May 8, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame became the first team to sweep the weekly BIG EAST Conference baseball awards during the 2000 season, as junior shortstop Alec Porzel, junior righthander Aaron Heilman and freshman second baseman Kris Billmaier were honored today for their accomplishments during the week of May 1-7.
Porzel was named BIG EAST player of the week while Heilman earned his eighth career pitcher-of-the-week award and his fourth 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 1999).
Billmaier rounded out the Irish award winners, sharing rookie-of-the-week honors with Pittsburgh freshman first baseman Brant Colamarino.
Notre Dame has compiled 11 BIG EAST weekly awards in 2000-matching Rutgers for the most by any league school (six different Irish players have been honored by the BIG EAST, one better than RU’s total). Heilman previously won the pitcher award on March 6, March 27 and April 17 while senior 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 while righthander J.P. Gagne picked up the April 10 rookie award. Notre Dame has produced at least one award winner in eight of 11 weeks this season.
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), Notre Dame on May 12, 1999 (Jeff Felker, Scott Cavey and Paul O’Toole) and Notre Dame on May 8, 2000 (Porzel, Heilman and Billmaier).
Porzel (Lisle, Ill./Naperville North HS) led the Notre Dame regulars in several categories during six games last week , including a .519 batting avg. (team-best 14 hits in 27 at-bats), 30 total bases, 11 RBI, seven extra-base hits (three doubles, one triple), four home runs, a 1.111 slugging pct. and nine runs scored. He had just one strikeout for the week and helped the Irish play error-free defense in the Pittsburgh series (he had just one error for the week, in 19 chances). He hit 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position, 5-for-7 with two outs and reached on 4-of-6 leadoff at-bats.
Porzel’s single-game highlights included a 3-for-3 effort and run scored in a 5-3 win over Oakland (Mich.) on May 3. He then smacked a walkoff home run to give the Irish a 10-inning, 11-8 win over Pittsburgh in the May 6 nightcap (marking the third straight season that he has hit a walkoff home run in a BIG EAST game).
Porzel closed the week in the May 7 game vs. Pitt (a 22-18 loss) with one of the most noteworthy accomplishments in the history of Notre Dame 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 Notre Dame 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). He also tied the BIG EAST single-game hit record, joining former Seton Hall players Dana Brown (vs. Villanova, ’89) and Josh Vath (vs. UConn, ’98) on that short list, and his 15 total bases came three shy of the BIG EAST record, set by UConn’s Jeff Uccello in a 1996 game vs. Boston College (4 HRs, 2B).
Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) flirted with a no-hitter into the 6th inning of the seven-inning opener vs. Pittsburgh on May 6, en route to a 7-0 victory, his BIG EAST-leading eighth complete game of the season and his second shutout of 2000 (third of his career). Heilman, who pushed his season record to 10-1 (7-0 in seven BIG EAST starts), set down the first 10 batters he faced before yielding a walk and hit batter in the 4th and two hits in the 6th. His 76-pitch outing included just 24 batters faced and eight strikeouts-pushing his BIG EAST-leading season K total to 102 and his career total to 298 (he set the Irish season record in ’99, with 118, while ’93 grad David Sinnes owns the career mark of 315).
Heilman has won his last 10 decisions-becoming just the second Irish pitcher to accomplish that feat and the first since Frank Scanlan went 10-0 in 1908. He lowered his season ERA to 2.21 and became one of two players (as of May 6) in Division I baseball who own a season ERA of 2.3 or lower, 10-plus wins and 100-plus strikeouts (his former USA teammate Len Dinardo of Stetson was 13-1, with a 2.22 ERA and 115 Ks, as of May 6).
Billmaier (Woodinvale, Wash.) made some key contributions during the week, 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 Jeff Felker. Billmaier led all Irish players during the week with a .538 batting avg. (7-for-13) and ranked third 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 second on the team during the week with 15 total bases, including a pair of home runs and two doubles (plus one walk). 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 doubleheader vs. Oakland, as regular starting second baseman 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 homer in the 6th, an RBI double and run scored in the 7th and an RBI single and run in the 8th.
BIG EAST Record Book Update
- Porzel has emerged as one of the BIG EAST’s top all-around offensive players for the 2000 season, ranking 3rd in the conference for overall hits (70), doubles (19) and triples (4), 2nd in total bases (121), 4th in RBI (48), 7th in home runs (8) and 8th in slugging pct. (.611) … in BIG EAST games only, Porzel ranks 6th among conference players in batting avg. (.384) while leading the league in RBI (25), doubles (10), total bases (6) and slugging pct. (.698)-plus ranking 2nd in hits (33) and 4th in home runs (5).
