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Notre Dame Travels To Fresno State

March 14, 2001

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Wednesday, March 14, 2001 … at Fresno State … Pepsi Johnny-Quik Classic … Beiden Field

Sophomore RHP J.P. Gagne will be looking to extend the impressive performances by Notre Dame starting pitchers during the 2001 season, as the Irish starters have combined for a 1.40 ERA through the first 12 games … the bulk of those starts (11 of 12) have come from the regular three-man rotation, with sophomore RHP Peter Ogilvie doing his part last night vs. Navy in his first collegiate outing (5 IP, UER, 3 H, 2 Ks) … the other combined stats for ND starting pitchers in 2001 include a 7-1 record in 77 innings pitched, with 63 Ks, 16 walks ad 54 hits allowed (for nine-inning averages of 7.4 Ks, 1.9 BBs and 6.3 hits) … senior RHP Danny Tamayo’s shutout of UNM gives him a 1.00 season ERA, plus 22 Ks, five walks and 16 hits allowed in 27 innings … senior RHP Aaron Heilman has a 1.24 ERA and 4-0 record, plus 30 Ks, 7 BB and 20 H allowed in 29 IP … junior RHP Matt Buchmeier is 1-0, 2.86, with 9 Ks/4 BB/15 H in 16 IP … ND’s overall 2.68 team ERA includes a 5.56 ERA by the bullpen.

Head coach Paul Mainieri has announced ND’s planned starting rotation for the rest of the Pepsi/Johnny Quick Classic, with junior RHP Matt Buchmeier set to throw on Thursday, followed by senior RHPs Aaron Heilman on Friday and Danny Tamayo on Saturday … see p. 2 for information on each pitcher and the likely startin g lineup.

The 4-4 game with Navy was the 17th tie in the 109-year history of Notre Dame baseball and the first since 1989, when the Irish played a 5-5 game at Northwestern (that season ended with a trip to Fresno State for NCAA regional action).

ND’s team batting average has dipped to .298 but is 21 points lower with runners in scoring position (.277), including just 5-for-20 (.200) in the first two tournament games … by contrast, the Irish batted .299 overall in the 2000 season but hit 14 points higher (.313) with runners in scoring position … the lack of clutch hitting has seen the Irish total just 20 runs in the last six games, with no more than five runs in any game.

ND has totaled just five runs in the first two innings this season (three in the 1st, two in the 2nd) while totaling nine in both the 3rd and 4th and right in the 5th … the 7th inning continues to be ND’s most dominant (17-3, including 3-0 in Fresno) while ND’s second-most productive inning has been the 8th (10) … the Irish have yielded 15 runs in the 9th inning, compared to just 30 in the first eight innings combined, with the 8th inning (8 runs allowed) also being trouble for the ND pitchers.

Despite the fact that the Irish baseball team is wrapping up a first month of the season that will have spanned more than 10,000 miles, the team’s path to Fresno was much easier than the program’s previous trip to Fresno … at the end of the 1989 season, the Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament at South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium was pushed back to torrential rains and the Irish were forced to win four games in a 23-hour span in order to claim the MCC’s automatic berth in the NCAAs … that marked ND’s first trip to the NCAAs since 1970, with the Irish dropping a pair to host Fresno State (9-8, 11-4) while beating Portland (8-6) at that NCAA West II Regional … Wichita State won that regional en route to capturing the 1989 national title.

In addition to the above two games in the 1989 NCAAs, Notre Dame lost its first two games versus Fresno State-in midseason of 1961 … the Bulldogs won both of those games (19-13, 8-2) and hold a 4-0 series edge versus the Irish (with a 47-27 scoring edge).

Two members on the Irish baseball team-junior CF Steve Stanley and junior C Paul O’Toole-were starters in the 2000 Cape Cod League all-star game (as members of the Brewster Whitecaps) while ND sophomore RF Brian Stavisky also was a starter in the Cape All-Star game and played for the Hyannis Mets … Fresno State junior 2B Tom Creighton played alongside Stanley and O’Toole on the Brewster squad that beat Hyannis for the Cape title … Bulldogs junior LHP Beau Hintz also played in the Cape during the summer of 2000, as a member of the Wareham Gatemen … Stanley led the Cape in batting (.329) while ranking second in runs (31), third in on-base pct. (.429) and fourth in stolen bases (20-of-27, in 43 GP) … O’Toole hit .273 while impressing observers with his wooden-bat power, tying for fifth in the Cape with four home runs, plus three triples, three doubles, 24 RBI, 26 runs, 18 walks, 27 Ks and 13-of-18 SBs (41 GP) … Stavisky (.324) finished second in the Cape batting race while seeing his Mets lost to Brewster in the Cape title game (6-2) … Stavisky hit three HRs in the Cape, including one as MVP of the all-star game (his West squad lost to Stanley and O’Toole’s East team, 7-6), while also ranking 5th in the Cape for slugging pct. (.453), 4th in RBI (26), 2nd in doubles (14) and 5th in hits (55), plus 19 walks, 30 Ks and four SBs (44 GP) … Hintz was a teammate of ND junior OF Matt Strickroth during the summer of 2000 with the Mat-Su Miners in the Alaska League … Strickroth then was joined on the Miners in the summer of 2001 by Irish senior RHP Danny Tamayo and Fresno State junior C Brad Harper.

