March 17, 1999
- First BIG EAST weekend to provide challenge for surging squad
- Notre Dame wins Irish Baseball Classic, pushes win streak to five
- Heilman, Stanley receive weekly BIG EAST awards
The Notre Dame baseball team will look to open BIG EAST Conference play this week at growing rival West Virginia … each game will be carried live by South Bend-based WHME 103.1 FM, with the broadcast available via the internet (linked through www.und.com) … Notre Dame was picked to win the regular-season title by both the BIG EAST coaches and Baseball America magazine.
NOTRE DAME 1999 BASEBALL SCHEDULE (9-6)
Sat. 3/20 *at West Virginia (DH) 1:00 p.m. Morgantown, WV Hawley FieldSun. 3/21 *at West Virginia 1:00 p.m. Morgantown, WV Hawley FieldTues. 3/23 *Western Michigan 5:05 p.m. Notre Dame, IN Frank Eck StadiumSat. 3/27 *at Villanova (DH) noon Philadelphia, PA Richie Ashburn Field (Fairmount Park)Sun. 3/28 *at Rutgers (DH) noon Piscataway, NJ Class of 1953 ComplexTues. 3/30 Wisc.-Milwaukee 5:05 p.m. Notre Dame, IN Frank Eck Stadium * On WHME radio 103.1 FM, available via realaudiothrough the Notre Dame website, at www.und.com.
PLENTY OF EARLY EXCITEMENT: Notre Dame is riding a five-game winning streak and has won eight og its last 10 games … nine of those last 10 games have been decided by 1-3 runs, including one-run losses to Penn State and Yale, one-run wins over Creighton and St. Mary’s (TX), two-run wins over Penn State and Creighton and three-run wins over New Orelans and Dallas.
HEILMAN, STANLEY EARN BIG EAST AWARDS: Following impressive spring break performances, Notre Dame sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman has been named BIG EAST pitcher of the week while Irish freshman CF Steve Stanley has been tabbed the BIG EAST rookie of the week … Heilman was named MVP of the Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio, Texas, after posting his first complete game in a 5-4 win over Creighton that sent the Irish onto the championship game … Heilman, making just his fourth career start, racked up a career-best 11 strikeouts while allowing six hits, one walk and three earned runs .. he faced 36 batters, with 14 groundouts and jus two flyouts … Stanley ignited the Irish last week from his leadoff spot, leading the squad with a .444 batting average (8-for-18), seven runs scored and four stolen bases, plus four walks, just one strikeout and no errors while making several tough catches in center field … Stanley hit 6-for-12 with runners on base and reached on 6-of-7 leadoff at-bats during the week, as the Irish went 5-0 … he opened the Irish Baseball Classic with one hit, two walks, two runs scored and two stolen bases in a 6-3 win over Penn State before going 2-for-2 with two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a run scored in the pivotal 5-4 comeback victory over Creighton … added a hit, run scored and scored and stolen base in IBC title game win over Creighton (5-3).
