April 29, 1999
- Weekend series with Oakland on deck for 33-11 Irish
- Irish creep closer to clinching BIG EAST regular-season title
- Felker’s career-best hitting streak ends at 18 games
- Stanley makes push for BIG EAST rookie-of-the-year honors
The Notre Dame baseball team (33-11, 16-3 BIG EAST) – ranked No. 25 by Baseball America – takes a break from conference play, with a three-game home series versus Oakland University (followed by finals week) … the Irish and Grizzlies will meet for the first time in baseball, making Oakland the 264th different opponent in the 107-year history of Notre Dame baseball (Notre Dame opened the 1999 season by facing James Madison, Florida International and Missouri for the first time).
NOTRE DAME 1999 BASEBALL SCHEDULE (33-11)Fri. 4/30 Oakland 4:05 p.m. Sat. 5/1 *Oakland (DH) 12:05 p.m. Games at Notre Dame's Eck Stadium
* On WHME radio 103.1 FM, available via realaudio through the Notre Dame website, at www.und.com.
MAGIC NUMBER AT FOUR: Notre Dame’s “magic number” to clinch the BIG EAST regular-season title is four (vs. 14-6 Rutgers and 11-6 St. John’s) … the Irish close conference play with three-game series at Georgetown and St. John’s … Rutgers plays at last-place Georgetown this weekend and has a bye from conference play next weekend before closing with a series at Pittsburgh … St. John’s plays at fourth-place Providence (12-8) this week and at 10th-place Boston College next week … Pittsburgh and Villanova are tied for fifth place (both 10-9) while Seton Hall (9-10) and surging West Virginia (9-10) are tied for seventh.
TEAM NOTES: Notre Dame is 29-5 since March 6 … the Irish are 115-23 at Eck Stadium in the five-year tenure of coach Paul Mainieri … the March 22 win over Central Michigan gave Notre Dame a 30th win in its 39th game, equaling the program’s quickest season to 30 wins (the 1990 and ’94 teams also opened 30-9) … freshman 3B Andrew Bushey suffered a knee injury at WVU on March 20 and missed 21 games before returning in the April 22 CMU game (as the DH) … Bushey’s initial replacement at the hot corner, junior Jeff Perconte, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury when he slid home with the tying run in the eighth inning of Notre Dame’s 6-3 win over Cleveland State on April 14 … Perconte had provided a huge boost to the Irish lineup as the No. 9 hitter, batting .323 overall with 19 RBI and two home runs (plus .400 batting with runners in scoring position) … Notre Dame’s last-minute magic in ’99 has included: 17 comeback wins, six games when the Irish scored the winning run in the final inning and six other victories where the Irish game-winner came in the second-to-last inning – the 33 Irish wins have included 29 by 1-4 runs: eight wins by one run, seven by two runs, nine by three runs and five by four runs (the Irish average margin of victory is 3.3) … in the last 22 games alone, the Irish have posted 11 comeback wins (one in the last inning, three in the second-to-last inning) – plus three others where the winning run came in the final inning … Notre Dame has been swept just twice in 48 BIG EAST doubleheaders (vs. WVU in ’96, at SHU in ’97) … Mainieri is on the verge of his 200th win at Notre Dame (199) and his 900th game as a college head coach (896).
PLAYER NOTES: Senior DH/1B Jeff Wagner re-injured his foot in the April 25 game vs. Seton Hall and is sidelined indefinitely … junior SS Brant Ust’s 15-game hitting streak ended vs. Michigan on April 20 (equaling his career best) while junior RF/1B Jeff Felker saw his career-best, 18-game hitting streak end vs. Chicago State on April 28 (the longest streak by an Irish player since Mike Amrhein’s 21-game hitting streak ended on April 3, 1997) … freshman CF Steve Stanley had a season-best, 12-game hitting streak end vs. Illinois-Chicago on April 27 … Stanley ranks second in the BIG EAST with 19 stolen bases on 25 attempts while also ranking second on the team with a .385 batting average when runners are in scoring position … he has reached base on 48 percent of his leadoff plate appearances and ranks third on the team with a .345 overall batting avg. (after opening the season 0-for-17) … Stanley’s .436 batting average in BIG EAST action (34-for-78) ranks seventh in the conference and first among all BIG EAST freshmen.
IRISH BASEBALL ON THE AIR … AND THE WEB: South Bend-based WHME radio (103.1) is scheduled to broadcast most of Notre Dame’s 55 regular-season games – including the upcoming doubleheader vs. Oakland – 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 (TV 46) also will broadcast the May 11 game versus Miami, with a delayed 11:00 p.m. airing … WHME radio is scheduled to broadcast 10 of Notre Dame’s 11 remaining regular-season games, except for the April 30 game vs. Oakland.
