March 31, 1999
- All but two games in April slated for Eck Stadium
- Irish host Providence, UConn; look to stay atop BIG EAST standings
- Ust earns BIG EAST player of the week, pushes home run total to 13
The Notre Dame baseball team (16-7, 5-1 BIG EAST) will look to remain atop the BIG EAST standings, with a pair of home doubleheaders versus Providence (April 1) and Connecticut (April 3) … the Irish will play 20 of their 22 scheduled April games at home, plus a neutral-site game vs. Michigan … Notre Dame has won 12 of its last 13 games and 15 of its last 18 … 12 of those last 18 games have been decided by 1-3 runs, including two one-run losses, three one-run wins, four two-run wins and three three-run wins … Notre Dame is 93-18 at Eck Stadium during the five-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri.
UST NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Notre Dame junior SS Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) has been named the BIG EAST Conference player of the week, after hitting .474 with four home runs and 10 RBI while helping the Irish win four of five games … Ust has six home runs in his last seven games, 13 for the season (the rest of the team has 10) and 42 for his career (one behind all-time leader Wagner) … his 13 home runs already rank ninth on the Irish single-season list, just seven behind the all-time record of 20, set by Frank Jacobs in 1991 … Ust also owns a .964 slugging pct. (well ahead of the Irish record of .783, set by Dan Peltier in 1989), has 30 RBI in 23 games and just one error in the last 12 games (eight total) … Ust leads the BIG EAST in home runs (13 ) while ranking third in RBI (31), seventh in runs scored (24) and eighth in hits (34) … his solid fielding has helped the Irish post a BIG EAST-best .962 team fielding pct. … over the course of a 60-game season, Ust is on pace for 32 home runs and 82 RBI, which would rank third all-time at Notre Dame behind Peltier’s 93 in 1989 and Eric Danapilis’ 85 in 1993 … Ust has boosted his career batting average to .378 (198-for-524), which ranks third all-time at Notre Dame behind Peltier (.406, 1987-89) and Danapilis (.405, 1990-93).
INJURY UPDATE: Freshman 3B Andrew Bushey suffered a knee injury at West Virginia on March 20 and is slated to miss 3-4 weeks … senior C Jeff Wagner has been out since early March with a foot injury but could return next week … senior RHP Alex Shilliday threw one inning in the 12-8 win over Western Michigan on March 23 but struggled in the first inning last week at Rutgers, after being sidelined since early March with a shoulder injury.
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup
*-lefthanded hitter; #-switch hitter
Pos. Player Yr. Ht./Wt. 1999 Stats CF *Steve Stanley Fr. 5-7/150 .304, 14 RBI, 17 RC Paul O'Toole Fr. 6-1/200 .288, 8 RBI, 21 R2B Alec Porzel So. 6-0/185 .319, 20 RBI, 19 R
SS Brant Ust Jr. 6-1/200 .405, 31 RBI, 24 RDH Matt Nussbaum Jr. 6-1/190 .279, 10 RBI, 9 R1B *Jeff Felker Jr. 6-5/190 .290, 13 RBI, 13 R
LF Matt Strickroth Fr. 6-5/230 .159, 3 RBI, 8 RRF/3B #Ben Cooke So. 5-9/165 .292, 4 RBI, 3 R3B/RF #Jeff Perconte Jr. 5-10/185 .297, 10 RBI, 15 R
OFF THE BENCH
C J.P. Drevline Fr. 5-11/190 .313 (5-16), 2 RBIIF Ed Golom Fr. 5-9/165 .273 (3-11), 1 RBIIF/OF Ken Meyer Fr. 6-0/205 .143 (1-for-7), 1 HP
