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Irish Look To Stay Atop BIG EAST Standings In Noon Doubleheader With Seton Hall

April 18, 2003

Complete Release in PDF Format
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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAME NOTES – vs. Seton Hall (April 19, 2003)

The Notre Dame baseball team (27-8, 8-2 BIG EAST) – ranked as high as 13th in the national polls – will look to maintain its spot atop the BIG EAST standings with Saturday’s noon doubleheader vs. Seton Hall … the Irish have dropped two of their last three games, after a 17-game win streak (one shy of tying the team record) … ND opened 2-4 vs. a challenging schedule but is 25-4 in its last 29, with two extra-inning losses … the Irish split Thursday’s games vs. Pittsburgh (5-2, 3-5) … see PDF link for complete game notes.

Probable Pitching Matchups

Game 1:

ND – sr. RHP Ryan Kalita (3.89, 4-0, 39.1 IP, 29 Ks, 20 BB, 35 H, .240 opp. avg.)

SHU – fr. LHP Matt Irwin (3.44, 4-4, 34.0 IP, 46 Ks, 21 BB, 22 H, .177 opp. avg.)

Game 2:

ND – soph. RHP John Axford (2.20, 7-0, 49.0 IP, 51 Ks, 21 BB, 39 H, .220 opp. avg.)

SHU – sr. RHP Elvys Quezada (5.44, 2-3, 44.2 IP, 44 Ks, 24 BB, 54 H, .309 opp. avg.)

(see PDF for Axford and Kalita career and game-by-game stats)

Axford’s Situational Pitching in 2003: .182 opp. batting with runners on base, .286 with 2 outs, 41% of leadoff batters reached base (3.7 per 9 IP)

Axford’s Situational Pitching in 2002: .237 opp. batting with runners on base, .275 with 2 outs, 46% of leadoff batters reached base (3.7 per 9 IP)

Axford’s Nine-Inning Averages in 2003: 7.2 hits, 3.9 walks, 9.4 Ks, 8.8 groundouts (6.1 IP per start)

Axford’s Nine-Inning Averages in 2002: 7.5 hits, 7.5 walks, 8.2 Ks, 9.6 groundouts (4.2 IP per start)


* Second-year RHP John Axford has shown no effects of a sophomore slump, with one of his most noteworthy improvements coming in a lowered walk total … Axford averaged 7.5 walks per nine innings as a freshman but has dropped his BB average to 3.9 in 2003 … he owns a 12-2 career record and already has bested his 2002 win total (5-2 in ’02, 7-0 in ’03) while nearly slicing his ERA in half (3.95 in ’02, 2.20 in ’03).

* Since suffering a 13-6 loss in the first BIG EAST weekend of the 2002 season (at UConn), Axford has won his last 11 decisions … during that span of 20 appearances (18 starts), he has allowed more than two earned runs only three times.

* Only Rice’s Jeff Niemann and N.C. State’s Vern Sterry (both 9-0) entered the week with a better undefeated record than Axford (seven others also were 7-0) while his 2.20 ERA is just shy of the NCAA top-50 leaders (2.09 in the cutoff).

* Axford posted a .231 opponent batting average in 2002 (10th-best by an ND pitcher since 1991) but has done even better this season (.220, would be 8th-best since ’91) … opponents are batting just .182 vs. Axford with runners on base.

* One measure of a quality pitching performance is the combined total of strikeouts and groundball outs (20-plus per 9 IP generally is a solid average) and Axford joins many of his teammates in grading out well in that area – averaging 18.3 outs per nine innings via Ks (9.4) or groundouts (8.9).

* Axford’s eight starts have included just one run allowed in the 2nd inning (5 H, .185 opp. batting) while he has clamped down to allow no runs in the 4th-6th innings this season (19 IP, 27 Ks, 8 BB, 10 H, .137 opp. batting).

* Axford is the 17th ND pitcher ever to post 12-plus Ks in a game (vs. WMU) and is just the fourth to do so since 1980, joining Darin Schmalz (12 in 9 IP at Georgetown, in ’96), Brad Lidge (12 in 7 IP vs. Pittsburgh, at Three Rivers in ’98) and Aaron Heilman in that distinction … Heilman posted 12-K games in 2000 (vs. Georgia in the Metrodome, 8 IP) and 2001 (vs. Rutgers in the BIG EAST Tournament, 9 IP), in addition to an historic 18-K game at West Virginia in 2000 (10 IP).

MEDIA COVERAGE – All of Notre Dame’s 2003 regular-season and postseason games again will be broadcast by South Bend-based WDND 1620 AM (and its sister station, WNDV 1490) … the broadcasts are available via the internet at (College Sports Pass subscription required) … also provides GameTracker livestats on the website’s main page, for all home games and select road games.

