June 13, 2004
Several Notre Dame baseball players have begun play in some of the nation’s premier wooden-bat summer leagues, with 16 returning Irish players set to compete in leagues throughout the nation. The Notre Dame summer-league players include two each in the Cape Cod League, the Northwoods League and the Shenandoah Valley League, plus three in the Clark-Griffith League and one each in the Alaska, Great Lakes, California, Coastal Plains and Texas leagues (several other returning players will be remaining in South Bend this summer).
Notre Dame will be hoping for more summer-ball momentum to carry into the 2005 season, after several players parlayed strong 2003 summer seasons into stellar showings this past spring with the Irish (see more below).
Two members of the rising junior class – lefthander Tom Thornton (Wareham Gateman) and rightfielder Craig Cooper (Brewster Whitecaps) – will continue Notre Dame’s tradition of sending top players to the prestigious Cape Cod League while senior-to-be infielder Matt Edwards is heading north to the Alaska League, as the fourth Notre Dame player since 1998 to play for the Mat-Su Miners.
Other returning starters who will be playing summer ball include two other rising juniors: DH/first baseman Matt Bransfield and leftfielder Steve Andres. Bransfield and senior-to-be lefthander Scott Bickford will play for the Waynesboro (Va.) Generals of the Shenandoah Valley League (Bickford and Edwards played for the Generals in ’03) while Andres is playing in his home state with the Solano Thunderbirds (based in Vacaville, Calif.).
Two players who just completed their freshman seasons – catcher Sean Gaston (Waterloo, Iowa, Bucks) and first baseman/lefthander Mike Dury (Madison, Wis., Mallards) – will remain near their Indiana roots in the Northwoods League, which featured three Irish players (Javi Sanchez, Joe Thaman and Tyler Jones) on the popular Madison team in ’03. Three other sophomores-to-be are playing for Virginia-based teams in the Clark-Griffith League: outfielder Danny Dressman and lefthander Matt Whittington (with the Faquier Gators) and righthander Jess Stewart (Reston Hawks). Their classmate, righthander Dan Kapala, follows in the footsteps of fellow Irish players Greg Lopez and Ryan Doherty as a member of the Delaware (Ohio) Cows in the Great Lakes League.
The other four Irish players slated to play 2004 summer-league ball include: Jones, a senior RHP slated to play near his home or Arlington with the Highland Park Blue Sox of the Texas League; junior-to-be OF Alex Nettey (Fayetteville, N.C., Swampdogs of Coastal Plain League); sophomore-to-be RHP Rico Bertucci (Dupo, Il., American Legion); and rising senior DH Brent Weiss (local team in Maryland, final details TBA).
The team’s eight other returning players will be in South Bend for various reasons (injury rehab, summer school, independent workouts, playing in local leagues). Those individuals who will not be playing summer ball include five pitchers – rising senior John Axford, junior-to-be Ryan Doherty and rising sophomores Jeff Manship, Derik Olvey and Jeff Samardzija (summer football conditioning) – plus a pair of rising-junior position starters in shortstop Greg Lopez and outfielder Cody Rizzo, and junior-to-be catcher Nick Mainieri.
Several Irish players turned in strong 2003 summer seasons that carried over into Notre Dame’s 2004 season. Most notably: then-sophomore SS Matt Macri logged a full season at 3B with the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps before shifting to the hot corner with the Irish in the fall of ’03 (he also was 2nd in the CCL with 7 home runs, then hit a team-leading 14 with the ’04 Irish); Bransfield led the 16-league National Baseball Congress with 9 regular-season home runs (12 total) while batting .381 with 36 RBI for the Colorado Sox, followed by a team-leading 58 RBI and 12 HRs with the Irish in ’04; Cooper was rated one of the top prospects in the Jayhawk League after a strong all-around summer (.337, 38 RBI, 5 HR, 24 SB) and then became the first player ever to lead the BIG EAST in conference batting (.470), slugging pct. and on-base pct.; and then-freshman RHP Ryan Doherty turned in a dominating summer as the closer with the Delaware (Ohio) Cows (0.45 ERA, 3 SV, 28 Ks, 5 BB, 10 H in 19.2 IP) before reprising that effort this past spring (2.38, 5-1, 12 SV in 13 chances, 1-of-17 inherited baserunners scored, 46 Ks, 11 BB, 19 H, .160 opp. avg. in 34 IP).
Macri earned 1st team all-BIG EAST and BIG EAST Tournament honors, followed by 2nd team All-America from USA Today Sports Weekly and Collegiate Baseball magazine – while Cooper and Doherty were 2nd team all-BIG EAST selections (Bransfield was the BIG EAST’s first RBI champ since 1993 not to receive all-BIG EAST honors).
Notre Dame’s summer players again will be checking in periodically on www.und.com for a Summer Diary series, after a popular series of those diary entries during the summers of 2002 and ’03 (see list below for tentative diary contributors).
Irish players now have combined to play 24 times in the Cape Cod League during the 10-year Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame, with several others invited over the years but unable to play in the Cape due to Team USA participation or injury. The Mainieri era has featured at least one ND player in the CCL every year except 1996, with multiple ND players on CCL rosters in ’95, ’97 and every year since ’99 (see list below).
Thornton’s participation with Wareham means that the last eight summers have seen Notre Dame players be members of eight of the 10 Cape Cod League teams (since ’97), with the only exceptions being the Orleans Cardinals and the Chatham A’s.
Notre Dame’s tentative schedule of Summer Baseball Diary writers includes the following eight players (keep an eye on www.und.com throughout the summer for diary entries and other updates): Thornton and Cooper reporting from the Cape, Edwards checking in from the land of the midnight sun, Bransfield sending notes from the Shenendoah Valley, Andres logging his west-coast entry, Gaston with the Northwoods report, Dressman submitting the program’s first Clark-Griffith journal, and Kapala stopping by for an update on the Cows.