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup *-lefthanded hitter; #-switch hitter
Pos. Player Yr. Ht./Wt. 1999 Stats CF *Steve Stanley Fr. 5-7/150 .286, 8 RBI2B Alec Porzel So. 6-0/185 .274, 14 RBI3B *Andrew Bushey Fr. 6-0/200 .305, 2 RBI
SS Brant Ust Jr. 6-1/200 .407, 18 RBIDH Matt Nussbaum Jr. 6-1/190 .333, 5 RBILF *Jeff Felker Jr. 6-5/190 .233, 11 RBI
1B Matt Strickroth Fr. 6-5/230 .119, 1 RBIC Paul O'Toole Fr. 6-1/200 .289, 4 RBI RF #Jeff Perconte Jr. 5-10/185 .237, 5 RBIor #Ben Cooke So. 5-9/165 .304
OFF THE BENCH
C J.P. Drevline Fr. 5-11/190 .333 (4-12), 2 RBIIF Ed Golom Fr. 5-9/165 .250 (2-8), 1 RBIIF/OF Ken Meyer Fr. 6-0/205 .200 (1-for-5)
RHP Aaron Heilman So. 6-4/210 3.28, 2-1LHP Tim Kalita Jr. 6-1/220 7.17, 1-1RHP Scott Cavey Jr. 6-5/200 4.42, 1-1
LHP Chris McKeown Sr. 6-3/215 1.32, 1-1LHP Mike Naumann So. 5-11/175 1.54, 1-0RHP John Corbin Jr. 6-2/195 4.63, 1-1
RHP Drew Duff Fr. 5-11/170 6.23, 1-0RHP Steve Szczepanski Jr. 6-2/190 10.13, 0-0 RHP Mike Carlin So. 6-4/210 27.00, 0-0
ND-WVU SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame holds a 15-8 series edge vs. WVU but the teams have split the last 12 meetings since both teams joined the BIG EAST in 1996 … those last 12 meetings have included three 1-run games, five 2-run games and three 3-run games … the teams had not played for 38 years prior to the 1996 season, when WVU swept two at Notre Dame (6-4, 8-5) and beat the Irish in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament (10-8) … the Irish then beat WVU four days later, 5-2, to force a winner-take-all game (which WVU won, 7-4) … the teams split two games at Morgantown in ’97, with WVU winning the first (7-5) and Notre Dame the second (7-6) … Notre Dame eliminated WVU from the ’97 BIG EAST Tournament (8-1) … the teams played a memorable series at Notre Dame on May 2-3, 1998, with the Irish winning the first (4-3) and third game (5-3 in 15 innings) while WVU came back to win the second game (11-9 in 10 innings) … the Irish then rallied for four runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to beat WVU in the first round of the ’98 BIG EAST Tournament (5-4) … the first baseball game between the schools came in 1902, a 9-5 midseason home win for Notre Dame … Notre Dame also beat WVU at home in 1910 (6-1) before splitting at WVU in 1912 (1-7, 4-2) … ND won at WVU in 1914 (12-3) and the teams did not play again until two-game home sweeps by Notre Dame in 1927 (8-6, 3-0) and ’28 (4-3, 14-2) … the series then took a 27-year break before WVU won an early-season home game from the Irish in 1955 (5-3) … Notre Dame’s 1958 NCAA Tournament team beat WVU early in the season (6-4) en route to a 20-11 campaign … the teams also played a 1956 exhibition game in Tallahasee, Fla. (a 4-0 WVU win).
MEMORABLE ’98 SERIES: Notre Dame and West Virginia added to their growing BIG EAST rivalry with a memorable three-game series at Eck Stadium on May 2-3,1998, followed by a classic game in the BIG EAST Tournament … the Irish pushed across three runs in the 7th and final inning of the opener to post a 4-3 win before WVU overcame two four-run deficits to claim the nightcap, 11-9 in 10 innings … the Irish then rallied to tie series finale (3-3) in the bottom of the 9th before winning 5-3 in 15 innings on Alec Porzel’s two-out home run … Notre Dame then rallied in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament for a 5-4 win over WVU … Jeff Wagner’s two-run double and Brant Ust’s memorable, opposite-field two-run shot off the Mohegan Sun sign high above the rightfield fence tied that game (4-4) in the eighth inning … Allen Greene-who had struck out in his first four at-bats-then delivered the game-winning double in the ninth … the teams have met 12 times since joining the BIG EAST in 1996, producing three 1-run games, five 2-run games, three 3-run games and just one blowout (Notre Dame’s 8-1 win in last year’s BIG EAST Tournament).