BIG EAST STANDINGS – The BIG EAST standings continue to remain jumbled and likely will take several weeks to sort out, due to several games that have been lost to weather and the staggered bye weeks … the final BIG EAST standings (and four BIG EAST Tournament spots) will be based on conference winning pct. (not “games back”) … Notre Dame and surprising West Virginia head into Saturday’s games atop the standings at 8-2, followed closely by Rutgers (8-3), Virginia Tech (8-4), St. John’s (7-5) and Pittsburgh (8-7) … three other teams – UConn (7-7), Seton Hall (7-7) and Boston College (5-5) – remain in the running with .500 records … Saturday’s other doubleheaders include BC at Rutgers, Virginia Tech at UConn, St. John’s at Villanova (2-12) and Pittsburgh at Georgetown (1-15).

BIG EAST STATS – ND is batting .297 in 10 BIG EAST games this season, with a 2.31 staff ERA and .963 fielding pct. … top ND hitters in BIG EAST action have included Craig Cooper (.400, 8-for-20, 6 R, 2 RBI, 4 BB, SB), Cody Rizzo (.355, 11-for-31, 15 R, 6 RBI, HR, 3B, 3 2B, 4 BB, 4 HBP, SB) and Matt Edwards (.333, 13-for-39, 8 R, 14 RBI, 2 HR, 3B, 3 2B, 5 BB) while Ryan Kalita (0.86, 3-0, 21 IP, 17 Ks, 66 BB, .171 opp. batting), John Axford (1.64, 2-0, 11 IP, 15 Ks, 9 BB, .135) and Chris Niesel (2.63, 3-0, 27.1 IP, 28 Ks, 3 BB, .262) have formed a dominating rotation in BIG EAST games.

Kalita’s Nine-Inning Averages in 2003: 8.0 hits, 4.6 walks, 6.6 Ks, 13.5 groundouts (6.0 IP per start)

Kalita’s Nine-Inning Averages in 2002: 9.5 hits, 2.3 walks, 7.6 Ks, 9.5 groundouts

Kalita’s Situational Pitching in 2003: .212 opp. batting with runners on base, .178 with 2 outs, 30% of leadoff batters reached base (2.7 per 9 IP)

Kalita’s Situational Pitching in 2002: .215 opp. batting with runners on base, .237 with 2 outs, 42% of leadoff batters reached base (3.8 per 9 IP)

SECRETS TO HIS SUCCESS – Senior RHP Ryan Kalita ranks as one of ND’s top situational pitcher this season, allowing just 30% of leadoff batters to reach while limiting the opponents to .212 batting with runners on and .178 with 2 outs … Kalita also owns nearly a 3-to-1 groundout-to-flyout ratio (59/21) and has recorded 75% of his outs (88 of 118) via Ks (29) or GOs – with a 9-inning average of 20.1 outs on Ks or GOs.


* His last BIG EAST outing came in the 18-3 win at St. John’s, when he averaged just 10 pitches per inning while recording all 21 of his outs via Ks (4), groundouts (14), popups (2) or runners caught stealing (1) … he allowed three runs (just one earned) on six hits and no walks, with 56 of his 71 pitches going for strikes while his ERA dropped to 2.31.

* Has been particularly tough in the 2nd (1.50 ERA, 1 R in 6 IP, 4 H, .190 opp. avg.) and 4th innings (0 R, 5.2 IP, 1 H, .059) this season.

* Since moving to the weekend rotation in place of injured classmate Peter Ogilvie, he has gone 3-0 in three BIG EAST starts with an 0.86 ERA and .171 opp. batting in those games – with his 63 outs in that BIG EAST stretch including 35 groundouts, 17 Ks, five popups, three caught stealing and just three flyouts ( with 8 BB).

* Owns an 11-0 career record and could become 5th ND pitcher to win 14 straight … he needs five more decisions to qualify for ND career win pct. list.

THE ND-SHU SERIES – Notre Dame owns a 17-6 series edge vs. Seton Hall – including a 2002 sweep at SHU (9-4, 4-2, 6-1) – with ND winning the last eight games in the series by a 62-17 margin … the Irish hold a 10-1 edge at Eck Stadium, with the Pirates posting a 7-1 win at ND in 1999 … Seton Hall was one of the most successful teams vs. ND during its first few seasons in the BIG EAST, posting an 8-6 record vs. the Irish from 1996-99.

SERIES RARITY – Notre Dame opened 1997 BIG EAST play by dropping all three games at Seton Hall, which remained the only time that the Irish had been swept in a three-game BIG EAST series until last season’s three losses at UConn to open the 2002 BIG EAST season … those two series represent two of just four times that the Irish have been swept in any BIG EAST doubleheader (also by West Virginia in 1996, at ND, and in 2001 at Virginia Tech) … since the pair of losses to WVU in 1996, the Irish have played 31 consecutive BIG EAST doubleheaders at Eck Stadium without being swept by the opponent.

SERIES RARITY, PART II – ND’s wins at Seton Hall last season marked the third time in a span of five BIG EAST three-game series away from Eck Stadium that the Irish pulled off the tough three-game road sweep (also at Rutgers and St. John’s in 2001).

FRIEND OR FOE – Three Notre Dame players – senior RHP Ryan Kalita, senior 1B Mike Holba and junior LHP Cody Wilkins – played for the 2002 Waynesboro Generals summer-league team alongside current Seton Hall closer Chris Noonan and OF Casey Grimm (plus former Pirates SS Chris Carter).


