Kyle Weiland's postseason honors place him among the nation's top freshmen for the 2006 season (photo by Pete LaFleur).

Standout Closer Kyle Weiland Collects Freshman All-America Honors

June 10, 2006

Notre Dame righthanded pitcher Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.) – whose 16 saves this season broke the team record and currently rank second in all of Division I – has been named a 2006 Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball magazine, adding to his honor earlier this season as a second team all-BIG EAST Conference selection. Weiland is the 19th Notre Dame baseball player since 1990 to receive Freshman All-America honors, joining his 2006 teammates Jeff Samardzija (’04) and Brett Lilley (’05) in that distinction. At least one Notre Dame newcomer has been named a Freshman All-American in nine of the past 10 seasons (all but 2003).

Weiland compiled a 2.37 season earned-run average that ranked fourth-best on the 2006 Irish staff while making 30 appearances, one shy of the Notre Dame freshman record (31) set by Aaron Heilman in 1998 (when he led the nation with a 1.61 ERA). In addition to posting nearly a 2.5-to-1 strikeout to walk average (48/20), Weiland logged 11 more innings (49.1) than hits allowed (39, with only one home run) and limited opponents to a .224 opponent batting average that ranks third-best ever by a Notre Dame freshman behind Heilman’s .198 in 1998 and the .201 allowed by Larry Mohs in ’94. Weiland converted all but one of his save opportunities en route to nearly doubling Heilman’s freshman save record (9) while his 16 saves were three better than the previous overall Irish record (13) set by J.P. Gagne in 2003.


Kyle Weiland converted all but one of his save opportunities in 2006 (photo by Pete LaFleur).



Here are additional notes on Weiland’s season and Notre Dame’s Freshman All-America history:

AMONG NATIONAL AND CONFERENCE LEADERS — Weiland currently is tied with Oregon State’s Kevin Gunderson for 2nd in the nation with 16 saves, trailing only the 19 totaled by Don Czyz of Kansas … in addition to Gunderson, others with high save totals whose teams are playing in the Super Regionals include Georgia’s Joshua Fields (15), the College of Charleston’s Josh McLaughlin (15), UNC’s Andrew Carignan (13), Cal State Fullerton’s Vinnie Pestano (13), Miami’s Chris Perez (12) and Rice’s Cole St. Clair (11) … Weiland was 13 innings shy of the NCAA minimum for the national ERA leaders (his 2.37 would have ranked 39th on that list) … among BIG EAST pitchers, Weiland 16 saves were nearly double the total by the next player on that list (Georgetown’s Daniel Kennedy had 9 saves) … Weiland’s 30 appearances ranked 3rd among BIG EAST pitchers, behind South Florida’s Chase Lirette (36) and Louisville’s Griffin Bailey (34) … Lirette (30) was the only BIG EAST pitcher to finish more games than Weiland (29) … if Weiland had met the inning minimum, his 2.37 ERA would have ranked 3rd-best in the BIG EAST (behind the 2.00 posted by teammate Wade Korpi and the 2.04 by UConn’s Tim Norton) while his .224 opp. batting avg. would have been 5th, behind Norton (.190), Korpi (.204), Scott Barnes of St. John’s (.218) and ND teammate Jeff Manship (.223).

IN THE ND RECORD BOOK – Weiland’s 16 saves blew past the ND freshman record (9, by Aaron Heilman in ’98) and then bested the ND overall season record (13) set by J.P. Gagne in 2003 … Weiland actually already ranks 4th in the ND record book for career saves, trailing only John Corbin (20; ’97-’00), Ryan Doherty (20; ’03-’05) and Gagne (19; ’00-’03) … Weiland surpassed 40 innings in the 2006 season and thus qualified for the ND single-season ERA charts … his 2.37 season ERA ranks 25th in the ND record book and 8th-best in the 12-year Paul Mainieri era, behind Heilman (1.61 in ’98; 1.74 in ’01), Wade Korpi (2.00 in ’06), Tom Thornton (1.81 in ’03), Grant Johnson (1.87 in ’04), Peter Ogilvie (1.90 in ’01) and Darin Schmalz (2.23 in ’96) … Mike Coffey (37, in ’89) and Heilman (31, in ’98) are the only ND pitchers ever to log more appearances in a season than Weiland (30; one shy of Heilman’s freshman record) … three other ND pitchers – Corbin (`0)), Gagne (’03) and Doherty (’04) – also had 30 GP in a season (each of those former closers had the chance to see Weiland pitch this season) … he limited opponents to a .224 opponent batting avg. that ranks 3rd-best ever by an ND freshman behind Heilman’s .198 in 1998 and the .201 allowed by Larry Mohs in ’94 … Weiland’s 49.1 innings are among the most by an ND closer in recent history and most since Gagne logged 53.0 innings as the ND closer in 2003 (he also had a 7-inning start that season).

