March 12, 2003
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES
at Jacksonville University (Wednesday, March 12, 2003, 7:00 p.m.)
CHANGE OF VENUE – Notre Dame (6-4) – ranked as high as 18th in the national polls – takes its four-game winning streak to Jacksonville University’s Brest Field for Wednesday night’s game vs. the JU Dolphins, after opening Kennel Club Classic play with three wins at North Florida’s Harmon stadium (3-1 vs. Vanderbilt, 7-3 vs. Navy and 6-1 vs. UNF) … the Irish then will return to Harmon for games on Thursday (vs. Eastern Illinois, 5:00 p.m.) and Friday (vs. Navy, 4:00 p.m.) before closing the week back at JU in a Saturday game vs. Creighton (noon) … Jacksonville will become the 280th all-time opponent in the 111-year history of ND baseball … JU head coach Terry Alexander was an assistant coach with the 2002 USA Baseball National Team (ND injured sophomore RHP Grant Johnson was one of the top pitchers on that USA staff) … ND’s four losses include two at Arizona State (ranked as high as No. 1 in this week’s polls), vs. Nebraska (ranked as high as 12th) and vs. Minnesota in the Metrodome (the Gophers just took two of three from Cal State Fullerton) … live GameTracker stats will be provided by www.judolphins.com and linked at www.und.com.
TODAY’S STARTER PETER OGILVIE – Senior RHP Peter Ogilvie has turned in a pair of solid starts this season, despite his 0-2 record and 6.00 ERA … Ogilvie and the Irish held a 1-0 lead in the 5th inning of the first game at ASU before an ND error on a potential rally-ending double ball, a windblown single that fell behind the third-base bag and a grand slam (on an 0-2 pitch) suddenly gave ASU a 5-1 lead (Ogilvie’s 5 IP included 5 R/1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB and 2Ks) … he then logged 4 IP in the loss to Minnesota (5 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 Ks).
LEADOFF LEADER – Junior 2B Steve Sollmann had been a mainstay at the No. 2 spot in the lineup during his Notre Dame career before making the switch this week into the leadoff spot (where 2002 graduate and All-American CF Stave Stanley had started for most of the 1999-2002 seasons, with his classmates Ken Meyer and Paul O’Toole accounting for most of the other leadoff starts in recent years) … Sollmann – who hit leadoff for a handful of games in 2001 – has made a solid debut at the top of the lineup, batting 5-for-11 (including three leadoff singles vs. UNF) … when leading off an inning in 2003, he has reached base 10 of 15 times for a team-best .667 leadoff on-base pct. … his team-best .400 overall batting average (16-for-40) included six multi-hit games (three with three hits) and he is on pace for 30-plus stolen bases in 2003 (6-for-8, with his 35 career SBs two shy of the ND career top 10) … Steve’s brother Scott Sollmann was a standout leadoff hitter for the Irish from 1994-96 … the elder Sollmann ranks 4th on the ND list for career batting average (.372) while Steve currently checks in at 8th on that list (.365, 4th-best since ’94).
EDWARDS DELIVERS IN COMEBACK – Sophomore 3B Matt Edwards – who missed most of the 2002 season due to a broken leg – has been an inspiring comeback story in 2003 … Edwards – who has hit in the third spot the last two games – is batting .382 (13-for-34) with eight RBI and a .436 on-base pct. (all second-best on the team) and has yet to make an error in 24 fielding chances) … his two-run blast off the UNF scoreboard in left field capped Tuesday’s win over the Ospreys.
GETTING DEFENSIVE – Despite losing four starters in the field from the 2002 CWS team (CF Steve Stanley, C Paul O’Toole, 3B Andrew Bushey and LF Brian Stavisky), ND’s defense has been steady the past two weeks … the Irish have posted four error-free efforts in the last five games while the team’s overall .971 fielding pct. (12 errors in 420 chances) ranks as one of the highest in recent memory … corner infielders Joe Thaman (1B) and Matt Edwards (3B) and all of the ND outfielders have yet to make errors in 2003, with junior 2B Steve Sollmann totaling just one E in 59 fielding chances (.983) … Sollmann made just eight errors in 2002 and has totaled just two Es in hist last 27 games with the Irish.
SPRING BREAK STATS – ND’s top hitters on the Spring trip have included junior 2B Steve Sollmann (5-for-11, 3 R, BB, SB, 2 SAC), junior C Javi Sanchez (4-for-10, RBI, R, 2B, 2 BB, HBP) and sophomore 3B Matt Edwards (4-for-11, 4 RBI, 2 R, HR, BB, HBP) … ND is batting .274 as a team in Jacksonville, with 16 runs in the three games, one home run, one triple, six doubles, five walks, 13 Ks and three SBs … the Irish pitchers own an 0.96 ERA in the Kennel Club Classic, with a .147 opponent batting average (14-for-95), 29 Ks and just five walks.
STRONG STARTS – ND’s last four starting pitchers (Ryan Kalita, Chris Niesel and John Axford twice) have combined for a 1.33 ERA, 26 Ks, just four walks and 16 hits allowed in 27 innings.