- Heilman leads all BIG EAST players in overall wins (10-1), Ks (102) and complete games (8) while ranking 2nd in low opponent batting avg. (.213) and shutouts (2) and 3rd in ERA (2.21) and innings pitched (85.2) … in conference games only, Heilman leads all BIG EAST players in wins (7-0), Ks (60) and complete games (7) while ranking 2nd in opponent avg. (.215) and shutouts (2), 3rd in IP (50) and 4th in ERA (2.52).
- Heilman’s 2.60 career ERA in BIG EAST play ranks 10th all-time among players with 36-plus IP (he has 124.2 IP)-but also ranks 6th among those with 60-plus IP and 2nd among those with 100-plus (former St. John’s pitcher and current Major Leaguer C.J. Nitkowski posted a 1.93 from ’93-’94, in 102.2 IP) … Heilman ranks 3rd on the BIG EAST career K list, with 137, trailing only former Boston College four-year pitcher Doug Macneil (144, ’88-’91) and Seton Hall first-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 (15-3), two back of former Providence pitcher Todd Incantalupo (’95-’97) … Heilman also is tied for 4th in BIG EAST history with 12 career complete games (in conference play) while he is one shy of tying the BIG EAST season records for wins (8) and complete games (7).
NOTRE DAME RECORD BOOK UPDATE
- Heilman needs 17 Ks to break his own ND season record (118, ’99) and needs 18 to break David Sinnes’ ND career record (315) … he also ranks 2nd in the ND record book with a 2.44 career ERA-just shy of the 2.36 posted from 1959-61 by Nick Palihnich (who threw 149 career innings, compared to Heilman’s 262) … Heilman also ranks 8th at Notre Dame in career appearances (65) and innings (261.2) and 6th in career victories (28, two out of 4th) while his .824 career winning pct. (28-6) ranks 4th all-time at ND and best since 1924.
- 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 (10-1), 7th in low opponent batting avg., since 1991 (.213) and 5th in winning pct. (.909, 10-1) … 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).
- 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 45 career doubles (Joe Binkiewicz had 48 from ’89-’92) … in terms of single-seasons stats, Porzel’s 19 doubles in 2000 already are tied for 10h in the ND record book (two shy of 5th) while his seven sacrifice flies are tied for 2nd, two back of the record set by Robbie Kent in 1994.
UPDATED BIG EAST STANDINGS
|Team||Rec.||Pct.||Games Left||High Finish||Low Finish|
|1.||*Rutgers||17-3||.850||@ND||.870 (20-3)||.739 (17-6)|
|2.||*Notre Dame||16-6||.727||RUT||.760 (19-6)||.640 (16-9)|
|3.||*Seton Hall||15-7||.682||@SJU||.720 (18-7)||.600 (15-10)|
|4.||*Connecticut||14-9||.609||BYE||.609 (14-9)||.609 (14-9)|
|5.||*Boston College||11-9||.550||@PITT||.609 (14-9)||.478 (11-12)|
|6.||Pittsburgh||9-12||.429||BC||.500 (12-12)||.400 (9-15)|
|7.||Villanova||8-12||.400||@WVU||.478 (11-12)||.348 (8-15)|
|8.||St. John’s||8-12||.400||SHU||.478 (11-12)||.348 (8-15)|
|9.||West Virginia||7-12||.368||VILL||.455 (10-12)||.318 (7-15)|
* – Clinched spot in six-team BIG EAST Championship (May 17-20 at Somerset Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J.), seedings are based on conference winning pct.
ND: 2-1 vs. SHU – Can finish 1st-3rd
SHU: 1-2 vs. ND – Can finish 2nd-4th
UConn: 2-1 vs. BC – Can finish 3rd-4th
BC: 3-0 vs. VILL … 2-0 vs. SJU … 1-2 vs. UConn – Can finish 5th-6th
PITT: 1-1 vs. WVU … 1-2 vs. VILL, SJU – Can finish 5th-9th
WVU: 2-1 vs. SJU … 1-1 vs. PITT … TBD vs VILL – Can finish 6th-9th
VILL: 2-1 vs. PITT … 0-3 vs. BC … 1-2 vs. vs. SJU … TBD vs. WVU – Can finish 6th-9th
SJU: 2-1 vs. PITT, VILL … 1-2 vs. WVU … 0-2 vs. BC – Can finish 6th-9th