Jeff Samardzija will be looking to deliver another clutch outing in Saturday's NCAA Regional elimination game (photo by Pete LaFleur).

Irish Look To Stay Alive In NCAA Elimination Game, Versus Yet-To-Be-Determined Opponent

June 4, 2005

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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES – Day-2, opponent TBD (NCAA Gainesville Regional; June 4, 2005)

SHIFTING THE SCHEDULE – Friday night’s rain has moved the Florida-Stetson game to Saturday morning, June 4 (11:00 a.m. EDT), with the loser of that game having to turn around and face Notre Dame in a 3:30 elimination game (the winner will play UNC in the 7:00 winners-bracket game) … sophomore RHP Jeff Samardzija will be looking to deliver a quality big-game start for the fourth time in the past 20 days.

Jeff Samardzija CAREER STATS (RHP, So., 6-5/215; Valparaiso, IN … 2004 Freshman All-American); see PDF

SAMARDZIJA’S SITUATIONAL PITCHING – Has allowed 40% of leadoff batters to reach (avg. of 3.6 per 9 IP) while holding opponents to .264 batting with runners but .311 with 2 outs … has totaled 14 more groundouts (86) than flyouts (72) … his 9-inning averages include 6.6 Ks, 3.3 walks, 9.9 hits allowed and 10.6 groundouts (average of 17.2 outs via Ks or GOs) … LH batters are hitting .300 vs. him in ’05 (.266 by RH batters).


RACKING UP THE WINS – Jeff Samardzija will be looking to improve to 9-1 for the season, which would tie for the 6th-best win pct. in the program’s history (min. 8 decisions) … since 1912, only two ND pitchers have posted a better season win pct: Aaron Heilman’s 15-0 in 2001 and the 9-0 by Tim Kraus in ’94 (Sam O’Gorman was 8-0 in 1906, as was Her Kelly in 1912, while Frank Scanlan went 10-0 in 1908).

TRIPLE CLUTCH – Jeff Samardzija delivered three big-game victories in a span of 13 days, starting with the key win at Pittsburgh in that series finale (21-1) before winning the game that clinched a BIG EAST Tournament spot (7-3 vs. West Virginia) and beating Pitt again in the BET winners-bracket game (4-2) … in the BET win, he limited Pittsburgh to one earned run and an unearned run on 6 hits and 3 walks in 6.2 innings, with 6 strikeouts … his combined stats in the past three big-game starts include a 2.29 ERA and 3-0 record, plus 14 Ks, 6 walks and 17 hits allowed (.227 opp. avg.) in 19.2 innings … situationally, those three starts have seen Samardzija limit the opponents to .158 batting with runners on and .167 with 2-outs (45% leadoff on-base pct.), with 9-inning averages of 6.4 Ks, 2.8 BB and 7.8 H (avg. of 6.2 IP in past three starts).

PREVISOUSLY IN THE NCAAs – Samardzija had no-decision as the starter in the 2004 NCAA South Bend Regional title game vs. Arizona (5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 6 Ks).

SUPER SOPHS – Jeff Samardzija is one of four sophomores who currently check in among ND’s top-six leaders in season ERA (min. 20 IP), with three of his classmates (Mike Dury, Jeff Manship and Dan Kapala) at the top of that list … Dury, Manship, Kapala and Samardzija have combined for a 3.42 season ERA and 16-5 record (3 saves), with 125 strikeouts, 69 walks and 200 hits allowed (.268 opp. avg.) in 192 innings (see PDF for stats)

BONUS PACKAGE – Two-sport standout Jeff Samardzija has been a key member of a 2005 ND pitching staff that has coped with the departure of three key regulars (Grant Johnson, Chris Niesel and Joe Thaman) and the injury limitations of three current pitchers (Jeff Manship, John Axford and Jess Stewart).