RHP Aaron Heilman So. 6-4/210 2.33, 4-1, 1 SVLHP Tim Kalita Jr. 6-1/220 5.84, 3-1, 6 GP/37 IPRHP Scott Cavey Jr. 6-5/200 3.29, 2-1, 6 GP/27.1 IPLHP Mike Naumann So. 5-11/175 4.24, 1-0, 5 GP/17 IPorRHP Alex Shilliday Sr. 6-1/200 7.94, 1-2, 4 GP/11.1 IP
LHP Chris McKeown Sr. 6-3/215 4.82, 2-1, 6 GP/18.2 IPRHP Drew Duff Fr. 5-11/170 5.65, 1-0, 1 SV, 7 GP/14.1 IPRHP John Corbin Jr. 6-2/195 3.45, 2-1, 4 SV, 9 GP/15.2 IP
RHP Mike Carlin So. 6-4/210 14.29, 0-0, 4 GP/5.2 IPRHP Jason Rodda Fr. 5-11/185 ----- RHP Matt Buchmeier Fr. 6-0/180 27.00, 0-0, 5 GP/4.2 IPRHP Matt Arnold Fr. 5-10/180 -----LHP Mark Lapinskas Jr. 6-2/200 15.43, 0-0, 2 GP/2.1 IP
SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame leads its series vs. Providence (5-2), with wins in five of six meetings during the past three BIG EAST seasons … the teams first met in 1928, a 6-1 late-season win for the Friars at PC … the teams split a pair at PC in 1996 (18-2 PC win, 10-7 Irish win) but Notre Dame eliminated PC from the BIG EAST Tournament (4-2) … Notre Dame swept a home doubleheader from PC in 1997 (10-5, 14-10) but the teams were rained out at PC in ’98 … the Irish knocked PC out of the ’99 BIG EAST Tournament (9-7), rallying from a 4-0 deficit behind Scott Cavey’s pitching and home runs from Larry Zimont (3-run) and J.J. Brock (2-run) … Brant Ust (.636, 7-for-11, HR, 2 RBI, 6 R) and Jeff Wagner (.565, 13-for-23, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 3B, 2B, 8R) each own strong career numbers vs. PC (Wagner likely will miss this week’s games due to injury) …. Aaron Heilman saved the playoff win over PC last season (1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 Ks) … Notre Dame leads its brief series with Connecticut, 2-1 … the Irish split a doubleheader with UConn at Eck Stadium in 1996 (7-6, 9-10) before winning in 1997 at UConn (7-2), with the second game that day halted in the 4th inning due to rain (4-4) … Wagner had hit a home run that ended up not counting in that game (due to the cancellation) … Ust (1-for-3, 2 RBI, R) is the only healthy Irish player who owns an at-bat vs. UConn (Wagner is 6-for-7 with five RBI and four walks) … Alex Shilliday is the only current Irish pitcher who has faced UConn, tossing one relief inning (4 H, 3 R).
WHME TO BROADCAST 43 GAMES: South Bend-based WHME radio (103.1) is scheduled to broadcast 43 of Notre Dame’s 55 regular-season games-including the upcoming series vs. PC and UConn-and any postseason action during the 1999 campaign … all games are available via the internet, with a link from the Notre Dame website (www.und.com) … WHME’s television division also may air several simulcasts during the 1999 season (schedule TBA) … WHME is scheduled to broadcast 30 of Notre Dame’s remaining 32 games, except for the April 14 game vs. Cleveland State and April 30 vs. Oakland.
AROUND THE HORN: Sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman (42 Ks) and junior lefty Tim Kalita (41) are on pace to challenge the Irish single-season strikeout record of 108, set by Frank Carpin in 1958 … Heilman is allowing just .197 opponent batting, which would rank second-best by an Irish pitcher since 1991, behind David Sinnes’ impressive .163 opponent average in 1992 … Heilman’s last six outings include a 4-0 record,, a 1.09 ERA (four earned runs), one save and 38 strikeouts in 33 innings.
