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Irish Take Nine-Game Winning Streak To St. John's For BIG EAST Doubleheader (11:00 EDT, 10:00 in South Bend)

April 5, 2003

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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMES NOTES (at St. John’s (April 6, 2003)

(note: see PDF link for complete release, including chart and stat information)

The Notre Dame baseball team (18-6, 5-1 BIG EAST) – ranked as high as 19th in the national polls – will look to return to action on Sunday, April 6, with a doubleheader at St. John’s (11:00 a.m. EDT, equivalent to 10:00 in South Bend) … the Irish (riding a nine-game winning streak) have adjusted their rotation after Friday’s games vs. Boston College were cancelled due to weather … sophomore RHP Chris Niesel and senior RHP Ryan Kalita are slated to start vs. SJU (also next week vs. Creighton), with sophomore RHP John Axford available in relief … St. John’s (14-13, 4-1) – which split vs. UConn on Friday (4-2, 3-5) – is expected to counter with sophomore RHP Jim Wladyka and freshman RHP Craig Hansen … ND just completed an undefeated seven-game homestand, has won 12 of its last 13 and is 16-2 since the challenging season start that included two losses at Arizona State and losses to Nebraska and host Minnesota at the DQ Metrodome Classic … the SJU games will serve as a homecoming for two New York natives on ND’s 2003 roster: freshman OF Craig Cooper (Plainview/Chaminade HS) and junior IF Tim Murray (Shrub Oak/Lakeland HS).

RADIO & LIVESTAT INFORMATION – 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 will attempt to provide GameTracker livestats on the website’s main page.

CONFERENCE STANDINGS UPDATE – The BIG EAST standings have yet to take shape, due to an uneven number of games played and several rainouts … the final standings (and four BIG EAST Tournament participants) are based on winning pct. (not the customary “games back”) … BIG EAST policy does not allow for makeup games of doubleheaders that are not part of a three-game series (which can be made up on Monday, with the exception of weeks leading into finals and the BIG EAST Tournament) … early leaders in the league standings include Connecticut (6-1), Notre Dame (5-1), St. John’s (4-1), Virginia Tech (4-1) and Boston College (3-2) … Sunday’s other games include UConn at Seton Hall (2-5), Villanova (2-5) at Virginia Tech, Rutgers (2-2) at Georgetown (1-10) and West Virginia (2-1) at Pittsburgh (3-5).


Notre Dame Players

Steve Sollmann – 1st in hits (41), stolen bases (17) and runs (29), 2nd in total bases (55), 3rd in batting avg. (.414), 4th in on-base pct. (.477), 10th in slugging pct. (.556)

Kris Billmaier – 4th in doubles (8) and total bases (51), 8th in hits (32) and RBI (21)

Matt Edwards – 2nd in RBI (27), 4th in doubles (8), 11th in total bases (45), 12th in hits (31

Brennan Grogan – 1st in triples (4), 13th in stolen bases (6)

Steve Andres – 4th in slugging pct. (.590)

Chris Niesel – 1st in strikeouts (41), 3rd in opp. batting avg. (.204) and innings (40.1)

John Axford – 5th in strikeouts (35), 7th in innings (35.0), 8th in opp. batting avg. (.222)

Ryan Kalita – 4th in opp. batting avg. (.206)

J.P. Gagne – 4th in saves (4), 5th in appearances (11)

St. John’s Players

Mike Rozema – 5th in hits (33)

Billy Graiser – 5th in stolen bases (8)

Jim Martin – 3rd in walks (16)

Blake Hershelman – 3rd in slugging pct. (.595)

Eddie Schultz – 8th in slugging pct. (.574)

Greg Holmes – 4th in innings (38.1), 7th in strikeouts (32)

Tom Klemm – 2nd in appearances (13)

THREE-WAY THREAT – ND junior 2B Steve Sollmann is one of five players currently ranked among the BIG EAST’s top-10 leaders in batting avg. (3rd, .414), on-base pct. (4th, .477) and slugging pct. (10th, .556) … the others include WVU’s Lee Fritz, UConn’s Peter Soteropoulos and Russ D’Argento and Villanova’s Danny Poydenis … Sollmann also leads the BIG EAST in stolen bases (17) and is the only player from the above five with more than five SBs.