* Game 1 (9-4) – Paul O’Toole continued his recent offensive barrage by hitting two more home runs (including his second grand slam in as many games) while John Axford had a solid showing in his longest outing of the season (7.2 IP, 24 BF, 4 R, 6 H, 6 BB, 7 Ks) … the teams were limited to one game due to a lengthy rain delay … Axford faced just one batter over the minimum (24), thanks to four double-play balls and a runner caught stealing (his 121-pitch outing included 12 groundball outs, two popups and just one flyout) … Matt Skrypack, coming off a shutout win over Rutgers, suffered the loss (6 IP, 7 R/6 ER, 10 H, 4 BB, 5 Ks).

* Games 2 and 3 (4-2, 6-1) – Top hitters for the Irish in the doubleheader included Steve Sollmann (5-for-7) and Brian Stavisky (4-for-9; RBI triple and solo HR in the first game, RBI single and two runs scored in the series finale) … Grant Johnson (5 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks) won the first game, with a rare four Ks in the first inning, while J.P. Gagne recorded the final six outs for the first save of his ND career (5 BF, pickoff) … Peter Ogilvie (8 IP, UER in 8th, 5 H, 3 BB, 8 Ks) won the final game, after dueling with Chris Noonan (7 IP, 3 R/1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB) in a game that was scoreless heading into the 6th … the tainted run came after a controversial umpire call on a one-out flyball off the bat of Santiago Chi … CF Steve Stanley, who had not made an error in 50 games, appeared to catch the flyout but he dropped the ball after transferring it to his throwing hand and attempting to send it back to the infield (causing the umpire to rule no catch) … Elvys Quezada (5.1 IP, 4 R/3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks) suffered the earlier loss.

* 2002 Series Stats – ND enjoyed a .308-.212 batting edge in the SHU series, led by Sollmann (7-for-11, 2 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 2 BB, SB), Stavisky (6-for-13, 5 RBI, 5 R, HR, 3B, BB) and Kris Billmaier (4-for-11, 2 RBI, 2 BB) … the ND pitchers posted a 2.16 ERA in the series (26 K, 11 BB, 18 H in 25 IP) while the Irish made just two errors in the three games (.981 fielding pct., with one of the errors made by a pitcher).


Steve Sollmann – 6 GS, .546 (12-for-22), 3 RBI, 7 R, HR, 2B, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 1-1 SB

Kris Billmaier – 6 GS, .368 (7-for-19), 6 RBI, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 Ks

Javi Sanchez – 4 GP/3 GS, .250 (3-for-12), RBI, 3 Ks

Joe Thaman – 6 GS, .191 (4-for-21), 2 R, BB, 5 Ks, 0-1 SB

John Axford – GS, 1-0, 4.70, 7.2 IP, 4 R, 6 H, 6 BB, 7 Ks

Scott – 0-for-2 (4-6-3, BB, KS, BB) … Grimm – 0-for-2 (BB, 4-6-3 GDP, KS, BB/RBI) … Pahuta – 0-for-3 (6-4-3 GDP, KS, KL) … Santangelo – 2-for-3 (2B-9, KL, 1B-MI) … Chi – 1-for-3 (F-9, 1B-5/CS, P-3)

J.P. Gagne – 4 GP/2 GS, 1.50, 15.1 IP, 2 R, 13 H, 6 BB, 11 Ks, WP

Schuck – 0-for-3 (FF-3, P-4, FC) … Grimm – 1-for-3 (BB, F-9, 1B-7/RBI, BB, 4-3, BB, CS) … Bascom – 1-for-5 (6-3, F-8, 1B-MI, BB, 5-3, P-3) … Chi – 0-for-2 (FF-4, KL) … Pahuta – KS … Santangelo – KS, KS … Scott – F-9 … Brueckner – P-3

(see PDF for complete series stats)


Casey Grimm – .450 (9-for-20), 5 RBI, 6 BB, HBP, 4 Ks

Lou Santangelo – .300 (3-for-10), R, 2B, BB, 3 Ks

Matt Cuttruff – 1-for-2, RBI, 2B, 2 GP

Santiago Chi – .177 (3-for-17), 2 R, 7 Ks, 0-1 SB, 2 Es

Tim Pahuta – .125 (1-for-8), 3 Ks

Joey Scott – 0-for-9, R, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 2 Es

Matt Brueckner – 0-for-3, K

Mike Bascom (dnp in ’03 series) – .177 (3-for-17), R, 2 BB, K, 2-3 SB

Josh Schuck (dnp in ’02 series) – .167 (2-for-12), RBI, 4 Ks, 2 Es

Chris Noonan – GS (0-1), 7 IP, 3 R/1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks

Sollmann – 2-for-4 (6-3, F-8, 1B-6, 1B-9) … Billmaier – 0-for-2 (P-4, BB, F-9) … Sanchez – 1-for-3 (KS, 1B-RS, 4-3) … Thaman – 0-for-3 (5-3, KS, KS)

Elvys Quezeda – GS (0-1), 5.1 IP, 4 R/3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks, HB

Sollmann – 2-for-2 (1B-8/RBI, BB, 2B-9) … Billmaier – 1-for-3 (KS, KS, 1B-8) … Sanchez – KL, F-8/SF/RBI … Thaman – HBP/CS, P-6