QUICK TEAM NOTES: Notre Dame has boosted its season fielding pct. to a BIG EAST-best .962, with just eight errors in the last 12 games (six no-error games) … the Irish pitching staff is on pace to total 480 strikeouts over 60 games, which would best the team record of 456 set last season … the ’99 staff is averaging 8.45 Ks per nine innings, which would rank best at Notre Dame in 36 years and fourth in Irish history, behind the 1958 (9.89), 1963 (8.68) and 1955 (8.51) Irish pitching staffs … the Irish pitchers also own a 2.36 K-to-walk ratio (184/78), which is just off the record of 2.40 set in 1963 …
IRISH RETURN PAIR OF ALL-AMERICANS: Notre Dame is one of just five schools in Division I baseball that returned multiple All-America players from the 1998 season (based on the teams selected by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball magazine and the American Baseball Coaches Association) … current Irish sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman was named third team All-America by Collegiate Baseball in ’98 while current junior shortstop Brant Ust was a third team ’98 All-America pick (as a third baseman) by both Baseball America and the ABCA … the other schools with multiple returning All-Americans include the University of Miami, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and Wichita State (3).
BIG EAST BESTS: Notre Dame senior C Jeff Wagner and All-America junior SS Brant Ust rank among the top hitters in BIG EAST history … Ust’s career bating average in BIG EAST regular-season games (.432, 76-for-176) is on pace to challenge the existing record of .432, set by Seton Hall’s Marteese Robinson from ’85-’87 … Wagner ranks 10th on that list with a .398 avg. (86-for-216), including 20 HRs in the BIG EAST regular season-third all-time behind former Seton Hall great Mo Vaughn (26, ’87-’89) and UConn’s Jason Grabowski (21, ’95-’97) … Wagner also ranks fifth in BIG EAST history with 72 career RBI in conference games, trailing Vaughn (83), former SHU catcher Alex Andreopoulos (83, 1992-95), former Villanova player Gary Scott (74, 1987-89) and Grabowski (73) … two former Irish players-2B/CF Randall Brooks (.418, ’96-’97) and IF J.J. Brock (.399, ’96-’98)-also rank among the all-time BIG EAST batting leaders.
PLAYING FOR YOUR COUNTRY: Current Notre Dame junior SS Brant Ust served as a third baseman on the 22-player roster for USA Baseball during the summer of 1998 … Ust finished third on the team with a .378 batting average (over 42 games) .. his travels took him to Nicaragua for the World Championship Qualifier and to Italy for the World Championship, with several stops throughout the United States-highlighted by pregame introductions of the USA team to the crowds at two major-league games.
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Fifth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 514-359 (.589) record in 16-plus seasons as a college head coach, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27 win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 181-81 (.691) mark with the Irish, Mainieri was 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri has experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return to the University of New Orleans (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach … Mainieri coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20, 1998, at the University of Miami, after a Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out … he notched his 499th career win in the 1999 season opener versus James Madison, in a game played in Miami at Florida International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri’s 181 wins rank third at Notre Dame, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 16 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 11 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of Mainieri’s players at St. Thomas went on to pro baseball, including three-Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier-who have played in the major leagues … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to each top 400 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 games in his 30-year career at Miami-Dade North CC.
UST, HEILMAN AMONG TOP PROSPECTS: Two Notre Dame players are listed among Baseball America’s 1999 list of college baseball’s top professional baseball prospects … junior SS Brant Ust is listed as the No. 38 college prospect and is fifth among middle infielders, behind Miami’s Bobby Hill (8th), Duke’s Vaughn Schill (9th), South Carolina’s Brian Roberts (11th) and ASU’s Willie Bloomquist (13th) … Hill and Bloomquist were teammates of Ust’s on Team USA during the summer of ’98, as were USC C Eric Munson (No. 2 prospect), Mississippi State P Matt Ginter (10th), Texas A&M LHP Casey Fossum (11th) and UNLV OF Ryan Ludwick (20th) … Irish sophomore All-America RHP Aaron Heilman is listed by Baseball America as the top prospect in the BIG EAST Conference … the magazine projects Heilman as the No. 9 prospect for 2000 (fourth among pitchers), behind: Clemson OF Patrick Boyd, California 3B Xavier Nady, UCLA 2B Chase Utley, Pepperdine C Dane Sardinha, Stanford RHP Justin Wayne, UCLA 1B Garrett Atkins, Arizona 1B/RHP Ben Diggins and Stanford RHP Jason Young.
