April 22, 2003
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAME NOTES – vs. Ball State (April 22, 2003)
The Notre Dame baseball team (29-8, 10-2 BIG EAST) – ranked as high as 16th in the national polls – will look to continue its winning ways with a midweek challenge vs. Ball State (26-11) … ND again is on the verge of reaching 30 wins with single-digit losses and could get to 30 in the 38th game (matching the ’89 team, bested only by the 30-5-1 start in ’01) … last week’s Thurs./Sat. BIG EAST format has produced sophomore RHP Chris Niesel (2.88, 5-1, 55 Ks, 11 BB in 59.1 IP) as the probable ND starter, with BSU to counter with freshman RHP Joe Ness (4.71, 3-1, 21 Ks, 13 BB in 28.2 IP) … ND is ranked 27th in the nation for team ERA (3.55) and fielding pct. (.970),, BSU is 11th in team batting (.333).
(see PDG for Niesel stats)
* Since suffering the only loss of his ND career (Feb. 28 vs. Nebraska), Chris Niesel has dominated in his last seven outings to the tune of a 1.64 ERA, a .202 opp. batting avg. and nearly a 7-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (52/8) in those seven starts.
* 27-2 in last 29 decisions (13-0 as senior at Aquinas HS, 9-1 at ND, 3-1 in ’02 Cape Cod League, 2-0 in ND Blue-Gold series).
* Has allowed just one run, six hits (.188 opp. avg.) and no walks in the 1st inning this season (9 IP, 12 Ks) while allowing just one run in the 4th (9 IP, 7 H, .212, 5 Ks, 1 BB) … has averaged nearly 20 outs per 9 IP via Ks (8.3) or groundouts (11.2).
* Owns a 5.0 season K-to-walk ratio that would rank 5th in ND history … his 4.04 career K-to-BB ratio (117/29) is ahead of Alan Walania’s ND record (4.00).
* Situational pitching: .216 opp. batting with 2 outs, .224 with runners on; .311 opponent leadoff on-base pct.
* His season walk average of 1.67/9 IP would rank 11th in ND history … his 1.98 career walk avg. is 5th in the ND record book (best since ’94).
* 55 Ks in ’03, on pace for 94 (would be 7th-best in ND history) … his .228 opp. batting would rank 10th (since ’91).
* 10th all-time ND pitcher with multiple double-digit K games in his career (10 vs. Southern Illinois in ’02, 11 vs. Villanova in ’03) and 5th to do so in the 9-year Mainieri era (the others are Brad Lidge, Tim Kalita, Aaron Heilman an Danny Tamayo) … also owns four 9-K games in his ND career (three in ’03).
* Combines with John Axford (12 Ks vs. WMU) as 10th pair of ND teammates ever to post double-digit Ks in the same season … the others include Ron Mottl and Dick Bunker (’55), Jim Sholl and Don Wolfe (’75), the 1977 trio of Sholl, Bob Hughes, and Mike Bobinski, David Sinnes and Al Walania (’93), Darin Schmalz and Christian Parker (’96), the ’98 trio of Brad Lidge, Alex Shilliday and Tim Kalita – and Aaron Heilman with Kalita (’99), Drew Duff (’00) and Danny Tamayo (’01).
* His 9-1 career record could include upwards of eight more wins (due to lack of run support or lost leads by the bullpen), with his 2002 season also interrupted by a bout with mononucleosis.
* Had dominating 2002 postseason with 2.05 ERA in five outings (four starts), with 22 Ks, 7 BB and 23 hits allowed in 26.1 IP (he won the 3-1 clincher at top-ranked Florida State in the Super-Regional and had a strong CWS start vs. Rice).
THREE-GUN SALUTE – ND’s three-man pitching rotation is unmatched among the BIG EAST stat leaders … sophomore RHP John Axford (8-0) has the most wins of any BIG EAST pitcher, also ranking third in ERA (2.29), strikeouts (53) and low opponent batting average (.216) and fourth in innings pitched (55.0) … his classmate Chris Niesel checks in at second in Ks (55), third in innings (59.1), fifth in ERA (2.88) and opponent batting (.228) … senior RHP Ryan Kalita ranks sixth among BIG EAST pitchers in opponent batting (.228) … in conference games only, Kalita owns the third-best ERA in the conference stats (1.67) while ranking first in wins (4-0) and second in opponent batting (.167) … Axford’s stats in three BIG EAST starts include a 2.25 ERA (5th), .148 opponent batting (1st) and a 3-0 record (4th) while Niesel also is 3-0 in league action with a 2.63 ERA (7th), 28 Ks (5th) ad 27.1 innings (8th) … ND leads the BIG EAST with a 2.39 staff ERA in conference games, with four of the top-seven individual ERA leaders as senior closer J.P. Gagne is 6th (2.25).