QUICK NOTES ON THE ND HITTERS (in probable batting order; see PDF for career stats)

(1) Steve Sollmann (Jr., 2B; Cincinnati, OH … preseason All-American; all-BIG EAST in ’01, ’02)

* Owns .546 career batting avg. (12-for-22) in six previous games vs. SHU (3 RBI, 7 R, HR, 2B, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 1-1 SB)

* Leads team in seven categories – batting avg. (.385), runs (41), hits (55), total bases (80), walks (16), stolen bases (21) and leadoff on-base pct. (.564) … also 2nd in eight other categories – slugging (.559) and on-base pct. (.444), home runs (3), triples (4), RBI (27), 2-out batting (.364), 2-out RBI (10) and pct. of runners advanced (.618) – plus 3rd in batting with runners in scoring position (.386) and sac. bunts (4)

* Entered week ranked 16th in nation with 0.61 stolen bases per game (now 0.60, 21 total) … also ranks 8th among BIG EAST players in batting avg., plus 1st in runs, SBs and TBs, 2nd in hits and 3Bs, 9th in slugging

* Carries 8-game hitting streak into SHU series and has hits in 17 of last 18 games (his 8-game streak ended vs. WMU).

* Situational hitting: leads team in leadoff on-base pct. (.564), 2nd in pct. of runners advanced (.618) and 2-out batting (.364), 3rd in batting with runners in scoring position (.386)

* Batting .310 in 2003 BIG EAST games (13-for-42, 12 R, 14 RBI, 2 HR, 3 2B, 5 BB, 5 SB)

* Has gone hitless in consecutive games just once in ’03 (in Villanova doubleheader), with hits in 29 of 35 games.

* Owns 19 multi-hit games in 2003 (five 3-hit games, plus 4-for-4 in game 2 vs. Georgetown)

* Already 7th in ND history with 50 career stolen bases (21 in ’03), four behind former teammate Paul O’Toole

* Picked up 200th career hit at St. John’s (now 212; ND record for hits by junior is Steve Stanley’s 267)

* Joins classmate Javi Sanchez (11 BB/8 Ks) as only ND starters with more walks (16) than Ks (10) in 2003

* Shifted to leadoff spot on Spring Break trip, after batting in No. 2 spot for most of his ND career

* Twice BIG EAST player of the week (8-for-17 in week one, then 11-for-23 in first six games of Spring Break trip)

* Hit 3-run inside-the-park HR in 3-2 win over Eastern Illinois

* Rated BIG EAST’s top defensive 2B for 2003 (per Baseball America)

(2) Brennan Grogan (Fr., CF; Tequesta, FL)

* First on team in triples (5), sac. bunts (7), 2nd in stolen bases (9) and batting with runners in scoring position (.395), 2nd in 2-out RBI (10), 3rd in runs (25) and 2-out batting (.344), 4th in pct. of runners advanced (.592)

* Leads BIG EAST in overall triples, 12th in SBs … entered week ranked 13th in nation for triples (0.18 per game)

* Batting .317 in BIG EAST games (13-for-41, 11 R, 9 RBI, 4 3B, 4 BB, 3 SB) … went 0-for-7 vs. Pittsburgh

* Made switch to CF and 2-hole (26 starts batting 2nd) on Spring Break trip, shifted to LF in last six games

* Hit go-ahead triple in 13th inning of 3-1 win over Vanderbilt

* Owns nine multi-hit games and five multi-RBI games … posted 9-game hit streak from March 11-25

(3) Matt Edwards (So., 3B/1B; Mechanicsville, VA)

* First on team in seven categories – home runs (6, the last four being CF blasts), slugging pct. (.589), doubles (10), RBI (41), 2-out batting (.400), 2-out RBI (16) and batting with runners in scoring pos. (.415) – plus 2nd in batting avg. (.357), hits (46), total bases (62) and walks (13), 3rd in pct. of runners advanced (.593) and 4th in on-base pct. (.422)

* Ranks 10th among BIG EAST players in overall batting avg., plus 1st in RBI, 4th in TBs, 7th in hits and 8th in HRs

* Entered week ranked 19th in nation for RBI (1.30 per game), but 0-for-9 with no RBI in last three games

* Batting .333 in BIG EAST games (13-for-39) with 14 RBI )8 R, 2 HR, 3B, 3 2B, 5 BB)

* Already has totaled 13 multi-RBI games, including four 3-RBI games and 4 RBI in second game vs. Georgetown.

* Also owns 13 multi-hit games (five 3-hit games, plus 4-for-5 in nightcap at St. John’s)

* Saw 9-game hitting streak end in doubleheader vs. Chicago State and Bowling Green (0-for-4)

* Named BIG EAST player of the week (3/31-4/6) after leading ND during 4-0 week in hits and batting average (9-for-14, .643), RBI (10) home runs (3), total bases (21) and slugging pct. (1.500), plus 7 R, 2 BB, 3B, SB and just one K … hit 6-for-9 in the doubleheader sweep at St. John’s, with five RBI and a pair of booming HRs to dead-center field.

