a tie for ninth in Irish history for career wins while his .786 career winning pct. ranks seventh all-time at Notre Dame. Heilman has not allowed an earned run in four career appearances vs. VU (17.2 IP), with 18 Ks, 2 BB and 10 H (plus a 2-0 record and one save).
Freshman RHPs Matt Laird (2-1, 2.04, 10 K, 17.2 IP) and J.P. Gagne (3-0, 3.60, 13 K, 20 IP) have provided a needed lift to the Irish pitching staff, with Laird emerging as the early No. 3 starter while Gagne has picked up all of his wins in the crucial middle relief role (Gagne is the likely starter on Sunday at UConn) … their combined stats include a 5-1 record and a 2.87 ERA, with 23 Ks in 37.2 IP.
BALANCED OFFENSE: ND’s reliance on balanced offense for most of 2000 has resulted in the Irish players combining for just six games with 3-plus hits … freshman RF Brian Stavisky had a 4-for-5 game in the 12-3 win over Akron while sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey has two three-hit games this season … sophomore CF Steve Stanley, sophomore C Paul O’Toole and senior 1B Jeff Felker own the other three-hi games for the Irish this season … Irish players also have combined for just four games with 3-plus RBI, as O’Toole, Bushey and junior SS Alec Porzel each have produced one three-RBI game while Stavisky drive in four runs versus Akron.
STREAKING: Sophomore CF Steve Stanley posted a 10-game hitting streak earlier this season, stretching from the 5-4 loss to Ohio State on Feb. 25 to the 6-1 loss to North Florida on March 13 (he failed to register a hit in the 3-2 win over Butler) … freshman RF Brian Stavisky carries a 13-game hitting streak into the Villanova series … the only ND players to play in all 21 games this season are Stanley and Stavisky … each of those players has opened at the same position in all 21 games.
DIFFERENT LOOKS: The Irish have tried several lineup combinations in recent weeks, with several players’ versatility allowing for greater flexibility (sophomore C Paul O’Toole already has hit leadoff, 2nd, cleanup and 5th) … just one player has hit in the same spot for 13-plus games this season: junior SS Alec Porzel (17 games in No. 3 spot).
SOLID D: Despite a five-error game in the narrow win over Butler (3-2), the ND defense has been solid for most of the 2000 season … the Irish own a .966 season fielding percentage (28 errors in 21 games), which would best the team record set in 1982 and ’92 (.965) … the Irish have posted seven error-free games in 2000, plus six with one error, four with two errors and just four with three-plus Es … the Irish defense is averaging one double play per game (21), putting them on pace to challenge the team record of 60 DPs set in 1998.
COBWEBS: ND continues to struggle with its early-game scoring, as the Irish have been outscored 10-7 in the first inning this season and own just a 33-26 scoring edge during the first four innings … the middle and late innings are a different story, as ND owns a 78-50 scoring edge from the 5th-10th innings, including 20-7 in the 7th and 19-9 in the 8th.
IN THE CLUTCH: Despite hitting just .295 as a team, the ND offense has performed noticeably better with runners on base (.323) but is hitting just .287 with runners in scoring position … top Irish hitters with runners in scoring position include senior 2B Jeff Perconte (.353), sophomore CF Steve Stanley (.348) and sophomore C Paul O’Toole (.333) … Stanley also is hitting .389 overall with runners on base while sophomore DH Matt Bok checks in at .533 with runners on (sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey is at .406) … the Irish also have grounded into just 14 double plays (0.7 per game).
POWER OUTAGE?: The Notre Dame offense has managed just 11 home runs in it first 21 games of the 2000 season, with freshman RF Brian Stavisky (five), accounting for more than half of them … the Irish traditionally have rolled up more home runs later in the season (they had 16 after 16 games in 1999) but currently are on pace for just 29 HRs in the 56-game regular season (compared to 60 last season) … the loss of the team’s top two career HR leaders (Jeff Wagner, 49, and Brant Ust, 46) has left a void in the Irish lineup but several players are capable of big HR seasons, including Stavisky, senior 1B Jeff Felker, junior SS Alec Porzel and sophomore C Paul O’Toole.
STAVO SURGING: After a slow start in terms of batting average, freshman RF Brian Stavisky has collected hits in each of the last 13 games while boosting his average to .293 (fifth-best on the team) … Stavisky also leads the team in home runs (5), total bases (48) and slugging pct. (.585) while ranking second in RBI (13) … 11 of his 24 hits have gone for extra bases, including three doubles and three triples … he has yet to make an error, in 31 fielding chances.