GAGNE GETTING IT DONE – Senior closer J.P. Gagne (2-1, 2 SV, 5 GP, 3.09 ERA, 11.2 IP, 8 Ks, 4 BB, 13 H) continues to move up the ND career pitching lists … his two appearances earlier this week give him 69 GP for his career, passing Tony Livorsi (’91) and tying David Sinnes (’93) for 6th in ND history, one behind Alan Walania (;93) and two back of Tom Price (’94) … Gagne’s 249.2 career IP are 5.1 shy of cracking that ND top-10 list while his 23 career wins rank 10th, two behind Pat Leahy (’90-’92) and Alex Shilliday (’96-’99) … his eight career saves are tied with Walania for 7th in ND history (one behind Rich Sauget’s ’94-’96 total) while his 168 Ks are 24 shy of the ND career top 10.
“V” PERFECT SO FAR – Senior RHP Brandon Viloria has retired all 14 batters he has faced this season (in three relief appearances) while his career walk ratio (1.51 BB per 9 IP; 14 BB in 65.1 IP) would best Alan Walania’s ND record (1.64, from ’90-’93) … Viloria also now ranks 7th on the ND career ERA list, at 2.76.
K-BB RATIOS START TO EVEN OUT – The Notre Dame hitters and pitchers had subpar ratios of walks to strikeouts during the first two weeks but have seen those numbers improve in this week’s action: First 7 Games – Batters BB-to-K Ratio of 16/57 (0.28) and Pitchers K-to-BB Ratio of 25/40 (0.63); Last 3 Games – Batters BB-to-K Ratio of 5/13 (0.38), Pitchers K-to-BB Ratio of 29/5 (5.80).
FRESHMAN FORCE – Notre Dame’s freshman position players have met with mixed results during the first 10 games while combining to make 33 starts, with 34 hits in 131 at-bats (.260 combined batting average), 17 RBI, 21 runs, eight extra-base hits (2 HR, 2 3B, 4 2B), seven walks, 31 Ks and five stolen bases.
ND-VANDERBILT RECAP (3-1, in 10) – ND’s Chris Niesel (8 IP, UER, 3 H, o BB, 9 Ls, 10 groundball outs, 104 pitches) and Vanderbilt LHP Jeremy Sowers (9 IP, R, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 122 pitches) – two of the nation’s top-rated sophomore prospects – turned in a classic pitcher’s duel before freshman Brennan Grogan stroked the game-deciding triple in the top of the 10th … ND opened the scoring in the 6th only to see Vanderbilt (9-6) answer with a run in the bottom of the inning … Steve Sollmann’s leadoff single and Grogan’s triple to the right-center gap, vs. RHP Jensen Lewis, then plated the winning run in the top of the 10th … J.P. Gagne (2-1) retired all six batters he faced (4 Ks) to pick up his 23rd career win with the Irish … ND head coach Paul Mainieri played a hunch by starting Sollmann at the leadoff spot (as opposed to his usual No. 2 spot) and he responded with two of ND’s seven hits and two runs scored … the Irish improved to 16-2-1 in their last 19 one-run games extra-inning games, dating back to 1997 (7-1 in the last eight).
ND-NAVY RECAP (7-3) – John Axford turned in five solid innings (3 R/2 ER, 6 H, BB, 7 Ks; 2.50 season ERA while seven ND batters contributed to an 11-hit attack … the Irish faced an early 3-0 deficit before tying the game in the bottom of the 4th and adding single runs in the 5th and 6th plus two more in the 8th … Navy (0-6) stranded eight runners, with senior RHP Rich McDevitt suffering the loss in relief of junior RHP Andy Froistad … freshman LHP Tom Thornton (1.23 season ERA) combined with senior righthanders Brandon Viloria (has retired al 14 BF in ’03) and Matt Laird to log four shutout relief innings … Kris Billmaier’s 3-for-3 day led the ND offense.
ND-UNF RECAP (6-1) – Steve Sollmann (3-for-3, R) and Matt Edwards (2-for-5, 2-run HR) continued to deliver from the top of the lineup while Ryan Kalita (7 IP, R, 3 H, BB, 6 Ks) notched another strong start for the ND pitching staff … the Irish clung to a 2-1 lead after six innings before posting single runs in the seventh and eighth … Edwards capped the scoring with a two-run shot over the leftfield fence, the first home run of his young ND career … ND totaled 19 baserunners, with eight left on base, three erased on double plays and another caught stealing … UNF (12-7) made seven errors, leading to a pair of unearned runs … Kalita (1-0) remained unbeaten in his ND career (8-0) after the economical 87-pitch stint, allowing just five balls to leave the infield … J.P. Gagne came on to post his 2nd save of the season and 8th of his career (2 IP, 7 BF, 2 H, K, 5, groundball outs, including a DP ball) … senior RHP Robert Burris (2-2) suffered the hard-luck loss (5 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 5 H, BB, 3 Ks).