Here are website links for the ND players’ summer-league teams (additional notes on the leagues and players follow below):
Cape Cod League – a total of 190 former Cape Cod League players appeared on Major League rosters in 2003 … recent ND players who have played in the Cape Cod League include the following: IF Mike Amrhein (’95), CF Scott Sollmann (’95), C Jeff Wagner (Harwich Mariners, ’97 all-star), IF Brant Ust (Harwich, ’97), RHP Alex Shilliday (Harwich, ’98), IF Alec Porzel (Brewster, ’99), CF Steve Stanley (Brewster, ’99-’00), C Paul O’Toole (Brewster ’00, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox ’01), OF Brian Stavisky (Hyannis Mets ’00, ’01), OF Matt Bok (Bourne Braves, ’01), 3B/C Andrew Bushey (YDR, ’01), 2B Steve Sollmann (YDR, ’01-’02), RHP Chris Niesel (Falmouth Commodores, ’02, ’03), RHP John Axford (Hyannis, ’02; Cotuit Kettleers, ’03), RHP Martin Vergara (Falmouth, ’02) and 3B Matt Macri (Brewster, ’03).
Brewster Whitecaps – Cooper’s ’04 Brewster teammates are to include nine players from teams in the 2004 NCAA Super-Regionals: Miami SS Ryan Braun, 3B Gaby Sanchez and RHP Cesar Carrillo; Long Beach State LHP Cesar Ramos and IF Troy Tulowitzki; LSU LHP Jason Detterman and C Matt Liuzza; and South Carolina IF Steven Tolleson and OF Michael Campbell … other noteworthy players on the ’04 Whitecaps include Arizona State OF Travis Buck and IF/RHP Zechry Zinicola, UC Irvine C Mark Wagner and RHP Blair Erickson, Clemson RHP Josh Cribb, Rice RHP Colin Matheny, Stanford IF Jed Lowrie, California RHP Adam Gold, and Minnesota 1B/C Andy Hunter (other players are from Santa Clara and UNC-Greensboro) … Bob Macaluso is coach of the ’04 Brewster squad … former Brewster players in the Major Leagues during 2003 included: Geoff Blum, Brian Buchanan, Sean Casey, Brandon Duckworth, Matt Herges, Reed Johnson, Bobby Kielty, Mike Myers, Mike Neu, Augie Ojeda, Craig Paquette, Eduardo Perez, David Ross, Aaron Rowand, Chase Utley, Billy Wagner, Todd Walker and Kip Wells.
Wareham Gatemen – Thornton’s many noteworthy teammates include CWS-bound Texas OFs Drew Stubbs and Carson Kainre, plus RHP Robert Ray and RHP/C Kevin Whelan of CWS hopeful Texas A&M and two others whose teams lost in the Super Regionals (Vanderbilt IF Warner Jones and Georgia Tech 3B/1B Whit Robbins) … others on the ’04 gatemen include Rice LHP Josh Forester, North Carolina RHP Daniel Bard and LHP Adam Kalkhof, Mississippi RHP Mark Holliman and C Justin Brashear, Alabama LHP Wade LaBlanc, Baylor RHP Mark McCormick, 2B/SS Skyle Reynolds and C Tyler Bullock, Oklahoma State SS Chris Gutierrez, South Alabama 1B/OF Adam Lind, Houston Of Travis Tully and San Diego State SS Lane Zawadaki (others are from Miami Ohio and Harvard) … Cooper Farris is coach of the ’04 Gatemen … former Wareham players in the Major Leagues during 2003 include: Brian Anderson, Marlon Anderson, Paul Bako, Lance Berkman, Larry Bigbie, Troy Brohawn, Nelson Figueroa, Doug Glanville, Jeremy Griffiths, Jerry Hairston, Jim Mann, Dustan Mohr, Scott Mullen, Carlos Pena, Mike Remlinger, Ben Sheets, Mark Smith, Scott Spiezio, Denny stark, Brian Tallet, Mo Vaughn, Matt Watson and Barry Zito.
Alaska League – Edwards follows LHP Tim Kalita (’98), OF Matt Strickroth (’99-’00) and RHP Danny Tamayo (’00) as ND’s fourth player with the Mat-SU Miners in the last seven years … nine other recent ND players have competed with the Alaska Goldpanners: IF Craig DeSensi (’93), OF Ryan Topham (’93), RHPs Tim Kraus (’94), Darrin Schmalz (’94-’95) and Christian Parker (’95), IF J.J. Brock (’97), RHP Aaron Heilman (’98), IF Alec Porzel (’98) and RHP J.P. Gagne (’02) … other ND players who have been active in the Alaska League in recent years include two with the Kenai Peninsula Oilers: RHP Alex Shilliday (’97) and LHP Chris McKeown (’98).
Mat-Su Miners – Edwards’ teammates in Mat-SU are slated to include two from CWS hopeful Miami (C Eddy Rodriguez and IF Roger Tomas), plus Stanford RHPs Matt Manship (brother of ND pitcher Jeff Manship) and Jeff Gilmore and C John Hester, Arizona OF Derek Decater and RHP Derek Rodriguez, Oklahoma State C Billy Munich, Oregon State RHP Andy Baldwin, UC Riverside RHPs Daniel Stange and Haley Wiute and OF Brett Bigler, College of Charleston LHP Ryan Edell, California IF Josh Satin and OF Chris Errecart and UC Santa Barbara IF Chris Valaika (plus others from Cal state Northridge, UNC-Greensboro, Idaho and Northern Illinois) … Mike Buchmiller is coach of the ’04 Miners.
Waynesboro Generals – other recent Irish players on the Generals in recent years include Edwards and Bickford in ’03, LHP Cody Wilkins in ’02 and three in ’01 (Wilkins, RHP Ryan Kalita and 1B Mike Holba) … Bransfield and Bickford’s teammates are slated to include Auburn OF Travis Coleman, Virginia IF/OF Matt Dunn and Wake Forest RHP Charlie Mellies, plus players from Radford, Youngstown State, VCU, William and Mary and Tennessee Tech … Derek McDowd is the Generals 04 coach.