IRISH CAREER STATS VS. WVU: Junior RF Jeff Perconte is 6-for-12 vs. WVU, with two runs scored and one RBI … junior 1B/OF Jeff Felker-whose sister Laurie Ann is a freshman swimmer at WVU-has enjoyed solid success vs. the Mountaineers, batting .318 (7-for-22) with one home run, two doubles, three RBI, four runs scored and five walks … junior SS Brant Ust is hitting just 8-for-31 (.258) in his career vs. WVU, with three home runs, 11 RBI, two doubles and six runs scored … sophomore 2B Alec Porzel totaled just three hits vs. WVU in 1998 (3-for-18), but they included two key home runs in the regular-season wins over the Mountaineers … junior RHP Scott Cavey has recorded two career outs vs. WVU … senior LHP Chris McKeown is 1-0 with an 0.90 ERA career ERA, 7 Ks, just five hits and one walk allowed in 10 career innings vs. WVU (including a complete game, 8-1 win in the 1997 BIG EAST Tournament) … sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman made three relief appearances vs. WVU in 1998, going 2-1 in 10.1 innings, with a 3.48 ERA, six Ks, 11 hits and six walks allowed … junior LHP Tim Kalita has no decisions in two career starts vs WVU (12.1 IP, 4.38, 8 Ks, 18 H, 4 BB) … boxscores of the 1998 ND-WVU games are available on the Notre Dame website (www.und.com) and are included with this week’s full release packet.
THE ’97 SERIES (5-7, 7-6, 8-1): Notre Dame nearly beat WVU ace Chris Enochs (7 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) in the first game of the ’97 series .. the Irish led 5-1 before WVU scored twice in the 4th and once in the 5th (on Jason Frushour’s HR) before pushing across three runs in the 6th, the last two on singles by Matt Rubino and Joe McNamee … Notre Dame took the nightcap behind home runs from freshmen Jeff Felker and Brant Ust and Alex Shilliday’s strong 7.1 innings (12 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 K) and a save from Larry Mohs … the Irish struck for three 1st-inning runs, behind Brant Ust’s RBI double and Allen Greene’s two-run double … Felker added a solo home run in the 6th and Randall Brooks hit an RBI single in the 6th before Ust’s two-run shot in the 7th gave the Irish a 7-4 lead … Garrett Zyskowski (1.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 1 K) took the loss … Chris McKeown’s complete game (4 H, 1 BB, 6 K) eliminated WVU from the ’97 BIG EAST Tournament … Ust and Greene hit RBI singles in the 1st while Notre Dame’s five-run 4th included RBI from Brooks (2B), Ust (SF) and Todd Frye (1B) … Steve Beller (3.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 5 K) took the loss.
TAKE ME HOME: Notre Dame head baseball coach Paul Mainieri was born in Morgantown, W.V., on Aug. 29, 1957 … his parents, Demie and Rosetta, both graduated from West Virginia University in the early 1950s and Demie remains a well-known sports figure in Morgantown, as a member of the WVU Physical Education Department Hall of Fame.
IRISH TOP JMU, DROP SERIES AT FIU: Notre Dame opened the 1999 season with an 8-4 win over James Madison (at Florida International) before dropping a three games series versus No.23-ranked FIU (1-14, 2-3, 0-12) … senior RHP Alex Shilliday (7 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 Ks) posted his 22nd career win after allowing two earned runs … offensive heroes included junior SS Brant Ust (3-for-3, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), freshman 3B Andrew Bushey (2-for-4, 2B, R) and freshman C Paul O’Toole (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R) … junior LHP Tim Kalita (5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 Ks) lost the first FIU game, despite a solid starting effort … freshman IF Ed Golom averted the shutout by homering on the first official pitch of his Notre Dame career … junior RHP Scott Cavey (4 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 3 K) suffered the tough-luck loss in the second game, with the Irish managing just four hits … senior LHP Chris McKeown came on to throw four shutout innings in that game (4 H, 2 BB, 4 Ks) … the Irish scored twice after a single by junior 1B Jeff Felker, a hit-and-run play by O’Toole, a sacrifice fly from sophomore 2B Alec Porzel and a throwing error … sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman lost the series finale in his second career start (5.2 IP, 6 R/4 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 4 KS), after leading the nation in 1998 with a 1.61 ERA as the Irish closer.
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 Conference history … Ust’s career bating average in BIG EAST regular-season games (.439, 68-for-155) is on pace to best 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 Connecticut’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 during the 42-game summer season with a .378 batting average .. 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.