HEILMAN EARNS BIG EAST AWARD: ND junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named BIG EAST pitcher of the week, after turning in one of the more dominating performances by an Irish pitcher in recent memory … Heilman rolled up a career-high 12 Ks over 8 IP in a 6-4 win over Georgia on March 4 (4 H, UER, 0 BB, 11 Ks on called third strikes) … Heilman equaled the mark for most Ks in a game by an Irish pitcher since 1980 and is one of just three to reach 12 Ks in that 20-year span, joining Darin Schmalz (12 in 9 IP, at Georgetown in ’96) and Brad Lidge (12 in 7 IP vs. Pittsburgh, at Three Rivers Stadium in ’98) in that distinction … He also served as the closer in an 8-5 win over No. 24 Wake Forest two days earlier, allowing three hits and two runs in the ninth inning of that game (with one K). … his totals for the week included 9 IP, 13 Ks, three runs (two earned), six hits and no walks.
MORE ON HEILMAN’S 12-K GAME: Heilman faced just four batters over the eight-inning minimum (28), with 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) … his 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 both the fourth and eighth) … Heilman’s first seven Ks were ?looking” … eight Georgia batters were K’d by Heilman … his first 12 outs included seven Ks (3 in the 4th) … he closed by striking out each batter he faced in the eighth (on 14 pitches) … 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.
CAVEY EARNS BIG EAST AWARD: ND senior RHP Scott Cavey (Omaha, Neb.) was named co-BIG EAST Conference pitcher of the week, after allowing just one hit in 6 IP of the 6-0 win over Air Force on Feb. 24 … Cavey-who shared the award with Rutgers junior Jim Wilson-turned in a 78-pitch outing that included six Ks, eight groundouts, one hit and one walk over 20 batters faced (the game was seven innings) … he retired the final 10 batters he faced, after yielding a two-out double to leadoff hitter Brian LaBasco in the third.
EARLY HOME OPENER: ND cashed in on the unseasonably-warm weather by adding a March 7 home opener vs. Manchester, at Eck Stadium (a 5-1 Irish win and the third-earliest home game in ND baseball history) … sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier (1-0) was credited with the first win of his Irish career, after opening the game with three scoreless IP in a planned rotation (1 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks) … the highlight of the day came in the top of the ninth, as junior RHP Danny Tamayo made his first appearance in more than two years … sophomore DH Paul O’Toole hit a solo home run in the third (his fourth straight game at Eck Stadium with a home run) while freshman RF Brian Stavisky ended his early slump with two hits in four at-bats … third-earliest
NUSSBAUM SEIZES THE MOMENT: Senior Matt Nussbaum-a South Bend native and former walk-on who was 0-for-16 his first two seasons-was named a tri-captain for 2000 , alongside senior 2B Jeff Perconte and junior RHP Aaron Heilman … Nussbaum, who started 57 games in ’99 at mostly DH and LF, posted a .314 season average in ’99 (6th on the team), while also ranking 1st on the team in runners advanced (35) and 5th in RBI (33), two-out batting avg. (.371) and HRs (5) … a steady contact hitter (team-high 11 double plays), Nussbaum struck out just 13 times in ’99 (only three Ks in the final 25 games) … he averaged a team-best 15.7 plate appearances per strikeout in ’99.
IRISH AMONG NUMEROUS PRESEASON PICKS: The Notre Dame baseball team embarked on its 2000 season with a national ranking in two of the three major polls-the only school from the Midwest or Northeast in either poll-while several Irish players received preseason honors from various publications and organizations:
ND was ranked 20th in the Baseball America preseason poll -marking the highest preseason ranking for the Irish since 1994. The Irish were ranked 25th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine preseason poll and received the 26th-most votes in the preseason USA Today Baseball Weekly Coaches Poll.
Junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named a first team preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Heilman and Stanford’s Jason Young were the only pitchers named first team by both publications (each listed five).
BA lists Heilman as the No. 9 professional prospect among draft-eligible college players (15th overall, including high school seniors). Heilman ranks fourth on that list among draft-eligible college pitchers.
Heilman also was tabbed by both BA and the BIG EAST Conference coaches as the preseason BIG EAST pitcher of the year.
BA lists Heilman and Young among the three prospects with the best breaking ball (both throw sliders). The magazine also singled out Heilman and Young as the pitchers who are “closest to the major leagues.”
