March 27, 2007
Notre Dame sophomore righthanded pitcher David Phelps (Hazelwood, Mo.) has been named the BIG EAST Conference baseball pitcher of the week, following his three-hit shutout performance in a 1-0 classic opposite South Florida ace Danny Otero, on March 23 in the BIG EAST season opener for the Irish. Junior shortstop Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) also was honored with a spot on the BIG EAST weekly honor roll, after batting .571 (12-for-21, HR, 2 3B) in five games during the past week to take his place among the league’s top offensive players for the 2007 season. Phelps logged the longest outing of his career and reached double-digit strikeouts for the first time (10) while facing just 32 total batters (five over the minimum, with a walk and hit batter) and not allowing any USF runners to venture beyond first base.
Brett Lilley’s strong week included batting 12-for-21 with a home run, a pair of triples and nine runs scored from his leadoff spot (photo by Matt Cashore).
Phelps previously was named to the BIG EAST honor roll for the week of Feb. 19-25, after his six strong innings helped knock off #12 TCU, 4-1 (unearned run, 5 H, BB, 5 Ks, 24 BF). Lilley is the third Irish player to be named to the honor roll, with senior centerfield Danny Dressman recognized the previous week after batting .550 over the final five Spring Break games (11-for-20, 6 RBI, 5 R, 3B, 2B, 2 BB, K, sac. bunt, SB, 0 Es).
Phelps located 78 of his 115 pitches for strikes (68%) in the pitchers duel with Otero while holding the potent USF lineup to 0-for-11 batting with runners on base and 1-for-9 with 2-outs (the Bulls lefthanded hittert were limited to a 1-for-12 night). He became the first righthanded pitcher to throw a 9-inning solo shutout since J.P. Gagne’s 1-0 win over BYU midway through the 2002 College World Series season (that also was the ND’s previous 1-0, 9-inning game).
The latest BIG EAST statistical rankings still show Phelps second in ERA (0.92), among the league’s pitchers with at least 1.0 inning per team game. He owns the BIG EAST’s top ERA among full-time starters and pitchers with 30-plus innings, as Pittsburgh’s Kyle Landis owns a 0.33 but has started just twice in his 27 innings and seven total appearances. Phelps also is tied for second among BIG EAST pitchers in wins (4-1, one behind the 5-0 owned by USF’s Jason Delaney) while ranking fourth in starts (6) and sixth in three other categories: low opponent batting avg. (.251), strikeouts (36) and innings pitched (39.0).
Phelps and Louisville’s Zack Pitts (1.12, 37 Ks, .179) are the only pitchers currently ranked among the BIG EAST top-10 for ERA, strikeouts and low opponent batting average. Phelps easily could be 6-0, with his other two starts including an opening-week no-decision versus Texas State (the Bobcats scored on a solo home run and catchers interference) before receiving no run support in a 3-0 loss to Sacred Heart (which threw its ace, Jay Monti). Phelps also owns a 3.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season (36/11), has logged eight more innings than hits allowed (31) and has uncorked just one wild pitch (with four hit batters).
The outing versus USF saw Phelps allow just two leadoff batters to reach base – including one in the 9th, before he struck out the side for a memorable finish. He became the 10th different Notre Dame pitcher (done a total of 15 times) to log a 9-inning solo shutout during the past 13 seasons (1995-2007) while his 10 strikeouts marked just the third time among those 15 games that an Irish pitcher has reached double-digit Ks in a 9-inning solo shutout (current junior LHP Wade Korpi had an 11-K game in a 2-0 win over Western Michigan during the 2006 season).
Phelps joined Gagne as the only Notre Dame pitchers to post a 9-inning solo shutout in a 1-0 game since at least the middle of the 1991 season (pending further research into the ND baseball archives), with that span covering at least 964 games.
USF’s only baserunner in the first three innings versus Phelps came with one out in the 1st, as freshman second baseman Ryne Intlekofer made a diving spot but bobbled the ball and was unable to throw out Walter Diaz. Intlekofer quickly redeemed himself moments later, slapping down a strong throw from catcher Matt Weglarz to thwart the stolen-base attempt.
Three innings later, Ty Taborelli pulled a 1-1 pitch into left-center for a two-out single but Phelps blew a 1-2 pitch past Addison Maruszak to quickly end the threat. Dexter Butler then reached on a single up the middle to start the 5th (on another 1-2 pitch) but Phelps induced a flyout to center field off the bat of Brandin Daniel before Joey Angelberger (2-2 cont) and Nick Cardieri (1-2) both went down looking at third strikes.
Butler earned a five-pitch walk to reach with two outs in the 7th but Daniel again flew out to center to keep the score at 1-0. A tiring Phelps later hit Cardieri with a first-pitch offering – putting a runner on base with one out – but 9-hole hitter Brad Karns flew out to left field and pinch-hitter Ryan Soares lined a shot up the middle that was deftly snared by Intlekofer.
