May 16, 2000
BRING ON THE POSTSEASON: The 20th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team (42-14, 18-7 BIG EAST)-fresh off an emotionally-charged series win over Rutgers (6-16, 4-3, 10-6)-will open postseason play on Wednesday, May 17 at the BIG EAST Baseball Championship in Bridgewater, N.J. … the Irish will face Boston College in the tournament’s first game, at 3:30 p.m. eastern (all games will be held at Somerset Country Ballpark, home of the minor-league Somerset Patriots) … the winner of the ND-BC game will face the winner of the game between No. 3 seed Seton Hall and No. 4 Connecticut in Thursday’s 7:00 game (the loser faces the loser of Rutgers-Pittsburgh in a noon elimination game on Thursday) … the winner of the BIG EAST Championship receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
RADIO AND STAT TOTALCASTS: South Bend-based WJVA radio (1580 AM) will broadcast all Notre Dame games live from the BIG EAST Tournament (also available via the ND website, at www.und.com) while statistical “Totalcasts” will be available via the BIG EAST website (www.bigeast.org).
QUICK NOTES ON THE IRISH
Notre Dame has won all 12 multiple-game series that it has played this season, including seven 3-game BIG EAST series (highlighted by a final-weekend series with Rutgers) and sweeps of two BIG EAST doubleheaders (including at Seton Hall).
The Irish played 29 of their first 43 games away from home, posting a solid 22-7 record in those games … from April 15-26, the Irish played nine road games (plus a home DH) in a span of 12 days-and in six different cities-with a 9-2 record during that stretch.
ND posted a 6-2 record vs. the other top-four finishers in the BIG EAST (2-1 vs. both Rutgers and Connecticut, 2-0 vs. Seton Hall). The Irish matched Rutgers for the most conference wins in the BIG EAST this season, with 18.
The 2000 Notre Dame team is the second Irish squad ever to post 42-plus wins in the regular season (12 straight ND teams have won 40-plus overall games).
Despite hitting just .298 as a team, ND has homered in eight straight games and has totaled 24 HRs in the last 16 games (pushing the season total to 46).
The Irish have hit game-ending home runs in each of the last three weekends, with three different players providing the clutch long balls: Jeff Felker (vs. SJU), Alec Porzel (vs. Pitt) and Brian Stavisky (vs. RU).
Junior righthander Aaron Heilman has emerged as a national player-of-the-year candidate and was one of three players in the nation who entered last week with 10-plus wins and ranked among the nation’s top-25 ERA leaders. ND has ranked among the national leaders in team ERA for most of the season (ranking as high as first in late April). The Irish also own a .964 season fielding pct. (on pace to challenge the team record).
Freshman RHP J.P. Gagne (7-1) is one win shy of becoming the first Irish freshman to post eight-plus wins since 1990, when Pat Leahy went 8-1 and David Sinnes set the ND freshman record for wins with a 9-2 season.
Notre Dame owns an 11-1 record in games decided by one run or extra innings.
Notre Dame’s Probable Starting Lineup
* – lefthanded hitter,
# – switch hitter
|DH||Ken Meyer||So.||6-0/210||Fort Myers, FL||.361 (39-for-108), 18 RBI, 28 R, 2 HR, 5 3B, 12 2B, 3 BB, 17 K||Hit .478 in BIG EAST games|
|CF||*Steve Stanley||So.||5-9/150||Upper Arlington, OH||.356, 22 RBI, 42 R, 3B, 10 2B, 30 BB, 16 K, 27-34 SB, 12 SAC||16-game hit streak ended May 13|
|SS||Alec Porzel||Jr.||6-0/190||Lisle, IL||.351, 50 RBI, 37 R, 8 HR, 4 3B, 20 2B, 15 BB, 20 K, 8-14 SB, 7 SF||May 7 vs. Pitt: 6-for-6, cycle w/ 2 HRs|
|1B||*Jeff Felker||Sr.||6-5/190||Ellicott City, MD||.303, 42 RBI, 36 R, 6 HR, 3B, 17 2B, 13 BB, 22 K, 1-4 SB||4th on ND career doubles list (55)|
|C/LF||Matt Nussbaum||Sr.||6-0/180||South Bend, IN||.274, 32 RBI, 31 R, 3B, 9 2B, 13 BB, 13 K, 4-4 SB, 3 SF||Has caught 75% of IP in last 33 gms|
|RF||*Brian Stavisky||Fr.||6-3/230||Port Allegany, PA||.288, 39 RBI, 43 R, 14 HR, 5 3B, 12 2B, 16 BB, 33 K, 2-7 SB||Owns ND freshman HR record|
|LF/C||*Paul O’Toole||So.||6-2/210||Lakewood, OH||.298, 31 RBI, 40 R, 6 HR, 3B, 7 2B, 18 BB, 24 K, 14-15 SB, 3 SF||May ’99: .353 (18-for-51), 4 HR, 12 RBI|
|3B||*Andrew Bushey||So.||6-0/200||Boardman, OH||.266, 26 RBI, 23 R, 3 HR, 3B, 8 2B, 19 BB, 9 K, 1-3 SB, 5 SF||Team-best 23.7 plate app. per K|
|2B||*Jeff Perconte||Sr.||5-11/190||Arlington Hts., IL||.209, 15 RBI, 18 R, HR, 3B, 4 2B, 8 BB, 25 K, 0-2 SB, 6 SAC||Just 4 errors in 146 chances (.973)|
|or||Kris Billmaier||Fr.||5-11/185||Woodinvale, WA||.333 (20-for-60), 15 RBI, 17 R, 4 HR, 2 2B, 6 BB, 6 K, 0-1 SB||4 HRs in last 4 weeks (2-GU, Oak, Pitt.)|
|DH/LF||Matt Strickroth||So.||6-5/230||Mission Viejo, CA||.294, 14 RBI,17 R, HR, 6 2B, 5 BB, 13 K, 2-2 SB, SF||Tm-best .435 w/ runners in scor. pos.|
|DH||#Matt Bok||So.||5-11/185||Akron, Ohio||.250, 11 RBI, 17 R, 3 2B, 12 BB, 12 K, 1-2 SB, SAC, SF||Hitting .389 w/ runners in scor. pos.|
|UTIL||#Ben Cooke||Jr.||5-9/170||Bay Village, OH||.205, 4 RBI, 12 R, 2 2B, 3 BB, 11 K, 2-6 SB, 3 SAC||Two 1Bs, 2 R in 6-4 win over Georgia|
|RHP||J.P. Gagne||Fr.||6-0/190||Bloomington, MN||3.98, 7-1, 16 GP/10 GS, 63.1 IP, 38 K/21 BB, .319 opp. avg.||BE Rookie of Week (6 IP, 0 ER vs. BC)|
|RHP||Aaron Heilman||Jr.||6-5/210||Logansport, IN||2.56, 10-2, 15 GP/12 GS, 8 CG, 91.1 IP, 108 K/22 BB, .222 opp. avg.||Needs 12 Ks for ND career record|
|RHP||Scott Cavey||Sr.||6-5/200||Omaha, NE||4.26, 5-2, 11 GS, 63.1 IP, 57 K/20 BB, .245 opp. avg.||Career: 14-3 record, just 2.06 BBs/9 IP|
|RHP||Danny Tamayo||Jr.||6-2/225||Miami, FL||3.63, 2-0, 8 GP/3 GS, 17.1 IP, 17 K/14 BB, .219 opp. avg.||vs. RU: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, K|
|or RHP||Matt Laird||Fr.||6-1/190||Bellaire, TX||4.00, 5-2, 14 GP/9 GS, CG, 45.0 IP, 34 K/14 BB, .289 opp. avg.||.281 opp. avg. w/ runners on base|
|or RHP||Drew Duff||So.||6-0/175||Sevierville, TN||5.60, 4-2, 13 GP/8 GS, 45 IP, 39 K/15 BB, .315 opp. avg.||ND record for Ks at Eck (10 vs. IUPUI)|
|RHP||Matt Buchmeier||So.||6-0/190||Greenwood, IN||3.45, 3-2, 17 GP/2 GS, 44.1 IP, 37 K/12 BB, .250 opp. avg.||Team-best .178 opp. avg. w/ runners on|
|RHP||John Corbin||Sr.||6-3/200||Hollywood, FL||4.31, 4-2, 11 SV, 26 GP, 39.2 IP, 49 K/16 BB, .238 opp. avg.||ND season & career (20) save leader|
|LHP||Mike Naumann||Jr.||6-0/180||Tucson, AZ||3.58, 2-1, 23 GP/32.2 IP, 17 K/7 BB, .364 opp. avg.||Only LHP on Irish staff|
|RHP||Brandon Viloria||Fr.||5-11/215||Wailuku, HI||3.18, 0-0, 11 GP/1 GS, 17 IP, 15 K/1 BB, .284 opp. avg.||Lefties hitting just .130 vs. him|
|RHP||Mike Carlin||Jr.||6-5/210||Manhattan, KS||4.82, 0-0, 6 GP/9.1 IP, 5 K/8 BB, .229 opp. avg.||20 career appearances|
|RHP||Tom O’Hagan||Sr.||6-3/180||Crystal Lake, IL||1.93, 0-0, 4 GP/4.2 IP, 3 K/2 BB, .133 opp. avg.||DNP in 1999|
THE ND-BC SERIES
THE ND-BC SERIES: The Irish lead the series vs. BC (12-3) … recent meetings include two ND wins at BC in ’96 (9-0, 6-1), two at home in ’97 (11-6, 16-3), three at BC in ’98 (5-2, 6-4, 16-6) and three-game series at ND in both ’99 (7-10, 9-6, 11-8, with mutiple rain delays) and 2000 (12-1, 10-6, 1-11) … in the ’98 series finale, ND set a team record with seven home runs (two from Dan Leatherman, one each from Alec Porzel, Brant Ust, J.J. Brock, Jeff Wagner and Allen Greene) … Aaron Heilman struck out dangerous hitter Sean McGowan with the bases loaded to win the ’98 series opener … ND’s 16-3 win over BC in ’97 included a five-hit game by Randall Brooks (his second in 10 games) … the teams had not met for 67 years before ND joined the BIG EAST in ’95-’96 … Notre Dame won 9-0 at BC in 1908 en route to a 20-1 season … the Irish lost at BC in a game 20 years later, 8-1 in 1928.
THE 2000 ND-BC SERIES: The 12-1 opening win (the teams played just one Saturday game due to the weather) included J.P. Gagne’s strong outing and three ND players chipping in three hits each to a 16-hit attack (Steve Stanley, Ken Meyer, Jeff Perconte) … BC stranded 14 baserunners … Brendan Nolan took the loss (4 IP, 8 R, 6 ER, 11 H, 4 Ks) … Mike Naumann picked up his first career save, closing the game with three effective innings (4 H) … ND’s Paul O’Toole hit a pinch-hit HR … Aaron Heilman tossed a 7-inning complete game in the 10-6 win (8 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks) … ND held a 5-3 lead before plating five in the 6th, with Jeff Felker enjoying a 3-for-4 game (HR) … Erik Olson took the loss (4 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 6 BB, K) … O’Toole homered again, giving him six home runs in a 10-game stretch at Eck Stadium … BC won the 11-1 nightcap behind a complete game from Steve Langone (UER, 9 H, BB, 2 Ks) … BC’s Mike Gambino reached base safely in each of his final nine trips to the plate in the douebleheader (6-of-7, BB, 2 HBP) … BC pounded out 17 hits … Scott Cavey suffered the loss (5.1 IP, 7 R, 4 ER, 11 H, BB, 7 KS) … Brian Stavisky was one of only two Irish players with multiple hits (3-for-4).