BA lists ND freshman RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) as the top newcomer in the BIG EAST Conference and the preseason BIG EAST freshman of the year. The magazine also projects Stavisky as the nation’s No. 5-rated prospect among current college freshmen, behind Clemson shortstop Jeff Baker, Florida third baseman Pat Osborne, Texas A&M first baseman Travis Wong and Stanford outfielder Jason Cooper.
BA’s list of the “best tools” among BIG EAST players includes four from Notre Dame: Stavisky (“best raw power”), Heilman (“best fastball”), sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley (“fastest runner”) and senior Jeff Felker (“best defensive first baseman”).
BA picked ND to win the 2000 BIG EAST regular-season title, followed by Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The BIG EAST coaches preseason poll forecasted Rutgers as the 2000 champion (76 voting points, five 1st-place votes), narrowly edging ND (74, 3), followed by St. John’s (69, 2), Seton Hall, WVU and Pittsburgh.
PROSPECTS: ND junior Aaron Heilman was listed 9th on Baseball America’s annual list of the top professional prospects in college baseball (15th among all players, including high schoolers) … Heilman ranked fourth on that list among draft-eligible pitchers, behind Arizona sophomore Ben Diggins (3rd), Auburn’s Chris Bootcheck (4th) and Stanford’s Jason Young (7th) … others on that list included California 3B Xavier Nady (1st), Clemson OF Patrick Boyd (2nd), North Carolina OF Tyrell Godwin (5th), Texas A&M OF Daylon Holt (6th) and Pepperdine C Dane Sardinha (8th) … Heilman’s teammates on the USA national team during the summer of ’99 included all of the above players, except for Bootcheck, Boyd and Sardinha … Heilman and Young were the only pitchers that were tabbed as preseason first team All-Americans by both BA (which also included Bootcheck, Diggins and UCLA’s Josh Karp) and Collegiate Baseball (which also included Miami’s David Gil, Florida State’s Jon McDonald, Oklahoma State’s Matt Smith and Cal State Fullerton’s Adam Johnson).
PROSPECTS, PART II: The BIG EAST placed two players in the top 25 of BA’s list of class of 2000 prospects, with St. John’s RHP Kevin McGerry checking in at No. 21 … only three conferences had more players among the top 25 prospects while the BIG EAST’s three players among the top 35 was tied for the second-most by any conference in the nation (Rutgers OF David DeJesus was rated 32nd) .. . eight BIG EAST players were listed among the top 150 prospects-ranking the BIG EAST behind just four conferences for most players in the top 150.
ACADEMICS: The ND baseball program posted a 3.10 team GPA in the ’99 fall semester-the program’s best semester in the six-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4 or higher) in the fall of ’99, with 19 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 11 times since ’82, with top candidates in 2000 including senior 2B Jeff Perconte (3.73 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government) and junior LHP Mike Naumann (3.95, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters).
BIG EAST RECORD BOOK: In four seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, ND already has made its mark in the league’s baseball record book … Notre Dame in ’99 became the first BIG EAST team ever to win more than 18 conference games (20-5) while the ’99 Irish pitching staff set a BIG EAST record with 199 Ks in conference play … four former ND players rank among the top 16 players on the BIG EAST list for career batting average in conference games (min. 150 ABs): 2B/CF Randall Brooks (3rd, .418, 69-for-165, 1996-97), IF Brant Ust (5th, .413, 100-for-242, ’97-’99), IF J.J. Brock (11th, .399, 89-for-223, ’96-’98) and C/DH Jeff Wagner (16th, .390, 98-for-251, ?96-’99) … Ust is the only player ranked in the BIG EAST career top 10 for conference batting avg., home runs (5th, 19), RBI (7th, 71) and hits (9th, 100), plus 11th in runs scored (70) … Wagner’s 24 home runs in BIG EAST regular-season play trail only former Seton Hall great Mo Vaughn (26) in BIG EAST history while he is tied for first with 83 career RBI in BIG EAST play.
BE RECORD BOOK, PART II: Current Irish junior Aaron Heilman entered 2000 ranked seventh in BIG EAST history with a 2.67 ERA in BIG EAST regular-season play (min. 70 IP) … former Irish pitcher Darin Schmalz (?96-’97, 2.74) ranks ninth on that list and ninth with 10 career BIG EAST complete games, while Alex Shilliday (’96-’99) ranks third in conference wins (14), fourth in starts (22) and seventh in strikeouts (119).
