April 3, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Two members of the Notre Dame baseball program achieved noteworthy milestones while a strong all-around effort from the Irish yielded a 28-8 hitting edge and errorless play in the field, as Notre Dame pushed its winning streak to six games with a 16-0, 12-1 doubleheader sweep of visiting Valparaiso on Wednesday night at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (15-10) broke open the first of the two seven-innings games by putting 10 runs on the board in the fourth inning, with 10 Irish batters reaching base before the first out was recorded. Sophomore second baseman Steve Sollmann – again batting third, behind senior DH Ken Meyer and senior centerfielder Steve Stanley – went 3-for-3 with four RBI and two runs scored, as one of nine players who contributed to ND’s 15-hit attack in the opener.
Freshman righthander Martin Vergara and junior righthander Peter Ogilvie both improved to 3-1, with each logging four innings in planned rotations. Vergara retired the final 11 batters he faced while Ogilvie set down the last 10.
The night’s milestones included Stanley swiping three bases to become Notre Dame’s career leader in stolen bases (102) while eighth-year head coach Paul Mainieri moved into second place on the ND baseball list for career coaching victories. Mainieri’s first eight Irish teams have combined for a 319-134-1 record (his predecessor, Pat Murphy, posted a 318-116-1 record from 1988-94).
Stanley bested the record set by Scott Sollmann, from 1994-96 (101) – with his brother Steve Sollmann fittingly at the plate during the record-setting stolen base.
Mainieri also provided an update on Notre Dame’s two injured starters. Most notably, it was announced that freshman shortstop Matt Macri will undergo season-ending “Tommy John” reconstructive elbow surgery on April 10. Junior leftfielder Brian Stavisky remains sidelined with a facial fracture but could return to the lineup for next week’s BIG EAST games versus Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech (April 11-12), with Stavisky slated to be reevaluated early next week.
Vergara ‘s first career start saw him face just 15 batters, with seven strikeouts, two hits and one walk allowed in his 75-pitch outing (his resulting 2.87 ERA is tops among ND pitchers with 10-plus innings). Fellow freshman Tyler Jones then logged the final three innings in solid fashion (3 H, BB, K) to qualify for the save.
Ogilvie’s 47-pitch outing included one run allowed on two hits and no walks, with five strikeouts. His classmate Ryan Kalita then pitched a quick fifth while freshman lefthander Scott Bickford had a strong debut, facing just seven batters over the final two innings (with three Ks and a hit batter) – with the team ERA dropping to 3.70.
Twelve Irish players collected hits in the doubleheader (with eight Irish doubles and a triple) while helping ND boost its team batting average to .304. Junior rightfielder Kris Billmaier hit 5-for-7 (3 RBI, 4 R, 2 2B, BB) in the doubleheader – including 3-for-3 in the nightcap (3 RBI, 2 R) – while sophomore first baseman Joe Thaman enjoyed a 4-for-6 night (3 RBI, 3 R, 2B, BB).
Bickford joined freshman catcher Mike Milligan and freshman centerfielder George Howard as players who made their Notre Dame debut on Wednesday (sophomore infielder Zach Sisko also saw his first action of the 2002 season).
NOTES: The 10-run inning marked ND’s first double-digit frame since Alec Porzel’s grand slam sparked the Irish to 11 runs in the 8th inning of the 2000 BIG EAST Tournament elimination game vs. Pittsburgh (a 15-7 ND win) … ND has made just three errors in the last seven games (compared to 40 in the first 18) while yielding just five unearned runs in that seven-game span (32 in the first 18 games) … Stanley pushed his hitting streak to 10 games in the opener (2-for-2), the sixth double-digit hitting streak of his career (he was 0-for-2 in the nightcap, with hits in 23 of 25 games this season) … ND starting pitchers now have combined for a 3.58 K-to-walk ratio (129/36) … Stanley scored four times, pushing his career runs total to 201 (5th in ND history, three shy of 1992 graduate Craig Counsell) … he also walked twice, for an even 100 in his career (four shy of that ND top-10 list) … Mainieri announced the planned rotation for this weekend’s BIG EAST series vs. St. John’s, as freshman RHP John Axford (7-inning game) and junior RHP J. P. Gagne are slated to start on Saturday while freshman RHP Chris Niesel is the planned starter for Sunday – with freshman RHP Grant Johnson serving as one of the top options out of the bullpen.
Valparaiso 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 – 0 5 3
Notre Dame 2-3-0 10-1-0 X – 16 15 0
Tom Starck (L, 0-4), Matt Price (3), Mike Caston (4), Justin Lata (5) and Kyle Young, Bill Stanton (6).
Martin Vergara (W, 3-1), Tyler Jones (5, S, 1) and Paul O’Toole, Brent Weiss (7).
Doubles: Steve Sollmann (ND), Kris Billmaier (ND), Matt Bok (ND).
Valparaiso 1-0-0 0-0-0 0 – 1 3 2
Notre Dame 1-4-3 1-3-0 X – 12 13 0
Adam Knobel (L, 0-3), Dave Badovinac (4), Eric Brauer (5), Todd Evans (5), Sean Peickert (6) and Stanton.
Peter Ogilvie (W, 3-1), Ryan Kalita (5), Scott Bickford (6) and Andrew Bushey, Mike Milligan (7).
Triple: O’Toole (ND).
Doubles: Ken Meyer (ND), Matt Strickroth (ND), Bushey (ND), Javier Sanchez (ND), Joe Thaman (ND), Marc Boggio (Valpo) and Dan Schrum (Valpo).