* Has made 16 starts at 1B, with the first coming on Spring Break trip, with 27 total starts batting in the 3-hole

* Missed most of 2002 season due to broken leg (vs. USC in Round Rock, ninth game of ’02)

(4) Kris Billmaier (Sr., RF; Woodinville, WA)

* Second on team in doubles (9), home runs (3) and walks (13), 3rd in hits (37), RBI (24), runs scored (25), total bases (57) and hit-by-pitch (4), 3rd in leadoff on-base pct. (.484)

* Owns 11 multi-hit an five multi-RBI games

* Carries a .368 career batting avg. vs. SHU in six games (7-for-19), 6 RBI, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 Ks

* Made switch from right to center field in last three games … has hit cleanup in 27 games this season

* Batting .231 in 2003 BIG EAST games (9-for-39, 4 R, 5 RBI, 3 2B, 4 BB)

* Looking to snap out of 1-for-20 (.050), 2-RBI slump in last six games … has gone 12 games without multiple hits

(5) Javi Sanchez (Jr., C; Miami, FL)

* Fourth on team in batting avg. (.316) and hits (36), 5th in leadoff on-base pct. (.414)

* Carries 8-game hitting streak into SHU series, including four games before missing four due to back spasms

* Has gone hitless in consecutive games just once all season (vs. Detroit and Valparaiso)

* Hit .250 (3-for-12) in four previous games played vs. SHU (RBI, 3 Ks)

* Batting .278 in 2003 BIG EAST games (10-for-36, 6 R, 3 RBI, 3B, 2B, 5 BB)

* Owns 12 multi-hit games in 2003 (3rd-most on team), with three multi-RBI games

* Has hit five of his six career home runs with the Irish away from home, including 3-run blast to tie 2002 CWS opener vs. Stanford (3-3, 4-3 loss)

* Joins classmate Steve Sollmann (16 BB/10 Ks) as only ND starters with more walks (11) than Ks (8) in 2003

* Prep 2B who started at SS in 2002 after injuries to Matt Macri and Matt Edwards

(6) Matt Macri (So., SS; Clive, IA … preseason All-American)

* Second on team in walks (13) and doubles (9), 3rd in triples (3), sac. bunts (5) and batting with runners on base (.365), 4th in total bases (56), 5th in slugging pct. (.471), RBI (20), runs scored (24) and hits (35)

* Has hits in seven of last eight games, batting .444 in that stretch (12-for-27, 8 RBI, 6 R)

* Fourth in team with 11 multi-hit games, plus four multi-RBI games

* Batting .265 in 2003 BIG EAST games (9-for-23, 7 R, 3 RBI, 3B, 3 2B, 5 BB)

* Has made most of his starts batting in the 6-hole, after opening season as leadoff hitter

* Missed most of 2002 season due to “Tommy John” reconstructive elbow surgery

* Nation’s No. 2-rated college SS prospect for 2003 draft (per Baseball America)

(7) Cody Rizzo (Fr., DH/LF; Temecula, CA)

* Leads team in hit-by-pitch (15, tying ND record), 2nd in home runs (3) runs scored (33), doubles (9) and leadoff on-base pct. (.528), 3rd in batting avg. (.337), slugging (.535) and on-base pct. (.439), 4th in RBI (23) and batting with runners in scoring position (.351), 5th in total bases (54) and 2-out RBI (8)

* Batting just .191 (4-for-21) with no multi-hit totals in previous five games

* Has hit .355 (11-for-31) in BIG EAST games (15 R, 6 RBI, HR, 3B, 3 2B, 4 BB, SB)

* Classic utility player who has made starts at CF (4), LF (13), DH (6)and C (3) and now RF (3), also batting in leadoff spot early in season

* Second on team with seven multi-RBI games, plus 10 multi-hit efforts

* Excellent baserunner who was rare 2-sport star in soccer/baseball as a prep (California HS soccer is played in the fall)

(8) Steve Andres (Fr., DH; Napa, CA)

* Leads team in on-base pct. (.456), 2nd in hit-by-pitch (6), 4th in slugging pct. (.500) and 2-out batting (.333)

* Has totaled just two hits in team’s last 10 games (12 ABs), after batting 5-for-10 in three-game stretch

* Batting 3-for-12 in BIG EAST games (3 R, 2 RBI, 5 BB)

* Owns four multi-hit and two multi-RBI games

* Sparked ND offense in first three games vs. Dayton, Newman and ASU (6-for-11, 2 RBI, 7 RBI, HR, 3B, 2B)

or Craig Cooper (Fr., LF/DH; Plainview, NY)

* Third on team in stolen bases (8), 4th in leadoff on-base pct. (.450) and 2-out RBI (9), 5th in overall on-base pct. (.400), batting avg. (.312) and walks (12)

* Leads team with .400 batting average in BIG EAST games (8-for-20, 6 R, 2 RBI)

* Did not play in Pittsburgh doubleheader, after batting 1-for-8 in midweek vs. CMU and EMU

* Owns seven multi-hit and four multi-RBI games

(9) Greg Lopez (Fr., 3B; Upper Arlington, OH)