By scoring vs. Navy, Notre Dame set the team record for consecutive games with at least one run scored (134), dating back to a 12-0 loss at Florida International on Feb. 21, 1999 … ND scored in the each of the first 133 games of the Paul Mainieri era (Feb. 24, 1995-March 9, 1997) and has scored in of 373 of 378 total games during the Mainieri era (98.7 percent).

ND’s last 14 games have including three shutout performances by Irish pitchers … Danny Tamayo tossed a three-hit shutout at Mississippi State in the 2000 NCAA Regional (3-0) before duplicating that feat in Monday’s 3-0 win over New Mexico … Aaron Heilman blanked Florida Atlantic on five hits to lead ND’s 3-0 win over the Blue Wave on March 2.

Senior RHP Danny Tamayo (Miami, Fla.)-who missed the ’99 season before undergoing “Tommy John” reconstructive elbow surgery-continued his stellar start to 2001 with a three-hit shutout of New Mexico (3-0) in Monday’s opening action … Tamayo (2-1) reprised the three-hit shutout that he turned in at Mississippi State in the 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional, allowing two other baserunners to reach via walks while striking out five UNM batters … his 122-pitch outing included eight groundouts and 13 flyouts, with a single through the left side in the first inning, a single to right in the third and an infield single in the seventh … Tamayo retired nine straight batters from the third through sixth innings, highlighted by four straight strikeouts of the No. 5-8 batters.

The shutout of New Mexico dropped Danny Tamayo’s season ERA to 1.00, with 22 Ks, five walks and 16 hits allowed in 27 innings … Tamayo has allowed just one earned run in his last 22 innings (by South Florida), after allowing two fifth-inning earned runs in the opener vs. New Orleans.

ND freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (Cincinnati, Ohio) used his bat and his glove to turn in two of the biggest plays in the win over UNM … the Irish failed to plate any of their six baserunners during the first six innings before breaking through with a pair of runs in the 7th … the Lobos then loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but Sollmann saved the day with a lunging stab of a linedrive that nearly tied the game … Andrew Bushey ignited the ND rally with a one-out single to left before Ben Cooke executed the hit-and-run with a single down the leftfield line … Sollmann then fouled off three pitches with two strikes before ultimately slapping a full-count groundball to the left side (on the ninth pitch of the AB) … with the infield playing in, SS Dusty Young couldn’t stop the hard-hit grounder from skidding into left field … UNM then sent lefty Josh Love to the mound (replacing Jason Bengert) but Steve Stanley hit a first-pitch sacrifice fly to center for the 2-0 lead … UNM was poised to tie the game moments later, after an infield single and a pair of errors loaded the bases with one out .. .Danny Tamayo then induced Young into a first-pitch infield popup before leadoff batter Troy Cairns ripped a full-count pitch towards Sollmann’s right-with the converted outfielder quickly leaping into the air and extending nearly horizontal to the ground before snaring the ball to end the threat.

Senior SS Alec Porzel is on the verge of becoming the first Irish player ever to reach 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in his career … Porzel has 29 HRs and 27 SBs in 187 GP, leaving him on the doorstep of the 30-30 plateau … junior C Paul O’Toole (17 HR, 31 SB, 126 GP) likewise has a shot at the 30-30 distinction.

ND edged up a spot in both the Baseball America (9th) and USA Today/ESPN coaches polls (10th) while jumping 11th to 8th in the Collegiate Baseball poll … BA dropped Auburn from 7th to 13th, with the top eight teams in that poll including Rice (18-4), South Carolina (16-2), Georgia Tech (13-5), Nebraska (12-3), Arizona State (17-4), Miami (17-5), LSU (13-6), Pepperdine (15-4) and USC (12-8) … CB’s top seven teams include Rice, South Carolina, Stanford, ASU, Nebraska, Pepperdine and Georgia Tech, with LSU dropping from 2nd to 11th, USC falling from 4th to 13th and Auburn slipping from 8th to 15th … the top 10 teams in the coaches poll include Rice (997 voting points), South Carolina (965), Stanford (927), ASU (875), Georgia Tech (772), LSU (698), Miami (678), Nebraska (634, making the jump from 12th), Pepperdine (613) and ND (582), with Auburn dropping from 7th to 12th and USC from 4th to 13th … ND’s BIG EAST rival Rutgers checks in at 23rd in the BA poll, 24th in the coaches poll and 25th in the CB poll while Mississippi State (another ND opponent) is 21st in the CB poll and received the 26th-most votes in the coaches poll.