TOP ND HITTERS FROM THE 2000 BC SERIES: Paul O’Toole (4-for-8, 5 RBI, 4 R, 2 HR, HBP), Brian Stavisky (.455, 5-for-11, RBI, 2 R, 2B, BB, 0-1 SB), Jeff Perconte (5-FOR-11, 3 R, 3B, 3 Ks), Steve Stanley (4-for-10, 3 RBI, 4 R, BB, K, 2 SAC) and Matt Nussbaum (4-for-10, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB).
Familiarity: BC’s probable starter in the upcoming game vs. ND is all too familiar with the Irish, as senior RHP Steve Langone has logged four career appearances vs. ND, including a win earlier this season … the current ND veterans have yet to collect an extra-base hit vs. Langone, in 61 combined at-bats, but the past four seasons have seen the Irish touch Langone for 36 hits and 21 runs (just 14 of them earned) in 28 innings.
ND vs. BC’s Steve Langone
|Steve Langone||4/4||1-2 (0)||28.0||36||21||14||13/9||0/1||4.50|
ND Career Stats in BIG EAST Tournament
|Mike Carlin||1/0||0-0 (0)||2.0||1||0||0||1/1||0/0||0.00|
|Aaron Heilman||5/0||1-1 (3)||9.1||5||2||2||9/1||1/2||1.93|
|Scott Cavey||1/0||1-0 (0)||4.1||7||3||3||3/0||0/0||6.23|
|John Corbin||1/0||0-0 (0)||3.2||5||3||3||1/0||0/0||7.36|
|Drew Duff||1/0||0-0 (0)||3.0||3||4||3||3/1||2/0||9.00|
|Tom O’Hagan||2/0||0-0 (0)||2.0||6||4||2||0/1||0/0||9.00|
|S. Sczcepanski||1/0||0-0 (0)||3.0||7||4||4||4/3||1/0||12.00|
|Mike Naumann||2/0||0-0 (0)||0.2||7||2||2||1/0||0/0||27.00|
REPEAT CUSTOMERS: Notre Dame and Rutgers-which joined the BIG EAST beginning with the 1996 season (as did West Virignia)-are the first teams to advance to five straight BIG EAST Baseball Tournaments (1996-2000) since Villanova qualified every season from 1987-91 … the only other team to qualify for five-plus years in a row was the 1985-90 Seton Hall squads … the three teams that joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96 have made a big impact on the baseball championship, as ND, RU and WVU have combined to make 14 appearances in the conference tournament during the past five years.
BIG BUGABOO: Despite repeated success during the BIG EAST regular season, the ND baseball team has yet to solve the BIG EAST Tournament … ND first three trips to the tournament each resulted in the Irish being beaten twice by the same team (West Virginia in ’96, Villanova in ’97 and Rutgers in ’98) … ND then opened the ’99 tournament with a win over WVU before dropping games to Seton Hall and Providence.
ALWAYS NEAR THE TOP: Notre Dame has finished near the top of the BIG EAST regular-season standings or in the postseason tournament during each of its five seasons in the conference … in 1996, the Irish played their way into the tournament on the last weekend before extending West Virginia to a winner-take-all title game … in ’97, ND posted the best winning pct. in the conference but lost twice to upstart Villanova in the postseason … in ’98, the Irish finished second to Rutgers in both the regular-season standings and the title game … finally, in ’99, ND became the first BIG EAST team ever to win more than 18 conference games (20-5) en route to the regular-season title but the Irish were eliminated from the tournament by losses to Seton Hall and Providence.
PROBABLE GAME-ONE STARTER J.P. GAGNE: Notre Dame has announced a tentative rotation at the BIG EAST Tournament in which freshman RHP J.P. Gagne (7-1) will draw the start on the first day, in the 3:30 game vs. Boston College … Gagne-who walked onto the Irish squad in the 1999 fall season-has performed admirably as the team’s No. 3 starter for most of the BIG EAST season … he is one win shy of becoming the first Irish freshman to post eight-plus wins since 1990, when Pat Leahy went 8-1 and David Sinnes set the ND freshman record for wins with a 9-2 season … Gagne-who was named BIG EAST rookie of the week after winning the first game of the BC series earlier this season-also picked up the crucial 4-3 win over Rutgers in the second game of that series, thanks to four innings of near-perfect relief (13 BF, BB, K, 8 groundouts).
Gagne Named BIG EAST Rookie Of The Week: Notre Dame RHP J.P. Gagne (Bloomington, Minn.) was named BIG EAST rookie of the week, after an impressive victory as the game one starter in the 2000 BC series … Gagne was moved into the role of 1st-game starter, after the BC series shifted to a DH on the second day (due to weather) … he scattered six hits and four walks over six IP in the 12-1 win, allowing one unearned run while recording three Ks and six groundouts.
NOT AGAIN!: Each of ND’s last three losses in the BIG EAST Tournament has seen an opposing pitcher turn in a gutsy complete-game effort … Mike Mundy came back on two days rest and threw 125 pitchers in the 1998 title game, a 12-0 Rutgers win over the Irish … Seton Hall’s Damon Ponce de Leon then handed ND its first loss at the ’99 tournament with a 131-pitch complete game of his own (11-3) … Providence’s Rob Carraro followed suit with a 142-pitch complete game that eliminated the Irish from the ’99 event (14-2).
GOTTA SWING THE BATS: Improved hitting could make the difference if the Irish are to finally break through at the BIG EAST Tournament, as ND’s team batting averages at the previous four conference tournaments included: .276 in 1996 (35 strikeouts in 6 games), .280 in ’97 (32 Ks in 4 games), .247 in ’98 (41 Ks in 5 games) and .238 in ’99 (18 Ks in 3 games) … ND’s combined team batting avg. in the previous four BIG EAST Tournaments is .263, with an average of seven Ks per game (the current ND squad averaged just four Ks/gm during the 2000 regular season) … senior 1B Jeff Felker and junior SS Alec Porzel are the only ND players with more than 17 career at-bats in the BIG EAST Tournament … Felker’s 12-game career stats at the BET include a .273 batting avg. (12-for-44), 4 RBI, 3 runs, 3 doubles, 4 walks and 16 Ks … Porzel’s first two trips to the conference tournament yielded a .276 batting avg. (8-for-29), but three of his eight hits were home runs at last year’s event (tying a tournament record) … Porzel’s other career stats at the BET include 9 RBI, 6 runs, 5 walks and 6 Ks … all of the remaining ND veterans with more than two career ABs at the BET are hitting below .275.
IN THE POLLS: The Irish currently check in at 23rd in the Baseball America poll and 20th according to the USA Today coaches poll.
WALK THIS WAY: Notre Dame closed the regular season by posting a game-winning home run in each of the final three weekend series, with three different players providing the “walkoff” blasts: senior 1B Jeff Felker (vs. St. John’s, 9-8), junior SS Alec Porzel (vs. Pittsburgh, 11-8 in 10 innings) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (two-run shot vs. Rutgers, 4-3).
ND REMAINS AMONG NATION’S ERA LEADERS: Following the 22-18 loss to Pittsburgh, ND’s team ERA slipped to 17th in last week’s NCAA rankings (3.63, now 3.68), narrowly trailing UNC-Wilmington (3.61), San Jose State (3.59), Houston (3.58), Stanford (3.53), Miami (3.53) and Rice (3.52) … the Irish pitchers have allowed 0-3 earned runs in 36 of 56 games while the ND defense has played 35 games with 0-1 errors … the nation’s top-10 ERA leaders include Louisiana-Lafayette (2.89), Florida State (3.22), Rutgers (3.23), Nebraska (3.28), South Carolina (3.33), Texas (3.33), Louisiana-Monroe (3.40), Baylor (3.41), Tennessee (3.44) and Seton Hall (3.48) … in individual NCAA stats, Aaron Heilman entered last week ranked 23rd in the nation with a 2.21 ERA (now 2.56) while John Corbin was tied for 14th in saves (11) … the Irish also entered last week ranked 8th in the nation for winning pct. (now .755 ).
SUPER STAFF: Notre Dame finished ’98 ranked 12th in the nation with a 4.02 ERA and posted a 5.15 ERA in ’99, with 12 of 13 current ND pitchers having an ERA that is lower than that number (8 are under 3.70) … 6th-year ND pitching coach Brian O’Connor-who pitched in the CWS while at Creighton-has overseen the ND pitching staff’s rise among the national ERA leaders … the 13-member staff includes four freshmen, two sophomores, a junior who missed most of ’98 and all of ’99 before “Tommy John” surgery (Danny Tamayo) and a senior who did not pitch in ’99 while preparing for his medical school tests (Tom O’Hagan) … just three of the nine veterans had logged 50-plus career innings prior to 2000: junior Aaron Heilman (176) and seniors Scott Cavey (94.1) and John Corbin (66.1) … the Irish lost three top pitchers from ’99: senior Alex Shilliday (career stats of 65 GP, 290 IP, 25-17, 4.41, 265 Ks), senior LHP Chris McKeown (53 GP, 182.1 IP, 13-7, 3.85, 153 Ks) and junior LHP Tim Kalita (47 GP, 214 IP, 11-3, 4.00, 214 KS) … that threesome combined for 165 appearances, 687 IP, a 49-27 record and 664 Ks.
MORE ON THE ND STAFF: The current 3.68 ERA would rank best by an ND staff since the ’94 Irish pitchers finished at 3.25 (and 5th-best since 1971) … equally as impressive, the ND pitchers have nearly a 3-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (2.73, 420/154), which would blow away the team record of 2.40 (set in ’63) … the staff’s 2.92 BB/9 IP (138/449) also is on pace to challenge the team record (2.82 in ’94) … the ND defense (.964) remains a threat to the team record for season fielding pct. (.965, ’82, ’92) and has turned nearly one double play per game (48 in 56) … finally, the ND pitchers have a huge ratio in favor of groundouts (519, 9.9/gm) over flyouts (402, 7.6/gm) … ND’s opponents in 2000 have included four of the nation’s top hitting teams (three-game series vs. BC, plus games vs. Air Force, Chicago St. and Wis.-Milwaukee) and two of the nation’s top-scoring teams (Wake Forest and Georgia), plus noteworthy games vs. Ohio State, Minnesota, Georgia, North Florida (the nation’s top-ranked Div. II team) and Illinois (2) … two of Brian O’Connor’s former pitchers-RHP Brad Lidge (’96-’98, 17th pick in 1st round by Houston) and LHP Tim Kalita (’97-’99, 7th-round in ’99 by Detroit)-developed into high draft picks while at ND (Lidge was a 42nd-rounder out of HS, Kalita was not drafted) … junior RHP Aaron Heilman currently is rated as high as the No. 3 prospect in college baseball, after being a 54th-round pick out of HS.
PUSHING 40: A May 6 sweep of Pittsburgh landed the ND baseball team (40-12) on 40 victories in the 2nd-fewest games in team history (trailing only the 1990 team, which opened 40-10) … ND has secured the Irish baseball program’s 12th consecutive season with 40-plus victories … ND entered 2000 with the nation’s 5th-longest streak of consecutive seasons with 40-plus wins, but just two of the four teams with longer streaks already has reached 40 (Florida State is 43-13, for its 23rd straight 40-win season, while Clemson is 42-14 and owns 14 straight 40-win seasons) … Wichita State (38-18) needs a late surge to reach 40 wins for the 23rd straight season while Oklahoma State (36-20) could see an end to its streak of 20 straight seasons with 40-plus wins.