SHILLIDAY MOVING UP STRIKEOUT LIST: Notre Dame senior RHP Alex Shilliday owns 221 career strikeouts, ranking fifth on the Irish all-time list … Shilliday could make a run up the list, which includes a formidable group that played together for three seasons: David Sinnes (315, ’93), Tom Price (276, ’94), Chris Michalak (263, ’93) and Al Walania (236, ’93) … Shilliday also is tied for eighth in Notre Dame history with 22 career victories.
NEW LOOK LINEUP: Notre Dame’s 1999 lineup includes several players in new positions, with senior C Jeff Wagner representing the only player who opened at the same position he played in 1998 (Wagner has been sidelined for the past week with a foot injury) … junior All-American Brant Ust has made the move from third base to shortstop (where he played part of his freshman season), replacing first team all-BIG EAST selection and two-time team captain J.J. Brock … sophomore Alec Porzel, a high school shortstop, has returned to the infield as the starting second baseman, after playing in left field as a freshman (1998 graduate Todd Frye played at second last season) … junior Jeff Felker is returning to first base (where he played for most of ’97), after spending ’98 as the starting right fielder (the Irish are looking to replace the strong defense and surprising power of ’98 graduate Dan Leatherman at first base) … three newcomers have stepped into the lineup while junior Jeff Perconte and sophomore Ben Cooke are sharing the starting duties in right field (in addition to serving as DH candidates) … two freshmen opened the season as starters in the outfield-LF Matt Strickroth and CF Steve Stanley-while Andrew Bushey took over Ust’s vacated spot at third base … freshman Paul O’Toole has emerged as the everyday catcher (Strickroth also has played some at first base, with Felker playing some outfield) … junior DH Matt Nussbaum also has been impressive as a regular contributor for the Irish this season … Perconte and Cooke currently are filling in at third in place of Bushey, who suffered a knee injury at West Virginia on March 20.
WAGNER NEARS RETURN FROM FOOT INJURY: Notre Dame senior All-America candidate and Irish career home run leader Jeff Wagner (43 career HRs) is sidelined indefinitely due to a broken bone in his foot … Wagner-who did not travel to San Antonio for the spring break trip and has missed the last 16 games-had played in 181 career games (out of 187, prior to San Antonio), with 179 starts … prior to the injury, he had missed just one game in the previous two-plus seasons while starting every game that he has played since the end of his freshman season … Wagner had an impressive 8-for-10 effort at the New Orleans Invitational, with six RBI and two home runs his 170 career RBI rank sixth in Irish history, just four behind former teammate J.J. Brock (1994-98) for fifth on the Irish all-time list and six behind Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92).
ROAD-TESTED: Notre Dame has been strong at home in six years at Frank Eck Stadium-going 128-27 (.826)-but the also have performed well on the road, winning 24 of their last 32 games away from home … that streak began with three ’98 wins in San Antonio, Texas, and was extended with a three-game sweep at Boston College and a pair of wins over Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium … the Irish then beat Michigan at Old Kent Park in Grand Rapids before winning two of three at Seton Hall … Notre Dame opened 1999 by beating James Madison (at Florida International) before dropping three games to No. 23 FIU, winning two of three at the New Orleans Invitational, going 6-2 during the spring break trip to San Antonio and winning five of six BIG EAST road games.
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The Notre Dame baseball team posted a 3.07 team GPA in the ’98 fall semester, led by 10 players who turned in Dean’s List semesters (3.4-plus) … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 11 times since 1982, with current junior rightfielder Jeff Perconte (3.65 cumulative GPA as a double major in economic and government) serving as a leading Academic All-American candidate for 1999.
IRISH OWN TOP RECENT BIG EAST WINNING PERCENTAGE: Over the course of its first three-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame ranks first among the 11 member teams with a .704 overall winning percentage (131-55, West Virginia was second at .630 heading into the ’99 season), a .750 BIG EAST regular-season winning percentage (48-18, Rutgers was second at .671) and a .704 wining percentages in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (57-24, Rutgers was second at .651) … St. John’s owns the best BIG EAST Tournament winning percentage during the past three seasons (.636, 7-4), followed by Notre Dame at .600 (9-6) … in fact, the double-elimination tournament has been the ultimate bugaboo for Notre Dame, with the same team providing both Irish losses during each of the past three tournaments (West Virginia in ’96, Villanova in ’97 and Rutgers in ’98).