AMONG THE ND LEADERS — Weiland played a lead role in helping Notre Dame currently rank 23rd nationally in staff ERA (3.52), 27th in strikeouts thrown per 9.0 innings (7.9) and 13 in win pct. (.722; 45-17-1), prior to the NCAA Super Regionals … Weiland led the 2006 staff in saves (16), appearances (30) while his 2.37 season ERA was 4th-best on the staff, behind LHPS Wade Korpi (2.00) and Mike Dury (2.17) and RHP Jess Stewart (2.31) … also compiled 4th-best opponent batting avg. on staff (.224), behind Korpi (.204), Dury (.208) and Jeff Manship (.224) … totaled 5th-most strikeouts (48) and innings pitched (49.1) on staff (also 5th with 15 Ks “looking”) … had the most wild pitches (6) and hit batters (8) on the staff, with his other stats including a 2-4 record (2-1 in final three decisions, with loss coming in 16-inning NCAA game) … his 1.71 groundout/flyout ratio (58 total GOs) was 2nd on the staff behind Manship’s 1.82.


Weiland – pictured during opening week of the 2006 season – owned just a 4.60 season ERA in early April before compiling a 1.34 ERA over his final 20 appearances (photo by Pete LaFleur).



CLEARING THE COBWEBS — Weiland’s stats at the beginning of his outings were subpar this season but he typically snapped back into form in dominating fashion … he allowed 9-of-16 inherited runners to score (56%) while first batters hit 8-for-26 (.308) vs. him (3 BB, HBP, 6 R, 7 Ks) and opposing batters reached 50% of the time (21-of-42) when leading off any inning (the rest of the staff allowed just 33% of leadoff batters to reach) … despite those rocky starts to his appearances, Weiland led the 2006 ND staff with a lowly .183 opp. batting avg. when runners were on base (17-for-93) and also had the lowest 2-out opp. batting avg. on the staff (.145; 9-for-62) … after facing the first batters in his outings (.308, 8-for-26), Weiland held opposing hitters to a combined .210 batting avg. (31-for-148).

NINE-INNING AVERAGES – Weiland’s 9-inning averages during the 2006 season included 8.8 strikeouts (3rd-best behind Korpi’s 11.1 and Manship’s 10.6), 3.6 walks, 7.1 hits allowed (3rd-best, behind Korpi’s 6.5 and Dury’s 6.5), 10.6 groundouts and 39.0 batters faced … he averaged nearly 20 outs per 9.0 IP via Ks or GOs (19.4).

TOUGH VERSUS RIGHTIES – Weiland limited righthanded hitters to a .198 batting avg. in 2006 (23-for-116) … the only Irish pitcher with better success v. RH hitters actually was a LHP, as Dury allowed just .167 batting by. RHPs (10-for-60) … Weiland’s opposing batting by LH hitters was .276 (7th on the staff).

SECOND-HALF SUCCESS – Weiland’s season ERA stood at 4.60 in early April, with a .259 opp. batting avg. (14-for-54), nearly as many walks (12) as Ks (13) and almost as many hits allowed (14) as innings pitched (15.2) at that point (in 10 GP) … the rookie sensation then turned in an impressive second half of the season, compiling a 1.34 ERA and holding opponents to .208 batting over his final 20 appearances, with better than a 4-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (35/8) and just 25 hits allowed in 33.2 IP.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY – Weiland converted his first nine save opportunities of the season and then delivered in his final seven save chances … his only failed save came in the series finale versus St. John’s on April 15 … Weiland entered that game with two runners on base and the Irish holding a 4-1 lead … he allowed both inherited runners to score and was touched for two more runs in the innings (one unearned) as SJU claimed a 5-4 lead … Weiland then worked out of his own jam in the top of the 9th and the Irish rallied to give Weiland his first win of the season (7-5), with the final two runs scoring on Alex Nettey’s home run (Weiland finished the day with 2.0 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 4 H, BB, K, WP).

