May 26, 2006

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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES – vs.St. John’s (May 26, 2006)

MANSHIP TO MAKE FIRST CAREER POSTSEASON START – BIG EAST pitcher of the year Jeff Manship will make the first postseason start of his career today as top seed Notre Dame faces St. John’s on the final day of bracket play at the BIG EAST Tournament (SJU must beat ND twice to advance to Saturday’s final vs. Louisville) … the junior RHP, who missed the 2004 season due to injury, picked up two relief wins in the ’05 postseason: in relief of Tom Thornton vs. BC in the BET opener (3 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 Ks; 6-5) and vs. Stetson in an NCAA elimination game played at Florida (1.2 IP, 2 R, 3 H, BB, K; 7-4).

(Note: see PDF for complete gameday notes, including updated player bio. capsules)

TOP PROSPECTS – Manship is the 51st college player (#111 overall) in Baseball America’s latest list (May 23) of top prospects for the 2006 MLB draft … another ND junior RHP, Jeff Samardzija, is the #37 overall prospect (20th among college players) while two other BIG EAST RHPs are among the top-120 (Villanova junior Kevin Mulvey is #30 and UConn senior Tim Norton #118) … only three teams in all of Division I have two starting pitchers rated higher on the prospect list than ND’s duo: North Carolina (#1 LHP Andre Miller; #15 RHP Daniel Bard), Nebraska (#7 RHP Joba Chamberlain and #86 LHP Tony Watson) and Long Beach State (#55 RHP Jared Hughes and #98 RHP Andrew Carpenter) … the Pac-10 (8) is the only conference with more pitchers among the top-120 prospects than the BIG EAST (4).

MANSHIP VS. SJU – Manship has faced SJU just twice in his career (both no-decisions), compiling a 2.46 ERA in those games (11 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 10 Ks) … Manship threw a controlled start at SJU in 2005 (4 IP, R, 3 H, BB, 3 Ks) and then started game-3 vs. SJU this season (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 7 Ks; ND won 7-5 on Alex Nettey’s game-ending HR).

Jeff Manship CAREER STATS (see PDF)


IN THE ND RECORD BOOKS – Jeff Manship is averaging 9.89 Ks per 9 IP for his career, 4th-best in the ND record book behind Dan McGinn (12.66), Ryan Doherty (12.17) and Rick Rusteck (10.75) and Brad Lidge (9.93) … his 4.21 career K-to-walk ratio is on pace to best the ND record held by Chris Niesel (4.09) … Manship’s .212 season opp. batting avg. would rank 10th-best in the ND record book (stat kept since ’91) … he is on pace for 118 strikeouts this season (with 2 more starts), which would tie Aaron Heilman’s record of 118 (set in ’99 and ’00) … Manship’s 10.39 Ks per 9 IP this season would rank 7th in ND history and 4th in the Mainieri era, behind Doherty (12.18 in ’04, 11.10 in ’05) and current soph. LHP Wade Korpi (11.61) … Manship’s season 5.37 K-to-walk ratio would rank 6th in the ND record book behind Tom Price (12.14, in ’94), current senior LHP Tom Thornton (10.80, in ’06), Danny Tamayo (6.24, in ’01), Scott Cavey (5.88, in ’99) and Alan Walania (5.62, in ’93).

AMONG THE BIG EAST AND NCAA LEADERS – Leads the league’s pitchers in wins (9-1) and Ks looking (43), also 2nd in total Ks (102), 3rd in ERA (2.65), 4th in opp. batting avg. (.212) and innings (88.1), 6th in low walks (19) and 9th in starts (13) … in conference games only, he finished 1st among BIG EAST pitchers in wins (7-1), Ks (70) and Ks looking (29), 3rd in opp. avg. (.226) and IP (63.1) and 5th in ERA (3.13).

“KILLER B’s” STRIKE AGAIN – The Notre Dame baseball team’s “Killer B’s” have played key roles throughout the 2006 season and each of those players filled a vital part in the 12-4 win over West Virginia … Matt Bransfield and Ross Brezovsky hit early home runs while Jeremy Barnes again was a leading force, posting his second straight three-hit game and factoring into five of the team’s runs (3 RBI, 2 R) … those players currently rank 1-2-3 on the team in RBI (Barnes 48, Bransfield 43, Brezovsky 39).

ROAD-TESTED – Notre Dame today will play its 10th straight road game and has been away from home during 13 of the past 14 days – playing road games in that stretch vs. Seton Hall, Michigan (in Grand Rapids) and Villanova, plus the BIG EAST Tournament … after returning to campus, the Irish will have logged more than 17,000 travel miles this season.

MAKING A FINALS STAND – Notre Dame did not play its best ball of the season during the weekend prior to finals (1-2 home series vs. Louisville) or in the games right after final exams (1-2 series at Seton Hall, loss to Michigan) but the Irish now are riding a five-game win streak now that the challenges of academia are behind them … the 2006 semester grades are in and the results are very impressive:

* ND has posted the highest semester GPA of the 12-year Paul Mainieri era, as the 32 players combined for a 3.28 team GPA

* 25 of the players posted a 3.0 GPA or higher for the 2006 spring term, led by 16 with a 3.4 or higher (six topped the 3.6 mark).

* Sophomore 3B Brett Lilley led the way with a perfect 4.0 semester GPA, boosting his cumulative mark to 3.74 (as a finance major).