Solano Thunderbirds – Andres’ teammates with the ’04 Solano squad include the likes of USC RHPs Richard Aguilar and Cole Ganser and UCLA 1B/3B Brett McMillan and OF Josh Roenicke, with other players from UC Davis, Davidson, New Mexico, Dartmouth, Indiana State, LMU, Cal Poly, Cornell and St. Mary’s .. Phil Swimley is coach of the ’04 Thunderbirds.
Delaware Cows – ND’s four-year connection with the Cows includes CF Steve Stanley and Sanchez in 2001, Bickford in ’02 and then Lopez and Doherty in ’03 … Kapala’s teammates include the likes of Oklahoma State OF Keanan Simon, Southwest Missouri IF Tony Lewis, eastern Michigan RHP George Biddle, LHP Tim Gray and IF/C Derek Lehman, Kent State C/OF Kurt Eichorn, Michigan IF Leif Mahler and Kentucky RHP Jimmy Rose … Bruce Heine is the ’04 Cows coach.
Madison Mallards – Dury’s teammates include two who are headed to the College World Series (Arkansas RHP Daryl Maday and Texas RHP Kyle Yates) and several others of notes, among them: St. John’s OF/LHP Greg Thompson, Texas Tech OF Doug Beck, Baylor RHP Cody Hall, Hawaii RHPs Keahi Rawlins and Ricky Baker, Illinois RHP Andy Sigericl, 1B/3B Char Frk and OF Ryan Rogowski, New Orleans IF Mike Rohde and Illinois-Chicago RHP Ryan Zink (plus players from Butler, Air Force, Xavier and Northern Iowa) … Mallards coach Darrel Handelsman owns 259 career wins in the Northwoods League.
Waterloo Bucks – Gaston’s teammates include three from the UC Irvine team that just played at ND in the NCAA South Bend Regional (OF Gary Dudrey, LHP Kevin Fox and If Gregg Wallis) plus RHP Blake Owen of Super-Regional participant Vanderbilt – with other noteworthy teammates including Mississippi state IF Daniel Tackett, N.C. State RHP Gib Hobson and 1B Mike Jensen, California IF/OF Jordan Karnofsky, Louisiana-Lafayette LHP Phillip Hamke, OF Cody Menlin and IF Justin Menendino, Illinois IF Ryan Hastings and RHP Brandon Murphy, Nebraska OF/RHP Colin Shockey, Indiana RHP Steve Nielsen and Kentucky IF John Shelby (plus players from Northern Iowa and Bradley).
Faquier Gators – Dressmann and Whittington have joined a team that includes players from mostly Virginia colleges, such as James Madison, George Mason and VCU (plus Iowa IF Cole Grandfield) … Paul Koch is coach of the ’04 Gators … Dressman has fond memories of one Clark-Griffith field, as he collected two hits in all three games vs. Georgetown this season at Povich Field (home of the CGL’s Bethesda Big Train).
Fayetteville Swampdogs – Nettey’s teammates include 1B Steven Pearce of potential CWS team South Carolina, plus North Carolina SS Jay Cox and Virginia Tech pitcher Jake Chaney … Sandy Moore is the Swampdogs ’04 coach.
Highland Park Blue Sox – Jones officially is listed as Tyler G. Jones on the ’04 Blue Sox roster, which also includes Tyler L. Jones (a Mississippi state OF) … the team’s other players include three from CWS-bound teams (Texas 1B Will Crouch and OF Hunter Harris, and Arkansas LHP Clint Brannon), plus two CWS hopefuls from Cal State Fullerton (3B Neil Walton and OF Bobby Andrews) and two others from Super-Regional team Florida State (2B Gibbs Chapman and RHP Hunter Davis) … others of note include Rice C Lyndon Duplessis, IF Clay Reichenbach, Houston OF Jordan Roberts, UC Santa Barbara RHP Brian Tracy, TCU RHP Chad Underwood and LHP Omar Arif, Wichita State LHP Derek Roach and RHP Kyle Touchatt, Baylor LHP Xerxes Martin and Oklahoma State RHP Scott Richmond (plus players from Birmingham Southern, Texas-Pan American, Texas Arlington and Utah).
(Note: no roster data is available at this time for Reston Hawks or Dupo AL).