STRONG IN ALL AREAS – Notre Dame is the only team currently ranked among the BIG EAST’s top three in team batting avg. (3rd, .312), ERA (2nd, 3.68) and fielding pct. (1st, .967) … St. John’s ranks 9th in batting (.287), 5th in ERA (5.51) and 3rd in fielding (.963).

APRIL SHOWERS OF WINS – Notre Dame has dominated in April during the nine-year Paul Maineiri era (161-36, .817), including 41-4 (.911) in April during the past three seasons (20-2 in ’01, 19-2 in ’02, 2-0 in ’03) … ND’s only April losses in that stretch: vs. Ball State (3-4) and Valparaiso (3-7) in ’01, St. John’s (3-4) and Pittsburgh (5-7) in ’02.

Pitching Matchups (see PDF for game-by-game and career stats of ND starters)

Game 1: ND – soph. RHP Chris Niesel (3.12, 2-1, 40.1 IP, 41 Ks, 6 BB, 31 H, .204 opp. avg. … SJU – soph. RHP Jim Wladyka (6.63, 1-2, 36.2 IP, 26 Ks, 11 BB, 48 H, .322 opp. avg.)

Game 2: ND – sr. RHP Ryan Kalita (2.57, 2-0, 28 IP, 22 Ks, 16 BB, 20 H, .206 opp. avg.) … SJU – fr. RHP Craig Hansen (5.49, 1-0, 19.2 IP, 18 Ks, 11 B, 23 H, .307 opp. avg.)

BOUNCING BACK – Since suffering the only loss of his ND career (Feb. 28 vs. Nebraska), Chris Niesel has dominated in his last four outings to the tune of a 1.19 ERA, a .150 opponent batting average and nearly a 13-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (38/3) during those four starts.


* 24-2 in last 26 decisions (13-0 as senior at Aquinas HS, 6-1 at ND, 3-1 in ’02 Cape Cod League, 2-0 in ND Blue-Gold series).

* Has allowed just one run, three hits (.143 opp. avg.) and no walks in the 1st inning run this season (6 IP, 9 Ks) while allowing no runs in the 4th (6 IP, 3 H, .143, 3 Ks, 0 BB) … has averaged nearly 20 outs per 9 IP via Ks (9.1) or groundouts (10.3).

* Owns a 6.83 season K-to-walk ratio that would rank 2nd in ND history, behind Tom Price’s 12.14 in ’94 … his 4.29 career K-to-BB ratio (103/24) is ahead of Alan Walania’s ND record (4.00).

* Situational pitching: .204 opp. batting with 2 outs, .224 with runners on; .310 opponent leadoff on-base pct.

* His season walk average of 1.34/9 IP would rank 5th in ND history (2nd since ’94m behind Scott Cavey’s 1.23 in ’99) … his 1.92 career walk avg. is 4th in the ND record book (best since ’94).

* Has racked up 41 Ks in ’03, on pace for 103 (would rank 5th in ND history) … his .204 opp. batting avg. would rank 6th (since ’91).

* Nine-Inning ’03 Averages: 6.9 hits, 1.3 walks, 9.1 Ks, 10.3 groundouts (6.2 IP per outing.

SECRETS TO HIS SUCCESS – Senior RHP Ryan Kalita ranks as possibly ND’s top situational pitcher this season, allowing just 25% of leadoff batters to reach (7-of-28) while limiting the opponents to .122 batting with runners on (5-for-41) and .103 with 2 outs (3-for-29) … Kalita also owns nearly a 3-to-1 groundout-to-flyout ratio (41/15) and has recorded 75% of his outs (63 of 84) via Ks (22) or GOs.


* Entered weekend rotation vs. Villanova (3/23) in place of injured classmate Peter Ogilvie (shoulder) … all but one of his 18 outs vs. Georgetown came via Ks (6), groundouts (8), popups (2) or caught stealing (1) while allowing just two balls to leave the infield.