WHAT THE ECK!: Notre Dame baseball is in the midst of its sixth season of play at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southeast corner of the Notre Dame campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 percent of their games at Eck Stadium during the past five-plus seasons, posting a 128-27 record (.826), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in 1997 and a 93-18 mark (.838) during the four-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … the Irish head into the Providence doubleheader with victories in 56 of their last 64 games at Eck Stadium.
PREDICTIONS: The Notre Dame baseball team received mention in four preseason national polls, checking in at No. 21 in the Inside Baseball coaches poll while ranking among the best of the rest and No. 29 overall according to Baseball America … Collegiate Baseball magazine listed Notre Dame No. 40 in its preseason poll while the Irish received the 35th-most votes in the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches poll … Collegiate Baseball also listed Irish sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman as a preseason second team All-American while tabbing junior SS Brant Ust as a preseason third team All-American … Baseball America picked Notre Dame to finish first in the BIG EAST Conference, as did the BIG EAST coaches in their annual preseason poll … the BIG EAST coaches picked Ust to repeat as conference player of the year while forecasting Ust and Heilman as first team all-BIG EAST players.
Batting Average 1. Dan Peltier (1987-89) .406 2. Eric Danapilis (1990-93).405 3. Brant Ust (1997- ) .378 Runs Batted In 4. Joe Binkiewicz(1989-92) 176 5. J.J. Brock (1994-97) 174 6. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 170 7. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 166 Craig Counsell(1989-92) 166 9. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 16510. Cory Mee (1989-92) 164-- Brant Ust (1997- ) 143 Hits 9. Greg Layson (1991-94) 22910. Joe Binkiewicz(1989-92) 224-- Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 215-- Brant Ust (1997- ) 198 Home Runs 1. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 43 2. Brant Ust (1997- ) 42 3. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 37 Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 37 Doubles 4. Craig Counsell (1989-92) 50 5. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 48 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 48 7. J.J. Brock (1994-98) 42 8. Brant Ust (1997- ) 41 Runs Scored 9. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 15410. Greg Layson (1991-94) 149-- Brant Ust (1997- ) 145-- Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 141 Earned Run Average 1. Aaron Heilman (1998- ) 1.87 2. Nick Palihnich (1959-61)2.36 Strikeouts Thrown 1. David Sinnes (1990-93) 315 2. Tom Price (1991-94) 276 3. Chris Michalak(1990-93) 263 4. Al Walania (1990-93) 236 5. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 221 Innings Pitched 9. Erik Madsen (1986-89) 239.210. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 238.1 Victories 7. Pat Leahy (1990-92) 25 8. Herb Kelly (1912-14) 22 Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 22 Games Started 8. Keith Chenail (1985-88) 36 9. Erik Madsen (1986-89) 34 Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 34Batting Average 1. Jeff Wagner (1999) .458 2. Edwin Hartwell (1993) .447 3. Dan Peltier (1989) .446 4. Eric Danapilis (1993) .438 5. Eric Danapilis (1990) .429 6. Dave Bartish (1980) .422 7. Dan Peltier (1988) .414 8. Mike Metzler (1984 .412 9. Scott Sollmann (1995) .40610. Brant Ust (1999) .405
Slugging Percentage 1. Brant Ust (1999) .964 2. Dan Peltier (1989) .783
On-Base Percentage 6. Eric Danapils (1990) .509 7. Ryan Topham (1994) .506 8. Brant Ust (1999) .505
Home Runs 1. Frank Jacobs (1991) 20 2. Tim Hutson (1988) 18 Ryan Topham (1995) 18 Brant Ust (1998) 18 5. Jeff Wagner (1997) 17 6. Dan Peltier (1989) 15 Joe Binkiewicz (1991) 15 8. Mike Amrhein (1997) 14 9. Brant Ust (1999) 13