SERIES NOTES – Notre Dame holds a 13-10 series edge vs. Ball State, dating back to 1976 – but BSU has won three of the last four … the Cardinals hold the series edge in games played at ND (8-7, 2-1 at Eck Stadium) … the series has featured five one-run games (three won by ND) while the series scoring is fairly even (95-86 edge for BSU).
RECAPPING THE LAST TWO ND-BSU GAMES ND 10, BSU 1 (2002) – Andrew Bushey’s first career grand-slam home run – at any level – highlighted a productive night for the Irish offense while J.P. Gagne notched his third win in six days (4 IP from 3rd-7th, 15 BF, 2 H, BB, 3 Ks) … ND stranded just six baserunners while rapping out 13 hits, five for extra bases … Bushey’s bases-clearing home run doubled the Irish lead in the bottom of thr 7th (9-1), after Joe Thaman’s 3-run shot had yielded a 5-1 lead in the 2nd …. Thaman nearly added an opposite-field shot in the 7th, with his double down hitting off the leftfield wall, just a few feet inside the foul pole … Andrew Anderson (1.1 IP, 5 R/3 ER, 6 H, K, HB) took the loss.
BSU 4, ND 3 (2001) – LHP Luke Hagerty (5.2 IP, 3 R/2 ER, 9 H, 4 BB, 4 Ks) picked up the win of the season while the Ball State offense cashed in a pair of ND errors for two crucial runs … the 6th-ranked Irish had plenty of chances (12 hits, none extra bases, and 18 total baserunners) but ND left 13 men on base while also hitting into a double play and having another runner picked off … Peter Ogilvie (6 IP, 2 R, 8 H, 5 Ks) was the hard-luck loser, allowing a pair of runs in the 3rd … ND scored an unearned run in the 3rd and both teams added single runs in the 5th and 6th … the game brought back memories of the previous series meeting, with BSU also winning by a 4-3 score at Eck Stadium in ’98 … Paul Henry, BSU’s starting SS, picked up the save (2 IP, 2 H).
RARE WINS – In the nine-year Paul Mainieri era, just 29 teams have defeated the Irish at Eck Stadium (doing so a total of 44 times) … Ball State (wins in ’98 and ’01) is one of just nine teams ever to post multiple regular-season wins over the Irish at Eck Stadium (since ’95) … Rutgers (4-5) and St. John’s (4-6) own the most opponent wins at Eck Stadium in the Mainieri era, followed by Pittsburgh (3-11), West Virginia (3-10) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3-7) … three other teams join Ball State with two wins over ND at The Eck during the past nine seasons: Connecticut (2-5), Boston College (2-9) and Northwestern (2-0) … in postseason action, Wright State beat the Irish twice in the 1995 MCC Tournament while Florida International topped ND twice in the 2001 NCAA Regionals (both pairs of wins came at The Eck).
ND CAREER STATS VS. BALL STATE
Steve Sollmann – 4-for-7, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB … Joe Thaman – 4-for-8, 3 RBI, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 Ks … Kris Billmaier – 2-for-9, R … Javi Sanchez – 0-for-4, 4 Ks … Mike Holba – 1-for-1, 2B, BB … Zach Sisko – 0-for-1, K
J.P. Gagne – 4 IP, 1-0, 2 H, BB, 3 Ks (’01)
Schroeder – 1B-ll, 2-3 … Snyder – L-9, L-4 … Holman – KS … Bucholtz – 1-3 … Scott – P-1 BU
Brandon Viloria – 1 IP, BB (’01)
Holman – BB … Scott – 6-3
BALL STATE CAREER STATS VS. ND
Brad Snyder – 2-for-8, R, 2B, 2 Ks, CS … Lorenzo Scott – 0-for-4, BB … Kiel Holman – 0-for-2, BB, K … Marc Franz – 0-for-1 … Adam Metzler – 0-for-1, K … James Nowicki – 1 GP
Kory Bucklew – 5 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 3 Ks (’02)
Sollmann – 1-3, F-9 … Billmaier – F-8, 1B-RC … Sanchez – KS, KS … Thaman – 3-1, KL … Holba – 2B-LC, BB
John Petitbone – 2 GP, 1.0 IP, H, BB, K, WP
Sollmann – BB/RBI (’01) … 1B-9 … Billmaier – L-7 … Sanchez – KS
Andrew Anderson – 1.1 IP, 0-1, 5 R/3 ER, 6 H, K, HB (’02)
Sollmann – 1B-MI/R … Billmaier – 1B-LS/R … Sanchez – KS … Thaman – HR-9/3 RBI
Mike Johnston – 1.0 IP, H (’01)
Billmaier – FF-5
QUICK NOTES ON THE ND HITTERS (in probable batting order)
(1) Steve Sollmann (Jr., 2B; Cincinnati, OH … preseason All-American; all-BIG EAST in ’01, ’02
* Leads team in eight categories – batting avg. (.396), runs (45), hits (59), total bases (85), walks (17), stolen bases (23), on-base pct. (.455) and leadoff on-base pct. (.576) … also 2nd in seven other categories – slugging (.570), triples (4), RBI (28), batting with runners in scoring position (.391), 2-out batting (.353), 2-out RBI (10) and pct. of runners advanced (.629) – plus 3rd in home runs (3) and 4th in doubles (9).
