April 26, 2003

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GAME NOTES – Notre Dame is coming off a season-high 20-hit effort in Thursday’s 13-3 win over IPFW … junior 2B Steve Sollmann has missed the last two games due to a sprained wrist and is listed as day-to-day … the Irish had been outscored 17-16 in the first inning of its previous 39 games before pushing across six runs in the 1st vs. IPFW … freshman LF Brennan Grogan snapped out of his recent 2-for-19 slump by batting 3-for-4 vs. IPFW (in his first start as the No. 3 batter), also adding an RBI double and hustling around for three runs scored … ND entered the week ranked 27th in the nation for team ERA (3.55) but has sliced that number to 3.35, after allowing just one earned run in each of the three games this week .. senior CF Kris Billmaier is batting 7-for-18 (.389) with eight RBI in the last five games (after a 1-for-20, 2-RBI slump) … junior 1B Matt Edwards has similar numbers in his last four games (6-for-12, 6 RBI), after an 0-for-12, 1-RBI drought … junior SS Matt Macri’s 12-game surge (17-for-38, .447) has pushed his season batting average to .308 … freshman RF Cody Rizzo had been 3-for-16 in the previous five games before a 2-for-3 night vs. IPFW … freshman IF Matt Bransfield is batting 6-for-13 in his last five games played … the Irish owns a 55-8 season scoring edge in the 2nd inning … ND has posted 18 “big wins” (margin of 5-plus runs), just three shy of the entire 2002 total of 21 big wins … ND also has racked up 16 “big innings” (5-plus runs) this season (13 in the last 20 games) … senior RHP Brandon Viloria has allowed just one earned run in 15.1 innings pitched this season (0.59 ERA), with his 2.49 career ERA (in 76 IP) now tied with Jack Mitchell (’59-’61) and former teammate Aaron Heilman for 2nd place in the ND record book (min. 60 IP) behind Nick Palihnich’s 2.36 (’59-’61) … Viloria likewise has yet to walk a batter this season, with his career walk average (1.30 BB per 9 IP) well on its way to besting the ND record set by 1993 grad. Alan Walania (1.64) …V iloria’s stellar control also includes just one wild pitch and four hit batters in his career (no WP or HBs in ’03) … sophomore RHP John Axford has won his last 12 decisions with the Irish (13-2 career mark) and became the 17th ND pitcher to post 12-plus Ks in a game (12 vs. WMU) … just two pitchers in the country entered the week with a better undefeated mark than Axford’s 8-0 … ND has posted a 54-7 combined record in April the past three seasons and is 36-4 in its last 40 home games … the Irish faced a daunting early schedule but have won 29 of the last 34, including a 17-game win streak (2nd-longest in ND history) that ended vs. Eastern Michigan (3-5) … sophomore RHP Chris Niesel (9-1), Axford (12-2) and senior RHP Ryan Kalita (12-0) have combined for a 33-3 career record with the Irish … SS Matt Macri (elbow) and 3B/1B Matt Edwards (broken leg) missed most of ’02 due to injury (first-year catcher Javi Sanchez served as the Irish SS in ’02)… J.P. Gagne (24-14, 14 SV) has joined Chris Michalak and Aaron Heilman as the only ND pitchers ever to post 20-plus wins and 10-plus saves … head coach Paul Mainieri picked up his 700th career win this season vs. Georgetown … the Irish own an overall record of 130-40-1 over the course of the 2001-03 seasons … four freshmen – and now senior Kris Billmaier – have started in CF this season for the Irish (Steve Stanley started at CF in all 256 games from ’99-’02) … Kalita (1.67, 4-0, 27 IP, 23 Ks, 7 BB, .167 opp. batting), Axford (2.12, 3-0, 17 IP, 17 Ks, 14 BB, .148) and Niesel (2.63, 3-0, 27.1 IP, 28 Ks, 3 BB, .262) have formed a dominating rotation in BIG EAST games … Sollmann ranks 7th in ND history with 52 career stolen bases , two behind former teammate Paul O’Toole … Cody Rizzo’s 18 times hit-by-pitch already has bested the ND record previously held by Eric Danapilis (15, in 1993).