Craig Cooper – Earned 2nd-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors after becoming first player ever to lead the BIG EAST in conference batting avg. (.470), on-base pct. (.545) and slugging pct. (.712), also owning best “OBS” (combined on-base and slugging; 1.257) while ranking 9th with 20 runs in league play … became just the 5th BIG EAST batting champ not to earn 1st team all-BIG EATS honors (since ’85) … homered in NCAAs vs. UC Irvine to become ND’s unprecedented 4th player with 10-plus HRs in ’04 (junior 3B Matt Macri had 14 while junior 1B Matt Edwards and sophomore DH Matt Bransfield each had 12) … ranked 2nd on team in batting avg. (.360), slugging pct. (.617) and stolen bases (12-of-17), plus 3rd in sac. bunts (4), 4th in home runs (10), RBI (48), doubles (13), on-base pct. (.441) and total bases (108), and 5th in runs (42), hits (63) and walks (25) … finished among BIG EAST top-10 leaders in five overall categories: 4th in slugging and OBS (1.058), 7th in HRs, 8th in RBI and 9th in batting … the only BIG EAST players with a better OBS were Pittsburgh’s PJ Hiser (1.188), Macri (1.132) and Rutgers OF Jeff Frazier (1.114) … proved to be team’s top situational hitter, leading ’04 squad in batting with runners on base (.433) and in scoring position (.385), 2-out batting (.424) and 2-out RBI (27) … also ranked 5th on team with .439 leadoff on-base pct. and .545 bases-loaded batting (6-for-11) … hit team-best .357 vs. LHPs (3rd on team with .361 vs. RHPs) … his other ’04 stats: 58 GP/46 GS, 3B, 2 HBP, 22 Ks, 4 GDP, 2 SF, 2 Es, .977 fielding pct. … delivered RBI 60% of time with runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs (12-of-20) .. .struck out looking just 7 times … hit only .289 in Feb. and March (9 RBI, HR) before batting .388 in April (19 RBI, 4 HR) and .387 in the post-finals games during May/June (20 RBI, 5 HR) … ranked 2nd on tam with .376 batting at Eck Stadium (26 RBI, 6 HR), also ranking 3rd with .341 road batting avg. (22 RBI, 4 HR) … combined with Bransfield (33 RBI) and Marci (7 HR) as 3rd set of teammates ever to lead BIG EAST in batting., RBI and HRs … his 1-0 HRs included 6 on first-pitches and 4 to the opposite field (RF) … ND hit just 8 HRs with multiple runners on base in 2004 and he had 3 of them, with a grand slam vs. Chicago State (ND had just one other GS in ’04) and a pair of 3-run HRs in the postseason (vs. BC in BIG EAST title game and UC Irvine in NCAA Regional elimination game) … his +5 margin of walks plus HBPs minus Ks ranked 4th among the ND starters … made 34 starts in right field and 12 in left while batting in several lineup spots (led by 20 in the 6-hole) … ranked 4th on team with 18 multi-hit games and 12 with multiple RBI … had five straight 2-hit games in lateseason stretch … hit 3-for-4 with 4 RBI in second game of Virginia Tech series (10-11; 2 R, HR, 2B, BB, SB) … stroked 3-run postseason HRs vs. Boston College in BIG EAST title game (11-5; 4 RBI, 2B, BB) and UC Irvine in NCAA elimination game (6-5) … saw a big boost in 2004 from his freshman-year production (.303, 22 R, 37 H, 6 2B, 0 HR, 15 RBI, .385 slugging, .397 on-base, .782 OBS), batting 57 points higher while seeing his on-base pct. go up 44 points and his slugging rise 232 (276 OBS improvement) … also collected 10 more HRs and 37 more RBI in ’04, despite just 53 more ABs from ’03 to ’04 (his other boosts included 20 R, 26 H and 7 2B) … will enter junior season with .337 career batting avg. (100-for-297, .423 OB, .522 slugging, 64 R, 10 Hr, 3 3B, 19 2B, 63 RBI, 40 BB, 6 HBP, 45 Ks, 7 GDP, 2 SF, 6 SAC, 22-30 SB, 3 Es, .977 fielding pct.).
Tom Thornton – Proved to be a classic “primetime” pitcher throughout the 2004 season, capped by his impressive outing vs. Kent State in a 7-1 NCAA elimination game … faced jut 4 batters over the minimum (29) in 8.1 innings pitched, allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while posting a career-best 12 strikeouts (tying the most by an ND pitcher in ’04 and matching the ND record for most Ks in an Eck Stadium record) … took no-hitter into the 5th inning … 21 of his 24 outs came via Ks, groundouts (7), popups (1) or infield lineouts (1) … allowed just 6 balls to leave the infield (including 2 singles through the left side) … located 81 of his 118 pitches for strikes in that game while striking out 7 straight batters from the 6th-8th innings … held the Kent State lefthanded hitters to 1-for-5 batting … allowed 2-of-9 leadoff batters to reach, plus just 2-for-8 batting with runners on and no 2-out hits (0-for-8) … finished atop BIG EAST Conference wins list (9-2), also ranking 2nd in starts (15) and innings (99.2), 5th in strikeouts (77), 6th in low opponent batting avg. (.251) and 11th in ERA (3.88, with min, of 1 IP per team game for ERA and opp. avg.) … led regulars on ’04 staff in wins and starts, also ranking 2nd in Ks and innings pitched … his other ’04 stats included 16 appearances, 95 hits allowed, 53 runs/43 earned runs, 24 walks, 7 HRs, 19 doubles, 4 wild pitches and 8 hit batters … averaged team-best 6.1 innings per outings, also leading staff with 119 groundouts and 2 pickoffs …2nd on staff with 27 strikeouts “looking” plus 3rd in K-to-walk ratio (3.2), low walk avg. (2.17 BB/9 IP), groundout-to-flyout ratio (1.37) and groundout avg. (10.75 GO/9 IP) … also 5th on staff in strikeout avg. (6.95 Ks/9 IP), opp. batting by righthanded hitters (.243) and opp. leadoff on-base pct. (.308) … averaged 17.7 outs via Ks or GOs … his other situational stats in ’04: .280 batting by LH hitters, .282 batting with runners on, .238 opp. batting with 2 outs, 8.58 hits allowed per 9 IP and 11-of-17 opp. SBs … turned in several strong outings in first half of the season as Irish coped with absence and limited contributions of four top pitchers … compiled 2.88 ERA in first 9 appearances (thru mid-April) … his primetime ’04 efforts included rare 9-inning shutout (5-3 at West Virginia; 6 H, 2 BB) plus wins at USC (3-1; 6 IP, UER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 Ks) and vs. hot-hitting Texas Tech in Round Rock (8-1; 8 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 BB, 7 Ks) … also battled Florida Atlantic All-America LHP Randy Beam to 2-2 standoff (7 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 0 BB, 7 Ks) in a game won by the Irish, 3-2 … pitched well enough to beat Boston College in regular season (ND won late, 6-4) but 2 of 4 runs charged to him were unearned (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 Ks, 55 of 76 pitches for strikes) … closed regular season with strong BIG EAST starts vs. Rutgers (7-2; 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, career-best 8 Ks) and Virginia Tech (no-decision in 2-1 game; 5 IP, 6 H, R, 2 Ks) … also beat BC in BIG EAST title game (11-5; 7 IP, 8 H, 5 R/3 ER, BB, 3 Ks) … will enter junior season with 3.15 ERA and 14-3 record (31 GP/23 GS, 154.1 IP, 149 H, 71 R/54 ER, 38 BB, 106 Ks, 34 2B, 7 HR, .257 opp. avg., 7 WP, 14 HB) … named to CoSIDA Academic All-District V team (advancing him to Academic All-America ballot, with 3.29 cumulative GPA as anthropology and film-television-and-theater double major.