* Entered week ranked 19th in nation with 0.61 stolen bases per game (0.62) … also ranks 6th among BIG EAST players in batting avg., plus 1st in runs and SBs, 2nd in TBs and 3Bs, 4th in hits and 9th in slugging
* Carries 10-game hitting streak into Ball State game (15-for-35/.429, 4 RBI, 13 R, 3 2B, 3B, 5 BB, K) … also has hits in 19 of last 20 games (his 9-game hit streak ended vs. WMU).
* Has gone 15 games (43 chances) without an error (just four Es all season) and seven games without a strikeout.
* Has gone hitless in consecutive games just once in ’03 (in Villanova doubleheader), with hits in 31 of 37 games.
* Owns 21 multi-hit games in 2003 (five 3-hit games, plus 4-for-4 in game 2 vs. Georgetown)
* Already 7th in ND history with 52 career stolen bases (23 in ’03), two behind former teammate Paul O’Toole
* Picked up 200th career hit at St. John’s (now 216; ND record for hits by junior is Steve Stanley’s 267)
* Joins classmate Javi Sanchez (122 BB/8 Ks) as only ND starters with more walks (17) 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) and sac. bunts (8), 2nd in stolen bases (10) and 2-out RBI (10), 3rd in batting with runners in scoring position (.372) and 2-out batting (.333), 4th in pct. of runners advanced (.584) and 5th in batting (.304) and runs (25)
* Leads BIG EAST in overall triples, 12th in SBs … entered week ranked 19th in nation for triples (0.15 per game)
* Made switch to CF and 2-hole (26 starts batting 2nd) on Spring Break trip, shifted to LF in last eight games
(3) Matt Edwards (So., 3B/1B; Mechanicsville, VA)
* First on team in six categories – home runs (7, four of the last five being CF blasts, plus monster shot to left that landed in ND football practice field), slugging pct. (.593), RBI (44), 2-out batting (.400), 2-out RBI (16) and batting with runners in scoring pos. (.393) – plus 2nd in batting avg. (.348), doubles (10), hits (47), total bases (80) and walks (14), 3rd in pct. of runners advanced (.588) and 4th in on-base pct. (.416).
* Leads BIG EAST in overall RBI, plus 3rd in TBs, 4th in HRs, 7th in slugging and 9th in 2Bs
* Looking to end 1-for-15, 3-RBI slump during last five games.
* Already has totaled 14 multi-RBI games, including four 3-RBI games, 4 RBI in second game vs. Georgetown and 5 RBI in third game vs. Creighton
* 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 18 starts at 1B, with the first coming on Spring Break trip, with 29 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 (10, good for 9th in BIG EAST), home runs (4), 3rd in hits (40), RBI (26), runs scored (26), total bases (64) and hit-by-pitch (4), 3rd in leadoff on-base pct. (.484), 4th in walks (13)
* Owns 12 multi-hit and six multi-RBI games
* Made switch from right to center field in last five games … hit cleanup in 27 games this season before batting 5th in Seton Hall doubleheader
* Ended 1-for-20 slump (.050, 2 RBI) in Seton Hall opener (3-for-3, 2 RBI, HR), also marking his first HR since second game of ’03 vs. Newman.
(5) Javi Sanchez (Jr., C; Miami, FL)
* Fifth on team in hits (36), leadoff on-base pct. (.394) and batting with runners in scoring position (.324).