Junior rightfielder Paul O’Toole (Lakewood, Ohio) smacked his second home run of the season and 17th of his career to open the eighth inning of the UNM game, sending a 2-1 pitch over the rightfield fence … O’Toole also hit a sharp single up the middle earlier in the game for a 2-for-4 game that could signal an end to his season-opening slump.

With eight Ohio natives on the 2001 Irish baseball squad, Notre Dame could field an all-Ohio squad that also would include second-year assistant coach Dusty Lepper at SS (he is a native of Findlay and played at Toledo) while the team’s student managers-Ken Kleppel and Katie Furman-would split time in left field (both hail from the Cleveland area) … here’s how the rest of the all-Ohio squad would be aligned: junior C Andrew Bushey (Boardman), junior 1B Paul O’Toole (Lakewood), freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (Cincinnati), senior 3B Ben Cooke (Bay Village), junior CF Steve Stanley (Upper Arlington) and junior RF Matt Bok (Akron) … two freshman RHPs would share pitching duties: Mike Morgalis (Cincinnati) and Nick Colagiovanni (Garfield Heights).

Several members of the Notre Dame baseball team bring big frames to the ballpark, including All-America RHP Aaron Heilman (6-5, 225 pounds) and two everyday starters: sophomore RF Brian Stavisky (6-3, 220) and freshman 1B Joe Thaman (6-4, 205) … sophomore 1B Mike Holba (6-7, 225) is the tallest member of the Irish squad and was an all-state quarterback as a prep while junior OF Matt Strickroth (6-5, 230) was an all-state football lineman during his high school days.

Notre Dame has faced 272 all-time opponents in 109 varsity baseball seasons, including five first-time opponents during the 2001 season: Sam Houston State, Florida Atlantic, South Florida, the University of the Pacific and New Mexico … one more first-time opponent (Bucknell) could join that list this week.

Irish freshman 2B Steve Sollmann (.372 season avg.) and rookie 1B Joe Thaman (.366, including eight of ND’s 25 doubles) continue to produce as members of a veteran Irish offense that is hitting just .298 as a team … their strong starts are all the more noteworthy considering the early-season struggles of recent Irish players during their freshman seasons, including Alec Porzel in 1998, Steve Stanley in 1999 (opened 0-for-17) and Brian Stavisky in 2000.

The current Spring Break trip will complete a first month that will see ND traverse more than 10,000 miles while playing in four parts of the country (also Starkville, Miss., San Antonio, Texas, St. Petersburg, Fla.) …the well-traveled Irish spent 13 of 17 days on the road from Feb. 16-March 4 (all but Feb. 19-20, 26-27) and will be away from home during 19 of 27 days from Feb. 16-March 17 (ND will spend the first six weekends away from home, before a March 31-April 1 series with Seton Hall at Eck Stadium).

ND opened play at the Bank of Commerce Classic, losing a tough 7-6 game to New Orleans before twice knocking off the host team and 16th-ranked Mississippi St. (7-5, 4-2 in 11) … the Irish then swept all three games in San Antonio at the Alamo Invitational, beating Texas-San Antonio (8-3), Texas-Pan American (14-9) and Sam Houston State (7-4) … ND then blanked Florida Atlantic (3-0) behind Aaron Heilman’s first career nine-inning shutout before losing to South Florida, 6-1 (both games were played at Florida Power Park, the spring training home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) … Notre Dame also played an exhibition vs. the Devil Rays, losing 17-4 while saving its top pitchers (a third game versus Western Michigan was rained out) … Heilman’s strong eight innings then powered ND past UOP on March 10 (5-2, in Stockton) and the Irish then survived a scare from Eastern Michigan, 4-3.

Senior RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) received his ninth career BIG EAST Conference pitcher-of-the-week award, after tossing the first nine-inning shutout of his career on March 2 versus Florida Atlantic (3-0), in St. Petersburg, Fla .. since the BIG EAST awards began in 1985, Heilman is the only individual to amass more than four player or pitcher-of-the-week awards in his career (including one in 1998, three in 1999 and four in 2000) … with plenty of pro scouts in attendance for the swing through spring training territory-and with FAU ace Petersen Benjamin going for the Blue Wave-Heilman fashioned shutout in often dominating fashion (he owns three previous seven-inning shutouts), scattering five hits and one walk over the nine innings while striking out nine batters in his economical 110-pitch outing, versus a Blue Wave offense that already had posted wins over the Miami Hurricanes and Oklahoma State … he faced just five batters over the minimum (32), thanks to a double play in the fifth inning and an earlier rundown play (FAU’s seventh baserunner reached on an error) … after working out of a fifth-inning jam (runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs, followed by the double-play ball and a popup), the 6-5, 225-pounder retired 13 of the next 14 batters before second baseman fielding error with two outs in the ninth (the next batter recorded the fifth hit off Heilman, who then ended the game with his ninth K) … Heilman kept his pitches down, as just six balls left the infield (nine Ks, 11 groundball outs, two flyouts, two infield popups, two infield lineouts and a rundown).