Steve Andres – Proved to be one of the BIG EAST Conference’s most potent all-around offensive players, leading the league in walks (44, good for 10th in ND history) while ranking 4th in on-base pct. (.471) and triples (4), 7th in slugging pct. (.586) and 13th in home runs (8) … his 1.057 “OBS” (combined on-base and slugging) ranked 5th among BIG EAST players, behind Pittsburgh’s PJ Hiser (1.188), ND junior 3B Matt Macri (1.132), Rutgers OF Jeff Frazier (1.114) and ND sophomore RF Craig Cooper (1.058) … in BIG EAST games only, he ranked 6th in both on-base (.595) and OBS (1.046) … led ’04 team in walks and on-base while ranking 2nd in triples, 3rd in slugging, 4th in batting avg. and doubles (13) and 5th in HRs and total bases (99) … also ranked 2nd on team with a .524 leadoff on-base pct. while ranking 4th in batting vs. RHPs (.327) and with the bases loaded (.600, 3-for-5) … his other situational hitting included .250 vs. LHPs, .300 with runners on (.288 in scoring position) and .296 with 2 outs (12 RBI) … his other ’04 stats included: 57 GP/47 GS, 38 R, 54 H, 6 HBP, 44 Ks, 2 SF, SAC, 4-9 SB, 4 Es and a .939 fielding pct. … did not ground into a double play, in 100 ABs with runners on … delivered RBI 56% of time with runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs (10-of-18) … struck out “looking” just 7 times … ranked 3rd on team with +6 margin of walks plus HBPs minus Ks … team’s mot productive pinch-hitter (4-for-10) … hit .333 in Feb./March (10 RBI, 2 HR, 14 BB), then .300 in April (16 RBI, 4 HR, 21 BB) followed by .333 in post-finals during May/June (13 RBI, 2 HR, 9 BB) … hit nearly identical at Eck Stadium (.322, 18 RBI, 5 HR, 24 BB) and on the road (.317, 21 RBI, 3 HR, 20 BB) during 2004 season … made 38 starts in left field while batting primarily in the 3rd (10), cleanup (10) and 5th (20) spots in the lineup … totaled 13 multi-hit games while ranking 4th on team with 12 multi-RBI games … owns a .455 career batting avg. and .727 slugging pct. in NCAA Tournament games (10-for-22, 3 RBI, 5 R, HR, 3 2B, 4 BB, .539 on-base, 1.266 OBS) … named to Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic all-tournament team ( .462, 6-for-13, BB, 4 RBI, 3 R, HR, 2B) … posted ND’s longest hitting streak of season (13 games, from March 24-April 12) … tripled and scored in 15th inning to cal 7-6 comeback win over Ball State … played key role in second game of Rutgers series (7-1; 2-for-3, 3 RBI, HR, 3B, BB) … led Irish to 9-2 win over St. John’s in BIG EAST Tournament winners-bracket game (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3B, 2 2B, BB) … hit 6-for-11 in NCAA South Bend Regional (3 RBI, 4 R, HR, 3 2B, 2 BB) … helped beat Ken State in NCAA elimination game (7-1; 3-for-3, BB, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2B) … made big strides from his freshman season (.269, 26 R, 28 H, 2 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 22 RBI, .442 slugging, 19 BB, 9 HBP, .415 OB, .857 OBS) … his boost from ’03 to ’04 (in 65 more ABs) included a batting avg. that was 51 points higher, plus an improvement of 144 slugging points and 56 OB points (his OBS went up a full 200 points) … also saw improvements from ’03 to ’04 in R (12), H (26), 2B (11), 3B (2), HR (4) and BB (25) … will enter junior season with .300 career batting avg. (82-for-273, 64 R, 15 2B, 6 3B, 12 HR, .531 slugging, 63 BB, 15 HBP, 71 Ks, 3 GDP, .449 on-base, .980 OBS, 5 SF, SAC, 6-12 SB, 5 Es, .955 fielding pct.) … earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors (placing him on Academic All-America ballot), with a 3.40 cumulative GPA as a business major.