* Has allowed three earned runs (6.75) in the 1st inning this season (4 IP, 3 H, .200 opp. avg., 4 BB, 2 Ks) before clamping down for no runs allowed over the 2nd-5th innings (15.2 IP, 6 H, .120, 8 BB, 14 Ks).

* His .206 opp. batting avg. would rank 7th in ND season record book (since ’91).

* His 2.83 career ERA would rank 8th in ND history (5th since 1970).

* 10-0 career, could become 5th ND pitcher to win 14 straight, needs 6 more decisions to qualify for ND career win pct. list.

* Has allowed a low opponent slugging pct. (.247, 24 TB in 97 ABs) during 2003 season.

* Nine-Inning ’03 Averages: 6.4 hits, 5.1 walks, 7.1 Ks, 13.2 groundouts (6.1 IP per start


Series Record – ND leads 12-6 (4-2 at SJU)

Last Year – Notre Dame won a three-game series vs. SJU at Eck Stadium (4-1, 3-4, 5-2)

Season Series Won – ND 3, SJU 2 (one game in ’96, dnp in ’97)

One-Run Wins – ND 4, SJU 3

Series Streak – ND has won six of last seven meetings

Rare Losses – SJU’s 3-0 win at ND on May 9, 1998, remains one of only two shutout losses for the Irish at Eck Stadium during the Paul Mainieri era (since 1995, a span of 239 games) … ND has lost just five three-game BIG EAST series, with SJU owning two of them (’98, ’99) … since those games in ’98, the Irish have posted 19 series wins and one split in their last 20 BIG EAST series at Eck Stadium (41-11 scoring edge) … Aaron Heilman’s 2-1 loss to SJU in ’98 was one of just seven losses in his 43-7 career.

Back and Forth – ND won the first two games of the SJU series (7-3 and then 4-0, in 1996) but the teams then alternated victories in the next 10 games, before ND’s sweep in 2001 and the Irish 2-1 series win in ’02.

Slow Starter – The ND-SJU series featured just one regular-season game in 1996 and ’97 due to weather (ND also beat SJU in the ’96 BIG EAST Tournament, 4-0) … the teams then split four games in 1998 (SJU won a series at ND but the Irish won a BIG EAST Tournament meeting later in that ’98 season).

Daylight Savings Date – For the second consecutive year, ND and SJU are meeting on Daylight Savings weekend.

Last Visit To SJU – Notre Dame’s last trip to St. John’s came on April 28-29 in 2001, with the Irish owning the nation’s No. 1 ranking (ND had lost earlier that week to Valparaiso) … the Irish swept the 2001 series at SJU (3-2, 5-0, 7-3), sparked by the complete games from Aaron Heilman (3 H, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 12 GOs) and Danny Tamayo (30 BF, 2 H, BB, 9 Ks, 14 GOs, 75 of 107 pitches for Ks) in the doubleheader – with the dynamic duo allowing just seven balls to reach the outfield … ND plated three 1st-inning runs in the opener (capped by Andrew Bushey’s 2-run single) while Brian Stavisky had 3 RBI in the nightcap … J.P. Gagne’s strong outing (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 Ks) completed the sweep, with Alec Porzel’s 2-run HR and RBI double highlighting a 12-hit attack (Bushey had 3 RBI) … Gagne did not allow a hit or walk until the 5th inning … Matt Buchmeier picked up the save (2 H, R).

Recapping The 2002 ND-SJU Games (4-1, 3-4, 5-2 … ND hit .297, SJU just .207 … ND 1.80 staff ERA, SJU 3.91)

* The Irish rode the strong pitching of John Axford (6.1 IP, R, 3 H, 6 BB, 5 Ks, 9 groundouts) and some timely hitting in the 4-1 opener, with Matt Buchmeier working out of an inherited bases-loaded jam in the 7th for the save … Paul O’Toole and Andrew Bushey delivered RBI singles in the 3rd inning and the Irish tacked on a pair of runs in the 4th, highlighted by Steve Sollmann’s leadoff double and Kris Billmaier’s single up the middle.