* Three current seniors – LHP Tom Thornton, SS Greg Lopez and LF Matt Bransfield – recently were named to the Academic All-District V team and have advanced to the final Academic All-America ballot (as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America) … Thornton finished with a 3.87 semester GPA while graduating with a 3.58 cumulative GPA as a double major in anthropology and film-television-and-theater … Lopez – who already has been accepted into medical school – turned in a 3.58 semester GPA to graduate with a 3.40 as a double major in pre-professional studies and anthropology … Bransfield also closed strong (3.78), graduating with a 3.40 as a sociology major.

* The eight-member senior class combined for a 3.48 semester GPA, with each member of the class at 3.0 or higher for the 2006 spring term … the seniors graduated with a combined cumulative GPA of 3.22 while extending the progam’s perfect graduation mark during the Mainieri era (71-of-71 players who have completed their four years of eligibility) … in addition to the three seniors mentioned above, 1B Craig Cooper closed with a 3.83 semester GPA (for a 3.26 cumulative GPA, as a political science major) while infielder Eddie Smith posted a 3.67 (graduating with a 3.64, as a Spanish major).

* Lilley and junior C Sean Gaston (3.40 semester, 3.37 cumulative; political science and history) also had been nominated for Academic All-America but did not crack the tough Academic All-District V first team … other 2006 semester GPAs of note included junior LHP/1B Mike Dury (3.67; economics and computer applications), freshman DH/IF Jeremy Barnes (3.47), sophomore LHP Wade Korpi (3.47; anthropology) and freshman closer Kyle Weiland (3.47) … Barnes and Weiland, like all ND freshmen, are enrolled in the First Year of Studies.

* The players listed above include the 2006 BIG EAST player of the year (Cooper), four 2006 second team all-BIG EAST selections (Lilley, Lopez, Barnes and Weiland) and 2006 third team all-BIG EAST performer Bransfield (Thornton was second team all-BIG EAST in 2005).

BARNES SECOND ALL-TIME AMONG ND FRESHMEN RBI PRODUCERS – Freshman DH/2B Jeremy Barnes already has racked up 5 RBI in the tournament, suddenly pushing his team-best total to 48 RBI … infielder Brant Ust – who went on to earn All-America honors later in his career – holds the ND record for RBI by a freshman (54, in 1997) … it’s been nearly 20 years since a freshman led the Irish in RBI (39 in 1987, by future All-America CF and big-league 1B DanPeltier).

NUMBER NINE – The Irish have extended their record-setting win streak in the BET to nine games and are 14-2 in the BET during the past five years (after going 12-12 in the first six).LEADOFF LEADER – With his early single vs. WVU, Craig Cooper now has reached base nearly two-thirds of the time (.653 on-base pct.; 32-of-49) in his first-inning leadoff plate appearances while his overall .528 season on-base pct. remains just shy of the ND record (.531).

CLUTCH DEFENSE AND HITTING – Senior RF Cody Rizzo has made several highlight-level defensive plays at the BETin his career and ranks as one of ND’s most clutch hitters this season … Rizzo is batting just .261 overall in 2006 but .300 with 2-outs and .344 with runners in scoring positions (his 18 RBI with 2-outs are 2nd-most on the team).

ROOKIE MVPs AT THE BET – Jeremy Barnes could be on his way to joining former Seton Hall DH Mo Vaughn (’87), former St. John’s 3B Mike Dzurilla (’98)and recent Rutgers standout RHP Bobby Brownlie (’00) as the only freshmen named MVP of the BIG EAST Tournament (in 22 years of the event)

AVOIDING 0-AND-2 – The opening win over USF extended a noteworthy streak, as the Irish have avoided going 0-2 at all 22 postseason tournaments during the 12-year Paul Mainieri era (12 conference tournament and eight NCAA regionals, plus the 2002 super regional and College World Series) … the Irish have gone 0-2 at a postseason tournament just twice all-time, over a span of 43 events (36 straight with no 0-2 starts).

COOPER RECORD BOOK UPDATE – Craig Cooper hit his 49th career double in the win over WVU, tying Paul O’Toole for 11th in ND history … Cooper’s season run total (76) now is tied for 5th in the ND record book, trailing only Pat Pesavento (88 in ’89, 81 in ’88), Dan Peltier (81 in ’89) and Steve Stanley (76 in ’02) … his 188 career runs move him past Scott Sollmann into 8th place on that ND list (O’Toole is next, with 191) … Cooper’s 88 hits this season rank 13th in the ND record book while his 256 career hits are one behind Peltier for 8th in ND history … his 35 walks in 2006 have pushed his career total to 108 (still 11th on that ND list, one behind Jeff Wagner).

SHARK GRABS 21ST CAREER WIN – Junior RHP Jeff Samardzija improved to 8-2 for the season and 21-6 in his career, shaking off an early 2-run HR by Stan Posluszny to pick up the 12-4 win over WVU (8 IP, 4 R, 9 H, BB, 6 Ks; 72 of 105 pitches for strikes) … Samardzija is tied with former teammate Chris Niesel for 13th on the ND career wins list … he allowed just 2-of-8 leadoff batters to reach and totaled 17 of his outs via Ks, groundballs (10) or infield popups.

** See PDF for updated player bio. capsules **