May 22, 2003

Notre Dame senior righthander J.P. Gagne – who has served as the team’s closer for the last one-and-a-half seasons – will get the start in tonight’s BIG EAST Tournament matchup versus West Virginia in Bridgewater, NJ.

Notre Dame’s typical No. 1 starter, sophomore righthander and 2003 BIG EAST pitcher of the year Chris Niesel, is sidelined with a minor finger injury and is being evaluated on a day-by-day basis. Senior righthander and second team all-BIG EAST selection Ryan Kalita is Notre Dame’s probable starter for its next game in the double-elimination tournament.

Gagne has made 33 starts during his Notre Dame career, spanning his first two seasons and the first half of 2002. He logged a three-hit complete game to beat Brigham Young on April 1, 2002, and started five days later versus St. John’s before taking over full-time as the Irish closer. Gagne’s 90 career appearances – two shy of tying Chris Michalak’s ND record – include 57 in relief, with his last 46 appearances all coming out of the bullpen.

Gagne became the third ND pitcher ever to receive multiple all-BIG EAST honors, repeating the third-team status he received as a sophomore. His 2003 season stats include a team-record 12 saves, a 2.10 ERA and .225 opponent batting avg., with a 3-4 record, 35 strikeouts, 19 walks (7 of them intentional) and 43 hits allowed in 51.1 innings. He has not allowed an earned run in his last nine outings and 18.2 innings.

WVU is expected to counter with sophomore righthander Shawn Miller (3.60 ERA, 6-2, 48 Ks, 31 BB in 65.0 IP, 56 H, .232 opp. batting average).

Check back to for more on Gagne and tonight’s matchup.