* ND failed to capitalize on 16 baserunners (13 LOB) while losing the 4-3 nightcap … the Irish had the tying run on third and winning run on second in the 9th, but Mike Tamulionis closed out his 2.1-inning stint with a pair of Ks for the save … Billmaier provided the biggest hit, with his 3-run HR vs. Greg Holmes representing one of just three extra-base hits in the doubleheader (2Bs from Sollmann and O’Toole) … J.P. Gagne took the loss after a rocky first inning that included a leadoff infield single, two walks (one with the bases loaded) and a hit batter – plus Josh Young’s two-run single that gave SJU its early 3-0 lead … a 5th-inning sac. fly from Charlie Bilezikjian added an unearned insurance (and unearned) run for the Red Storm, as the Irish continued to put on the pressure before ultimately leaving 13 runners on base.

* Chris Niesel (6.1 IP, 2 R, 7 H, BB, 4 Ks, 7 groundouts) and Brandon Viloria combined to hold St. John’s to one earned run while Matt Bok and Andrew Bushey supplied the clutch hits in the three-run bottom of the 7th of the 5-2 series finale … ND hit 7-for-14 with runners on base (2-for-21 in the 4-3 loss) … Niesel was in line for the win before Chad Cambra doubled down the rightfield line with one out in the 7th and Mike Rozema followed with a game-tying double over the head of RF Matt Bok … Viloria shut the door with a pair of groundouts en route to facing just nine batters over the final 2.2 innings, with his final six outs including three linedrives in the infield, two groundouts and a game-ending foul popup … the bottom of the 7th saw Javi Sanchez pull a leadoff single down the leftfield line before Joe Thaman reached on an attempted sac. bunt … Bok’s single through the right side plated Sanchez for a 3-2 lead and chasing Bilezikjian from the mound …Todd Klemm failed to hold the one-run deficit, walking O’Toole before Bushey drilled a one-out single into left field for a pair of insurance runs … ND had claimed a 2-1 lead in the 5th, thanks to Thaman’s walk, an errant pickoff, Steve Stanley’s sharp single to right and Bok’s triple that rolled to the rightfield wall.

Career Stats vs. St. John’s (see PDF for specific batters vs. pitchers)

Kris Billmaier .300, 6-for-20, 5 RBI, 5 R, HR, 2B, 2 BB, K, 1-1 SB

Steve Sollmann .250, 5-for-20, 4 R, 3B, 2B, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 1-2 SB

Joe Thaman .158, 3-for-19, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 Ks

Javi Sanchez .083, 1-for-12, 2 R, K

Chris Niesel (GS, 1.42, 6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R/1 ER, 4 Ks, BB)

John Axford (GS, 1-0, 1.42, 6.12 IP, 3 H, R, 5 Ks, 6 BB)

J. P. Gagne (3 GS, 1-1, 4.00, 18 IP, 19 H, 9 R/8 ER, 8 Ks, 7 BB, HB)

Brandon Viloria (2 GP, 0.00, 1-0, 3.2 IP, H)

Career Stats vs. Notre Dame

Jim Martin .500, 5-for-10, R, HBP

Anthony DeRosa .222, 4-for-18, RBI, R, 2B, 2 BB, K

Mike Rozema .188, 3-for-16, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 HBP, K, E

Ray Downs .167, 1-for-6, K, 1-1 SB

Billy Graiser .063, 1-for-16, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 2 SAC, 2-3 SB

John-Paul Cirigliano 0-for-6, 2 Ks

Asa Grunewald 0-for-4, BB, 2 Ks

Brett Hardie 0-for-2, 2 BB, E

Blake Hershelman 0-for-1

Jim Wladyka (6.75, 0-1, 4 IP, 8 H, 4 R/3 ER, BB)

Greg Holmes. (5.07, 1-0, 10.2 IP, 12 H, 7 R/6 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, WP, HB)

Tom Klemm (5.14, 0-1, 5 GP, 7 IP, 4 R, 9 H, 4 BB, 2 Ks, WP)

Mike Tamulionis (SV, 2.1 IP, H, 3 Ks, HB)

Marc Goldberg (3 IP, 4 R/3 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 Ks, HB)