AMONG THE BIG EAST’S BEST – Samardzija entered the NCAAs tied for 4th among BIG EAST pitchers in victories (8-1) while also ranking 4th in conference wins (5-1).

JUST THE STATS – Samardzija ranks as the ND staff’s leader in wins (8-1) and Ks (54), also ranking 2nd with 73.1 IP … situationally, he ranks 2nd on the staff in groundouts (86) and ranks 5th in groundout/flyout ratio (1.19) … he has limited opponents to .264 batting with runners on base (5th-best on the staff), has allowed 40% of leadoff batters to reach (4th on staff) and ranks 5th among ND pitchers in batting by both LH (.300) and RH hitters (.266).

HOME BOY – Samardzija posted a 3-0 record, 3.23 ERA and 4-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (24/6) n 2005 home games at Eck Stadium (31 H/.261 opp. avg. in 30.2 IP) but is 5-1 with a 4.43 ERA on the road (30 Ks, 21 BB, 50 H/.289 in 36 IP)

“SHARK” HONES IN ON TWO-HITTERS – Sophomore RHP Jeff Samardzija showed his competitiveness by delivering in a pressure-packed situation for the series-finale win at Pittsburgh (6 IP, R, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 89 pitches) in which he combined with two relievers on a 2-hitter … the two-sport standout allowed three leadoff batters to reach but kept the Panthers hitless with runners on base (0-for-11; 0-for-4 in scoring position) and did not allow a 2-out hit (0-for-7) … former ND pitcher Chris Niesel tossed a 1-hitter/near-no-hitter vs. West Virginia on May 3, 2003, and since that game the Irish staffs have totaled four 2-hit games (with no 1-hitters or no-hitters) … Samardzija now has been a part of three of those 2-hitters, with the others coming in 2004 vs. Penn State in Round Rock, Texas (4-2; 4 IP, BB to save game for starter Derik Olvey) and Central Florida (4-0; 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB) … the other 2-hitter since Niesel’s 1-hitter was vs. Butler late in the ’03 season (4-1, 7-inning game; Peter Ogilvie 6 IP, R, 2H, 3 B, 6 Ks; Ryan Doherty retired final three batters).

DO YOU REMEMBER MY DAD? – Notre Dame senior 1B Matt Edwards had the chance to visit shortly with Florida coach Pat McMahon during Thursday’s practice session … McMahon and Edwards’ father, Norman “Cookie” Edwards, were two-year teammates (’73 and ’74) on the talented Stetson teams of the early 1970s … Edwards was a catcher and two years older than McMahon (they former a battery for the Hatters, with McMahon on the mound and Edwards behind the plate).

FRIEND OR FOE? – Several ND players are former teammates of players from the other teams in the Gainesville Regional:

* ND senior 1B Matt Edwards, senior LHP Scott Bickford and Stetson’s John Destefano were teammates on the Waynesboro (Va.) Generals of the Valley League during the summer of ’03 … Bickford also played with Stetson’s Brandon Berlett on the Maryland Orioles during their prep days.

* ND sophomore RHP Jeff Manship played alongside UNC’s Andrew Miller (high school All-America game) and Daniel Bard (U.S. junior national team) and Stetson’s Will Romanowicz (Team USA trials).

* ND freshman 2B Ross Brezovsky played with Stetson’s Adam Tindle on the Central Florida Renegades and with Florida’s Jared Kubin on the BA Under-16 team.

* ND junior CF Alex Nettey and UNC’s starting LF Jay Cox were teammates with the Fayetteville (N.C.) Swampdogs of the Coastal Plains League, during the summer of ’04

* ND junior RF Cody Rizzo and Florida’s Justin Tordi were teammates on the U.S. youth national team.

* ND sophomore RHP Jess Stewart has former teammates on all three teams: UNC’s Jay Cox and Florida’s Jared Kubin (both with Harris Rangers, pre-college club team) and Stetson’s Brian Bocock (Orioles team at East Coast Showcase).