CONFERENCE WINNING PCT.: Over the course of its first four seasons in the BIG EAST Conference (1996-99), Notre Dame ranked first in the 11-member conference with: a .701 overall winning percentage (169-72, Rutgers was second at .618), a .741 BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. (63-22, Rutgers was second at .692) and a .709 winning pct. in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (73-30, Rutgers was second at .665) … St. John’s owned the best BIG EAST Tournament winning pct. during the past four seasons (.625, 9-6), followed by Notre Dame at .556 (10-8) … in fact, the double-elimination tournament has been the ultimate bugaboo for Notre Dame, with the same team providing the Irish losses during each of the first three seasons (WVU in ?96, Villanova in ?97, RU in ?98) before the Irish were beaten by complete game-efforts from Seton Hall and Providence in ?99.
THE ECK: ND has enjoyed great success at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southeast corner of campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 pct. of their games at ?The Eck? in six-plus seasons (152-34, .817, since ’94), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in ’97 and a 123-27 home record (.820) during the first five-plus years under head coach Paul Mainieri … ND has posted victories in 79 of its last 95 games (.832) at Eck (since late in the ’96 season), including a 35-5 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.
FRESHMEN PHENOMS: Notre Dame has produced two of the last four BIG EAST rookies of the year-DH Jeff Wagner (?96) and IF Brant Ust (’97)-while current freshman F Brian Stavisky was tabbed by Baseball America as the 2000 preseason BIG EAST rookie of the year … Wagner set the Irish freshman HR record (10) only to see Ust best that mark with 11 shots over the fence in 1997 (Stavisky already has five in ’99) … Ust became the first freshman middle IF ever named first team all-BIG EAST and was a consensus Freshman All-America pick by BA and Collegiate Baseball magazine … despite not winning the ’98 BIG EAST rookie award, RHP Aaron Heilman was a second team all-conference selection, a consensus Freshman All-American and was one of three players named co-national freshman of the year by CB (which also named him third team All-America) … CF Steve Stanley was named second team all-BIG EAST in ’99, the only freshman on the BIG EAST first or second team … his classmate, C Paul O’Toole, became the seventh Notre Dame player ever to earn first team Freshman All-America honors in the 1990s, as one of three catchers named to the Collegiate Baseball team.
K CREW: The Notre Dame pitching staff has posted the team strikeout record each of the past three seasons: 399 in 1997, 456 in ’98 and 478 in ’99 (on pace for 426 in 2000) … the Irish have averaged 444 Ks in the past three seasons (1,333 total), with the ’99 staff averaging 8.38 strikeouts per nine innings-best by an Irish staff since 1963 (the 2000 staff is averaging 7.45) … top contributors in that three-year stretch included current junior Aaron Heilman (201 Ks in 182 IP in ’98 and ’99, team-record 118 in ’99), first-round draft pick Brad Lidge (’96-’98, 143 Ks in 129.2 IP, 93 in ’98), ’99 grad Alex Shilliday (third in Irish history with 265 career Ks) and lefty Tim Kalita (214 Ks in 214 IP, ’97-’99).
THE NINETIES: Notre Dame posted the seventh-highest winning percentage among Division I baseball teams during the 1990s (.724, 440-168), behind Wichita State (.790), Miami, Fla. (.765), Florida State (.751), LSU (.737), Delaware (.734) and Clemson (.728).
THREE THOUSAND GAMES: The Notre Dame baseball program has amassed 3,004 official games in 108 seasons as a varsity sport-reaching the 3,000-game milestone on Saturday, March 25, in the first game of the doubleheader at Villanova.
RARE DOUBLE FOR IRISH BASEBALL, SOFTBALL: Notre Dame posted an .878 (36-5) combined BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. in 1999 in baseball (20-5) and softball (16-0, first unbeaten season in BIG EAST history) … that .878 combined winning pct. ranks first in BIG EAST history, since the conference started sponsoring softball in 1992 (Notre Dame held the previous record of .800, set by the baseball and softball teams of 1996 and ’98) ? Notre Dame also became the first BIG EAST school ever to post the top conference regular-season winning percentages in baseball and softball during the same season.
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Sixth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 556-377 (.596) record in 17-plus seasons as a college head coach, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 224-98 (.696) mark with the Irish, Mainieri teams were 180-121 in his six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return to the University of New Orleans (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach … Mainieri coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20, 1998, at the University of Miami, after a Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out … he notched his 499th career win in the 1999 season opener versus James Madison, in a game played in Miami at Florida International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri’s 210 wins rank third at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 20 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 14 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of Mainieri’s players at St. Thomas went on to pro baseball, including three-Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier-who have played in the major leagues … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to each top 500 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 games in his 30-year career at Mi Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999. Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999.ami-Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999.Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999.