Geno Orsogna (7 IP, 0-1, 3 R, 5 H, 3 BB, K, WP, HB)

MAKING STRIDES – Here’s a comparative look (see PDF for complete comparisons) at ND’s 24-game stats this season (18-6) compared to the 14-10 start in 2002, with the most noteworthy offensive improvements coming in batting average (13 points higher), runs (+18), triples (+9) and times hit-by-pitch (+16) while there have been offensive dropoffs in home runs (-5) and walks (-19) … the ND defense has made 12 fewer errors at the 24-game point while the Irish pitchers have allowed an eye-popping 110 fewer hits, with 19 more Ks but also 19 more walks (the staff ERA is nearly identical).

BOUNCE BACK – The ND pitching staff faced a challenging six-game start to the season (with a 9.00 staff ERA in those games) but the Irish hurlers have recovered from that start in impressive fashion – with a 2.15 staff ERA and .210 opponent batting average during the current 16-2 run (with 171 Ks and just 50 BB in 167 IP, for a 3.4 K-to-walk ratio).

HOMESTAND DOMINATION – The recently-completed 7-0 homestand included a .371 team batting average and an average of 12.5 runs scored (per nine innings), with the 10 regulars each hitting .260 or higher, with nine at .300-plus, eight at .350-plus, six at .380-plus and five at .400-plus … top hitters during the homestand included: Steve Sollmann (.533, 16-for-30, 12 R, 8 RBI, 3B, 3 2B, 2 BB, 0 Ks, 6-8 SB), Matt Edwards (.435, 10-for-23, 5 R, 14 RBI, HR, 3 2B, 5 BB), Matt Macri (.417, 10-for-24, 9 R, 4 RBI, 3B, 2B, 4 BB, SAC), Steve Andres (.417, 5-for-12, 4 R, 7 RBI, HR, 3B, 2 BB, 2 HBP), Greg Lopez (.400, 8-for-20, 3 R, 7 RBI, 2B, BB) and Javi Sanchez (.381, 8-for-21, 11 R, 2 RBI, 3 2B, 4 BB) … the .371 team batting average included a .521 slugging pct. (2 HR, 6 3Bs, 18 2Bs) … the ND batters totaled more walks (30) than Ks (24) in the seven home games (compared to 41 walks and 108 Ks in the previous 17 games) – with noteworthy situational hitting with runners in scoring position (.398) and in the area of leadoff batters reaching base (.463 pct.) … the ND pitchers also had a dominating homestand, with a 2.80 staff ERA in the seven games, a .223 opponent batting average (52 hits), 70 Ks and just 24 walks in 61 IP … the starters combined for a 1.42 ERA during the homestand.

STRONG FIRST HALF – The current 18-6 record represents one of the program’s best records at this point in the season … since 1960, only the 1990 (19-5) and 2001 (19-4-1) teams have owned better records at the 24-game point … the program’s all-time history includes just eight 24-game starts better than the current 18-6 record, with the others including 19-5 starts in 1906, ’12, ’28, ’59 and ’60 and an 18-5-1 start in ’29 (the ’49, ’63, ’89 and 2000 teams also started 18-6) … by winning its next two games and improving to 20-6, the 2003 team would earn the distinction of matching the program’s third-best record at the 26-game point (behind 21-4-1 in 2001 and 21-5 in ’59; also 20-6 in ’28, ’49, ’89, ’90 and 2000) … ND’s best all-time records after 28 games (currently the midpoint of the 56-game schedule) are 23-4-1 in 2001 and 22-6 in ’59, ’89 and 2000 … the quickest seasons to 30 wins have been in the landmark 2001 season (30-5-1) and 1989 (30-8).