Matt Edwards – Had strong first month of the season, ultimately finishing 5th among BIG EAST Conference players with 54 total RBI and 12 home runs, plus 6th in total bases (118), 7th in runs scored (48) and 10th in walks (32) … led ’04 team in games played (61, of 63) while ranking 2nd in runs (48), hits (67), HRs, total bases (118), at-bats (216) and games started (59), plus 3rd in RBI (54), walks and sac. flies (4), 4th in doubles (13), hit-by-pitch (9) and stolen bases (5-of-6), and 5th in slugging pct. (.546) and on-base pct. (.414) … his other ’04 stats included a .310 batting avg., 40 Ks, 6 GDP, 3 SAC, 5 Es and a .991 fielding pct. (plus a triple) … led team with .750 bases-loading batting (3-for-4), also ranking 2nd on team in 2-out RBI (19) and 5th in batting with runners in scoring position (.293) … hit .315 vs. RHPs (5th-best on team) and .292 vs. LHPs … also hit .331 with runners on base and .297 with 2 outs … reached on 36.7% of his leadoff plate appearances … delivered RBI 80% of the time with runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs (16-of-20) … struck out “looking” just 9 times … hit .313 in Feb./March (22 RBI, 5 HR) and then ranked 3rd on team with .338 batting in April (22 RBI, HR) before closing with .274 batting in post-finals games during May/June (10 RBI, 6 HR) … hit just .260 at Eck Stadium (24 RBI, 5 HR), compared to .357 on the road (30 RBI, 7 HR) … a .300 career batter in the NCAAs (9-for-30, 6 RBI, 5 R, 2 HR, 3B, 2B) … owned +1 margin in 2004 for walks plus HBPs minus Ks … made 57 of his starts at 1B (4 at 3B) while batting 27 times in the 3-hole and 19 in the 7-hole … led team with 16 multi-RBI games and 2nd with 19 multi-hit games … 3rd on team with .308 vs. top-25 teams in 2004 (6 RBI) … became first player in 10-year Paul Mainieri era to homer in his first at-bat of a season opener, helping beat San Diego State at USC Classic (7-1; also 3-for-5, 4 RBI, 2B) … earned MVP honors at the Florida Atlantic Classic (.417, 5-for-12, 4 RBI, 5 R, 2 HR, 2B, 2 BB, HBP), highlighted by strong games vs. 325 Winthrop (19-6; 3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B, BB) and #12 FAU (3-2; tying and go-ahead solo HRs) … continued hot start by hitting .438 as MVP of Alamo City Irish Baseball Classic ( 7-for-16, 4 BB, 7 RBI, 4 R, HR, 2B) … also hit 3-for-4 to held beat Texas Tech at Round Rock Classic (8-1; R, 2B, BB) … hit .412 during career-best 10-game hitting streak from April 23-May 12 … his postseason heroics including game-ending hit vs. Boston College in BIG EAST Tournament opener (3-2), a 2-for-3 game vs. St. John’s in winners-bracket game (2 R. HR, BB, HBP) and a 2-HR in NCAAs vs. Arizona (6-7; 3-for-4, 3 R) … missed most of ’02 season due to broken leg before earning 1st team all-BI EAST and ABCA 2nd team all-region honors in ’03 … will enter senior season with .340 career batting avg. (162-for-476, 132 GP/129 GS, 91 R, 30 2B, 3 3B, 20 HR, 127 RBI, 60 BB, 14 HBP, 85 Ks, 8 SF, 3 SAC, 8-12 SB, .423 on-base, .542 slugging, .892 OBS).
Matt Bransfield – First player since 1993 (and just the 4th in 20 years) ever to lead the BIG EAST Conference in RBI during league games (33) and not earn all-conference honors, also ranking 3rd in runs (22) and 4th in home runs (6) and total bases (53) during league games … finished 3rd overall among BIG EAST players with 58 total RBI, also ranking 5th in home runs (12) and triples (3), 7th in total bases (117), 10th in slugging pct. (.568) and 12th in “OBS” (.956 combined on-base and slugging) … led ’04 team in RBI while ranking 2nd in HRs and sac. flies (5), 3rd in runs scored (44), triples, total bases and games played (59), 4th in slugging, hits (63) ant at-bats (206), and 5th in starts (54) … ranked 2nd on team with .356 batting vs. LHPs (.292 vs. RHPs) … his just .269 with 2 outs but ranked 4th on team in 2-out RBI (15) … his other ’04 stats include a .306 overall batting avg., 12 2B, 22 BB, 9 HBP, 30 Ks, 8 GDP, .388 on-base, SAC, 0-3 SB and 0 Es in 37 fielding chances … his other situational hitting included ranking 5th on team in batting with runners on (.337), plus .282 with runners in scoring position, .154 with the bases loaded (2-for-13) and 0-for-3 as a pinch-hitter .. .reached on 30% of leadoff plate appearances … delivered RBI 67% of the time with runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs (20-of-30) … struck out “looking” 10 times … made 48 of his starts at DH (3 at 1B, plus single starts at 3B, LF and C) … his mostly in the 3-hole (19) and cleanup spots (17) … 2nd on team with 15 multi-RBI games, 5th with 17 multi-hit games … posted +1 margin of walks plus HBPs minus Ks … hit .306 in Feb./March (12 RBI, 4 HR), with best month coming in April (.337, 28 RBI, 6 HR) before batting .268 in post-finals during May/June (18 RBI, 2 HR) … posted matching .306 batting averages at Eck Stadium (28 RBI, 5 HR) and on the road (30 RBI, 7 HR) during 2004 season … hit .357 vs. top-25 teams (5-for-14 in 6 GP) … combined with Craig Cooper (.470) and Matt Macri (7 HR) as first teammates ever to lead BIG EAST in batting, HRs and RBI during conference games … hit 3-for-6 with pair of HRs in second game of series at Georgetown (11-4; 5 RBI) … played lead role in 16-8 closing win at Connecticut (3-for-5, 5 RBI, HR, 2B) … helped post 9-2 win over St. John’s in BIG EAST Tournament winners-bracket game (3-for-5, RBI, R, 3B) … made huge boost in his production after totaling no HRs, 3 doubles and 10 RBI as a freshman (.310, 22-for-71, .352 slugging, 3 BB, 3 HBP, .354 OB, .706 OBS) … averaged 4.1 ABs per RBI in 2004 (nearly half of his 7.1 ABs per RBI in ’03) … will enter junior season with .307 career batting avg. (85-for-277, 92 GP/71 GS, 15 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, .513 slugging, 25 BB, 12 HBP, 49 Ks, .380 on-base, .893 OBS, 7 SF, 2 SAC, 0-3 SV, 0 Es) … nominated for Academic All-America consideration in 2004, with 3.34 cumulative GPA as a sociology major.