EASY AS 1-2-3: Despite sporting just a .298 team batting avg., averaging just 7.1 runs/gm and lacking a true cleanup hitter, the ND offense has shown signs of awakening in recent weeks-led by the first three batters in the lineup: sophomore DH Ken Meyer, sophomore CF Steve Stanley and junior SS Alec Porzel … Meyer has been a spark at the leadoff spot, starting each of the last 12 games while helping the Irish hit .324 in that 12-game stretch … in particular, Meyer’s presence appears to have boosted the play of Stanley and Porzel, who hit .425 (17-for-40) and .408 (20-for-49), respectively, during the final 12 regular-season games … in fact, Porzel (38-for-95) and Stanley (32-for-80) both hit an even .400 in the first 22 games that Meyer started this season (compared to .311 and .328 in games where Meyer had not started) … the Irish headed into early April with just a .289 team batting avg. before inserting Meyer into the lineup, for his second start of the season … since that April 2 game at UConn, Meyer has started 24 of the last 33 games and the Irish are hitting .305 during that 33-game stretch … not surprisingly, Meyer (.375), Porzel (.313) and Stanley (.283) also lead the team for batting avg. in games decided by one run or in extra innings (the rest of the team is hitting .241 in those games).
MORE ON THE TOP OF THE LINEUP: Leadoff batter Ken Meyer (team-best .361, 18 RBI, 28 R, 2 HR) leads the Irish with a .620 slugging pct. and has hits in 11 of his last 12 BIG EAST games … Meyer’s regular position in the lineup helped him surge to a 2nd-place finish on the BIG EAST hitting charts for conference games, at .438 (28-for-64, with a min. of 63 ABs to qualify) … Rutgers’s Joe Cirone claimed the batting title (.457) but Meyer’s .797 slugging in conference games ranked higher than any player on the final list (that stat requires playing in 75 pct. of one’s teams, Meyer played in 17 of 25 … Steve Stanley-who hit primarily leadoff in ’99 and for much of 2000-has made 35 starts at the No. 2 spot, where he can utilize his tough bunting skills and speed to wreck havoc with runners on base … Stanley carried a career-best, 16-game hitting streak into the Rutgers series (28-for-59/.475, longest by an ND player this season) but it was snapped by an 0-for-3 effort in the nightcap … Stanley owns a .356 overall batting avg., plus 42 runs, 22 RBI, 30 walks and 27 stolen bases … Alec Porzel has spent most of 2000 in the No. 3 spot (52 games, after hitting there in 50 games in ’99)-a spot that most coaches view as being more crucial than cleanup … Porzel has surged to a .351 season avg., including a 14-for-27 effort (.519) in six games from May 1-7, and has proven to be one of the BIG EAST’s top all-around offensive players, with eight home runs, four triples, 20 doubles and a team-best 50 RBI.
SUBTLE BUT OFTEN CRUCIAL: Despite seeing its team batting avg. drop from .307 in ’99 to .298 this season, the ND offense has made noteworthy improvements in some often-overlooked areas … specifically, the Irish batters have grounded into just 20 double plays this season (compared to 41 in ’99) while the ND hitters have dropped the team strikeout total from 316 in ’99 to 227 this season … ND’s current average of 8.15 at-bats per strikeout is the best AB-to-K ratio by an Irish team since 1982.
BACK ON THE ROAD: Notre Dame closed the regular season with a 13-game homestand, after playing 29 of its first 43 games away from home and posting a 22-7 record in those games (including wins in 12 different stadiums) … from April 15-26, the Irish played nine road games (plus a home DH) in a span of 12 days-and in six different cities-with ND posting a 9-2 record during that stretch.
SERIE-OUS WINNERS: The Irish have won all 12 multiple-game series that they have played this season, including seven three-game BIG EAST series, two BIG EAST doubleheaders, two games vs. Illinois and DHs vs. Chicago State and Oakland.
IRISH WIN EVERY SERIES: Notre Dame was the only BIG EAST team to win all nine of its conference series during the 2000 season, but the Irish failed to sweep any of their three-game league series (ND did sweep doubleheaders at Seton Hall and Georgetown during Easter weekend) … the BIG EAST title ultimately came down to results vs. the teams that failed to make the BIG EAST Tournament, as the Irish lost to Villanova, St. John’s and West Virginia (Rutgers swept three from both SJU and WVU but was rained out of a DH vs. Villanova) … ND posted a 6-2 record vs. the other top-four finishers (RU was a combined 4-5 vs. ND, SHU and UConn).
A WINNING TRADITION: In five BIG EAST seasons, ND has posted 34 series wins, five series losses and five series ties … the Irish have won 17 of their last 19 BIG EAST series (with a ’99 series tie at RU and a ’99 series loss to SJU) and 29 of the last 34 (with three ties) … Notre Dame has played 42 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 21 of them (with 17 splits and just two sweeps by the opponent) … the Irish have played 33 straight BIG EAST doubleheaders since the last time they were swept by the opponent (at Seton Hall, on March 22, 1997) … the only other doubleheader sweep by a BIG EAST team over ND was by West Virginia in ’96 (at ND) … the Irish have played 23 BIG EAST series at Eck Stadium, winning 19 (plus one tie) … the Irish have won their last nine home BIG EAST series, since dropping a series to SJU late in ’98.
ND’s BIG EAST SERIES HISTORY
(includes two 1-0 weekends)
|Series wins||Series losses||Series ties|
|1996||5||2 (WVU, RU)||2 (PC, UConn)|
|1997||6||1 (SHU)||2 (WVU, Pitt)|
|1999||8||1 (SJU)||1 (RU)|
ND’s BIG EAST DOUBLEHEADER HISTORY
|ND sweep||Splits||Opponent Sweep|
FLORIDA NATIVES HELP WIN RU SERIES: Sophomore DH Ken Meyer (Fort Myers, Fla.) continued his strong play while junior RHP Danny Tamayo (Miami, Fla.) turned in an encouraging effort in the most important outing of his career, as ND clinched the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament with a 10-6 victory over Rutgers on another high-wind afternoon at Eck Stadium (5/14) … ND scored four times in the 2nd inning while posting single runs in every other inning but the 5th, with Meyer pacing an 11-hit attack on his 3-for-4 day … Meyer-who hit .447 in the final 13 BIG EAST games of the season-had a hand in six of ND’s 10 runs, with a pair of RBI and four runs scored … Tamayo (2-0)-who missed all of the ’99 season due to injury before undergoing “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery-logged a career-best five innings while limiting the potent RU lineup to three runs on five hits and four walks, with one K (he had logged just 27 career innings-12 this season-prior to the RU game) … RU staged a late rally vs. senior RHP John Corbin (Hollywood, Fla.), with RU scoring three 8th before putting a runner on base in the 9th … sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier tossed two key innings of middle relief (8 BF, 1 H, 3 Ks) … RU senior righthander Jim Wilson-who posted an impressive five-hit win over ND last season (4-2) took the loss after failing to get out of the 4th inning (3.2 IP, 7 R, 5 ER, 7 H, 5 BB) … LF Matt Nussbaum-one of seven ND seniors who were honored before the game-posted his second three-hit game of the season with two RBI and a run scored … ND sophomore C Paul O’Toole collected his second HR in as many games, sending a 2-1 pitch over the RF fence in the 7th.
INEXPERIENCE LEADS THE WAY?: ND entered 200 with just three pitchers who had logged 50-plus career IP and those players have played a leading role in the team’s success, as junior RHP Aaron Heilman is 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA while senior RHPs Scott Cavey (5-2, 4.26) and John Corbin (4-2, 4.31) have turned in steady seasons … ultimately, it has been the contributions from some untested sources that have helped ND rank nationally in team ERA while posting the second-most regular-season wins ever by an Irish squad … the following four players have provided the biggest boosts to the 2000 staff:
Freshman RHP J.P. Gagne has emerged as the team’s No. starter and his 7-1 record leaves him one shy of posting the most wins by an ND freshman since 1990 … he also was the first ND pitcher since 1996 (Christian Parker) to open a season 5-0 and the first Irish freshman to do so since the 1990 tandem of Pat Leahy and Al Walania both started 5-0 … Gagne owns a 3.98 season ERA in 16 appearances (10 starts) while totaling 38 Ks, 21 walks and 80 hits allowed in 63.1 IP … much of his success has been built on his ability to work out of jams, as Gagne has allowed 47 percent of leadoff batters to reach base yet has allowed just a .274 opponent batting avg. with runners on base and a team-best .229 avg. with two outs … he also owns a team-best 1.96 ratio of groundouts to flyouts (89/46) … Gagne posted a 9-2 win at UConn in his first career BIG EAST start (7 IP, 7 H, R, BB, K) and earned BIG EAST rookie-of-the-week honors six days later when he pitched the Irish to a 12-1 win in the first game of the BC series (6 IP, 6 H, UER, 4 BB, 3 Ks) … he went on to what proved to be a huge 5-1 win at Seton Hall (6 IP, 8 H, R, 4 BB, 3 Ks), pitched solidly in the 9-8 game with St. John’s (6 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 Ks) before turning in a clutch relief effort to pick up the 4-3 win over Rutgers (4 IP, 13 BF, BB, K).
Another freshman RHP, Matt Laird, has fashioned a 5-2 record and 4.00 ERA in 14 appearances (nine starts), with 34 Ks, 14 BB and 54 hits allowed in 45 IP … Laird has allowed just 26 pct. of leadoff batters to reach base (2nd-best on the staff, behind Aaron Heilman’s 19 pct.) and joins Gagne as a solid groundball pitchers, ranking 2nd on the staff with a 1.82 ratio of groundouts to flyouts (60/33) … Laird’s more noteworthy outings have included picking up the win in the 5-1 game vs. Illinois (5 IP, 3 H, R, 3 BB, 3 Ks) and a seven-inning complete game to beat Oakland, 9-3 (8 H, 2 BB, 6 Ks).
Sophomore RHP Matt Buchmeier is possibly the most improved player among ND’s 21 veterans, after a rocky freshman season in ’99 (9.1 IP, 17.36 ERA, 22 hits, 9 BB) … Buchmeier has developed into a strong middle reliever and spot starter, ranking 3rd among regulars with a 3.45 ERA while posting a 3-2 record with two saves … he is allowing one hit per inning (45 in 44.1), with 37 Ks and just 12 walks … his .250 opp. avg. ranks 5th on the staff while he ranks 3rd on the staff in opp. avg. with two outs (.255) and leads all ND pitchers with a .178 opp. avg. when runners are on base … he is allowing just 2.44 walks/gm (4th-best on the team) and is tied for 3rd on the staff with a 3.1 K-to-BB ratio … his more crucial outings have included two shutout middle-relief innings in the 10-6 win over Rutgers in the regular-season finale (H, 3 Ks) … he also tossed three shutout innings in what proved to be a pivotal 5-1 midseason win at Seton Hall (2 H, 2 BB, K) and helped keep ND in the game prior to the 11-8 win over Pitt in 10 inn. (2.1 IP, R, 2 H, BB, 2 Ks).
WHAT’S THIS! TRIO OF DOUBLE-DIGIT HOME RUNS, PART IV?: Despite a noticeable dropoff in the team’s home run numbers (70 in ’99, 46 in 2000), ND once again has a shot to post three players with 10-plus home runs-something which the Irish accomplished in ’97 and ’98 before coming up short in ’99 … freshman RF Brian Stavisky ranks 3rd in the BIG EAST with 14 HRs while junior SS Alec Porzel has left the park eight times this season-including five HRs in the last 11 games … Porzel closed the ’99 season with five HRs in his last 8 games, including three at Trenton’s Waterfront Stadium to tie the BIG EAST Tournament record … another surging ND player, sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole, has seven HRs for the season but three in the last five games … O’Toole had a late HR flurry of his own in ’99, when he became the first ND player ever to homer in four straight postseason games (including all three in the NCAAs) … ND’s 70 HRs in ’99 included 17 from junior SS Brant Ust and 13 from Porzel while current senior 1B Jeff Felker had 9 HRs last season (O’Toole finished with 8, as did senior DH Jeff Wagner) … Wagner (17) and Ust (11) were part of the first Irish threesome to total 10-plus HRs, joining Mike Amrhein (14) in that distinction during ’97 … Wagner (14) and Ust (18) repeated the feat in ’98, alongside J.J. Brock (13).