NO-FLY ZONE – The 2006 ND pitching staff allowed just 18 home runs all season (after serving up 31 in 2005) and Weiland (1) was one of seven Irish pitchers who finished with 0-1 HRs allowed … he allowed a costly HR in his second appearance of the season (a pinch-hit blast in extra innings vs. Memphis) but Weiland then did not allow a long ball in his final 28 appearances (spanning 4.0 innings) … Weiland led the way for an ND bullpen that allowed just 3 HRs all season (in 102 IP) … the Irish relievers averaged 34 IP per HR allowed in the 2006 season and did not allow any home runs in the final 21 games of the season (a span of 79 IP with no HRs vs. the bullpen) … Weiland also was part of the amazing 25-game stretch in which the entire ND pitching staff did not allow a home run (a stretch of nearly 1,000 batters faced).


An impressive seven-inning stint in the NCAAs (pictured) showcased Weiland’s potential role as a future starter with the Irish (photo by Pete LaFleur).



A STARTER IN WAITING? – Weiland’s signature outing of the 2006 season came in the NCAA Lexington Regional, as he logged a season-high 7.0-plus innings before the heartbreaking 5-4 loss to the College of Charleston in 16 innings … the ND and CC pitching staffs combined to throw 19 straight zeroes up on the scoreboard before the decisive rally in the bottom of the 16th … Weiland and starter Jeff Samardzija allowed seven leadoff batters to reach but they delivered in nearly every clutch situation, holding the Cougars to 1-for-13 batting with runners in scoring position and 1-for-16 with 2-outs … Weiland threw 103 pitches (60 strikes) in a game that was deadlocked for 9-plus innings … his 21 outs included 7 via strikeouts and 9 on groundballs … Weiland did allow four leadoff batters to reach but limited the Cougars to 1-for-9 batting with runners on base and did not surrender a 2-out hit all day (0-for-8) … the Cougars had a runner on third base with 2-outs in the 10th but Weiland blew an 0-2 pitch by Jess Easterling … CC then had a runner on second with 2-outs in the 12th but Weiland battled from behind in the count (2-0) to strike out Chris Campbell on four straight breaking balls (full-count) … in the 13th, runners were on first and second with 1-out but Weiland induced a flyout from Graham Maiden and Ben Lasater’s 4-3 groundout … more clutch pitching followed in the 14th, as Campbell’s rightside groundout left the winning run on third base.

OTHER TOP OUTINGS – Weiland’s only other extended outing of the season came in the finale of the showdown series at UConn, logging 5.0 innings as that game ended 1-1 after 13 innings due to the travel curfew (0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 7 Ks) … he picked up wins over St. John’s (2.0 IP, 2 R/1 ER, 4 H, BB, K; 7-5) and IPFW (1.2 IP, K; 4-3) while his top saves included shutout outings vs. then-#15 Texas A&M (2.0 IP, 4 BB, K; 5-4), Illinois (0.1 IP; 4-2), Central Michigan (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 Ks; 11-9), Ball State (0.2 IP; 6-4), South Florida (1.0 IP, H, 2 Ks; 9-6), Rutgers (2.2 IP, 2 H, 4 Ks; 14-12), Purdue (1.0 IP, H; 2-1) and UConn (0.2 IP; 7-6) – plus pair of saves at the BIG EAST Tournament vs. USF (1.1 IP, H, 2 Ks; 3-1 opener) and in the 5-3 elimination game vs. St. John’s ( 2 IP, R, 3 H, BB, 3 Ks).


Freshman DH/2B Jeremy Barnes was overlooked for Freshman All-America honors, despite becoming the first freshman in nearly 20 years to lead the Irish in RBI (photo by Pete LaFleur).