* Two ND pitchers who are former Santaluces HS teammates – LHP Wade Korpi and RHP Joey Williamson – are former teammates of at least nine players at the Gainesville Regional: Florida 2B Adam Davis (Florida Bombers), LHPs Steven Porter and Stephen Locke (both with ’03 Team Florida), RHP Tommy Wynn (’03 Team Florida) and C Brian Jeroloman (summer teams); and Stetson LHPs Chris Ingoglia (Vipers travel team) and Kevin Ferguson (summer ball), 3B Braedyn Pruitt (all-star teams) and IF Colby Coates (all-star teams).

KEYS TO VICTORY – Notre Dame is batting 76 points higher in its 2005 wins (.326) than in its losses (.250) while owning a +28 plate-discipline ratio (BB+HBP-Ks) in the wins and -7 in the losses … the bulk of ND’s stolen bases (47) have come in the wins (just 19 in the losses) while the ND pitchers have limited the opponent to .252 batting in the victories (.335 in losses) … defensively, ND has a solid .970 fielding pct. in wins but just .949 in losses … five ND hitters have significant gaps between their batting averages in wins and losses … Matt Edwards is hitting 158 points higher in wins (.417, 9 HR) than in losses (.259, 5 HR) while Craig Cooper is hitting at a clip 113 points higher in wins (.379, 6 HR) than in losses (.266, HR) … others of note include Alex Nettey (.316 in wins, .228 in losses), Greg Lopez (.305 in wins, .211 in losses) and Steve Andres (.293-.119) … here’s a statistical comparison of ND’s 2005 wins and losses (see PDF for stat comparison of wins and losses):


LOFTY STANDARDS – Junior RHP Ryan Doherty, who has failed to duplicate his 2004 All-America results this season, still remains firmly entrenched in the ND baseball record books … the 7-foot-1 Doherty enters day-2 at the Gainesville Regional with the 9th-best career ERA (6th-best since 1970) in the program’s recorded history while his 19 saves are one shy of the record held by 2000 graduate and current Eastern Kentucky pitching coach John Corbin … Doherty also has allowed just 6.29 hits per 9 IP in his career (2nd in ND record book, best in 40 years) and ranks 3rd all-time with a 3.67 career K-to-walk ratio while his career average of 12.21 Ks per 9 IP ranks 2nd to Dan McGinn’s 12.69 way back in 1964-65 … Doherty has racked up 10.91 Ks per 9 IP this season, good for 5th on that ND top-10 list (his 12.18 in ’04 ranks 3rd) … he is one of three ND pitchers ever to post 6-plus saves in multiple seasons (12 in ’04, 6 in ’05; Corbin had 9 in ’99 and 11 in ’00, J.P. Gagne 6 in ’02 and 13 in ’03) .. see PDF for ND record book updates


Jeff Manship – returned from offseason elbow surgery and then slowed by midseason finger injury (after fielding ball vs. UConn in mid-April) … saved 5-1 win over West Virginia on final weekend of regular season (3 IP, 2 BB, 4 Ks) … lost lead in BET opener vs. BC but bounced back for 6-5 win (3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 3 WP) … first three starts were pre-determined short stints (1.0, 1.0, 1.1) … ultimately had 4-inning start at St. John’s (3 H, R, BB, 3 Ks) … known for a devastating curveball, a tough fastball and mental toughness after former Team USA pitcher (his brother Matt Manship is a top pitcher for Stanford).

Ryan Doherty – has not allowed a run or hit in his past 4 GP, vs. USC, West Virginia and Pitt (6.0 IP, 9 Ks, BB) .. saved 4-2 win at UCF (1.2 IP, H, 3 Ks, HB) and BIG EAST winners-bracket game vs. Pitt (also 4-2; 1.1 IP, 3 Ks).