AROUND THE HORN: Junior RHP John Corbin continues to pitch effectively in clutch situations, as all but five of his 21 appearances have impacted the final result … Corbin owns a 6-1 record and nine saves (one shy of the Irish record) and ranks second on the team with a 3.60 ERA (plus 38 Ks in 35 innings) … sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman (81 Ks) and junior lefty Tim Kalita (80) are on pace to challenge the Irish single-season strikeout record of 108, set by Frank Carpin in 1958 … Heilman is allowing just .220 opponent batting, which would rank sixth-best by an Irish pitcher since 1991s.
QUICK TEAM NOTES: A big key to the Irish success this season has been the clutch hitting with runners in scoring position (.319) … in addition to 17 come-from-behind victories and eight one-run wins, the Irish own six victories this season where the winning run was scored in the last inning and six in which the winning run came across in the second-to-last inning … in the last 22 games alone, the Irish have posted 11 comeback wins (one in the last inning, three in the second-to-last inning) – plus three other victories where the winning run came in the final inning … the April 2 doubleheader vs. UConn featured 49 combined hits (21 for extra bases), nine home runs (seven by the Irish), and 5:25 of game time (plus a 39-minute rain delay) … Notre’s Dame’s big seven-run fourth inning in the opener vs. UConn included consecutive home runs from Jeff Wagner, Jeff Felker and Matt Nussbaum, with Jeff Perconte leaving the yard two batters later … thanks to a solid fielding season, unearned runs have provided the margin of defeat in just three Irish losses … the Irish pitching staff is on pace to total 490 Ks over 60 games, which would best the team record of 456 set last season … the ’99 staff is averaging 8.76 Ks per nine innings, which would rank second in the Irish record book (behind the 1958 team’s 9.89) … the Irish pitchers also own a 2.44 K-to-walk ratio, ahead of the record of 2.40 set in 1963.
WAGNER RE-INJURES FOOT … AFTER RETURNING WITH A BANG: Senior DH and Irish career home run lead Jeff Wagner (48 HRs) missed all of March and the April 1 doubleheader vs. Providence due to a foot injury … Wagner returned from his five-week, 18-game hiatus in stunning fashion but re-injured his foot in the April 25 Seton Hall game and is sidelined indefinitely … upon his first return, Wagner smacked the first pitch he saw on April 2 vs. Connecticut over the fence in dead-center field … he then ignited the decisive seven-run fourth inning in that game, with a shot to left-center (sparking four Irish HRs in five ABs) … Wagner added a third HR in the nightcap – a booming left-field shot that cleared the football practice-field fence across the street … he finished the day 4-for-5, with two walks … Wagner’s barrage vs. UConn moved him into second on the list for career HRs in BIG EAST regular-season games (now 24 in 71 games), two shy of the record held by former SHU great Mo Vaughn (26 in 53, ’87-’89) … Wagner’s four RBI vs. UConn gave him 76 in his BIG EAST regular-season career (now 83, tied for first in the BIG EAST record book with Vaughn and former SHU catcher Alex Andreopoulos, ’92-’95) – Wagner added his ninth career two-home-run game (and third of the season) in the 14-10 win over Bowling Green on April 7, helping rally the Irish from an early 9-1 deficit … Wagner has moved into fourth on the Irish career RBI list with 189, while also ranking fourth in career doubles (50), eighth in hits (233), ninth in walks (109) and 10th in runs (158).
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).
SHILLIDAY MOVING UP STRIKEOUT LIST: Notre Dame senior RHP Alex Shilliday owns 245 career strikeouts, recently moving past Al Walania (236, ’93) into fourth on the Irish all-time list … Shilliday could make a run up the list, which includes a formidable threesome that played together (along with Walania) for three seasons: David Sinnes (315, ’93), Tom Price (276, ’94) and Chris Michalak (263, ’93).
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 (.423, 93-for-220) is on pace to challenge the existing record of .432, set by Seton Hall’s Marteese Robinson from ’85-’87 … Wagner ranks among the top 20 on that list with a .390 avg. (98-for-251), including 24 HRs in the BIG EAST regular season, which ranks second all-time behind former Seton Hall great Mo Vaughn (26, ’87-’89) … Wagner also is tied for first in BIG EAST history with 83 career RBI in conference games, joining Vaughn and former SHU catcher Alex Andreopoulos (’92-’95) … 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 … senior RHP Alex Shilliday has throw 108 career strikeouts in BIG EAST regular-season play, ranking eighth in BIG EAST history – just four behind former UConn great Charles Nagy (1987-88).