POSTSEASON HONORS NOTES – Weiland likely will receive more Freshman All-America honors and possibly could be named to an All-America squad (Collegiate Baseball named its All-America team prior to the NCAAs, with ND senior 1B Craig Cooper named a 2nd team All-American while junior RHP Jeff Manship was a 3rd-teamer) … ND freshman DH/2B Jeremy Barnes was overlooked on the CB Freshman All-America team, most likely because he played primarily as a DH this season (that’s the position where the earned 2nd team all-BIG EAST honors), as the DH stats on the 2006 Freshman All-America team are more impressive that the second basemen … Barnes (49) became the first freshman to lead the Irish in RBI since future All-American Dan Peltier had 39 RBI in 1987 … another former ND All-American, Brant Ust, is the only ND freshman ever to post more RBI in a season than Barnes (54, in ’97) … Barnes banged out 6 triples, one shy of that ND freshman record held by Scott Sollmann (in ’94; Pail Failla also had 6 triples as a freshman in ’92) … Barnes led the 2006 Irish offense in RBI (49′ 10th-best among BIG EAST players), triples (6; 2nd among BE players behind the 7 from Cincinnati’s Logan Parker) and at-bats (231), also ranking 2nd in hits (68) and stolen bases (9), 3rd in runs (40), walks 929) and total bases (97), and 4th in slugging pct. (.420) and doubles (11) … senior outfielders Cody Rizzo and Alex Nettey were the only players to appear in more games than Barnes (58) … his other 2006 stats included a .294 batting avg., .381 on-base pct., 2 home runs, 5 times hit-by-pitch, 38 strikeouts and 55 starts … situationally, Barnes ranked 5th on the team by batting .356 with runners in scoring position … he also hit .230 with 2-outs (12 RBI with 2-outs), .305 with runners on base, .325 vs. LHPs and .277 vs. RHPs, with a .472 leadoff on-base pct. … in BIG EAST regular-season games, Barnes finished 4th with 27 league RBI, trailing only West Virginia’ Stan Posluszny (34), Frank Mead of Rutgers (31) and St. John’s leadoff batter Will Vogl (28) … Parker (4) was the only player with more triples in BIG EAST games than Barnes (3).

ND’S FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA HISTORY – Ten previous Notre Dame players have received Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball: RHP Pat Leahy (’90), catcher Dennis Twombley (’94), IF Brant Ust (’97), RHP Aaron Heilman (’98), catcher Paul O’Toole (’99), RF Brian Stavisky (’00), 2B Steve Sollmann (’01), RHPs Grant Johnson (’02) and Jeff Samardzija (’04), and 3B Brett Lilley (’05) … the ND baseball program also has featured seven players who were named Freshman All-Americans by Baseball America (TBA for ’06): five 1st teamers in RHP David Sinnes (’90), 2B Greg Layson (’91), Heilman, infielders Ust (’97) and Sollmann (’01), plus a pair 2nd teamers in OF Paul Failla (’92) and Johnson (’02) … five other previous Notre Dame players were honorable mention Freshman All-Americans, per Collegiate Baseball (which now names just one full team): OF Ryan Topham (’93), CF Scott Sollmann (’94), RHPs Larry Mohs (’94) and Alex Shilliday (’96), and CF Steve Stanley (’99).


Kyle Weiland’s selection marks the ninth season in the past 10 that at least one Notre Dame player has been named a Freshman All-American (photo by Matt Cashore).



OTHER HONOREES OF NOTE – Seven players from teams that Notre Dame faced in 2006 (plus two from a BIG EAST team ND did not play) were included on the Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America list: Western Michigan RHP Ethan Hollingsworth, Michigan RHP Zach Putnam, Southern Illinois 2B/3B Scott Elmendorf, South Florida SS Addison Maruszak, Minnesota OF Matt Nohelty, Purdue OF Ryan White and Michigan two-way player Adam Abraham … two players from BIG EAST team Cincinnati also received Freshman All-America honors from CB: RHP Steve Blevins and OF Josh Harrison (ND and Cincinnati did not face each other during the 2006 regular season or BIG EAST Tournament).