Mike Dury – riding streak of 10 straight games without being charged for a run (13.1 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 10 Ks, ERA dropped from 3.38 to 1.50) … saved BIG EAST title game vs. Pitt, taking mound after 2-hour rain delay (3.1 IP, H, BB, 2 Ks).

Scott Bickford – LHP who threw total of 14.1 IP in ’02-’04 seasons but has been key situational reliever, with nearly a 5-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (19/4) … pitcher of record in 13-6 win over USC (IP, K).

Derik Olvey – was rated nation’s #22 prospect among 2004 freshmen but missed most of season due to tendonitis … looking to bounce back from rocky past two outings, vs. Michigan and USC (9.65 combined ERA).

Tony Langford – two-way player who has been used for key late-inning stints … worked out of jam to win 12-inning game vs. Purdue (0.2 IP, BB, K) and came back next day to save win over Valparaiso (1.2 IP, H, 3 BB, K) … helped beqat Pitt in BIG EAST winners-bracket game (4-2; IP, H, K).


* Both teams put just one leadoff batter on base but UNC hit 5-for-11 with runners on, ND 2-for-11.

* Sophomore C Sean Gaston (2-for-4) had his 12th multiple-hit game of the season and now is hitting .381 (8-for-21) in the past 6 games.

* Junior OF Craig Cooper’s career-best 13-game hit streak came to an end (0-for-4, K).

* Junior DH Steve Andres (0-for-2, 2 BB) saw his 6-game hit streak come to an end.

* The ND bullpen now owns a 2.05 postseason ERA in 4 GP (12.2 IP, 12 Ks, 4 BB, 5 H, .156 opp. avg.)

* The 2nd-longest scoring streak in ND history was extended to 207 games (438 of past 439l 677 of 683 in Mainieri era).

* The Irish were HBP for the 54th game (of 60) this season (ND has at least on HBP in 25 of the past 26 games).

* ND opened the scoring in the 1st but lost the game (prior to the UNC game, the Irish had been 19-8-1 when scoring in the 1st and 24-8 when scoring the first run of the game).

* Freshman 3B Brett Lilley posted his 50th error-free game of the season (27 in 32 games at 3B, only 7 Es).

* Freshman 2B Ross Brezovsky still has made just one error in the past 15 games (71 chances), with just 3 Es in his 31 games at 2B during second half of the season.

* Junior CF Alex Nettey is riding a 20-game errorless streak (65 chances).

* Junior RF Cody Rizzo (1-for-4, RBI) now has a 7-game hitting streak, with hits in 12 of the past 13 games.

* ND was HBP for the 123rd time this season, trailing just the 1997 Nevada team (125) and Long Beach State’s 1998 squad (124) in the NCAA record book.

* Lilley’s 27th HBP of the season leaves him one shy of Rizzo’s record (in ’03) and ranks 12th in NCAA history (also already 9th on the ND career HBP list).

* ND now has totaled 56 runs in the 1st inning this season

* The team leading at the end of the 6th inning is 49-6 (.891) in ND’s games this season (45-3-1/.929 at the end of the 8th inning).

ON THE BEAT FOR BOTH – The Notre Dame baseball team now has faced North Carolina just twice, separated by 50 years, but South Bend Tribune writer Forrest “Woody” Miller was on the beat during both of those seasons … this marks Miller’s 50th season of covering Notre Dame baseball (1956-2005), including trips to the College World Series separated by 45 years (in 1957 and 2002).

Tom Thornton GAME-1 NOTES – became seventh ND pitcher to make 16-plus starts in a season (four have started 17-plus), with the others including fellow LHPs Tom Price, Chris Michalak and Tim Kalita, plus RHPs Brian Piotrowicz, Eric Madsen, Alex Shilliday … already was one of six ND pitchers ever to log 15-plus starts in multiple seasons (also 15 in ’04), joining Price, Madsen, Michalak and RHPs Pat Leahy and Chris Niesel in that distinction … now owns a 5.63 first-inning ERA this season, compared to 1.79 over the 2nd-4th innings but 8.40 in the 5th … allowed a 3rd-inning run for the first time this season.