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Fifth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 531-365 (.593) 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 199-86 (.698) 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 199 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 BA as the top prospect in the BIG EAST Conference … the magazine projects Heilman as the No. 9 prospect for 2000 (fourth among pitchers).
NEW LOOK LINEUP: Notre Dame’s ’99 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 ’98 (Wagner was sidelined for five weeks and now is serving at DH/1B) … junior All-American Brant Ust 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 returned 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 shared the starting duties in right field (in addition to serving as DH candidates) … two freshmen opened 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 1B, with Felker playing some OF) … junior DH/LF Matt Nussbaum also has been impressive as a starter for the Irish this season … Perconte – who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury vs. Cleveland State on April 14 – also filled in at third in place of Bushey, who suffered a knee injury at West Virginia on March 20 (Bushey missed 21 games before returning this week).
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 utility player Jeff Perconte (3.65 cumulative GPA as a double major in economic and government) serving as a leading Academic All-American candidate for 1999 … other Academic All-America nominees include junior OF/1B Matt Nussbaum (3.25 as a government major) and sophomore RHP Mike Naumann (3.92 in College of Science, planning to major in pre-professional studies) … the GTE Academic All-District and Academic All-America teams will be announced in the coming weeks.
IRISH OWN TOP RECENT BIG EAST WINNING PERCENTAGE: Over the course of its three-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame ranks first among the 11 member teams with a .716 overall winning pct. (146-58, West Virginia was second at .630 heading into the ’99 season), a .747 BIG EAST regular-season winning percentage (59-20, Rutgers was second at .671) and a .723 wining percentages in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (68-26, 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 is in its sixth season 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 during the past five-plus seasons, posting a 144-30 record (.828), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in 1997 and a 115-23 home record (.833) during the five-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … the Irish head into the Oakland series with victories in 71 of their last 83 games (.855) at Eck Stadium (since late in the 1996 season), including a 35-5 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.
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 25 of their last 34 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 and won 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 (before the recent loss at Northwestern and win over Michigan in Grand Rapids).
Career Record Book
Batting Average 1. Dan Peltier (1987-89) .406 2. Eric Danapilis (1990-93) .405 3. Brant Ust (1997- ) .373
Runs Batted In 2. Dan Peltier (1987-89) 202 Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 202 4. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 189
7. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 166 Craig Counsell (1989-92) 166 9. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 165 10. Cory Mee (1989-92) 164 -- Brant Ust (1997- ) 160
Hits 8. Randall Brooks (1994-97) 233 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 233 10. Greg Layson (1991-94) 229 -- Brant Ust (1997- ) 223
Home Runs 1. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 48 2. Brant Ust (1997- ) 44
Doubles 3. Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 58 4. Craig Counsell (1989-92) 50 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 50 6. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 48 Brant Ust (1997- ) 48
Runs Scored 7. Dan Peltier (1987-89) 166 8. Brant Ust (1997- ) 163 9. J.J. Brock (1994-98) 161 10. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 158
Earned Run Average 1. Nick Palihnich (1959-61) 2.36 2. Jack Mitchell (1959-61) 2.49 3. Larry Mohs (1994-97) 2.52 4. Aaron Heilman (1998- ) 2.57
Strikeouts Thrown 2. Tom Price (1991-94) 276 3. Chris Michalak (1990-93) 263 4. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 245
6. Tom Nujnowski ('52, '56-'57) 206 7. Brian Piotrowicz (1987-90) 201 8. Tim Kalita (1997- ) 197
Innings Pitched 6. David Sinnes (1990-93) 297.1 7. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 261.1
Victories 7. Pat Leahy (1990-92) 25 8. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 23
Games Started 7. David Sinnes (1990-93) 40 8. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 38
Season Record Book
Slugging Percentage 1. Dan Peltier (1989) .783 2. Brant Ust (1999) .766 7. Brant Ust (1998) .724 8. Jeff Wagner (1999) .720
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 Brant Ust (1999) 15
Saves 1. Mike Coffey (1989) 10 2. Aaron Heilman (1998) 9 John Corbin (1999) 9
Opponent Average (since 1991) 5. Chris Michalak (1992) .205 6. Aaron Heilman (1999) .220
Strikeouts 1. Frank Carpin (1958) 102 2. Alex Shilliday (1998) 93 Brad Lide (1998) 83 4. David Sinnes (1993) 90 5. Rich Rusteck (1963) 89 David Sinnes (1991) 89 7. Tom Price (1994) 85 8. Chris Michalak (1993) 83 9. Aaron Heilman (1999) 81 10. Tim Kalita (1999) 80