* Effective situational hitter who has 16 RBI (despite totaling just 20 hits), also leading team in pct. of runners advanced (.654) and 5th in sac. bunts (3)

* Looking to snap out of 2-for-17 slump in last six games

* Owns five multi-hit and three multi-RBI games

* Batting .286 (4-for-14) in BIG EAST games (4 R, 4 RBI, 2B, 3 BB)

or Joe Thaman (Jr., 1B; St. Louis, MO)

* Second on team in sac. bunts (5), 5th in 2-out batting (.318)

* A .191 career batter vs. SHU ((4-for-21), 2 R, BB, 5 Ks, 0-1 SB

* Batting 3-for-5 in 2003 BIG EAST games (R, 4 RBI, 3B, 2 BB)

* Hit 2-for-4 with pair of 2-run, bases-loaded singles in second game at St. John’s, ending 1-for-22 slump

* Hit game-winning single to beat Wake Forest in 13-inning battle (2-1)

* Owns four mutli-hit and three multi-RBI games in 2003

* Rated BIG EAST’s top defensive 1B in 2002 and ’03 (per Baseball America)

DEFENSIVE-MINDED – Notre Dame’s .969 season fielding pct. remains on team-record pace, with the Irish totaling just 42 errors in 35 games (1.2 Es per game) … ND has posted 12 error-free games, 11 one-error games and just six games with three-plus Es … prior to making two errors in both games of the Pittsburgh doubleheader, the Irish had totaled just three Es in the previous five games … the current eight starting position players have combined to make less than one error per game (32 in 35 GP), with two of freshman RF Cody Rizzo’s errors coming as the backup catcher (sophomore Matt Edwards has made two of his four Es at his new position of 1B) … unearned runs have provided the margin of defeat for the Irish just once this season, in the 14-8 loss to Arizona State (6 UER).

HR BINGES – Notre Dame launched six home runs in the season-opening trip to Arizona State (4 total GP, vs. Dayton, Newman and ASU twice) but then totaled just two HRs in the next 19 games (not counting a Steve Sollmann inside-the-park variety) … the home run drought ended in a three-game stretch with multiple HRs vs. Valparaiso (2) and in both games at St. John’s (3 and 2), with the Irish then totaling just four HRs in the last nine games … the ND pitchers gave up home runs in four straight early-season games (six total in that stretch) but then surrendered just six HRs in the next 24 games – with six more opponent homers in the last six games.

WHAT A RELIEF – Here’s a look at some of Notre Dame’s top bullpen pitchers’ game-by-game stats (Doherty started vs. Toledo and Thornton’s numbers include starts vs. Navy/gm 2, Detroit, Bowling Green and Pittsburgh) … numbers indicate IP-H-R-ER-BB-K (se PDF):

Inside The Notre Dame Bullpen (stats for relief appearances only; see PDF for chart)

BULLPEN BOUNCES BACK – The Notre Dame relief pitchers had some rocky outings in the first few weeks of the season but have lowered the bullpen ERA to 4.50 in recent weeks … the bullpen has allowed just 3-of-19 inherited runners to score (including one in the 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh) while the first batters facing the ND relievers have combined to hit just .155 (9-for-58) with six walks and 20 Ks.

Top Relievers Career Stats (see PDF)

MAKING STRIDES – Here’s a comparative look at ND’s 35-game stats (27-8) compared to the 23-12 start in 2002 (see PDF for chart):

SECOND-STRIKE WEAPON – Notre Dame’s offense has totaled just 13 runs and a .213 team batting average in the first inning this season but the Irish have erupted for 49 runs and .358 team batting in the second inning … ND has been outscored 17-13 in the first inning but quickly has turned the tables in the second for a whopping 49-7 scoring edge … here’s a look at ND’s offense, by inning (see PDF for list):

EVEN STEVEN – Notre Dame’s scoring dominance in the 2nd inning this season (49-7) has nearly been matched by the team’s scoring edge two innings later in the 4th (30-8) … the Irish own a scoring edge in every inning but the 1st (13-17) and the 7th (20-31).

WINNING BIG & SMALL – Notre Dame is 6-1 this season in one-run games while already posting 15 “big wins” (margin of five-plus runs) … by comparison, the 2002 ND team was 9-8 in one-run games and totaled 21 wins by 5-plus runs.

HIT DOGS LOOKING TO BITE BACK – Notre Dame’s offense has managed just a .209 team batting average (18-for-86) during the last three games, with hit totals of six, eight and four in those games … prior to those games, the Irish had posted 10-plus hits in 10 games of the 17-game winning streak.

LINEUP TAKES SHAPE – Notre Dame’s lineup has solidified as the Irish prepare for another run at the BIG EAST title … positionally, the Irish have opted to go with the shift of sophomore Matt Edwards from 3B to 1B (where he has made 16 starts) while freshman Greg Lopez now has made 19 starts at the hot corner … junior 2B Steve Sollmann (35 starts) and sophomore SS Matt Macri (32) – who both earned preseason All-America honors – are entrenched at the middle infield spots while junior Javi Sanchez has made a solid transition from the middle infield to catcher … four different freshmen already have started at CF but the spot now is occupied by senior Kris Billmaier, a prep infielder who started in LF during the 2000 and ’01 seasons before starting in RF the past two seasons – with freshman Brennan Grogan now in left and his classmate Cody Rizzo in right … freshman Steve Andres is the leading candidate for lefthanded DH duty … the top five spots in the lineup have been fairly consistent, with Sollmann in the leadoff role (28 starts), followed by Grogan (26), Edwards (27), Billmaier (27) and Sanchez (22, injured for three games).