FLORIDA NATIVES – The 2005 Notre Dame baseball roster includes three freshmen from Florida, in starting 2B Ross Brezovsky (Naples/Collier HS) and former Santaluces HS teammates: LHP Wade Korpi (Lake Worth) and RHP Joey Williamson (Lantana) … head coach Paul Mainieri is a Miami native and graduate of Columbus HS (his father Demie was a hall-of-fame coach at Miami Dade North Community College) … the ND baseball program’s list of all-time monogram winners includes 16 Florida natives, with recent pitching ace Chris Niesel (Plantation) joining other noteworthy RHPs such as Mike Pasilla (Windemere/Bishop Moore HS; ’87-’89), David Sinnes (Miami/Palmetto HS; ’90-’93, 2.91 career ERA, 32-8 record, 315 Ks in 297.1 IP), closer John Corbin (Hollywood Hills HS; ’98-’00, 20 saves) and Danny Tamayo (Miami/Ransom Everglades HS; ’98-’01, 3.27 ERA, 141 Ks in 160 IP) … Sinnes held ND record for career win pct. and Ks (best by Aaron Heilman in ’01) while Corbin is the Irish career saves leader and Tamayo formed a potent 1-2 punch with Heilman … other noteworthy ND players from Florida have included: SS Daniel Cunha (St. Petersburg; ’33-’35), IF Joe LaRocca (Ft. Lauderdale/Gibbons HS; ’70-’72), OF Mike Galloway (Cocoa Beach HS; ’75-’77), 1B Henry Valenzuela (Tampa/Jesuit HS; ’79-’82, hit .314 with 15 HR, 123 RBI), DH Ken Meyer (Ft. Myers/Verot HS; ’99-’02) and catcher Javi Sanchez (Miami/Columbus HS).

VETERAN SKIPPERS – Notre Dame’s Paul Mainieri became the 27th active Div. I head coach to reach 800 victories in his career as a college head baseball coach, after the 7-1 win over UConn on April 6, 2005 (he now is 818-473-3) … Arizona’s Andy Lopez and North Carolina’s Mike Fox (now 827) also had eclipsed 800 career wins earlier in the ’05 season … the Gainesville Regional features yet another coach who has passed 800 wins: Stetson’s Pete Dunn (925, prior to ’04 NCAAs).

STAYING IN CONTROL – The 2005 ND pitching staff has uncorked just 21 wild pitches all season (compared to 66 by ND’s ’05 opponents), for an average of 0.35 wild pitches per game … that WP rate would best the team record (0.39) set in 1993 … the ’04 pitchers also had a low WP rate (0.46, currently 2nd in the ND record book).

SPANNING THE GLOBE – Notre Dame traditionally logs more than 15,000 travel miles per season and 2005 has rated on the high end of that scale, as the trip to Gainesville will push the team’s total travel miles for ’05 over 18,000 (18,205) … that’s the equivalent of traversing nearly three-quarters around the earth’s circumference (24,000 miles) … here’s a breakdown of the 2005 travel miles, including bus mileage to O’Hare and from some other airports to the destination (i.e. flying into Orlando for this trip) … see PDF for mileage listings.

BRIGHT FUTURE – Pending the 2005 MLB draft, Notre Dame is set to return virtually its entire team for the 2006 season … in fact, righthanded reliever Tyler Jones (7.1 IP in ’05) is the only player who will run out of eligibility at the end of the ’05 season … the 11 players who have drawn most of the position-player starts include senior 1B Matt Edwards, six juniors, sophomore C Sean Gaston and three freshmen (Edwards can apply for a 5th year of eligibility, after missing most of the ’02 season due to a broken leg) … the pitching staff’s 522.1 innings this season have the following class breakdown: 34.1 IP by three seniors (RHP John Axford and LHP Scott Bickford have eligibility left), 125.2 by five juniors, 251.1 by two sophomores and 111.0 by four freshmen.