IRISH SWEEP WEEKLY AWARDS: ND became the first team to sweep the weekly BIG EAST Conference baseball awards in 2000, as junior SS Alec Porzel (see note later in release), junior RHP Aaron Heilman and freshman 2B Kris Billmaier were honored for their accomplishments during May 1-7 … Porzel was named player of the week while Heilman earned his 8th career pitcher-of-the-week award and his 4th of the 2000 season … no other player in BIG EAST history has totaled more than four career player or pitcher-of-the-week awards while Heilman’s four awards in 2000 represent the most in one season ever by a BIG EAST player (he shared the previous record, with three in ’99) … Billmaier shared BIG EAST rookie-of-the-week honors with Pittsburgh 1B Brant Colamarino.
AWARD-FILLED SEASON: Notre Dame has compiled 12 BIG EAST weekly awards in 2000-narrowly besting Rutgers (11) for the most by any league school (six different Irish players have been honored by the BIG EAST, one better than RU’s total) … junior RHP Aaron Heilman has won four pitcher awards (March 6, March 27, April 17, May 8) while senior RHP Scott Cavey received pitcher-of-the-week honors on Feb. 29 and April 24 … sophomore catcher Paul O’Toole (March 13) and freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky (April 24) have earned the player award and righthander J.P. Gagne picked up the April 10 rookie award … junior SS Alec Porzel (player) and freshman 2B Kris Billmaier (rookie) joined the list of Irish award winners on May 8 while Stavisky closed the regular season with the final rookie-of-the-week honor (thanks to his to-run, game-ending home run in the 4-3 game with Rutgers) … ND produced at least one award winner in nine of 12 weeks this season.
SWEEP A RARITY: In the four seasons in which the BIG EAST has presented three weekly awards (player, pitcher and rookie), one team has swept all three awards just four times: Rutgers on May 4, 1998 (Dave Marciniak, Mike Mundy, Jake Daubert), Pittsburgh on April 6, 1999 (Lou Melucci, Josh Knauff and Mike Gonda), ND on May 12, 1999 (Jeff Felker, Scott Cavey and Paul O’Toole) and ND on May 8, 2000 (Alec Porzel, Aaron Heilman and Kris Billmaier) … the only true sweep was the ND one in ’99, as RU’s Marciniak shared the player award with ND’s Mike Knecht on May 4, 1998, while Pitt’s Melucci (Felker) and Knauf (SJU’s Keith Stamler) both were co-winners on April 6, 1999 (Billmaier shared with Pitt’s Brant Colamarino.
INJURY REPORT: Compared to a 1999 season that saw three ND starting position players miss 88 combined games, the 2000 season has featured a fairly consistent cast of characters for the Irish … starting 2B Jeff Perconte missed 11 games (March 5-22) after reaggravating a shoulder injury and has struggled to regain his form at the plate, as he no longer is able to switch hit … starting C Paul O’Toole was limited to not playing (he did not start in a total of nine games) and DH duty for a 25-game midseason stretch, due to an elbow problem (he returned to platooning as starting catcher in late April) … junior RHP Danny Tamayo missed a month (mid-March to mid-April) due to tendonitis (he was inactive for 23 games) but steadily has gained strength and could play a key role in the BIG EAST Tournament … freshman RHP Peter Ogilvie has missed the entire season due to a sprained elbow (he was expected to be a key member of the middle relief crew).
GOING, GOING … NOT GONE: Home runs truly have been at a premium in college baseball during the 2000 season, as the national average has dipped 20 percent-from 0.95 per game to 0.77 … the HR production has dropped even more among BIG EAST teams (from 1.01/gm in ’99 to 0.70 this season-a drop of 30 percent) … ND totaled 46 home runs in the 2000 regular season (compared to 60 in ’99) and the Irish likely will post their lowest season home run total since the 1996 season (58, followed by season HR totals of 66-73-70 from ’97-’99) … freshman RF Brian Stavisky (14) has accounted for roughly one-third of the Irish home run total in the 2000 season, with just three others players owning more than four HRs: junior SS Alec Porzel (8), sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole (7) and senior 1B Jeff Felker (6) … the loss of the team’s top two career HR leaders (Jeff Wagner, 49, and Brant Ust, 46) has left a void in the Irish lineup but several players are capable of leaving the yard.
THE PRECIOUS LONG BALL: The dropoff in home runs has made them even more pivotal to the Irish success this season, as ND is just 16-10 in games this season when not hitting a home run, compared to 26-4 when the Irish hit a least one homer (8-2 with two-plus) … the Irish head into the BIG EAST Tournament riding an eight-game HR streak and have totaled 24 home runs in the last 16 games.
SIX-RUN PLATEAU: Despite ND’s dropoff in team batting average (.307 in ’99, .298 in 2000) and scoring (from 7.5 runs/9 IP to 7.2), the Irish have used consistently effective pitching and defense to compile one of the nation’s top won-loss records … in fact, ND is 25-4 this season when scoring six-plus runs-with the losses coming in the second week of the season to Minnesota (9-7) and in recent losses to Western Michigan (11-7), Pittsburgh (22-18) and Rutgers (16-6).
SAVE SOME FOR ME!: The Notre Dame pitching staff has tied the team record for saves in a season, matching the 15 posted last season … senior RHP John Corbin has the bulk of the team’s saves-with an Irish season record total of 11-while junior LHP Mike Naumann (1) and sophomore RHPs Matt Buchmeier (2) and Drew Duff (1) also have picked up saves during the 2000 campaign.
K CREW STILL KICKING: The Irish pitching staff, under the direction of sixth-year assistant coach Brian O’Connor, has surged in the second half of the 2000 season en route to totaling the third-most strikeouts (420) ever by an ND staff (trailing just the 478 in ’99 and the 456 in ’98) … the ND pitchers averaged 8.2 Ks per 9 IP during the month of April before posting 16 in the seven-inning nightcap vs. Oakland on May 3 (setting an Eck Stadium record for Ks by one team) … ND’s overal season average is 8.0 Ks per 9 IP … based on that average, the Irish would need to play five more games to post the 2nd-most Ks ever by an ND staff and would need eight more games to challenge the ’99 record total of 478.
MAKING ‘EM EARN IT: The ND position players have compiled one of the top defensive seasons in Irish baseball history and defense has played a tangible role in the won-loss column, as five of ND’s 14 losses in 2000 have been a result of unearned runs … the Irish are just 11-10 this season when making two-plus errors but own a sparkling 31-4 mark when making 0-1 miscues in the field … the current .964 season fielding pct. (76 errors in 56 games, 1.4/gm) is just shy of the team record set in ’82 and matched in ’92 (.965) … the Irish made two errors in each game of last week’s Rutgers series (after making no errors in the previous four games) … ND has posted 17 error-free games in 2000, plus 18 with one error, 12 with two errors and nine with three-plus Es … the Irish defense also is averaging nearly one double play per game (48), on pace to challenge the team record of 60 DPs set in 1998 … senior 2B Jeff Perconte opened the season with 34 error-free games and has totaled just four errors for a .973 fielding pct. … the other starter on the leftside has just five errors, as senior 1B Jeff Felker owns a .990 fielding pct. … sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (.930, 11 E) has turned in a solid season at the hot corner while sophomore CF Steve Stanley has made just two errors (.986).
GETTING IT OUT OF THE WAY: ND’s current streak of 12 straight 40-win seasons has seen the Irish reach that mark seven times during the regular season and five times during the postseason … ND’s 42-14 record ranks as the 2nd-most wins in the regular season ever by an ND team (the 1990 team went 44-10), with four other previous ND teams posting 41 regular-season wins: ’89 (41-16-1), ’91 (41-16), ’92 (41-13) and ’99 (41-15) … that ’99 season marked the first time in the Paul Mainieri era that the Irish didn’t need the postseason to reach 40 wins (it took three wins in the ’95 MCC Tournament, one at the ’96 and ’97 BIG EAST Tournaments and two at the ’98 BET) … ND’s current winning pct. (.750) ranks as the 3rd-best regular-season record by an Irish team during the past 12 seasons, trailing only the ’90 team (44-10, .815) and the ’92 squad (41-13, .759).
STRESS RELIEVER: The strength of ND’s pitching and defense in 2000 has led to a downturn in the team’s number of close finishes and comeback wins … the Irish have needed to rally in their final turn at-bat just eight times in 2000 (and four of those came in extra innings)-compared to 13 final-AB wins in ’99 (one in extra innings) … ND has posted just 11 wins with a margin of 1-2 runs (17 in ’99) … the Irish have totaled 16 “blowout” wins (5-plus runs) this season (just 11 in ’99), with the team’s average margin of victory rising from 3.6 in ’99 to 4.4 this season.
|Wins in final turn at-bat||13||8|
|Record in 1-run games||10-4||8-1|
|Record in extra-innings||1-1||4-0|
|Record in 1 or 2-run games||17-6||11-4|
|Wins by 5-plus runs||11||16|
|Average win margin||3.6||4.3|
APRIL IN THE BOOKS: Notre Dame turned in a solid 20-6 record during the month of April (.769), representing the eighth season in which an ND baseball team has won 20-plus games in its last full month of competition … the more noteworthy April records turned in by recent ND teams include 20-3 in 1998, 22-5 in ’94, 21-5 in ’90, 24-6 in ’95 and 22-6 in ’80 … the Irish opened the 2000 season with a 16-5 mark in Feb. and March, followed by the 20-6 showing in April and a 6-3 mark thus far in May.
NARROWEST OF MARGINS: The ND baseball team has posted an 8-1 mark in one-run games during the 2000 season, with wins in eight straight after a 5-4 defeat to Ohio State in the second game of the season … the one-run wins include the following: Memphis (4-3), Butler (3-2), Iowa (3-2), Bowling Green (2-1), West Virginia (4-3), Michigan (5-4, 11 inn.), St. John’s (9-8) and Rutgers (4-3) … the Irish are 11-1 overall in games decided by one run or in extra innings, with the best ND hitters in those “close games” including sophomore DH Ken Meyer (.375, 9-for-24), junior SS Alec Porzel (.313, 15-for-48) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (.294, 15-for-51, 4 HR, 33 TB, 8 RBI, 10 R)-with the rest of the team hitting just .238 in those 12 close games.
THAT’S WHY THERE’S FOUR BASES: The ND pitching staff opened the season with solid success versus leadoff batters, but the season average of leadoff batters reaching base has risen to 34.8 percent … despite allowing an average of three leadoff batters to reach base in every 9-inning game, the Irish pitchers typically have buckled down with runners on base (.271 opponent batting average), with runners in scoring position (.271) and with two outs (.282)-all of which rank near the overall opponent batting avg. (.270) … the ND pitchers have sliced their opponent batting avg. with runners in scoring position by 13 pct. points from 1999 (.284 to .271).
WINS & LOSSES: ND’s team stats have some glaring differences when comparing the 42 wins to the 14 losses, including: a .312 team batting avg. in the wins, .259 in the losses, a .972 team fielding pct. in the wins, .939 in the losses, and 20 unearned runs allowed in the wins (0.5/gm), compared to 41 in the losses (3.0/gm).