Record Book Watch – With Notre Dame’s season nearing its midpoint, several individual and team records are within reach … here are some career and season record-book projections (based on 60 games):

Junior 2B Steve Sollmann

* .414 batting avg. (would rank 7th in ND history and 2nd-best in last 10 years)

* 41 hits, on pace for 103 and would become 3rd ND player to break 100-hit plateau (Dan Peltier had 115 in 1989, Steve Stanley 102 in 2001 and 118 in ’02) … also on pace for 260 career hits (would be 7th)

* 29 runs, on pace for 73 (would tie his brother Scott’s ’95 total for 7th) … also on pace for 178 career runs (would crack ND top-10)

* 17 stolen bases, on pace for 43 (would join his brother, 52 in ’96, as only ND players with 40-plus) … already 7th in ND history with 46 SBs, on pace for 72 (5th)

* .371 career batting avg. would rank 5th, right behind his brother’s .372

* His nine career triples (3 in ’03) are three shy of ND top-10 (five back of 3rd)

* .742 career stolen-base pct. (46-of-62) ranks 8th

* Already 8th in career fielding assists (403), on pace for 528 (4th)

Freshman CF Brennan Grogan

* His 4 triples project out to 10 for the season, just one shy of Scott Sollmann’s ND record (’95)

* 5 sacrifice bunts, on pace for 13 (one shy of ND record held by three players)

Sophomore 3B/1B Matt Edwards

* 27 RBI, on pace for 68 and shot at ND top-10 (69 would tie for 9th; last ND player with 70-plus RBI was Mike Amrhein’s 71 in 1997)

* 8 doubles on pace to become 12th ND player with 20-plus in a season

Senior RF Kris Billmaier

* 8 doubles on pace to become 12th ND player with 20-plus in a season

* On pace for 248 at-bats and 743 in his career (would rank 10th in ND history)

Freshman DH/OF Cody Rizzo

* 9 times hit-by-pitch on pace for 23, well past the ND record of 15 (by Eric Danapilis, in ’93)

Senior RHP J.P. Gagne

* 11 appearances, on pace for 28 (would match his ’02 total and tie for 4th in ND record book) … also on pace for 92 career appearances, which would tie Chris Michalak’s ND record (now 3rd at 75, behind Aaron Heilman’s 83)

* On pace for 53-inning season, which would push his career total to 291 (8th in ND history; now 9th at 259)

* On pace for 5-win season and 26 career wins (would rank 8th, now 10th with 23)

* 4 saves on pace for 10 (one shy of John Corbin’s record 11) … also on pace for 16 career saves (2nd to Corbin’s 20; 5th with 10)

* On pace for 45 Ks and 205 in his career (would rank 9th)

* His career walk avg. of 2.40 BB per 9 IP would rank 9th in ND record book

Sophomore RHP John Axford

* 2.31 ERA would tie for 21st (13th-best since ’69)

* 5-0 record in six starts, on pace for possible 13-win season (Aaron Heilman went 15-0 in ’01, Tom Price 14-5 in ’94) … only five ND pitchers ever have started a season at least 9-0

* .222 opp. batting avg. would rank 8th in ND record book (since ’91)

* 35 strikeouts on pace for 88 (would rank 12th)

Sophomore RHP Chris Niesel

* .204 opp. batting avg. would rank 6th in ND record book (since ’91)

* 41 strikeouts on pace for 103 (would rank 5th)

* Walk average of 1.34/9 IP would rank 5th (2nd since ’94; Scott Cavey 1.23 in ’99) … 1.92 career walk avg. is 4th (best since ’94)

* 6.83 K-to-walk ratio would rank 2nd, behind Tom Price’s 12.14 in ’94 … his 4.29 career K-to-BB ratio (103/24) is ahead of Alan Walania’s ND record (4.00)

Senior RHP Ryan Kalita

* .206 opp. batting avg. would rank 7th in ND record book (since ’91)

* 2.83 career ERA would rank 8th in ND history (5th since 1970)

* 10-0 career record, could become 5th ND pitcher to win 14 straight … needs six more decisions to qualify for career win pct. list

Senior RHP Brandon Viloria

* Yet to walk a batter in 10.2 IP (top ratio in ND record book is Tom Price’s 0.49 BB per 9 IP, in ’94)

* 2.52 career ERA would rank 4th in ND history (2nd since 1961, behind Aaron Heilman’s 2.49)

* His career walk avg. of 1.39 BB per 9 IP is below the standing ND record (1.64, by Alan Walania)


* 11.17 hits per game, would rank 2nd behind the 1997 team (11.35)