FRESHMAN PHENOMS: Notre Dame has produced two of the last three BIG EAST Conference rookies of the year: DH Jeff Wagner in ’96 and IF Brant Ust in ’97 … Wagner set the Irish freshman home run record, smacking 10 in ’96, only to see Ust best that mark with 11 shots over the fence in ’97 … Ust joined Wagner on the first team all-BIG EAST squad and became the first freshman middle infielder ever named first team all-BIG EAST … Ust wrapped up his rookie season by becoming the first Notre Dame player named a first team Freshman All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball magazines … the Irish have several strong candidates for the 1999 BIG EAST rookie-of-the-year award, with CF Steve Stanley listed as the conference’s second-best newcomer according to Baseball America.
MAINIERI POSTS 500TH CAREER WIN: Fifth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 507-358 (.586) 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 175-80 (.686) 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 175 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 Arizona State’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 also projects Heilman as the No. 9 prospect for the 2000 season (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.
Notre Dame Baseball – Career Record Book
Batting Average1. Dan Peltier (1987-89) .4062. Eric Danapilis (1990-93) .4053. Brant Ust (1997- ) .3774. Scott Sollmann (1994-96) .372 Runs Batted In1. Eric Danapilis (1990-93) 2212. Dan Peltier (1987-90) 202 Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 2024. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 1765. J.J. Brock (1994-97) 1746. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 170
Home Runs1. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 43 2. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 37 Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 374. Brant Ust (1997- ) 36
Doubles4. Craig Counsell (1989-92) 505. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 48 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 487. J.J. Brock (1994-98) 428. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 39 Brant Ust (1997- ) 39
Strikeouts Thrown1. David Sinnes (1990-93) 3152. Tom Price (1991-94) 2763. Chris Michalak (1990-93) 2634. Al Walania (1990-93) 2365. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 220
Innings Pitched 9. Erik Madsen (1986-89) 239.210. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 236.2
Victories 7. Pat Leahy (1990-92) 25 8. Herb Kelly (1912-14) 22 Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 22
Saves1. Mike Coffey (1988-90) 12 Chris Michalak (1990-93) 123. Larry Mohs (1994-97) 104. Rich Sauget (1994-96) 9 Aaron Heilman (1998- ) 9
Games Started 8. Keith Chenail (1985-88) 35 9. Erik Madsen (1986-89) 3410. Mike Passilla (1986-89) 33 - Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 33
NOTRE DAME WINS IRISH BASEBALL CLASSIC: Notre Dame completed a 6-2 spring break trip by winning its last five games in San Antonio, including four wins to claim the championship of the fifth annual Irish Baseball Classic (6-3 over Penn State, 5-4 over Creighton, 4-3 over Saint Mary’s of Texas and 5-3 over Creighton in the title game) … the highlight came on the tournament’s second day, when the Irish rallied to tie Creighton with four runs in the bottom of the eighth (4-4) before plating the winning run in the ninth on an opposite-field single to right field by sophomore 2B Alec Porzel … the four-run eighth included a bases-loaded, two-run double by junior SS Brant Ust and sacrifice flies from junior DH Matt Nussbaum and junior OF/IB Jeff Felker … five Irish players were named to the IBC All-Tournament team, with sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman earning MVP honors, after tossing the complete-game victory over Creighton in round-robin play (career-best 11 Ks, three earned runs, six hits allowed) … other Irish players on the all-tournament team included: freshman CF Steve Stanley (.385, 5-for-13, 4 BB, 3-5 SB), Porzel (.353, 6-for-17, 3 RBI, 2 R), freshman 3B Andrew Bushey (.313, 5-for-16, 4 R) and junior LHP Tim Kalita (win over Penn State, 8 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 10 Ks) … the Irish made just two errors during the tournament, including none versus Penn State and St. Mary’s.
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 will be 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 takes over Ust’s vacated spot at third base … freshman Paul O’Toole also is expected to be a regular for the Irish in 1999 while backing up Wagner behind the plate (Strickroth also has played some at first base in recent games) … junior DH Matt Nussbaum (.333, 5 RBI, 2 HR) also has been impressive as a regular contributor for the Irish this season.
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 at WVU-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) … some broadcasts may be delayed due to conflicts with other sports programming … WHME’s television division also may air several simulcasts during the 1999 season (schedule TBA) … WHME is scheduled to broadcast 36 of Notre Dame’s remaining 40 games, except for: March 30 vs. Wisconsin Milwaukee, April 14 vs. Cleveland State, April 27 vs. Illinois Chicago and April 30 vs. Oakland.