CLEARING THE COBWEBS: After repeated first-inning struggles during the first half of the season, ND now owns a 30-24 scoring edge in the 1st inning and a 114-77 edge in the first three innings … the Irish have dominated most in the 4th inning (39-17) and own a 181-134 scoring edge from the 5th-8th innings (+47, in 56 games).
IN THE CLUTCH: Despite hitting just .298 as a team, the ND offense has performed noticeably better with runners on base (.316) and is hitting .305 with runners in scoring position … top Irish hitters with runners in scoring position include four sophomores: LF/DH Matt Strickroth (.435), DH/1B Ken Meyer (.379), CF Steve Stanley (.380) and DH/C Matt Bok (.389).
BEST OF THE BEST?: Irish junior RHP Aaron Heilman was the featured player in Baseball America’s mid-May update of the Louisville Slugger player-of-the-year watch … he was one of six pitchers on that list, with the others including Auburn RHP Chris Bootcheck (8-0, 3.32), South Carolina RHP Kip Bouknight (14-0, 2.61), Arizona RHP/DH Ben Diggins (9-3, 3.55, .376, 9 HR, 34 RBI), Texas RHP Beau Hale (10-3, 3.17) and Stanford RHP Justin Wayne (10-3, 3.11) … the 11 position players include: San Francisco 1B/3B Tagg Bozied (.361, 14 HR, 48 RBI), LSU catcher Brad Cresse (.417, 23 HR, 86 RBI), Auburn 1B Todd Faulkner (.412, 20 HR, 89 RBI), Auburn OF Gabe Gross (.420, 12 HR, 75 RBI), Old Dominion SS Tim Hummel (.412, 7 HR, 57 RBI), Arizona State C/1B Casey Myers (.417, 11 HR, 75 RBI), California 3B Xavier Nady (.335, 18 HR, 55 RBI), Pepperdine C Dane Sardinha (.360, 16 HR, 69 RBI) and Georgia Tech 3B Mark Teixeira (.428, 13 HR, 57 RBI) … Heilman’s teammates on the ’99 USA Baseball team included four of the above players: Diggins, Wayne, Bozied and Nady … Collegiate Baseball magazine named Heilman as a Louisville Slugger co-national players of the week twice this season, following his 12-K game vs. Georgia on March 5 and his 18-K game at WVU on April 15-making Heilman one of two players in the nation (UCLA lefty Rob Henkel was the other) who had received that honor twice in 2000 (as of mid-April).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Aaron Heilman headed into last week ranked 23rd in the nation (3rd in the BIG EAST) with a 2.21 ERA (now 2.56, with the new stat rankings due out on May 16) … Heilman leads all BIG EAST players in overall wins (10-2), Ks (108) and complete games (8), ranking 4th in low opponent batting avg. (.222) and shutouts (2), 3rd in ERA (2.56) and 4th in IP (91.1) … in conference games only, Heilman leads the BIG EAST in wins (7-1), Ks (66) and CGs (7), ranking 3rd in opponent avg. (.229) and shutouts (2), 4th in IP (55.2) and 8th in ERA (3.07) … Heilman’s 2.60 career ERA in BIG EAST play ranks 3rd all-time among players with 100-plus IP … Heilman ranks 3rd on the BIG EAST career K list (143), behind BC four-year pitcher Doug Macneil (144, ’88-’91) and Seton Hall 1st-rounder Jason Grilli (164, ’95-’97) … despite just two seasons as a starter, Heilman is tied for 2nd on the BIG EAST list for career wins in conference games (15-4), two back of former PC pitcher Todd Incantalupo (’95-’97) … Heilman is tied for 4th in BIG EAST history with 12 career CGs (in conference play) and came up one shy of tying the BIG EAST season records for wins (8) and complete games (7)
SELECT COMPANY: ND’s Aaron Heilman (2.21, 10-1) is one of three pitchers in the nation who are ranked among the top-25 ERA leaders and have 10-plus wins … the others are former teammates of Heilman’s from the 1999 USA Baseball national team: Stetson’s Lenny Dinardo (2.13, 13-1) and Houston’s Kyle Crowell (1.98, 11-2).
HEILMAN UPGRADED TO NO. 3 PROSPECT: Baseball America magazine upgraded ND junior RGP Aaron Heilman to the No. 3-rated prospect in college baseball, based on reports filed in early April (prior to Heilman’s 18-K game at WVU) … Heilman entered the 2000 season as the No. 9-rated prospect in college baseball, according to BA’s annual survey of major league scouting directors.
BASEBALL AMERICA UPDATED DRAFT FORECAST (April 15): ” … The best attribute among other top pitching prospects has been consistency. No scouting director with a pick among the first 10 in the draft will come out and say, ‘Id love to get a shot at Justin Wayne or Aaron Heilman or Beau Hale,’ but most acknowledge that all three would be on a short list. … Wayne has compiled a 22-2 record in three years at Stanford and has been unhittable at times this spring. His stuff is solid across the board and he pitches with maturity and purpose. … Heilman had limited opportunity to impress scouts because of Notre Dame’s early schedule, but his 93 mph sinking fastball is one of the most effective pitches in college baseball. … Hale throws harder than either Wayne or Heilman, consistently touching 94-95 mph, but he doesn’t have the secondary pitches or movement on his fastball of the other two. … “
BA’s Top 25 College Prospects (April 15): 1. Ben Diggins, rhp/1b, Arizona , 2. Justin Wayne, rhp, Stanford, 3. Aaron Heilman, rhp, Notre Dame, 4. Dane Sardinha, c, Pepperdine, 5. Tyrell Godwin, of, North Carolina, 6. Xavier Nady, 3b, California, 7. Beau Hale, rhp, Texas, 8. Daylan Holt, of, Texas A&M, 9. Joe Borchard, of, Stanford, 10. Chris Bootcheck, rhp, Auburn, 11. Patrick Boyd, of, Clemson, 12. Taggert Bozied, 1b, San Francisco, 13. Jason Young, rhp, Stanford, 14. Rob Henkel, lhp, UCLA, 15. Adam Johnson, rhp, CS Fullerton, 16. Chase Utley, 2b, UCLA, 17. Chad Qualls, rhp, Nevada , 18. Tim Hummel, ss, Old Dominion, 19. Mike Tonis, c, California, 20. Eric Henderson, lhp, North Carolina, 21. Lance Niekro, 3b, Florida Southern, 22. Tommy Murphy, ss, Florida Atlantic, 23. Aaron Krawiec, lhp, Villanova, 24. Bill Traber, lhp, Loyola Marymount, 25. Cory Vance, lhp, Georgia Tech.
2000 Draft Order (June 5-7): 1. Florida, 2. Minnesota, 3. Chicago Cubs, 4. Kansas City, 5. Montreal, 6. Tampa Bay, 7. Colorado, 8. Detroit, 9. San Diego, 10. California, 11. Milwaukee, 12. Chicago White Sox, 13. St. Louis, 14. Baltimore, 15. Philadelphia, 16. N.Y. Mets, 17. Los Angeles, 18. Toronto, 19. Pittsburgh, 20. California, 21. San Francisco, 22. Boston, 23. Cincinnati, 24. St. Louis, 25. Texas, 26. Cleveland, 27. Houston, 28. N.Y. Yankees, 29. Atlanta.
HEILMAN’S STREAK ENDS AT 10: Aaron Heilman headed into the Rutgers series with victories in each of his last 10 decisions but the Knights handed Heilman his second loss of the 2000 season … his previous loss came to Ohio State in the first week of the season (5-4), after his errant throw starting a double play led to two unearned runs and a squandered 4-0 lead) … Heilman became the second ND pitcher-and the first since 1908-to win 10 straight decisions (Frank Scanlan posted a 10-0 record in ’08).
HEILMAN IN THE ND RECORD BOOK: Irish junior RHP Aaron Heilman needs 11 Ks to break his own ND season record (118, ’99) and needs 12 to surpass David Sinnes’ ND career record (315) … he also ranks 8th at Notre Dame in career appearances (66) and innings (267.1) and 6th in career victories (28, two out of 4th) while his .800 career winning pct. (28-7) ranks 6th all-time at ND and best since 1924 (among pitchers with 18-plus decisions) … Heilman’s other single-season stats have him tied for 6th in the ND record book for complete games (8), tied for 7th in wins (10-2) and 7th in low opponent batting avg., since 1991 (.222) … he needs two more wins to join Tom Price as the only ND player ever to post 12-plus wins in a season (Price won 14 in ’94, 12 in ’93) … Heilman’s 2.56 career ERA ranks 4th-best in ND history, behind the 1959-61 duo of Nick Palihnich (2.36) and Jack Mitchell (2.44) and Larry Mohs (2.52, ’94-’97) … Heilman (267.1) has logged considerably more innings in his career than the above three players (Palihnich and Mitchell each totaled 149 IP, Mohs 118) … Heilman (12 vs. Georgia, 18 at WVU) is the 2nd ND player-and 1st in 96 years-to post 12-plus Ks in multiple games, joining future Chicago Cubs World Series championship team member Ed Reulbach (who had 16 vs. both Indiana and Beloit in the 1904 season) … Heilman actually owns a better career record in away games (15-2) than at Eck Stadium (13-5).
Heilman Ties BIG EAST MARK With 18 Ks
Notre Dame junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) tied a BIG EAST Conference record and came just shy of the ND record with an 18-strikeout effort and a 3-1 victory in 10 innings at West Virginia on April 15 (the game was scheduled for seven innings) … Heilman-whose previous career best was 12 Ks, earlier this season vs. Georgia-seemingly became stronger as the game wore on, spotting his patented tough slider with regularity in the closing innings while delivering a fastball that still touched 91 miles-per hour in the lategoing … he retired 15 straight batters from the 5th-10th innings and struck out 10 of the final 12 batters he faced, including seven straight before yielding a single by Todd Cisneros with two outs in the 10th … Kevin Olkowski-who had two of WVU’s six hits-went down swinging on three pitches to end the game.
Heilman tied the BIG EAST record set by Seton Hall’s Jason Grilli in a 7-2 win over UConn ’97 (Grilli went on to become the 4th pick in the ’97 draft, by the S.F. Giants) … Frank Carpin is the only other ND pitcher ever to record 18-plus Ks in a game, with 19 in a 10-inning win over Indiana on April 16, 1958 (12-10) … one mark that did fall was the Hawley Field record for Ks in a game, as former WVU pitchers Kim West (vs. Geneva, ’71) and Wes Shaw (vs. Fairmont State, ’89) had shared that record with 16-strikeout games.
Heilman’s memorable day included just six hits and two BB, with 11 groundball outs and just one flyout … all nine WVU starters–plus reserve Matt McGee–were K victims, with Mike Frownfelter and Eddie Weightman each registering three (four others had two) … Heilman’s Ks by inning progressed as follows: 1-3-0-2-2-0-2-2-3-3 … six came on called third strikes while just two came on 3-2 counts (three on 0-2) … Heilman reached three-ball counts vs. just seven of the 39 batters he faced … WVU scored its lone run in the 2nd inning.
WE REALLY MISS THAT GUY: Senior 1B and cleanup hitter Jeff Felker has missed four games to an assortment of injuries in 2000 and the Irish have struggled in each game, dropping an early 6-1 game to Division II power North Florida (ND’s backup 1B made a costly error in that game) before struggling to get by Bowling Green in midseason, 2-1 (Felker missed the game after taking a ball off the face in BP) … he then missed the final two games of the May 6-7 Pittsburgh series with a foot injury and ND had to rally to win the May 6 nightcap, 11-8 in 10 innings, before losing the series finale, 22-18.