FEARSOME FRESHMAN FIVESOME – Five freshman position players – DH/LF Cody Rizzo, CF Brennan Grogan, 3B Greg Lopez, DH Steve Andres and LF/DH Craig Cooper – continue to make key contributions this season … those five players have combined to make 121 starts while batting a combined .307 (133-for-434) … their biggest statistical contributions include 64% of ND’s times hit-by-pitch (28 of 44), 48% of the team’s triples (10 of 21) and 41% of the runs scored (105 of 258) – plus 39% of the sac. bunts (11 of 28), 40% of the stolen bases (18 of 45) and 36% of the RBI (80 of 226) … the above five players also have combined for 36% of the team’s hits (133 of 374), 32% of the walks (36 of 113), 25% of the doubles (17 of 68) and five of the team’s 20 home runs (25%).

PUSHING 30 – By winning its next three games, the 2003 squad could match the second-quickest Notre Dame team ever to 30 wins (the 2001 team went 30-5-1, the 1989 squad went 30-8).

APRIL SHOWERS OF WINS – Notre Dame has dominated in April during the nine-year Paul Maineiri era (170-38, .817), including 50-6 (.893) in April during the past three seasons (20-2 in ’01, 19-2 in ’02, 11-2 in ’03) … ND’s only April losses in that stretch: vs. Ball State (3-4) and Valparaiso (3-7) in ’01, vs. St. John’s (3-4) and Pittsburgh (5-7) in ’02 and vs. Eastern Michigan and Pittsburgh in ’03.

ND ALUMS EMBARK ON PRO SEASONS – Three former Notre Dame baseball players were on 40-man rosters for MLB Spring Training: IF Craig Counsell (Arizona), RHP Brad Lidge (Houston) and LHP Tim Kalita (Detroit) … Counsell and Lidge both made the big-league rosters (Kalita is with the double-A Erie Sea Wolves) … three others were non-roster invitees to Big-League Camp: RHPs Aaron Heilman (rated by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in the New York Mets organization; with triple-A Norfolk Tides) and Christian Parker (Yankees; triple-A Columbus Clippers) and LHP Chris Michalak (Colorado Springs Sky Sox) … several other former ND players have embarked on their minor-league seasons: catcher Paul O’Toole (Cubs; single-A Daytona), 3B/C Andrew Bushey (Colorado, single-A Ashville Tourists), Oakland A’s OFs Steve Stanley (double-A Midland, Rockhounds) and Brian Stavisky (single-A Cane County Cougars), IF Brant Ust (Detroit; double-A Erie), RHP Danny Tamayo (Kansas City; double-A Wichita Wranglers) and OF Matt Bok (Los Angeles, single-A Ogden Raptors) … Tamayo and Stanley both are competing in the Texas League while Heilman and Parker both are pitchers in the International League … here’s a look at ND’s alums currently in pro ball (stats as of April 13):

Matt Bok, C (Ogden Raptors, Dodgers single-A, Pioneer League) … yet to play a game in ’03

Andrew Bushey, C/IF (Ashville Tourists, Rockies single-A, South Atlantic League) … 0-for-8, 4 GP, RBI, 3 BB, K, three starts at C, one at 1B

Craig Counsell, IF (Arizona Diamondbacks) … .256, 11-for-43, 13 GP, 3B, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, 8 BB, 7 Ks, has made just one error while splitting time at SS and 3B (.967 fielding pct.)

Aaron Heilman, RHP (Norfolk Tides, Mets AAA, International League) … 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 3 GS, 20 IP, .200 opp. batting avg. (14-for-70), 4 R, HR, 5 BB, 17 Ks

Tim Kalita. LHP (Erie Sea Wolves, Tigers AA, Eastern League) … 7.11 ERA, 4 GP, 6.1 IP, .345 opp. avg. (10-for-29), 5 R, BB, 4 Ks

Brad Lidge, RHP (Houston Astros) … 2-0, 0.82 ERA, 8 GP, 12.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R/3 ER, HR, 5 BB, 5 Ks

Chris Michalak, LHP (Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Rockies AAA, Pacific Coast League) … 2-1, 3.06 ERA, 3 GS, 17.2 IP, .294 opp.avg. (20-for-68), 6 R/3 ER, 10 BB, 13 Ks … also has hit 2-for-6 (R, 2 RBI)

Paul O’Toole, C/IF/OF (Daytona Cubs, Cubs single-A, Florida State League) … 4-for-10, 4 GP, R, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, K

Christian Parker, RHP (Columbus Clippers, Yankees AA, International League) … yet to pitch in ’03