IRISH LOOK TO EXTEND HOT HITTING: Notre Dame lost 13-1 vs. Missouri on Feb. 26 at the New Orleans Invitational (with only five hits) before bouncing back for a pair of big wins, 14-11 over host UNO and 15-5 over Southern Illinois … the Irish hit .363 in the UNO Invitational, boosting the season average from .197 to .275, and have hit .334 during the current 8-2 run (boosting the overall average to .291) the UNO game feature seven Irish home runs (equaling the team record set at Boston College on April 5, 1998), including two each by senior 1B Jeff Wagner and junior DH Matt Nussbaum and one each from freshman 3B Andrew Bushey, junior SS Brant Ust and junior RF Jeff Felker … Ust added a home run vs. Southern Illinois before collecting four HRs on the San Antonio trip, giving him 36 in his carer to rank fourth all-time at Notre Dame (one behind Frank Jacobs and former teammate Mike Amrhein) … the Irish had just four runs in their early four-game losing streak before responding with 29 runs and 36 hits in the next two games freshman CF Steve Stanley went 0-for-17 with one RBI and one run scored during the first five games before combining for five hits in eight at-bats vs. UNO and SIU, with seven RBI and two runs scored in those games junior utility player Jeff Perconte was 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored in the win over SIU … the Irish pitching staff again is off to a slow start in terms of team ERA (5.63), with 150 hits and 60 walks allowed in 131 innings, plus 116 strikeouts the Irish have made 27 errors in the first 15 games, with a .955 team fielding pct.
WAGNER STILL OUT WITH 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 last week’s spring break trip-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 UNO 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 its five years in Frank Eck Stadium-going 126-27 (.824)-but the Irish lately have performed well on the road as well, winning 20 of their last 27 games away from home … that streak began with three 1998 wins in San Antonio, Texas and was extended with a three-game sweep at Boston College and a pair of wing 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 the 1999 season by beating James Madison (8-4, at Florida International) before dropping three games to No. 23 FIU (14-1, 3-2, 12-0), winning two of three at the New Orleans Invitational (1-13 vs. Missouri, 14-11 over UNO and 15-5 over Southern Illinois) and going 6-2 during the spring break trip to San Antonio.
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 or higher) … 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 seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference (1996-98), Notre Dame ranks first among the 11 member teams with a .700 overall winning percentage (126-54, West Virginia is second at .630), a .716 BIG EAST regular-season winning percentage (43-17, Rutgers is second at .671) and a .693 wining percentages in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (52-23, Rutgers is 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 entering its sixth season of play at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southwest corner of the Notre Dame campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 percent of their games at Eck Stadium during the past five seasons, posting a 126-27 record (.824), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in 1997 and a 91-18 mark during the four-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … the Irish head into the ’99 season with victories in 54 of their last 62 games at Eck Stadium, with the first home game slated for March 23 versus Western Michigan.
FORTY WINS A STANDARD: The Notre Dame baseball team has 10 posted straight seasons with 40-plus wins, including 48 wins in 1989 and ’92, 46 victories in three seasons (’90, ’93 and ’94), 45 wins in ’91 and 44 in ’95.
THE NINETIES: Notre Dame owns the seventh-highest 1990s winning percentage in Division I baseball, going 397-150 (.726) from 1990-98 to rank behind only Wichita State (.788), Miami, Fla. (.762), Delaware (.753), LSU (.748), Florida State (.745) and Clemson (.741).
PRESEASON 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.
IRISH CONTINUE TO SPAN THE GLOBE: The Notre Dame baseball schedule regularly takes the Irish to several top-notch baseball facilities and noteworthy cities throughout the country … in Paul Mainieri’s four-plus seasons at Notre Dame, the Irish have visited the following cities: Fullerton, Calif., Seattle, Wash., San Antonio, Texas, Miami, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., New Orleans, La., Boston, Mass., Washington, D.C., Long Beach, Calif., New York City, N.Y., and Orlando, Fla.