* Saw 8-game hitting streak end in Seton Hall opener (streak included four games before missing four due to back spasms).
* Has gone hitless in consecutive games just twice all season (vs. Detroit and Valparaiso, then in SHU doubleheader)
* 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 (17 BB/10 Ks) as only ND starters with more walks (12) 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)
* Leads team in doubles (11, good for 5th in BIG EAST), 2nd in walks (14), triples (4, 2nd BIG EAST) and sac. bunts (5), 3rd in runs scored (26), 4th in hits (38), total bases (56), and slugging pct. (.504), 5th in RBI (20).
* Has hits in eight of last 10 games, batting .455 in that stretch (15-for-33, 8 RBI, 8 R)
* Third on team with 12 multi-hit games, plus four multi-RBI games
* Has made most of his starts batting in the 6-hole (16), 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 (16, ND record), 2nd in runs scored (34, good for 8th in the BIG EAST) and leadoff on-base pct. (.528), 3rd in home runs (3) batting avg. (.336), slugging (.523) and on-base pct. (.438), 4th in RBI (24), doubles (9) and batting with runners in scoring position (.341), 5th in total bases (56).
* Batting just .222 (6-for-27) with one multi-hit total in last seven games
* Classic utility player who has made starts at CF (4), LF (13), DH (6)and C (3) and now RF (5), also batting in leadoff spot early in season (his most common lineup spot has been 14 games in the 7-hole)
* Second on team with seven multi-RBI games, plus 11 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)
* Second on team in on-base pct. (.444) and hit-by-pitch (6), 4th in 2-out batting (.333), 5th in slugging pct. (.481) and pct. of runners advanced (.543).
* Has totaled just two hits in team’s last 12 games (14 ABs), after batting 5-for-10 in previous three-game stretch
* Owns four multi-hit and two multi-RBI games
* Sparked ND offense in first three games of 2003 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 batting avg. (.309), 2-out RBI (9) and leadoff on-base pct. (.429), 5th in overall on-base pct. (.396) and walks (12).
* 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 18 RBI (despite totaling just 22 hits), also leading team in pct. of runners advanced (.632) and 5th in sac. bunts (3)
* Looking to snap out of 2-for-17 slump in last six games
* Owns six multi-hit and four multi-RBI games
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
* 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 .970 season fielding pct. remains on team-record pace, with the Irish totaling just 43 errors in 37 games (1.2 Es per game) … ND has posted 13 error-free games, 12 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 37 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 eight more opponent homers in the last eight 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 (see PDF for charts).
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 .164 (10-for-61) with six walks and 20 Ks.
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 17):
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 AAA, 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 34-3 in its last 37 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 233-51 in the facility (.820) … ND had defeated 21 consecutive non-conference teams that visited The Eck before last week’s loss to Eastern Michigan.
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 715-429-1 career record (.624) includes 180-121 at St. Thomas (’83-’88), 152-158 at Air Force (’89-’94) and 383-150-1 (.718) 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).
BIG-INNING BOPPERS – Notre Dame opened the season by posting three “big innings” (5-plus runs) in the first four games but then went 16 games without 5-plus runs in any inning … that drought ended with a vengeance in games 21-29, when the Irish erupted for 10 big innings (in all but one of those games, the finale of the Georgetown series) … the big innings have included three 9-run eruptions (vs. ASU, Georgetown and Detroit) and 6-run innings vs. Newman and St. John’s … the 2nd inning has produced four “big innings”, with four also in the 6th, two in the 3rd and one each in the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th – with the Irish failing to post 5-plus runs in only the 1st and 9th innings this season (ND has totaled just 13 first-inning runs all season) … the big innings in the three midweek games on April 8-9 accounted for 18 of ND’s 23 total runs (78%) in those games … here’s a look at ND’s big innings in 2003 (see PDF for list):
EVEN STEVEN – Notre Dame’s scoring dominance in the 2nd inning this season (51-8) has nearly been matched by the team’s scoring edge two innings later in the 4th (30-10) … the Irish own a scoring edge in every inning but the 1st (15-17) and the 7th (20-31).
WINNING BIG & SMALL – Notre Dame is 7-1 this season in one-run games while already posting 16 “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.
APRIL SHOWERS OF WINS – Notre Dame has dominated in April during the nine-year Paul Maineiri era (172-38, .820), including 52-6 (.897) in April during the past three seasons (20-2 in ’01, 19-2 in ’02, 13-2 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.