Steve Stanley, OF (Midland Rockhounds, Athletics AA, Texas League) … .262 (11-for-42), 11 GP, 5 R, 7 RBI, SAC, 3 BB, 4 Ks, E

Brian Stavisky, OF (Kane County Cougars, Oakland single-A, Midwest League) … .319 (15-for-47), 13 GP, 11 R, 7 RBI, 3B, 4 2B, SAC, 2 HBP, 9 BB, 11 Ks, E

Danny Tamayo, RHP (Wichita Wranglers, Royals AA, Texas League) … 0-2, 2.89 ERA, 2GS, 9.1 IP, .324 opp. avg. (11-for-34), 5 R/3 ER, 5 BB, 3 Ks

Brant Ust, IF (Erie Sea Wolves, Tigers AA, Eastern League) … .143 (4-for-28), 8 GP, 3 R, 3 RBI, 4 2B, BB, 9 Ks, SB, starts at SS (5) and 2B (3)

EXPECTING ECK’S-ELLENCE – The 11-0 loss to Rutgers on May 5, 2002, ended ND’s team-record scoring streak at 231 games … the Irish then went unbeaten in 19 consecutive games at Eck Stadium after that loss to Rutgers, outscoring the opponents 218-88 in those games (average score of 12-5) … ND now is 32-3 in its last 35 home games, dating back to the 7-5 loss to Pittsburgh on April 11, 2002 … now celebrating its 10th year of play at Eck Stadium, the Irish own an all-time record of 231-51 in the facility (.820) … ND had defeated 21 consecutive non-conference teams that visited The Eck before last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan.

WINNING STREAK NOTES – Despite winning a pair of one-run games vs. Creighton (ND’s first one-run games since the first game of the winning streak), the Irish won most of the games in the recent 17-game winning streak by comfortable margins … the average margin of victory in the 17-game streak was 5.9 runs, including 11 wins by five-plus runs, five by eight-plus and three double-digit victories … the three one-run games (also 3-2 at Villanova) were the only games in the streak decided by fewer than three runs … the Irish posted a .337 team batting average, 2.58 staff ERA and .968 fielding pct. (20 errors) in the streak … top hitters in the streak included Matt Edwards (.413, 26-for-63, 28 RBI, .788 slugging pct., 5 HR, 3B, 6 2B, 8 BB) and the freshman outfield/DH trip of Craig Cooper (.400, 18-for-45, 6 RBI, 15 R, 2 3B, 2 2B, 8 BB, 4 SB), Brennan Grogan (.389, 21-for-54, 10 RBI, 17 R, 4 3B, 2B, 5 BB, 5 SB) and Cody Rizzo (.373, 19-for-51, 17 RBI, 23 R, 2 HR, 3B, 6 2B) … after a slow start at the plate, Matt Macri hit .352 (19-for-54) during the winning streak with 11 RBI and 13 runs scored (HR, 3 3B, 2 2B, 8 BB) … John Axford’s four starts in the win streak (4-0) yielded a 1.80 ERA, a .182 opponent batting average, 31 Ks and 14 walks in 25 innings.

ROAD WARRIORS – Notre Dame’s trip to Omaha last week represented the team’s seventh weekend on the road in the first eight weeks, followed by three straight home weekends and then the season-ending BIG EAST series at Rutgers and Virginia Tech … the Irish now are in the midst of a 12-game homestand, followed by the annual ND-Michigan game in Grand Rapids and four more home games (before heading to Rutgers).

MAINIERI HITS WIN NO. 700 – Ninth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri – now in his 21st overall season – picked up his 700th career coaching victory in the 6-2 series-opening win over Georgetown on Sat., March 29, just 135 games removed from his 600th win (ND’s 99 combined wins in ’01 and ’02 were third-most in nation, behind Florida State’s 107 and South Carolina’s 106) … Mainieri’s 713-429-1 career record (.624) includes 180-121 at St. Thomas (’83-’88), 152-158 at Air Force (’89-’94) and 381-150-1 (.717) at ND (’95-’03) … his ND career includes five BIG EAST titles and five NCAA trips with the Irish (’96, ’99-’02), the program’s first No. 1 ranking in 2001 and first CWS trip since ’57 (in ’02) … he was the nation’s only coach to repeat as ABCA regional coach of the year (Mideast), in 2002, and his squads have extended ND’s streak of seasons with 40-plus wins to 14 (nation’s 4th-longest active streak) … 31 of his ND players have moved on to pro ball, including 12 drafted in the first 10 rounds and pair of first-round pitchers (Brad Lidge in ’98, Aaron Heilman in ’01) … every ND player in the Mainieri era who has completed his eligibility with the Irish has graduated from Notre Dame (46 of 46) while the eight who were signed after their junior seasons have returned to complete or near completion of their graduation requirements (including two-time Academic All-American Brian Stavisky) … Mainieri owns the best BIG EAST winning pct. in the conference’s history (.750, 129-43) … in 68 BIG EAST series spanning eight seasons, the Irish have won 53 with eight splits and just seven series wins by the opponent (just two of them being 3-game sweeps) … the Irish have been swept just four times in 66 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders (40 ND sweeps, 22 splits).

(see PDF for remainder of season notes, including record-book watch)