* 50 doubles, on pace for 125 (4th) … 15 triples, on pace for 37 (2nd)

* 33 times hit-by-pitch, on pace for 82 (1st; record is 75 in ’93)

* 21 sac. bunts, on pace for 53 (3rd)

* 190 strikeouts, on pace for 475 (3rd, record is 483 in ’02)

* .968 fielding pct. ahead of ND record .965 (’82, ’92, ’00)

QUICK NOTES ON THE ND HITTERS (in probable batting order)

Steve Sollmann (Jr., 2B; Cincinnati, OH)

* Hit safely in every game of seven-game homestand, with multiple hits in last four games (11-for-16, 7 RBI, 8 R)

* Leads team in batting (.414), runs (29), hits (41), total bases (55), walks (12) and SBs (17), 2nd in triples (3), slugging (.556), 3rd in RBI (17)

* Joins classmate Javi Sanchez (9 BB/6 Ks) as only ND batters with more walks (12) than Ks (7) in 2003

* Has collected hits in 19 of 24 games, with 15 multi-hit games (five 3-hit games, plus 4-for-4 in gm 2 vs. GU)

* 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

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

* Has hits in 13 of the last 14 games (10 of them 1-hit games)

* First on team in triples (4) and sac. bunts (5), 2nd in SBs (6), 4th in runs (17), 5th in RBI (12)

* Made switch to CF and 2-hole on Spring Break trip

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

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

* Hit 9-for-16 in the last five games, with nearly three RBI per game in that stretch (14)

* Already has totaled nine multi-RBI games, including three 3-RBI games and 4 RBI in the second game vs. Georgetown

* Riding six-game hitting streak

* First on team in doubles (8), RBI (27), 2nd in walks (10), 3rd in hits (31), TBs (45), slugging (.517) and on-base (.431)

* Missed most of 2002 season due to broken leg

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

* Looking to snap out of 3-for-16, 2-RBI slump in last four games … has just two multi-hit games in last nine, with only one multi-RBI game in the last 10

* First on team in home runs (3) and doubles (8), 2nd in hits (32) and RBI (21), 4th in runs (17) and slugging (.515)

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

* Hit just 2-for-9 with no RBI (5 R) in last three games

* 2nd on team in runs (18), 3rd in walks (9), 4th in hits (27), doubles (6) and total bases (36)

* Joins classmate Steve Sollmann (12 BB/7 Ks) as only ND batters with more walks (9) than Ks (6) in 200

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

Matt Macri (So., SS; Clive, IA)

* Has hits in seven of last eight games, including four multi-hit games

* 3rd on team in walks (9), 4th in runs (17), doubles (6) and total bases (36)

* 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)

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

* Looking to end 3-for-14 slump in last five games, still scoring 7 runs with 5 RBI in those games

* Leads team in hit-by-pitch (9), 2nd in runs (18), 3rd in doubles (7), 4th in RBI (16) and on-base pct. (.427)

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

* Hit 4-for-7 (3 R) during midweek games vs. Detroit and Valparaiso

* Third on team in stolen bases (5)

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

* Hit 4-for-6 (6 RBI, 3 R, HR) in the midweek games vs. Detroit and Valparaiso, after collecting just two hits and two RBI in his previous 22 at-bats (dating back to the second game at Arizona State)

* Leads team in slugging pct. (.590, 2nd in on-base pct. (.449) and hit-by-pitch (5)

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

* Hit 6-for-12 (4 RBI, 3 R) in the last three games

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 Saturday, 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 704-427-1 career record includes 180-121 at St. Thomas (’83-’88), 152-158 at Air Force (’89-’94) and 372-148-1 at ND (’95-’03) … his ND career includes five BIG EAST titles and five NCAA trips with Irish (’96, ’99-’02), the program’s first No. 1 ranking in 2001 and first CWS trip since ’57 (in 2002) … 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, 126-42) … in 66 BIG EAST series spanning eight-plus seasons, the Irish have won 52 with seven 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 64 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders (39 ND sweeps, 21 splits).