Danny Dressman – Started in center field during first half of 2004 … ranked 2nd on team with 5 sacrifice bunts and 3rd with 4 sac. flies … also owned team’s 5th-best 2-out batting avg. (.300) … hit .264 overall in 46 games played (28 GS, 25 R, 32 H, 7 2B, 18 BB, 25 Ks, 2-4 SB) … did not make an error in 62 fielding chances … grounded into just one double play … played key role in season-opening win over San Diego State, at USC Classic (7-1; 1-for-3, 2 RBI, R, BB, SF) … hit 2-for-4 in 19-6 win over #25 Winthrop, at FAU Classic (2 R, RBI, SAC) … helped Irish complete 11-10, 11-inning win over Southern Illinois at Alamo City Classic (2-for-6, 2 RBI, 2B) … had 2 hits in each game of 3-game sweep at Georgetown (6-for-14, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 2 BB) … delivered key hit-and-run, pinch-hit single to set up Matt Edwards’ game-ending hit vs. Boston College in BIG EAST Tournament opener (3-2) … his situational hitting included .225 batting vs. LHPs, .284 vs. RHPs, .31 with runners on (.233 in scoring position), .300 with 2 outs (7 RBI) … 2-for-5 as a pinch-hitter … delivered RBI 64% of the time with runner on 3rd and fewer than 2 outs (9-of-14) … reached on 26% of his leadoff plate appearances … struck out “looking” 9 times.
Sean Gaston – had strong start to his college career, earning national hitter-of-the-week honors, but later missed a month late in the season due to mononucleosis … hit .316 overall in 23 games played (12 GS, 11 R, 18 H, 3 2B, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 9 Ks, SF, 4 SB, 1 E, 2 PB, .989 fielding pct.) … named BIG EAST Conference player of the week and national co-hitter of the week (as selected by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) after opening his college career by batting 10-for-12 during action In Boca Raton, Fla. … actually started the weekend 10-for-11 before flying out for 10-for-12 finish (.833), plus 6 RBI, 7 runs scored, 3 doubles, a 1.083 slugging pct. and 2 stolen bases .. played lead role in game that clinched Florida Atlantic Classic title, batting 5-for-6 in 19-7 win over #25 Minnesota (3 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, SB) … became third ND freshman ever to collect 5-plus hits in a game (first since Scott Sollmann went 5-for-6 at Purdue in ’94) … helped spark several big innings vs. the Gophers by batting 3-for-3 with 2 outs (including a pair of 2-out RBI) … hit 4-for-5 earlier in the weekend vs. Florida Memorial (that 12-3 game was not part of the FAU Classic), marking the first game with 4-plus hits in his competitive baseball career … his 2-for-2 with 2 RBI in 17-5 win over Oakland … missed month of action (17 games) from April 22-May 20 due to mononucleosis … his situational hitting included 1-for-4 vs. LHPs, .321 vs. RHPs, .364 with runners on (.304 in scoring position) and .200 with 2 outs (2 RBI) … hit 3-for-8 with bases loaded, 0-for-3 as pinch-hitter … reached on 30% of his leadoff plate appearances.
Alex Nettey – reserve outfielder who drew a handful of starts during 2004 season, batting .194 in 27 GP (9 GS, 9 R, 7 H, 3 2B, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 3 HBP, 5 Ks, 1-1 SB, 0 Es in 31 chances) … had pair of 2-RBI games vs. Detroit (2B) and Hillsdale (2 H) … helped complete sweep at Connecticut (16-8; H, BB, 2 R) … had RBI groundout in 4-0 win over #20 Central Florida … scored in BIG EAST Tournament winners-bracket win over St. John’s … made several high-level defensive plays in CF during final month of season … his situational hitting included .167 vs. LHPs, .208 vs. RHPs, .300 with runners on (.091 in scoring position) and .304 with 2 outs (2 RBI) … his 0-for-5 as pinch-hitter … reached on 17% of leadoff plate appearances … will enter junior season with .214 career batting avg. (18-for-84, 57 GP/18 GS, 20 R, 5 2B, 8 RBI, 7 BB, 4 HBP, 14 Ks, GDP, SAC, 3-3 SB, 0 Es in 55 fielding chances).
Dan Kapala – played key setup role along with senior LHP Joe Thaman, combining with sophomore closer Ryan Doherty to each log 28-plus appearances in 2004 (no previous pair of ND pitchers, much less three, ever had logged more than 27 GP) … ranked 3rd on staff and 4th among BIG EAST pitchers with 28 GP (good for 7th in the ND record book) … tied Chris Michalak (’90) for 2nd-most GP ever by an ND freshman, behind Aaron Heilman’s 31 in ’98 (Michalak and Heilman both have pitched in the Major Leagues) … led staff with .146 opponent 2-out batting … also 2nd on staff in games finished (12) and strikeouts per 9 IP (9.00) … his 2.70 ERA ranked 3rd among the ND regulars … his .222 opponent batting with runners on base and .241 by righthanded hitters both were 4th-best on staff … also ranked 5th on staff in overall opp. batting avg. (.248), strikeouts “looking” (14), groundout-to-flyout ratio (1.18) and low hit avg. (8.32 H/9 IP) … his other ’04 stats: 2-1 record, save, 40 IP, 37 H, 14 R/12 ER, 16 BB, 40 Ks, 4 HR, 3B, 6 2B, 4 WP, 4 HB and 40 groundouts … allowed just 5-of-21 inherited baserunners to score … his other situational stats included .270 batting by lefthanders and a .410 op. leadoff on-base pct. … his other 9-inning averages included 3.60 walks and 9.00 groundouts .. .averaged 18.00 outs per 9 IP via Ks or GOs … compiled a 2.5 K-to-walk ratio … opposing basestealers were 5-of-5 vs. him … picked up win over Minnesota, at FAU Classic (19-7; 3 IP, 3 H, R, 4 Ks) … saved win over Chicago State (15-5; 1.1 IP, K, HBP) … tossed 2 shutout innings in 7-1 win over Rutgers (H, 2 BB) before pair of scoreless outings in Virginia Tech series (3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks) … picked up win in relief vs. Boston College in BIG EAST Tournament opener (3-2; 0.2 IP, 2 Ks), after classic starters duel between ND’s Grant Johnson and BC’s Chris Lambert … also backed up Johnson’s win over UC Irvine in NCAA Tournament elimination game (6-5; 1.2 IP, 2 Ks) … was slated to start midseason game vs. Purdue that was rained out.