POSTSEASON POISE – Junior LF/DH Steve Andres, who shook off a .202 regular-season batting avg. to hit 4-for-9 as ND’s leading hitter in last week’s BIG EAST Tournament, has consistently elevated his offense in the postseason the past three seasons … for his career, Andres is just a .262 hitter in the regular season but those numbers take a big 130-point jump in postseason action (.377 combined; .345 in the BET, .417 in NCAAs) … he also owns a .508 career slugging pct. in the regular season but checks in 170 points higher in the postseason (.679; .690 in BET, .750 in NCAAs) … here’s a look at Steve Andres’ career stats with the Irish, broken down into the three “seasons”:

Steve Andres CAREER STATS (see PDF)

TRACKING ‘EM DOWN – Junior CF Alex Nettey has averaged nearly three putouts per game in the 2005 season, now with 172 total putouts for the 2005 season … that total already makes Nettey the runaway leader during the 11-year Paul Mainieri era (’95-’05) for most putouts in a season by an ND outfielder … the previous Mainieri-era high was 155 putouts by future All-America CF Steve Stanley, during the 2000 season (in 64 GP; he then had 155 in 69 GP during the 2002 CWS season) … here’s at the most OF putouts by ND players, since ’95:

Most Putouts by a Notre Dame Outfielder (Mainieri era, 1995-2005; see PDF)

SUPER SLUGGER – Senior 1B Matt Edwards (14 HR, 20 2B) is one long ball shy of becoming the third Notre Dame player ever to reach 15 home runs and 20 doubles in a season … CF Dan Peltier had 15 HRs and an NCAA-leading 32 doubles during his All-America 1989 season while C/DH Jeff Wagner had 17 HR, 21 2B in his big 1997 season … Edwards (12 HR in ’04) also is the fourth ND player to hit 12-plus home runs in multiple seasons, joining Mike Amrhein (13 in ’96, 14 in ’97), Jeff Wagner (17 in ’97, 14 in ’98) and Brant Ust (18 in ’98, 17 in ’99) in that distinction.

TURNING TWO – Notre Dame enters day-2 of the NCAAs with a near-team-record 64 double plays, good for 14th-most in the nation this season (and 6th-best among teams in the ’05 NCAAs, behind Creighton, Virginia, UNLV, Furman and Texas) … the 2002 CWS team holds the ND record with 66 DPs (in 69 GP)

WE OWE YOU – A potential matchup vs. Stetson would make the Hatters the eighth team that the ND baseball team has faced in multiple NCAA tournaments (Stetson beat ND 7-6 at the ’96 NCAA South I Regional, held at the University of Alabama) … ND has won previous NCAA “rematch” games vs. Valparaiso (in ’63), Mississippi State (’00) and Florida State (’02) … here’s the list (see PDF):

BRUISE BROTHERS – Notre Dame is the only school in Division I history to feature two different players who have totaled 26-plus times hit-by-pitch in a season … current junior RF Cody Rizzo had 28 HBPs in the 2003 season (now 9th in NCAA history) while freshman 3B Brett Lilley enters the ’05 NCAAs with 26 HBPs … FAU’s Gabe Sommariba had 27 HBPs in both the ’01 and ’02 seasons:

NCAA Single-Season Hit-by-Pitch Record Book (see PDF)

RECORD BOOK UPDATES – Here’s a look at several ND record-book lists that Matt Edwards is beginning to enter (see postseason guide/pre-tournament notes for the career RBI, HR and batting avg. lists) … see PDF for record-book lists:

JOIN THE CLUB – The Notre Dame list for career HBPs quickly is becoming populated by members of the 2005 team (each could return for at least one more season):

Notre Dame Career Hit-By-Pitch (see PDF)