June 15, 2002

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College World Series – Game #3, vs. Stanford (Saturday, June 15, 2002)

CAPE COD REUNION: Several former Cape Cod League teammates from ND and Stanford had a chance to reunite at Thursday’s night’s tournament dinner … ND senior C Paul O’Toole, sophomore 2B Steve Sollmann and senior 3B Andrew Bushey took the time to catch up with three former Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (a.k.a YDR) teammates: sophomore LF Brian Hall, junior DH Jason Cooper and senior RHP J.D. Wilcox … a couple tables over, ND junior LF Brian Stavisky was visiting with his former Hyannis Mets teammates junior C Ryan Garko and junior LHP Tim Cunningham … Irish senior CF Steve Stanley played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the summers of 1999 and 2000, with his Brewster teammates including Stanford senior LHP Dan Rich … ND senior DH Matt Bok also was a late Cape Cod addition in 2002, playing for the Bourne Braves … O’Toole played for Brewster in 2000 while Stavisky played for Hyannis in 2000 and ’01 …. Bushey played just the first month of ’01 with YDR before electing to have surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.

MORE CAPE COD CONNECTIONS: Other Cape Cod players in the CWS include four from Hyannis: Clemson junior OF Frank, Georgia Tech junior OF John Henry Kail and junior 1B/OF Jason Perry and South Carolina senior RHP Blake Taylor (that’s seven Mets teammates in the CWS, including Stavisky).

OTHER ND-STANFORD TIES: ND senior OF Matt Strickroth and Stanford sophomore RHP John Hudgins were teammates on the 1992 South Mission Viejo (Calif.) Little League All-Stars … current ND head coaches Bobby Clark (men’s soccer) and Tyrone Willingham (football) previously were head coaches at Stanford.

MAINIERI TO LEAVE OMAHA BRIEFLY FOR FATHER-IN-LAW’S SERVICE: Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri will be making a short departure from Omaha on Sunday morning in order to be with his wife Karen in Oregon, Ohio … Karen’s father Bill Fejes passed away on Friday morning, with his funeral service to be held Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. … Mainieri’s time of return to Omaha is contingent on ND’s result in the first game (and the time of the ensuing Monday game) … media are encouraged to make use of Saturday’s postgame period to direct any questions they may have for coach Mainieri (including questions regarding Monday’s matchup) … after Saturday night, associate head coach Brian O’Connor will serve as the official spokesman of the ND coaching staff until coach Mainieri’s return.

ONE YEAR LATER: The Notre Dame baseball team has ended its 45-year CWS drought – led by a veteran lineup (nine of top 10 batters returned) and a highly-touted freshman class that includes three of the team’s top pitchers (led by top starters Grant Johnson and Chris Niesel) … the Irish had to replace their pair of ace pitchers from the 2001 season – Aaron Heilman and Danny Tamayo – who combined for a 23-3 record and 2.22 ERA in 227 innings during the 2002 season, with 217 strikeouts (8.6 per 9 IP), just 48 walks (1.9 per 9 IP) and 177 hits allowed (7.0 per 9 IP).

DUBBER GETS W’s: Today’s starter, freshman RHP Grant Johnson – nicknamed “Dubber” due to his middle initial (for Wayne) – has racked up plenty of wins in recent weeks, winning each of his last seven decisions for a 9-4 overall record … Johnson needs one more win to become the first ND freshman ever to post double-digit wins (David Sinnes was 9-2 in 1990) … just 13 previous ND pitchers have posted 10-plus wins – with Aaron Heilman the only one to do so since 1994 (he was 11-2 in 1999, 10-2 in 2000, and 15-0 in ’01).

DOUBLE-DUECE REVISITED: Grant Johnson’s many similarities to former ND four-year All-American Aaron Heilman include a chance to pitch for the USA National team (as Heilman did in the summer of 1999, after his sophomore season) … Johnson also inherited Heilman’s No. 22 jersey.

OPENING WINS: Notre Dame has won the opening game in each of its previous three 2002 postseason competitions: 8-3 vs. Rutgers (BIG EAST Tournament), 8-6 vs. Ohio State (NCAA South Bend Regional) and 10-4 at Florida State (NCAA Super Regional) … the Irish are 8-2 overall in the 2002 postseason.