ND RECORD BOOK UPDATE: Junior SS Alec Porzel is tied for 8th on the ND career home runs list (28), just one behind Eric Danapilis (’90-’93) … Porzel’s 10 triples rank 9th in ND history (Gene Duffy had 11 from ’57-’59) and he also ranks 9th with 46 career doubles (Joe Binkiewicz had 48 from ’89-’92) … in terms of single-seasons stats, Porzel’s 20 doubles in 2000 already are tied for 7th in the ND record book (one shy of 5th) while his eight sacrifice flies are tied for 2nd, one back of the record set by Robbie Kent in 1994 … senior 1B Jeff Felker ranks 4th on the career games played list (220) while his 212 career starts are tied for 5th all-time, one behind former teammate Mike Amrhein (’94-’97) … Felker also ranks 4th in career at-bats (759), is tied for 10th in career triples (9) and stands tied with Craig Counsell (’89-’92) fpr 9th on the career hits list (235), four back of Scott Sollmann (’94-’96) … Felker’s 55 career doubles rank 4th in ND history, trailing only Danapilis (61), Peltier (60) and Amrhein (58), while he also ranks 10th for times hit-by-pitch in a career (16) … Felker (235, 55, 9), J.J. Brock (272, 42, 16) and Amrhein (269, 58, 9) are the only players currently ranked among ND’s top-10 career leaders for hits, doubles and triples … senior RHP John Corbin’s 63 appearances rank 10th in Irish history … Corbin also owns the ND career and season saves records, with 20 overall and 11 in 2000 … sophomore CF Steve Stanley (27-for-34) has joined Pesavento (38 in both ’88 and ’89) as the only ND players ever to steal 24-plus bases in consecutive seasons (he also had 24 in ’99) … Stanley already stands 5th on the ND career SB list, with 51 (his 27 SBs this season rank 7th in ND history, one behind Matt Haas’ ’93 total) … freshman RF Brian Stavisky (14) is the 10th ND player to hit 14-plus HRs in a season (only six have hit 16-plus).
GOOSE ON THE LOOSE: Sophomore DH Ken Meyer-nicknamed “Mongoose” due to his deceptive speed-continues to spark the Irish from the leadoff spot and turned in an impressive series vs. St. John’s on April 29-30, batting 8-for-12 (.667) with 18 total bases, including a home run, two triples and three doubles … he reached base nine times in the SJU series (also a HBP) and scored six runs in the three games (he reached on 11-of-15/.773 of his leadoff at-bats during the entire week) … in the 8-3 win over SJU, Meyer doubled and scored in both the 1st and 3rd before tripling and scoring in the 6th (all were leadoff ABs) … in the 6-4 loss to SJU, he hit another leadoff triple and scored … in the 9-8 series finale, Meyer singled in the 1st and, doubled and scored in the 7th and hit a huge solo HR in the 8th (for an 8-6 ND lead) … the ‘goose continued his strong play the next week in the Pitt series (5-for-13, 3 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R) before closing the regular season with a 5-for-12 series (2 RBI, 5 R, 2B, 3B) vs. a Rutgers pitching staff that was ranked 3rd in the nation for team ERA … Meyer collected hits in 10 straight BIG EAST games before going 0-for-4 in the second game of the RU series and hit .447 in the final 13 BIG EAST games of the 2000 season.
GO THE DISTANCE: Notre Dame surprisingly the BIG EAST’s top-three leaders in triples: freshman RF Brian Stavisky (5), sophomore DH Ken Meyer (5) and junior SS Alec Porzel (4) … Stavisky totaled just three triples in his entire high school career (due primarily to the smaller ballparks) while Meyer did not have a triple in 60 ABs during his freshman season at ND … Porzel tripled in four consecutive games early in the ’99 season (that ended up being his season total) and is tied for 9th in Irish history with 10 career three-baggers.
SENIORS RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS HONORS: Both of the ND baseball team’s senior captains were honored at the annual All-Sports Banquet, as Jeff Perconte (Arlington Heights, Ill.) was one of five student-athletes to receive the Byron Kanaley Award, while Matt Nussbaum (South Bend, Ind.) was one of two to receive the Francis Patrick O’Connor Award … the Kanaley Awards are the most prestigious honors presented to senior student-athletes at the University … since 1927, they have been awarded annually to monogram athletes who have been most exemplary as both students and leaders … selected by the Notre Dame Faculty Board on Athletics, the awards are named in honor of Byron V. Kanaley, a 1904 graduate who played baseball for the Irish … following his graduation, Kanaley went on to enjoy a successful banking career in Chicago, Ill. … he then served on the University’s Alumni Association as a lay trustee until his death in 1960 . Perconte was hitting .429 until a shoulder injury caused him to miss 11 games early in the 2000 season … a tri-captain and starting second baseman, he played 34 error-free games to open the season … a six-time Dean’s List student, he carries a 3.73 GPA as a double major in economics and government … Perconte earned GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-District honors in 1999 and is a member of the Academic Honors faculty mentoring program … he is a two-time Rockne Student-Athlete Award winner and serves as a resident assistant at Knott Hall … Perconte is the 11th baseball player to win the honor and the first since Erik Madsen won the award in 1989 … Perconte will attend ND’s law school in the fall … the other Kanaley Award recipients included swimming standouts Elizabeth Barger and Ray Fitzpatrick, women’s soccer All-American Jenny Streiffer and rowing headliner Katrina Ten Eyck. Nussbaum joined women’s tennis captain Kelly Zalinksi as the recipients of the O’Connor Award … since 1993, the University has presented this award named for a student-athlete who died in 1973 following his freshman year at ND … Pat O’Connor was the son of William “Bucky” O’Connor, who played guard in football for ND in the 1940’s … the award honors one female and one male student-athlete who best display the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame as exemplified by their contributions and inspirations to their respective teams … to be considered, student-athletes must possess qualities attributed to Pat O’Connor: caring, courage, confidence, encouragement, humility, honesty, humor, kindness and patience … Nussbaum first joined the baseball program as walk-on freshman in 1997 and played sparingly during his first two seasons before bursting onto the scene as a two-year starter and as one of the team’s top situational hitters … he has played in 53 games this season while helping the Irish post a 42-14 record and earn a national top-25 ranking … he has started at left field, in addition to making 33 starts this season at catcher, despite just picking up that position in the summer of ’99, and ranks fourth on the 2000 team with 34 runs batted in.
IRON MAN: Due to a midseason arm injury to sophomore Paul O’Toole, senior Matt Nussbaum has shouldered much of the recent catching duties for ND and has logged 57 percent of the innings behind the plate this season (270 of 474) … Nussbaum caught 19 straight games from April 1-22 (he caught 136 of 160 innings in that stretch, or 85%) and he turned in an 11-game stretch from April 11-22 that saw him behind the plate for 88 of 91 innings.
HARD TO K: Senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum again has proven to be a tough out at the plate, averaging 15.9 plate appearances per strikeout (207/13) … sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey has been the toughest ND player to strike out in 2000, with 23.7 plate appearances per K (213/9) while Bushey’s ratio of 20.4 at-bats per K ranks best by any ND player since 1982 and 7th-best since ’69 … true to his season average, Bushey heads into the postseason with just one K in his last 64 plate appearances (vs. SJU’s Tom Klemm, on April 30) and has stepped to the plate 33 straight times since his last K … Nussbaum (4) and Bushey (2) have struck out “looking” just a handful of times in the 2000 season (senior 1B Jeff Felker and sophomore DH Ken Meyer each have just three KLs this season).
PRIME-TIME PLAYER: ND junior SS Alec Porzel has made a name for himself when it comes to game-ending home runs … in addition to his 10th-inning blast vs. Pittsburgh (11-8) this season on May 7, Porzel also beat Pitt with a first-pitch, walkoff HR to cap the 1999 ND-Pitt series (3-2, in the 9th) … as a freshman, he ended the longest game in Eck Stadium history with a 15th-inning homer vs. West Virginia (5-3).
DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?: Junior SS Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.) closed the week of May 1-7 in the series finale vs. Pitt (a 22-18 loss) with one of the most noteworthy accomplishments in the history of ND baseball, by batting 6-for-6 and hitting for the cycle-including both a traditional and an inside-the-park home run … he became the first player to record six hits in a game in the 109-year history of ND baseball and is the first Irish player to hit for the cycle since at least the mid-1980s (boxscore records are incomplete prior to ’85)-with the addition of an inside-the-park HR making his day one of the more unique accomplishments in baseball … Porzel tied the BIG EAST single-game hit record, joining former SHU players Dana Brown (vs. Villanova, ’89) and Josh Vath (vs. UConn, ’98), and his 15 total bases came three shy of the BIG EAST record set by UConn’s Jeff Uccello in a ’96 game vs. BC (4 HRs, 2B) … he is just the second known ND player to record 5-plus hits in a losing effort (Dan Peltier went 5-for-7 in a 16-15 loss to Detroit at the ’89 MCC Tournament) … despite playing in 165 career games with ND, Porzel had registered 4-plus hits just once previously: 4-for-5 earlier this season at UConn (April 2) … it also marked just the second game in his ND career that Porzel has been credited with two home runs … his previous 2-HR game also was unconventional, as he hit one on May 19, 1999, and one the next day-in a rain-suspended BIG EAST Tournament game vs. WVU … Porzel’s six-hit game included: an RBI triple to RC in the 1st (1 out, 0-2 pitch), a 2-out, 2-1 hit to shallow LC that kicked past the sliding CF and rolled to the track for an inside-the-parker, a 2-out, 1st-pitch single to CF in the 5th, a leadoff HR to left in the 8th (his third 2-strike hit of the game), and a 1-0, leadoff single through the left side in the 9th.
Sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey-who missed 24 games as a freshman due to a knee injury-has matched his ’99 totals for batting avg. (.266) , doubles (8) and triples (1) while boosting his RBI (10 to 26), hits (34 to 49), runs (19 to 23), HRs (2 to 3) and walks (11 to 19) and lowering his Ks (15 to 9).
Senior RHP Scott Cavey has logged a career-high 63.1 innings (he threw 58.1 in ’99) while posting a career-best 57 Ks (up from 47 in ’99) … Cavey was known during his first three seasons for low walk totals (19 in 94.1 IP) but he has surpassed that total in 2000 alone, with 20 BBs in 63.1 IP.
Senior RHP John Corbin (4.31, 4-2, 26 GP, 11 SV, 39.2 IP, 35 H, 16 BB, 49 Ks) has posted virtually the same numbers from his ’99 season (4.53, 7-3, 28 GP, 9 SV, 47.2 IP, 49 H, 18 BB, 44 Ks).
Senior 1B Jeff Felker is six hits shy of tying his personal-best (65, in ’99) and has equaled his 17 doubles from a year ago … Felker’s 42 RBI this season are a career-high (he had 40 in ’99) while he has surged to 13 walks (career-best 17 in ’98) and has cut his Ks to 22 (career-low is 24, in ’99) … his 36 runs scored also are close to a career-best (he scored 38 times in both ’97 and ’99).
Junior RHP Aaron Heilman interestingly has the same season and career ERA (2.56) heading into the 2000 BIG EAST Tournament (he posted a 1.61 in 67 IP as a freshman and a 3.14 in 109 IP last season, with 91.1 IP in 2000) … Heilman has allowed 15 fewer hits this season (74, after 89 in ’99) while dropping his walk total from 37 in ’99 to 22 this season.
Senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum has seen his batting avg. drop 40 points from last season (.314 to .274) but he has more RBI (33 to 34) and has matched his low K total from last season (13).
Junior SS Alec Porzel owns the best batting avg. of his career (.351) and is one hit shy of equaling his ’99 total (74) … Porzel has boosted his double total from 15 in ’99 to 20 this season while dropping his K total from 32 to 20 … his RBI total (50) is 10 shy of his team-leading effort from the ’99 season.