Diaz jumped on an 0-1 pitch to start the 9th, sending a single through the left side, but Phelps came back to strike out Taborelli on foul tip into Weglarz’s glove (on a 1-2 pitch). Maruszak then narrowly missed a sure double down the rightfield line but was frozen on a 2-2 pitch for the second strikeout – and Butler ended the game on the same count, after holding off on an inside fastball that ended the game.
Lilley continued to be team’s top offensive player from his leadoff spot last week while raising his season batting avg. to .395 (10th in the BIG EAST and run total to 26 (4th). His three triples this season are most by any BIG EAST player (after hitting none in his first two seasons), with Lilley also currently ranking fifth among BIG EAST players in on-base pct. (.495) and hits (34).
Last week’s action saw Lilley extend his hitting streak to seven games while batting 12-for-21 (.571), with 9 runs scored and 3 RBI. His first home run of the season (and third of his career), plus a pair of triples, yielded a .907 slugging pct. for the week while 4 walks helped produce a .640 on-base pct. and impressive 1.545 OPS for the week (on-bae plus slugging).
Lilley became the ninth Notre Dame player ever to score 5-plus runs in a game (5), after batting 4-for-5 with a walk in the 17-9 win over Western Michigan (2 RBI. 3B). He joined former All-America third baseman Matt Macri (’04) as the only Notre Dame players ever to have 5 hits and 5 runs in different games during their careers (Lilley went 5-for-5 vs. Cincinnati in ’05). Lilley led off game-2 of the USF series with a triple (2-for-4, 2 R)and then homered to start game-3 for the Irish offense (3-for-5). He also went 1-for-3 (R) in the home-opener win over Cleveland State and hit 2-for-4 in the game-1 pitchers duel with the Bulls.
In addition to his team-best statistics mentioned above, Lilley also leads the squad in times hit-by-pitch (9; his 60 career HBPs already are 12th in NCAA history) while ranking second on the team in total bases (44), third in slugging pct. (.512) and walks (8) and fouth in stolen bases (3). Situationally, he owns a team-best .415 batting avg. vs. righthander hitters (5th on team with .333 vs. LHPs) and is hitting .367 with runners o
Here’s a look at the updated BIG EAST Conference statistical leaders (including ranks for upcoming opponent Pittsburgh):
Notre Dame Team Offense Ranks Among BIG EAST Teams
1st – triples (9) and sac. bunts (27) … Pitt is 4th in triples (5) and 11th in sac. bunts (9)
3rd – slugging pct. (.421) … Pitt is 11th (.370)
4th – batting avg. (.297) and runs socred (135) – Pitt is 10th in batting (.269) and runs (97)
5th – on-base pct. (.379) … Pitt is 11th in OB (.340)
6th – doubles (36) and walks drawn (78)… Pitt is 10th in doubles (25) and 12th in walks (62)
7th – low strikeouts (140) … Pitt is 6th (134)
8th – home runs (12) … Pitt is 9th (11)
9th – and stolen bases (30) … Pitt is 6th (24)
Notre Dame Team Pitching Ranks Among BIG EAST Teams
2nd – ERA (3.63) … Pitt is 4th at 3.96
3rd – low opp. batting avg. (.255) … Pitt is 8th (.279)
4th – low home runs allowed (8) … Pitt also is 4th (8)
5th – low walks per 9 IP (3.93) … Pitt is 4th (3.74)
8th – srtikeouts per 9 IP (6.73) and low hits allowed (183) … Pitt is 7th in Ks (7.32) and hits (181)
10th – saves (2) … Pitt is 12th (0)
Notre Dame Team Fielding Ranks Among BIG EAST Teams
8th – double plays turned (14) … Pitt is 9th with 12
10th – fielding pct. (.952), fewest errors (42) and fewest stolen bases allowed (28) … Pitt is 3rd in fielding (.972) and fewest Es (20), 9th in DPs (12)
Notre Dame Pitchers Among BIG EAST Leaders
2nd in ERA (0.92), 1st among starters and among all pitchers with 30-plus innings (Pitt’s Kyle Landis has a 0.33 ERA in 7 GP/2 GS and 27 IP)
2nd in wins (4-1), USF’s Chris Delaney is 5-0
4th in games started (6)
6th in strikeouts (36), low opp. batting avg. (.215) and innings pitched (39.0)
7th in appearances (10)
4th in starts (6)
Notre Dame Position Players Among BIG EAST Leaders
1st in triples (3)
4th in runs (26)
5th in hits (34) and on-base pct. (.495)
10th in batting avg. (.395)
5th in home runs (5) and slugging pct. (.657)
9th in total bases (46)
2nd in triples (2)
11th in walks (13)