Offense         Stanford    Notre Dame
Batting Average .321 .324Runs Per 9 Innings 8.1 (486/541.2) 8.1 (481/536.1)
Home Runs 84 51Triples 21 24Doubles 140 124Slugging Pct. .516 .473
Walks 203 247Strikeouts 330 313Walk-to-K Ratio 0.62 0.79On-Base Pct. .388 .399
Sac. Bunts 29 65Stolen Bases 73 61Grounded Into DPs 64 33
Starters Over .400 0 2Starters Over .350 3 3Starters Over .300 7 6
Pitching Stanford Notre Dame
ERA 3.95 3.55Opponent Batting Avg. .257 .254
Innings 556.1 558.1Strikeouts 432 469Walks 203 223K/BB Ratio 2.1 2.1
Saves 16 18Shutouts 3 3Complete Games 8 6
Home Runs Allowed 45 26Wild Pitches 45 36Hit Batters 48 46
Fielding Stanford Notre Dame
Errors 70 98Fielding Pct. .971 .960Double Plays 70 64


?           Guthrie Johnson
ERA 2.34 3.29Record 12-1 9-4Opponent Batting Avg. .228 .246
Appearances 18 17Starts 18 13Innings 142.1 95.2
Strikeouts 125 84K Per 9 IP 7.9 7.9Walks 32 42BB Per 9 IP 2.0 4.0K-to-BB Ratio 3.9 2.0
Shutouts 1 0Complete Games 5 1
Home Runs Allowed 8 4Wild Pitches 13 5Hit Batters 10 6


Inning  ERA Opp. Avg.   Strikeotus  Walks   Innings1st 6.23    .250        19      6   13.02nd 1.38    .213        17      3   13.03rd 2.57    .235        12      7   14.04th 3.00    .264        10      5   15.05th 1.26    .278        12      6   14.16th 7.45    .400        3       8   9.27th 1.50    .050        5       4   6.08th 0.00    .056        2       2   6.09th 7.71    .203        4       1   4.2

Early Bump – Freshman RHP Grant Johnson often has struggled in the 1st inning this season (9 earned runs in 13 innings, or the equivalent of a 6.23 ERA) but the Team USA hopeful has been tough in the 2nd-5th, allowing just 13 earned runs (2.08 ERA) … Johnson tired in the 6th inning of several early outings, with a 7.45 overall ERA for that inning.

Quick Ks – Despite his early ERA struggles, Grant Johnson has posted his most strikeouts in the 1st (19 Ks) and 2nd(17) innings, compared to 12 in the 3rd, 10 in the 4th and 12 in the 5th.

VS. FIRST ROUNDERS: Notre Dame – which is slated to face Stanford All-American and Cleveland Indians 1st-round draft pick Jeremy Guthrie – has some experience this season facing a pitcher who ended up being a 1st-round pick in the 2002 Major League draft, with the Irish winning all three of those games:

  • April 12 – The first showdown produced one of the key victories in ND’s 2002 season, as the Irish rode the strong pitching of replacement starter Ryan Kalita (subbing for Chris Niesel, who was out with mono) and surging closer J.P. Gagne to outlast Virginia Tech ace lefthander Joe Saunders (the 12th overall pick, by the Anaheim Angels) … that 7-inning game extended to 11 innings, with ND winning 2-1 behind Matt Bok’s pinch-hit triple and Joe Thaman’s single back to the box … Saunders allowed the single run on eight hits and no walks over eight innings while racking up 11 Ks in his 134-pitch outing – but Kalita (6 IP, UER, BB, 5 K) and Gagne (5 IP, 3 H, BB, K) matched the pitcher who was rated as the top lefty in college baseball.
  • May 4 – The next matchup vs. a top pitcher saw ND rally in its final at-bat of the 7-inning opener to beat Rutgers and its ace righthander Bobby Brownlie, 6-5 … Brownlie was touched for nine hits and one walk in his 91-pitch outing while failing to strike out an ND batter (the first time in his career that he failed to register a K)
  • May 23 – The Irish later jumped all over Brownlie in the opener of BIG EAST Tournament, knocking the RU ace out of that 8-3 game after five innings (6 H, 7 R/6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K).

Notre Dame also faced an eventual 2nd-round draft pick in the May 11 game vs. Villanova in Philadelphia, with VU rallying in the 9th for an 8-7 win … ND roughed up ace RHP Brian Slocum over the first 5.1 innings (6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 Ks) but VU came back from the 6-4 deficit to get the win.

FAR & WIDE: The 2002 Notre Dame baseball team includes players from 21 states/provinces, with junior RHP Brandon Viloria (Wailuku) becoming the first Hawaii native ever to letter with the ND baseball program (which has produced nearly 700 all-time letterwinners, from 43 different states) … Viloria’s parents Adelfo and Sandra are in Omaha and have the chance to see their son pitch for just the third time in his ND career … they also attended this season’s March 30th doubleheader vs. Georgetown, in Bethesda, Md., in addition to attending the St. John’s series the following weekend at Eck Stadium, on April 6-7.