Sophomore CF Steve Stanley has elevated his batting avg. 30 points from last season (.326 to .356) while showing an improvement in doubles (6 to 10), walks (25 to 30) and stolen bases (24 to 27).
BILLMAIER KEEPS DELIVERING: Irish freshman 2B Kris Billmaier (Woodinvale, Wash.) made some key contributions during the first week of May, particularly in the final two games of the Pittsburgh series as the Irish coped with the absence the of one of their top hitters, injured senior 1B Jeff Felker … Billmaier led all Irish players during the week of May 1-7 with a .538 batting avg. (7-for-13) and ranked 3rd on the team during the week with eight runs scored, despite not playing in one of the games and starting just three … he also ranked 2nd on the team during the week with 15 total bases, including a pair of HRs and two 2Bs (plus 1 BB) … he was perfect on all nine of his fielding chances and hit 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position … Billmaier was pressed into the starting lineup for the May 3 DH vs. Oakland, as regular starting 2B Jeff Perconte was attending the All-Sports Banquet … Billmaier responded to the challenge in the 9-3 opener by sparking ND’s seven-run 2nd inning with a leadoff single and run scored … he then stroked a solo shot in the 2nd inning of the nightcap for a 4-0 lead and the eventual winning run (5-3) … Billmaier was inserted into the lineup in mid-game of the May 6 nightcap vs. Pitt and delivered an RBI double and run scored in the 6th, a walk and run in the 8th and a third run scored in the winning 10th inning … he capped his big week in the May 7 series finale, with a three-run HR in the 6th, an RBI double and run scored in the 7th and an RBI single and run in the 8th.
WHO’S HOT, WHO’S DUE?: Sophomore CF Steve Stanley saw his career-best, 17-game hitting streak end in the second game of last week’s Rutgers series-the longest by an ND player this season, besting streaks by junior SS Alec Porzel (15 games) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (14) … the “longest” active hitting streak by any Irish player is sophomore C Paul O’Toole’s five-game streak … ND’s top hitters during the last 10 games include: freshman 2B/DH Kris Billmaier (.444, 8-for-18, 7 RBI, 9 R, 2 HR, 2 2B, 2 BB), junior SS Alec Porzel (.415, 17-for-41, 14 RBI, 10 R, 4 HR, 3B, 3 2B, 2 SF, 1-1 SB) and Stanley (.412, 14-for-34, 4 RBI, 11 R, 2 2B, 8 BB, 4-4 SB) … players who are looking to end hitting slumps during the past 10 games include senior 2B Jeff Perconte (2-for-17/.118), sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (7-for-33) and freshman RF Brian Staviksky (.222, 8-for-36)
MULTI-HEADED MONSTER: Like Irish junior SS Alec Porzel-who has 28 home runs and 10 triples in his career-freshman RF Brian Stavisky has proven to be more than a simple power hitter (Baseball America tabbed him as having the “best raw power” of any player in the BIG EAST) … Stavisky has fashioned possibly the top all-around offensive season by any BIG EAST rookie, ranking 3rd in the BIG EAST with 13 home runs, plus a .288 batting avg., 39 RBI, a league-leading five triples and 12 doubles … the 6-3, 230-pound lefty also ranks 2nd in the BIG EAST with 126 total bases and 10th with a .586 overall slugging pct. … in BIG EAST games only, Stavisky ranks 2nd in total bases (61, behind Porzel’s 64) and 3rd in conference slugging pct., at .663 … despite his struggles at times this season, Stavisky had hits in 41 games this season and has gone hitless in consecutive games just twice (both were two-game slumps): April 12-13 vs. Bowling Green and Toledo and May 7 and 13th vs. Pitt and Rutgers … since that first pair of hitless games, Stavisky has batted .322 (29-for-90) in the last 24 games … one of two ND players to start all 56 games this season (sophomore CF Steve Stanley is the other), Stavisky also has made strides in cutting down his strikeouts-as he totaled 25 Ks in the first 28 games but has just eight in the last 18 (and just two Ks in the last eight games).
HEATING UP IN MAY: During the past two seasons, Paul O’Toole has posted impressive numbers in 24 games during the month of May: 35-for-88 (.398), 8 HRs, 3B, 7 2Bs, .773 slugging, 25 RBI, 25 runs, 5-8 SBs, 5 BB and just 5 Ks … in 16 career May games at Eck Stadium, O’Toole is hitting .458 (27-for-59) with .915 slugging (7 HR, 3B, 4 2B), 18 RBI and 19 runs.
WINDING ROAD TO SAVE RECORD: ND senior RHP John Corbin (Hollywood, Fla.) set the Irish single-season record with his 11th save of the 2000 campaign, in the 5-3 nightcap vs. Oakland on May 3 … Corbin-who had squandered two save chances during the previous weekend in the St. John’s series-also is the ND career save leader with 20, well ahead of the three players who previously had held the record with 12 (current junior Aaron Heilman was one of those previous record-holders).
A “CLOSER” LOOK: Despite a rocky past three weeks, senior RHP John Corbin has compiled a solid overall 2000 season that includes a 4.31 ERA, a 4-2 record, 49 strikeouts (3rd on the staff) and just 16 walks in 39.2 IP … Corbin has proven highly effective in key situations, as he ranks 2nd on the staff in low opponent two-out batting average (.354) and ranks 3rd among the ND pitchers for opponent avg. with runners on base (.253) … righthanded batters are hitting just .229 vs. Corbin and he leads the staff with 11.1 Ks per game (his 3.1 K-to-walk ratio trails only Aaron Heilman’s 4.9) … Corbin leads the BIG EAST in saves and appearances (26, 5th in ND history) … his 11 saves were tied for 14th in the nation (entering last week), with East Carolina’s Cory Scott owning an eye-popping 20 … during his two seasons as the ND closer, Corbin has converted 20 of 26 save opportunities (11-of-14 in 2000) while allowing 14 of 35 inherited baserunners to score (7-of-17 this season) … Corbin had left nine straight inherited runners on base before letting 5-of-6 score in three straight outings with inherited runners (the 7-5 loss to Purdue and the final two SJU games) … after missing most of his first two seasons due to injury, Corbin’s past two seasons have seen him have a hand in 31 ND wins while yielding the following two-year stats: a 4.43 ERA, 11-5 record, 20 saves, 93 Ks in 87.1 IP, 34 walks and 84 hits allowed.
SEE THE BALL, HIT THE BALL: Sophomore DH Ken Meyer has compiled an unusually high ratio of hits to walks during the 2000 season, as the righthander has totaled 39 hits while drawing just three walks (two of which came in the final two regular-season series) … Meyer also has shown an affection for extra-base hits, as half of his hits (20) have produced singles, plus 12 2B, five 3B and two HRs- producing his team-best .620 slugging pct.
PENCIL THEM IN: Freshman RF Brian Stavisky and sophomore CF Steve Stanley started all 56 regular-season games at their respective positions while junior Alec Porzel started 54 at shortstop (he missed two early-season games in Jacksonville due to a foot injury) … Stanley also was one of two ND players to start in all 61 games of the ’99 season (SS Brant Ust was the other) and thus has started in 117 straight to begin his career (Ust started every game ND played in his three-year career, logging 179 straight starts) … senior 1B Jeff Felker has played in 220 of 236 ND games during his career (with 212 starts) while Porzel has played in 168 of 176 during the past three seasons (with 163 starts).
INDECISION: Despite ranking 2nd on the ND staff with 11 starts, senior RHP Scott Cavey has posted just seven decisions (5-2) … his last three outings have resulted in no-decisions: he left the April 29 nightcap vs. St. John’s with a 2-1 lead in the 8th onto to see the Red Storm rally for a 6-4 win, a week later, he headed into the 5th inning of a 2-2 game with Pitt but gave up four runs while registering just two outs (ND rallied to win 11-8 in 10), finally, in the second game of the RU series, Cavey entered the 6th with a 2-1 lead but gave up a leadoff HR before leaving the game moments later (the Irish went on win in the 9th, 4-3).
X FACTORS: Three Notre Dame players have shown noticeably different production in the Irish wins and losses this season: sophomore DH Ken Meyer (.425 batting avg. in wins, .179 in losses-for a .246 differential), senior 1B Jeff Felker (.342 in wins, .174 in losses, .168 differential) and sophomore C/LF Paul O’Toole (.345 in wins, .192 in losses, .153 diff.) … in fact, during ND’s last six losses, the above three players have combined to hit just 11-for-64 (.172):
West Virginia (1-for-12)
Meyer 0-for-4 … O’Toole 0-for-4 … Felker 1-for-4
Western Michigan (1-for-12)
Meyer 0-for-4 … O’Toole 0-for-4 … Felker 1-for-4
St. John’s (2-for-10)
Meyer 1-for-3 … O’Toole 1-for-3 … Felker 0-for-4
Meyer 0-for-5 … O’Toole 0-for-4 … Felker 1-for-4
Meyer 1-for-5 … O’Toole 2-for-6 … Felker dnp (inj.)
Meyer 2-for-4 … O’Toole dnp … Felker 1-for-2
STAVISKY, CAVEY HONORED BY BIG EAST: The Notre Dame baseball team picked up two more weekly awards from the BIG EAST Conference on April 24, as freshman RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) was named player of the week while senior RHP Scott Cavey (Omaha, Neb.) was tabbed as co-pitcher of the week-following a string a six wins and no losses for the Irish during April 17-23 … Stavisky-the only BIG EAST freshman to earn a player or pitcher-of-the-week award in 2000-led the Irish during the week with a .455 batting average (10-for-22) … he also paced the team during the week with 10 hits, eight RBI, seven runs, three home runs and 25 total bases, plus two triples, two walks, just two strikeouts, a 1.136 slugging pct. and a .500 on-base pct … the 6-5, 230-pound lefthander extended hit hitting streak to nine games while boosting his season batting average to .300-his highest mark since March 26 … Cavey earned his second BIG EAST pitcher award 2000 (and third of his career), after tossing six shutout innings in the 5-1 win at Georgetown on April 22 (4 H, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 5 groundouts, no leadoff batters reached).
HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Sixth-year ND head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 584-387 (.601) record in 17-plus seasons as a college head coach, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27, 1999, win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 252-108 (.700) mark with the Irish, Mainieri’s teams were 180-121 in his six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri 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 252 wins rank third at ND, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 20 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 14 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 500 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 games in his 30-year career at Miami-Dade North CC … Mainieri picked up his 200th win at Notre Dame in the 7-6 win over Oakland on April 30 ,1999 … he coached his 900th college game in the opener at Georgetown on May 8, 1999.
CONFERENCE WINNING PCT.: Over the course of its first five seasons in the BIG EAST Conference, ND ranks first in the conference with: a .710 overall winning pct. (210-86, Rutgers is second at .629/165-97-1), a .736 BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. (81-29, Rutgers is second at .711/82-33-1) and a .711 winning pct. in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (91-37, Rutgers is second at .686/88-40-1) … St. John’s owned the best BIG EAST Tournament winning pct. during the past four seasons (.625, 9-6), followed by ND at .556 (10-8) … in fact, the double-elimination tournament has been the ultimate bugaboo for ND, with the same team providing the Irish losses during each of the first three seasons (WVU in ’96, Villanova in ’97, RU in ’98) before the Irish were beaten by complete game-efforts from Seton Hall and Providence in ?99.
