March 4, 2003

Notre Dame senior righthanded pitcher J.P. Gagne (Bloomington, Minn.) has been named the BIG EAST Conference pitcher of the week for the second time in his career, after a stellar relief performance in Sunday’s 2-1, 13-inning victory over seventh-ranked Wake Forest at Minnesota’s Dairy Queen Classic.

Gagne closed the game in relief of starter John Axford by logging six shutout innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out two WFU batters in his 86-pitch outing. Gagne retired the final 10 batters he faced, with his outing also including 12 groundball outs and just four flyouts.

An Academic All-America candidate who owns a 3.35 cumulative GPA as a finance major, Gagne is to be honored (along with women’s rower Ashlee Warren) during tonight’s ND-Syracuse men’s basketball game at the Joyce Center. Gagne and Warren are Notre Dame’s 2002-03 recipients of $2,000 postgraduate scholarships from the BIG EAST/Aeropostale Scholar-Athlete program.

Sunday’s win was the 22nd of Gagne’s ND career, moving him into a tie for 10th in the Irish record book. He also made his 67th career appearance with the Irish, tying Brian Piotrowicz (’90) and former teammate John Corbin (’00) for 8th in ND history.

Gagne was named BIG EAST pitcher of the week in mid-April of his junior season, after picking up a pair of key relief wins in shutout outings vs. Pittsburgh (12-2; 2 IP, H, BB) and Virginia Tech (2-1 in 11 innings; 5 IP, 3 H, BB, K).

IRISH REMAIN IN NATIONAL POLLS AFTER CHALLENGING FIVE-GAME STRETCH – After enduring one of the most challenging five-game stretches ever faced by a Notre Dame baseball team during the regular season, the Irish (3-4) remain in the national polls heading into next week’s Spring Break action at the Kennel Club Classic in Jacksonville, Fla. (seven games in eight days) … Notre Dame – which played a pair of games at then-No. 4 Arizona State before facing the challenging DQ Classic Field that included Nebraska (then as high as 16th in the polls), tournament host Minnesota (cheered on by nearly 5,400 Metrodome fans for the ND game) and national power Wake Forest (as high as 7th in last week’s polls) – is ranked 17th in this week’s Baseball America poll, 23rd in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and is listed 26th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine top-30 poll.