EXPECTING ECK’S-ELLENCE – Notre Dame’s 11-0 loss to Rutgers on May 5, 2002, ended ND’s team-record scoring streak at 231 games … the Irish have gone unbeaten (15-0) at Eck Stadium since that loss, outscoring the opponents 187-79 in those games (average score of 12-5) … ND also is 27-1 in its last 28 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 226-49 in the facility (.822).

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 80 starts while batting a combined .311 (94-for-302) … their biggest statistical contributions include 58% of ND’s times hit-by-pitch (19 of 33), 53% of the team’s triples (8 of 15) and 40% of the runs scored (68 of 172) – plus 38% of the RBI (58 of 15), stolen bases (12 of 32) and sac. bunts (8 of 21) … the above five players also have combined for 35% of the team’s hits (94 of 268), 27% of the walks (19 of 71) 24% of the doubles (12 of 50) and three of the team’s 11 home runs … the “fearsome freshman fivesome” combined to hit .363 (33-for-91) in the recent seven-game homestand, with 28 RBI, 29 runs scored, three doubles, four triples, a home run, 10 walks, six times hit-by-pitch and four stolen bases.

Inside The Notre Dame Bullpen (see PDF for chart)

HAWAII 0.0 – Senior RHP Brandon Viloria (Wailuku, Hawaii) has logged eight solid relief outings in 2003, allowing just an unearned run, seven hits (.184 opp. batting) and no walks, wild pitches or hit batters in 10.2 innings of work … Viloria also has allowed just 1-of-10 leadoff batters to reach base and teams are hitting just 1-for-12 (.083) vs. him with runners on base.

DOUBLE-DIGIT WIN STREAKS – A win in its next game would give Notre Dame the eighth 10-game winning streak of the nine-year Paul Mainieri era, including a 16-game streak in 2002 (tied for 3rd-longest in ND history), a 15-game run in ’01 and a 13-game streak in ’98 (plus 11-game streaks in ’95 and ’99 and 10-game streaks in ’96 and ’98).

BORN LEADERS – One of Notre Dame’s more noteworthy situational statistics is a .440 on-base pct. for batters leading off an inning … junior 2B and leadoff hitter Steve Sollmann (.649) fittingly owns the team’s best leadoff OB pct., with other four others above .460: freshman DH/LF Cody Rizzo (.583), senior RF Kris Billmaier (.476), freshman LF/DH Craig Cooper (.467) and junior C Javi Sanchez (.462).

TWO-OUT TERRORS – Freshman CF Brennan Grogan (.471) and sophomore 3B/1B Matt Edwards (.355) own ND’s top 2-out batting averages, with Edwards totaling a team-best 10 RBI with two outs (junior 2B Steve Sollmann has eight 2-out RBI).

HITTING IN THE CLUTCH – Junior 2B Steve Sollmann and sophomore 3B/1B Matt Edwards filled the two biggest holes in the ND batting order (Sollmann moved up from the 2-hole to leadoff while Edwards has settled in at the 3-hole) and each has proven to be a clutch hitter … Edwards leads the team with a .459 batting avg. with runners in scoring position while Sollmann is hitting .433 with RBI chances.

SECOND-STRIKE WEAPON – Notre Dame’s offense has totaled just eight runs and a .212 team batting average in the first inning this season but the Irish have erupted for 31 runs and .342 team batting in the second inning … ND has been outscored 15-8 in the first inning but quickly has turned the tables in the second for a 31-4 scoring edge (including a 17-0 second-inning scoring edge in the last three games) … ND’s top hitters in the second inning have included: Steve Sollmann (.800, 4-for-5, 5 RBI, 3 R, HR), Greg Lopez (.571, 4-for-7, 3 RBI, 3 R), Matt Edwards (.500, 5-for-10, 6 RBI, 2B), Matt Macri (.438, 7-for-16, 2 RBI, 5 R, 2 3B, BB), Kris Billmaier (.429, 3-for-7, RBI, 2 R, 2 2B, BB, HBP) and Steve Andres (.417, 5-for-12, 6 RBI, 4 R, 1.167 slugging, 2 HR, 2 3B, 2B, BB) … here’s a look at ND’s offense, by inning (see PDF):