RARE DOUBLE: Notre Dame posted an .878 (36-5) combined BIG EAST regular-season winning pct. in 1999 in baseball (20-5) and softball (16-0, first unbeaten season in BIG EAST history) … that .878 combined winning pct. ranks first in BIG EAST history, since the conference started sponsoring softball in 1992 (ND held the previous record of .800, set by the baseball and softball teams of 1996 and ’98) ? ND also became the first BIG EAST school ever to post the top conference regular-season winning pct. in baseball and softball during the same season … the Irish baseball (18-7) and softball (12-2) teams then combined for a 30-9 conference mark in 2000 (.769) and have combined for an overall record of 88-26 (.772) this season (baseball 42-14, softball 46-12).
NEED A NEW SCORECARD?: The last month of ND’s regular season provided several unforgettable moments-ranging from an 18-K pitching performance to game-ending tags at the plate and walkoff home runs-but rarely does one see a game like that staged May 7 by ND and Pittsburgh, at wind-swept Eck Stadium … when it was all said and done, Pitt had kept alive its postseason hopes with a 22-18 victory … the day’s sheer numbers-49 combined hits, 66 baserunners, 85 total bases and 409 pitches (222 by ND)-were enough to see several records tumble from the ND and BIG EAST record books … there were several eye-popping individual efforts as well-led by Irish junior SS Alec Porzel, who became the first ND player ever to collect six hits in a game while hitting for the cycle, with the added feature of both a ?traditional? and an inside-the-park home run (see below) … Pitt used five runs to claim a 12-5 lead in the 6th only to see the Irish score 13 straight (three in the 6th, five each in the 7th and 8th) before the Panthers posted 10 in the 9th … the game-tying play was a two-out, two-run flyball that could have been the winning out for the Irish, but the ball fell untouched in shallow LC-between the backpedaling SS Porzel and the charging CF Steve Stanley … here’s a breakdown of the particulars:
The 40 combined runs are 2nd-most ever in a game involving ND and the most in 100 years-since a 34-7 win over Indiana on May 1, 1900 (a span of 2,985 ND games) … the 40 runs are 3rd-most ever in a regular-season BIG EAST game.
The 49 hits are most in the 7-year history of Eck Stadium and were one shy of equaling the record for a BIG EAST game, trailing the 50 posted by Providence (30) and UConn in a 1999 game.
Pitt’s 30 hits tied the BIG EAST record set by PC in its 25-18 win over UConn in ’99.
The teams had a combined 66 baserunners (14 BB, 2 HBP, 1 E) and set a BIG EAST record with 85 total bases (8 HR, 2 3B, 8 2B, 31 1B, the ’99 PC-UConn game had 83).
The teams used 38 total players (22 by Pitt), including 13 pitchers (7 by Pitt).
Six Eck Stadium records were set: team runs (22) and combined runs (40), longest 9-inning game (4:06), team hits (30) and combined hits (49), and RBI by one player (8, by Pitt’s Eric Katchur).
The teams combined for 20 late-game runs in a span of 2 1/2 innings (28 in span of 3 1/2) … 30 of the 40 runs came during five half-innings (one 10-run, four five-runs).
The eight combined HRs are 2nd-most in Eck Stadium history (ND had 5, Bowling Green 4 in a ’95 game).
ND wrapped up an error-free series while Pittsburgh made just one error that led to one unearned run (39 of the day’s runs were earned) … ND entered the day ranked 5th in the nation with a 3.25 team ERA, Pitt ranked 5th in the BIG EAST with a solid 4.24.
The Panthers sent 10 batters to the plate in the 3rd and 6th before totaling 16 plate appearances in the 9th.
Pittsburgh totaled 39 baserunners, with 15 left on base and two erased on double plays.
The game marked the first time in a game involving ND that both teams scored 17-plus runs (in 3,036 all-time games) … comparable games were played in 1950 (an 18-16 loss at Chicago), in ’66 (a 17-16 loss at Georgia) and in the ’99 win over the University of Dallas (19-16, in San Antonio).
FELKER, IRISH WALK OFF WITH SJU SERIES: Jeff Felker-who provided the game-winning hit four days, in an 11-inning, 5-4 win over Michigan-again came through in the clutch with a walkoff home run to punctuate a wild game with St. John’s on April 30 (9-8) … the teams combined for 12 runs and 11 hits (3 HRs) in the final three innings … St. John’s strategy of holding back its ace Kevin McGerry (7 IP, 9 H, 4 BB) was wrecked by the Irish offense … ND countered with J.P. Gagne, but the freshman RHP was in line for the win after six solid innings (8 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks) … Ken Meyer completed an 8-for-13 weekend by batting 4-for-5, highlighted by his 3rd career HR (second of the season), plus a double and another run scored … the teams combined for five HRs, including the first opposite-field shot of the season from Irish freshman RF Brian Stavisky-a three-run blast over the leftfield fence that pushed the Irish to a 7-5 lead in the 7th … despite facing a lefthander in freshman Tom Klemm, Felker went with the first pitch and drove the ball over the fence- 20 feet left of the dark screen in center field (for a rare opposite-field shot from.
IRISH WIN WILD GAME WITH MICHIGAN (April 26)
Senior C and tri-captain Matt Nussbaum-who was featured in a Grand Rapids Press article earlier in the week-was involved in two of the game’s biggest plays , as ND pulled even with Michigan in the 9th, went ahead 5-4 in the 11th and won on a play at the plate, in annual “Baseball Bash” action at Old Kent Park in Grand Rapids … ND held a 3-0 lead in the 5th, only to see Michigan surge ahead, 4-3 … the teams combined for 24 runners left on base (13 by ND).
ND’s frustrations on the bases continued in the 9th, when Ken Meyer was picked off 2nd (with Steve Stanley at 1st) … Alec Porzel kept the Irish alive with a single to center and Nussbaum came through with two outs on a 2-0 count-lofting a single that landed inside the RF line.
Michigan had a chance to end the game in regulation-with runners on 2nd and 3rd-but John Corbin forced Jay Dines into an inning-ending flyout to center.
Stanley ignited the winning rally, drilling a 1-1 pitch that tucked inside the LF line for a single … Jeff Felker went with a one-out first pitch and drove the ball into the gap in right-center-with Stanley motoring all the way home as the Irish dugout erupted with the 5-4 lead.
Corbin struck out Blake Rutkowski to lead off the 11th, but Jeff Quinn sent a full-count pitch up the middle and Scott Tousa flied out to center, before David Parrish worked to an 0-2 count … with Quinn running, Parrish sent a tricky groundball to the left of the 2B bag … Porzel ranged to his left in pursuit of the tough play but the ball ricocheted off his body and bounced in unusual fashion into shallow RC field … Quinn was waved home as four Irish players converged on the ball … Stanley was charging from CF but Porzel quickly called him off, grabbed the ball and threw a strike to Nussbaum, on the 1B side of the plate .. as Quinn began his slide, Nussbaum dove across the plate and applied the tag-ending the game in the most dramatic of fashions.
ND has won the last three games vs. Michigan at Old Kent Park … Stanley is now 7-for-10 in two career games at OKP.
ACADEMICS: The ND baseball program posted a 3.10 team GPA in the ’99 fall semester-the program’s best semester in the six-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … 11 players turned in a Dean’s List semester (3.4-plus) in the fall of ’99, with 19 at 3.0 or higher … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 11 times since ’82, with top candidates in 2000 including senior 2B Jeff Perconte (3.73 cumulative GPA, double major in economics and government) and junior LHP Mike Naumann (3.95, pre-professional science, three 4.0 semesters) … senior LF/C Matt Nussbaum (3.28, government) and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey (3.49, business) also have been nominated for Academic All-America honors.
THE ECK: ND has enjoyed great success at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southeast corner of campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 pct. of their games at ?The Eck? in six-plus seasons (169-40, .809, since ’94), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in ’97 and a 140-33 home record (.809) during five-plus years under head coach Paul Mainieri … ND has posted victories in 96 of its last 118 games (.814) at Eck (since late in the ’96 season), including a 43-9 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.
THREE THOUSAND GAMES: The Notre Dame baseball program has amassed 3,039 official games in 108 seasons as a varsity sport-reaching the 3,000-game milestone on Saturday, March 25, in the first game of the doubleheader vs. Villanova (at Richie Ashburn Field, in downtown Philadelphia).
IRISH AMONG NUMEROUS PRESEASON PICKS: Notre Dame embarked on its 2000 season with a national ranking in two of the three major polls-the only school from the Midwest or Northeast in either poll-while several Irish players received a variety of preseason honors:
ND was ranked 20th in the Baseball America preseason poll -marking the highest preseason ranking for the Irish since 1994. The Irish were ranked 25th in the Collegiate Baseball magazine preseason poll and received the 26th-most votes in the preseason USA Today Baseball Weekly Coaches Poll.
Junior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named a first team preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. Heilman and Stanford’s Jason Young were the only pitchers named first team by both publications (each listed five).
BA listed Heilman as the preseason No. 9 professional prospect among draft-eligible college players (15th overall, including high school seniors) … Heilman ranked fourth on that list among draft-eligible college pitchers.
Heilman also was tabbed by both BA and the BIG EAST Conference coaches as the preseason BIG EAST pitcher of the year.
BA lists Heilman and Young among the three prospects with the best breaking ball (both throw sliders) … the magazine also singled out Heilman and Young as the pitchers who are “closest to the major leagues.”
BA listed ND freshman RF Brian Stavisky (Port Allegany, Pa.) as the top newcomer in the BIG EAST Conference and the preseason BIG EAST freshman of the year … the magazine also projects Stavisky as the nation’s No. 5-rated prospect among current college freshmen, behind Clemson SS Jeff Baker, Florida 3B Pat Osborne, Texas A&M 1B Travis Wong and Stanford OF Jason Cooper.
BA’s list of the “best tools” among BIG EAST players includes four from Notre Dame: Stavisky (“best raw power”), Heilman (“best fastball”), sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley (“fastest runner”) and senior Jeff Felker (“best defensive first baseman”).
BA picked ND to win the 2000 BIG EAST regular-season title, followed by Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, West Virginia and Pittsburgh … the BIG EAST coaches preseason poll forecasted Rutgers as the 2000 champion (76 voting points, five 1st-place votes), narrowly edging ND (74, 3), followed by St. John’s (69, 2), Seton Hall, WVU and Pittsburgh.
PROSPECTS: ND junior Aaron Heilman was listed 9th on Baseball America’s annual preseason list of the top professional prospects in college baseball (15th among all players, including high schoolers) … Heilman ranked 4th on that list among draft-eligible pitchers, behind Arizona sophomore Ben Diggins (3rd), Auburn’s Chris Bootcheck (4th) and Stanford’s Jason Young (7th) … others on that list included California 3B Xavier Nady (1st), Clemson OF Patrick Boyd (2nd), North Carolina OF Tyrell Godwin (5th), Texas A&M OF Daylon Holt (6th) and Pepperdine C Dane Sardinha (8th) … Heilman’s teammates on the USA national team during the summer of ’99 included all of the above players, except for Bootcheck, Boyd and Sardinha … Heilman and Young were the only pitchers that were tabbed as preseason first team All-Americans by both BA (which also included Bootcheck, Diggins and UCLA’s Josh Karp) and Collegiate Baseball (which also included Miami’s David Gil, Florida State’s Jon McDonald, Oklahoma State’s Matt Smith and Cal State Fullerton’s Adam Johnson).
PROSPECTS, PART II: The BIG EAST placed two players in the top 25 of BA’s preseason list of class of 2000 prospects, with St. John’s RHP Kevin McGerry checking in at No. 21 … only three conferences had more players among the top 25 prospects while the BIG EAST’s three players among the top 35 was tied for the second-most by any conference in the nation (Rutgers OF David DeJesus was rated 32nd) … eight BIG EAST players were listed among the top 150 prospects-ranking the BIG EAST behind just four conferences for most players in the top 150.