Jess Stewart – had solid 2004 season as reliever and midweek starter, posting 7-1 record that has been bested by just three previous ND freshman … Grant Johnson (9-5 in ’02) is the only ND freshman since 1990 with more than 7 wins … just 6 BIG EAST Conference pitchers posted more wins in ’04 than his 7 … led staff in groundouts per 9 innings (12.60) and groundout-to-flyout ratio (1.93) … also 2nd on staff in low walk avg. (1.80 BB/9 IP) and opp. batting with runners on base (.182), plus 3rd in wins and 2-out batting (.174), 4th in starts (8), and 5th in opp. batting by lefthanded hitters (.263) and total groundouts (56) … his other ’04 stats included a 3.39 ERA in 12 GP and 40 IP, 41 H, 25 R/15 ER, 8 BB, 20 Ks, 3 HR, 3B, 6 2B, .263 opp. avg., WP, 11 HB, BK … his other situational stats included .263 batting by righthanded batters (matching his LH avg.) and a .439 opp. leadoff on-base pct. … his other 9-inning averages: 9.23 hits, 4.50 Ks … posted 2.50 K-to-walk ratio … averaged 17.10 outs per 9 IP via Ks or GOs … opp. basestealers were 4-of-6 vs. him … won first start, vs. Florida Memorial (12-3; 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 4 Ks) … earned spot on Alamo City Classic all-tournament team after winning title game vs. Texas-San Antonio (13-5; 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R/3 ER, 3 Ks) … tossed 5 relief innings of planned rotation to pick up 3-2 win over Central Florida (2 H, BB, 3 Ks) … won final appearance after shutout inning vs. Virginia Tech (2-1; 2 H).
Rico Bertucci – struck out 11 batters while not walking a batter in 14.1 innings, posting a 1.88 ERA while winning his lone decision … his other season stats included 11 hits allowed, a .216 opp. batting avg., 13 groundouts, 2 hit batters and a wild pitch in 12 GP (1 GS, 4 ER/3 ER, HR, 3B, 2B) … allowed just one earned run in final 11 appearances (10 IP) … pitched shutout innings vs. Villanova (13-1; 2 Ks) and IPFW (7-5) … logged key start in planned rotation vs. Central Florida (4-0; 2 IP, H, 2 Ks) … closed NCAA win over Kent State (7-1; 0.2 IP, 2 H) … closed 5 games (3rd-most on staff) … allowed just 2-of-7 inherited baserunners to score … his situational stats included .105 batting by lefthanders, .281 by righthanders, .200 with runners on and just .118 with 2 outs (plus a .419 opp. leadoff on-base pct.) … his 9-inning averages included 6.91 hits, 6.91 Ks and 8.16 GOs.
Scott Bickford – previously played during summer of 2002 with Delaware (Ohio) Cows and in summer of ’03 with Waynesboro Generals … logged a pair of shutout outings during 2004 season (2 IP, H, 3 BB, K, .143 opp. batting avg.) … allowed 1-of-2 inherited baserunners to score … owns 5.65 ERA in 9 career appearances with the Irish (1-0, 14.1 IP, 15 H, 9 R, 7 BB, 15 Ks, 2B, HR, .259 opp. avg., WP, HB).
Mike Dury – posted a 1.88 ERA in 11 relief appearances, winning both of his decisions (14.1 IP, 14 H, 4 R/3 ER, 10 Ks, 4 BB, 2 HR, 2B, .255 opp. avg., 3 WP, 20 GOs) … hit 4-for-16 while appearing in 9 games at 1B (4 GS, 2 RBI, 4 R, HR, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 4 Ks, 3 Es, .927 fielding pct.) … homered vs. Hillsdale … logged shutout inning in 19-7 win over #25 Minnesota (2 H, K) … winning pitcher in 12-3 game vs. Western Michigan (3 IP, 2 Ks) … logged 1.2 shutout innings vs. Virginia Tech in final appearance (1.2 IP, 2 Ks) … allowed 6-of-13 inherited baserunners to score … opposing basestealers were 0-for-3 vs. him … his situational stats included .278 batting by lefthanders, .242 by righthanders, .304 with runners on and .280 with 2 outs (plus a low .182 opp. leadoff on-base pct.) … his 9-inning averages: 8.79 hits, 2.51 walks, 6.28 Ks and 12.56 GOs … averaged 18.84 outs via Ks or GOs … posted 2.5 K-to-walk ratio.
Tyler Jones – played previous summers with Hays Larks (’02) and Madison Mallards (’03) … made 9 relief appearances in 2004 after converting to sidearm delivery, with 3 Ks and 4 walks in 5.1 innings … tossed shutout inning to help beat San Diego State in opener (7-1; K) … also retired only batter he faced in tight win at Florida Atlantic (3-2) … played a handful of innings as reserve outfielder … allowed 0-of-2 inherited baserunners to score … has made 25 career appearances with the Irish (2 GS, 3-1, 32 IP, 48 H, 34 R/29 ER, 15 BB, 24 Ks, 5 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, .333 opp. avg., 2 WP, 2 HB).
Brent Weiss – missed all of 2003 season due to shoulder surgery before playing sparingly in 2004 … appeared in 4 games during early April (2 GS, 2-for-6, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP) … hit 2-for-4 in win over Hillsdale (2 R, BB) ….hit .200 with pair of grand slams in spot duty as a freshman in 2002 (6-for-30, 21 GP/4 GS, 7 R, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, HBO, 9 Ks, SF).
Matt Whittington – made three shutout relief appearances on deep staff that ranked 10th in nation with 3.36 ERA …his 5-inning totals included 2 strikeouts, 3 walks, 6 hits allowed, 1 wild pitch and a .273 opp. batting avg. … pitched in wins over Hillsdale (10-2; IP, 2 H, 2 Ks), Chicago State (15-5; 2 IP, H, BB) and Manchester (10-0; 2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB).