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Surging Irish Reach 30 Wins in 39th Game

April 23, 1999

  • Irish play host to Seton Hall, keep focus on BIG EAST title
  • Dramatic season rolls on; Irish riding 26-3 run since March 8
  • Stanley earns second BIG EAST player-of-the-week award
  • Ust still on pace for BIG EAST career batting average record (.435)

The surging Notre Dame baseball team (30-9, 14-2 BIG EAST)-ranked No. 25 by Baseball America-resumes its quest for the BIG EAST regular-season title, with a three-game series against Seton Hall (18-14-1, 8-8) … Rutgers (13-4) is in pursuit of the Irish while seven others still have a shot at the six-team BIG EAST Tournament: St. John’s (10-6), Providence (10-7), SHU (8-8), Pittsburgh (8-9), Villanova (8-9), Connecticut (7-10) and West Virginia (6-10) … the Irish are playing 20 of 22 April games at home … Notre Dame has won four straight, nine of its last 10, 15 of the last 17 and is 26-3 since March 6 … the Irish are 112-21 at Eck Stadium in the five-year tenure of coach Paul Mainieri … the March 22 win over Central Michigan gave Notre Dame a 30th win in its 39th game, equaling the program’s quickest season to 30 wins (the 1990 and ’94 teams also opened 30-9) … freshman 3B Andrew Bushey suffered a knee injury at WVU on March 20 and missed 21 games before returning in the CMU game (as the DH) … Bushey’s initial replacement at the hot corner, junior Jeff Perconte, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury when he slid home with the tying run in the eighth inning of Notre Dame’s 6-3 win over Cleveland State on April 14 … Perconte had provided a huge boost to the Irish lineup as the No. 9 hitter, batting .323 overall with 19 RBI and two home runs (plus .400 batting with runners in scoring position) … junior SS Brant Ust’s 15-game hitting streak ended vs. Michigan (equaling his career best) while junior RF/1B Jeff Felker takes his career-best 14-game hitting streak into the CMU series … Notre Dame has been swept just twice in 47 BIG EAST doubleheaders over the past four seasons (vs. WVU in ’96, at SHU in ’97) … Mainieri is on the verge of his 200th win at Notre Dame (196) and his 900th career game as a college head coach (891).

A WILD SEASON: Notre Dame’s last-minute magic in ’99 has included: 15 comeback wins, six games when the Irish scored the winning run in the final inning and six other victories where the Irish game-winner came in the second-to-last inning the 30 Irish wins have included 28 by 1-4 runs: seven wins by one run, six by two runs, nine by three runs and five by four runs (the Irish average margin of victory is 3.2) … in the last 17 games alone, the Irish have posted nine comeback wins (one in the last inning, three in the second-to-last inning)-plus three others where the winning run came in the final inning.

STANLEY ON FIRE: Notre Dame freshman CF Steve Stanley (Upper Arlington, Ohio) earned his second BIG EAST rookie-of-the-week award, after a highly-productive showing in four games from April 12-18 .. Stanley led Notre Dame during the week in batting (.625) and hits (10-for-16), also totaling three RBI, four runs, one sacrifice bunt, two walks, one stolen base and a runner thrown out at home (from his centerfield position) … Stanley-who hit 9-for-13 in the BC series, followed by a 4-for-5 game vs. Michigan-is riding an eight-game hitting streak while raising his season batting average to .331 (fifth among Notre Dame regulars) … Stanley ranks second in the BIG EAST with 16 stolen bases on 21 attempts (UConn’s Glenn Katz has 18) while also ranking second on the team with a .378 batting average when runners are in scoring position … he has reached base on 49 percent of his leadoff plate appearances … Stanley’s .415 batting average in BIG EAST action (27-for-65) ranks eighth in the conference and first among all BIG EAST freshmen … his 27 hits in BIG EAST play rank fifth among all conference players while Stanley and Katz share the conference lead with eighth stolen bases in BIG EAST play … Notre Dame players have combined for seven BIG EAST weekly awards in 1999, second only to Providence (9) among the league’s 11 teams … sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman has earned three BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week honors (March 15, March 22, April 12) while Stanley was named rookie of the week on March 15 … the other Notre Dame weekly award winners in 1999 include junior SS Brant Ust (player of the week, March 29) and junior 1B/RF Jeff Felker (player of the week, April 5). The Irish have produced at least one award winner during each of the past six weeks … Stanley and Providence outfielder Mike Scott are the only multiple winners of the BIG EAST rookie-of-the-week award (Scott has been honored three times).

NOTRE DAME 1999 BASEBALL SCHEDULE (30-9)Sat.   4/24   *Seton Hall (DH)    12:05 p.m.  Sun.   4/25   *Seton Hall         12:05 p.m.   Wed.   4/27   *Illinois-Chicago   7:05 p.m.   Thur.  4/28   *Chicago State      3:45 p.m.    
Games at Notre Dame's Eck Stadium

* On WHME radio 103.1 FM, available via realaudio through the Notre Dame website, at

SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame leads its all-time series with Seton Hall, 7-4, including a series win at SHU last season (4-5, 11-3, 6-1) … the loss at SHU in ’98 snapped the Irish 23-1 run … Notre Dame bounced back to win the nightcap behind Brant Ust’s record-tying game (see below) … after a Sunday rain cancellation, the teams completed the series with a Monday game, highlighted by Tim Kaltia’s first career complete game and a career-best 10 Ks … Notre Dame suffered a forgettable series at SHU in ’97 (4-5, 0-16, 10-16) … the Irish swept the 1996 series (7-1, 15-1, 10-1) while also eliminating the Pirates from the ’97 BIG EAST Tournament, behind Alex Shilliday’s complete game (2 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K’s), Mike Amrhein’s 37th career home run and two-hit games from Jeff Wagner (2 RBI) and J.J. Brock (RBI) … career batting stats vs. SHU: Ust (.481, 13-for-27, 7 RBI, 3 HR), Jeff Wagner (.278, 10-for-36, 13 RBI), Alec Porzel (.200, 2-for-10, 5 RBI) and Jeff Felker (.133, 2-for-15) … career pitching stats vs. SHU: Aaron Heilman (SV, 0.00, 3 IP, 2 H, 2 Ks) … Alex Shilliday (1-1, 4.95, 20 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 15 Ks), Tim Kalita (1-0, 3.00, 9 IP, 14 H,2 BB, 12 Ks) and Chris McKeown (10.12, 2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 BB).

SERIES MEMORY – UST TIES FOUR RECORDS: Current Irish junior Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) sent the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning of the April 25, 1998, nightcap at Seton Hall over the fence in left-center field, tying three Notre Dame records and one BIG EAST mark in the process … five was the magic number for Ust in that game, as he went 5-for-5, with five RBI and five runs scored-plus three first-pitch home runs vs. three different SHU pitchers … Ust became the 17th Irish player to collect five hits in a game, joining 1998 teammates Allen Greene (5-for-6 vs. IUPUI, 3/20/97) and Dan Leatherman (5-for-5 vs. Toledo, 4/23/98) in that distinction … Ust’s three-home-run game is just the seventh in Irish history and the first since Joe Binkiewicz did in twice in 12 days during April of 1991 (vs. Evansville and Michigan) … Ust also joined Pat Pesavento (vs. Pennsylvania, 3/10/89) as the only Irish players who have scored five runs in a game … five previous BIG EAST players had scored five runs in a BIG EAST game (first done by Seton Hall’s Mo Vaughn vs. Pittsburgh on 3/28/87) … Ust’s 5-for-5 day included a solo shot to left in the 2nd vs. LHP Cameron Esslinger, a hard-fought at-bat that ended with an opposite-field single to right in the 4th, a near-home-run in the 6th (double high off the left-center wall) and a leadoff shot to left in the 8th vs. RHP Paul Viole … leadoff singles by J.J. Brock and Ben Cooke in the 9th assured Ust a final at-bat and he delivered with a one-out, three-run shot to left vs. RHP Mike Wren.

IRISH BASEBALL ON THE AIR … AND THE WEB: South Bend-based WHME radio (103.1) is scheduled to broadcast most of Notre Dame’s 55 regular-season games-including the upcoming series vs. Seton Hall-and any postseason action during the 1999 campaign … all games are available via the internet, with a link from the Notre Dame website ( … WHME’s television division (TV 46) also will broadcast the May 11 game versus Miami, with a delayed 11:00 p.m. airing … WHME is scheduled to broadcast 15 of Notre Dame’s 16 remaining regular-season games, except for the April 30 game vs. Oakland.

AROUND THE HORN: Junior RHP John Corbin continues to pitch effectively in clutch situations, as all but three of his 18 appearances have impacted the final result … Corbin owns a 6-1 record and eight saves (two shy of the Irish record) and now leads the team with a 2.93 ERA (plus 33 Ks in 30.2 innings) … sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman (75 Ks) and junior lefty Tim Kalita (72) are on pace to challenge the Irish single-season strikeout record of 108, set by Frank Carpin in 1958 … Heilman is allowing just .205 opponent batting, which would rank fifth-best by an Irish pitcher since 1991s.

QUICK TEAM NOTES: A big key to the Irish success this season has been the clutch hitting with runners in scoring position (.317) … in addition to 15 come-from-behind victories and seven one-run wins, the Irish own six victories this season where the winning run was scored in the last inning and six in which the winning run came across in the second-to-last inning … in the last 17 games alone, the Irish have posted nine comeback wins (one in the last inning, three in the second-to-last inning)-plus three other victories where the winning run came in the final inning … the April 2 doubleheader vs. UConn featured 49 combined hits (21 for extra bases), nine home runs (seven by the Irish), and 5:25 of game time (plus a 39-minute rain delay) … Notre’s Dame’s big seven-run fourth inning in the opener vs. UConn included consecutive home runs from Jeff Wagner, Jeff Felker and Matt Nussbaum, with Jeff Perconte leaving the yard two batters later … Notre Dame’s continues to lead the BIG EAST with a .962 overall season fielding pct. (equaling last season’s mark, which ranks third-best at Notre Dame since 1982), with unearned runs providing the margin of defeat in just two Irish losses … the Irish pitching staff is on pace to total 497 Ks over 60 games, which would best the team record of 456 set last season … the ’99 staff is averaging 8.76 Ks per nine innings, which would rank second in the Irish record book (behind the 1958 team’s 9.89) … the Irish pitchers also own a 2.45 K-to-walk ratio, ahead of the record of 2.40 set in 1963.

WAGNER RETURNS WITH A BANG: Senior DH and Irish career home run lead Jeff Wagner (48 HRs) missed all of March and the April 1 doubleheader vs. Providence due to a foot injury … Wagner returned from his five-week, 18-game hiatus in stunning fashion, smacking the first pitch he saw on April 2 vs. Connecticut over the fence in dead-center field … he ignited the decisive seven-run fourth inning in that game, with a shot to left-center (sparking four Irish HRs in five ABs) … Wagner added a third HR in the nightcap-a booming left-field shot that cleared the football practice-field fence across the street … he finished the day 4-for-5, with two walks … Wagner’s barrage vs. UConn moved him into second on the list for career HRs in BIG EAST regular-season games (now 23 in 68 games), three shy of the record held by former Seton Hall great Mo Vaughn (26 in 53, ’87-’89) … Wagner’s four RBI vs. UConn gave him 76 in his BIG EAST regular-season career (now 79), pushing him into third in the BIG EAST record book, behind the record of 83 shared by former SHU catcher Alex Andreopoulos (83, ’92-’95) and Vaughn Wagner added his ninth career two-home-run game (and third of the season) in the 14-10 win over Bowling Green on April 7, helping rally the Irish from an early 9-1 deficit … Wagner has moved into fourth on the Irish career RBI list with 185, behind Eric Danapilis (221, 1990-93), Dan Peltier (202, 1987-89) and former teammate Mike Amrhein (202, 1994-97) … Wagner also is tied for 10th in Irish history with 154 runs scored while his 229 career hits rank ninth all-time at Notre Dame, four behind former teammate Randall Brooks (’97) … Wagner ranks ninth at Notre Dame with 108 career walks and is tied for fourth with 50 career doubles.

IRISH RETURN PAIR OF ALL-AMERICANS: Notre Dame is one of just five schools in Division I baseball that returned multiple All-America players from the 1998 season (based on the teams selected by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball magazine and the American Baseball Coaches Association) … current Irish sophomore RHP Aaron Heilman was named third team All-America by Collegiate Baseball in ’98 while current junior shortstop Brant Ust was a third team ’98 All-America pick (as a third baseman) by both Baseball America and the ABCA … the other schools with multiple returning All-Americans include the University of Miami, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and Wichita State (3).

SHILLIDAY MOVING UP STRIKEOUT LIST: Notre Dame senior RHP Alex Shilliday owns 239 career strikeouts, last week moving past Al Walania (236, ’93) into fourth on the Irish all-time list … Shilliday could make a run up the list, which includes a formidable threesome that played together (along with Walania) for three seasons: David Sinnes (315, ’93), Tom Price (276, ’94) and Chris Michalak (263, ’93).

BIG EAST BESTS: Notre Dame senior C Jeff Wagner and All-America junior SS Brant Ust rank among the top hitters in BIG EAST history … Ust’s career bating average in BIG EAST regular-season games (.435, 91-for-209) is on pace to challenge the existing record of .432, set by Seton Hall’s Marteese Robinson from ’85-’87 … Wagner ranks among the top 20 on that list with a .387 avg. (94-for-243), including 23 HRs in the BIG EAST regular season, which ranks second all-time behind former Seton Hall great Mo Vaughn (26, ’87-’89) … Wagner also ranks third in BIG EAST history with 79 career RBI in conference games, four behind Vaughn (83) and former SHU catcher Alex Andreopoulos (83, 1992-95) … two former Irish players-2B/CF Randall Brooks (.418, ’96-’97) and IF J.J. Brock (.399, ’96-’98)-also rank among the all-time BIG EAST batting leaders … senior RHP Alex Shilliday has throw 102 career strikeouts in BIG EAST regular-season play, just three shy of moving into a share of ninth in BIG EAST history … UConn’s John Kelly (1992-94) and Seton Hall’s Matt Morris (1993-95) each totaled 105 Ks in BIG EAST action.

HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI: Fifth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 528-363 (.593) record in 16-plus seasons as a college head coach, surpassing the 500-win milestone in the Feb. 27 win at New Orleans (14-11) … in addition to his 196-84 (.700) mark with the Irish, Mainieri was 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force … Mainieri has experienced two noteworthy homecomings in ’99, making his third return to the University of New Orleans (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his third return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach … Mainieri coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20, 1998, at the University of Miami, after a Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out … he notched his 499th career win in the 1999 season opener versus James Madison, in a game played in Miami at Florida International (Feb. 19) … Mainieri’s 196 wins rank third at Notre Dame, behind Pat Murphy (318, ’88-’94) and Jake Kline (558, ’34-’75) … Mainieri has seen 16 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with 11 selected in the major-league draft … 15 of Mainieri’s players at St. Thomas went on to pro baseball, including three-Joe Klink, Dane Johnson and Dan Rohrmeier-who have played in the major leagues … Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to each top 400 career coaching wins … Demie won 1,018 games in his 30-year career at Miami-Dade North CC.

UST, HEILMAN AMONG TOP PROSPECTS: Two Notre Dame players are listed among Baseball America’s 1999 list of college baseball’s top professional baseball prospects … junior SS Brant Ust is listed as the No. 38 college prospect and is fifth among middle infielders, behind Miami’s Bobby Hill (8th), Duke’s Vaughn Schill (9th), South Carolina’s Brian Roberts (11th) and ASU’s Willie Bloomquist (13th) … Hill and Bloomquist were teammates of Ust’s on Team USA during the summer of ’98, as were USC C Eric Munson (No. 2 prospect), Mississippi State P Matt Ginter (10th), Texas A&M LHP Casey Fossum (11th) and UNLV OF Ryan Ludwick (20th) … Irish sophomore All-America RHP Aaron Heilman is listed by Baseball America as the top prospect in the BIG EAST Conference … the magazine projects Heilman as the No. 9 prospect for 2000 (fourth among pitchers).

NEW LOOK LINEUP: Notre Dame’s ’99 lineup includes several players in new positions, with senior C Jeff Wagner representing the only player who opened at the same position he played in ’98 (Wagner was sidelined for five weeks and now is serving at DH/1B) … junior All-American Brant Ust made the move from third base to shortstop (where he played part of his freshman season), replacing first team all-BIG EAST selection and two-time team captain J.J. Brock … sophomore Alec Porzel, a high school shortstop, has returned to the infield as the starting second baseman, after playing in left field as a freshman (1998 graduate Todd Frye played at second last season) … junior Jeff Felker is returning to first base (where he played for most of ’97), after spending ’98 as the starting right fielder (the Irish are looking to replace the strong defense and surprising power of ’98 graduate Dan Leatherman at first base) … three newcomers have stepped into the lineup while junior Jeff Perconte and sophomore Ben Cooke are sharing the starting duties in right field (in addition to serving as DH candidates) … two freshmen opened the season as starters in the outfield-LF Matt Strickroth and CF Steve Stanley-while Andrew Bushey took over Ust’s vacated spot at third base … freshman Paul O’Toole has emerged as the everyday catcher (Strickroth also has played some 1B, with Felker playing some OF) … junior DH/LF Matt Nussbaum also has been impressive as a starter for the Irish this season … Perconte-who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury vs. Cleveland State on April 14-also filled in at third in place of Bushey, who suffered a knee injury at West Virginia on March 20 (Bushey missed 21 games before returning this week).

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: The Notre Dame baseball team posted a 3.07 team GPA in the ’98 fall semester, led by 10 players who turned in Dean’s List semesters (3.4-plus) … Irish baseball players have earned GTE Academic All-America honors 11 times since 1982, with current junior utility player Jeff Perconte (3.65 cumulative GPA as a double major in economic and government) serving as a leading Academic All-American candidate for 1999 … other Academic All-America nominees include junior OF/1B Matt Nussbaum (3.25 as a government major) and sophomore RHP Mike Naumann (3.92 in College of Science, planning to major in pre-professional studies) … the GTE Academic All-District and Academic All-America teams will be announced in the coming weeks.

IRISH OWN TOP RECENT BIG EAST WINNING PERCENTAGE: Over the course of its three-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame ranks first among the 11 member teams with a .716 overall winning pct. (144-57, West Virginia was second at .630 heading into the ’99 season), a .750 BIG EAST regular-season winning percentage (57-19, Rutgers was second at .671) and a .725 wining percentages in combined BIG EAST regular-season and tournament games (66-25, Rutgers was second at .651) … St. John’s owns the best BIG EAST Tournament winning percentage during the past three seasons (.636, 7-4), followed by Notre Dame at .600 (9-6) … in fact, the double-elimination tournament has been the ultimate bugaboo for Notre Dame, with the same team providing both Irish losses during each of the past three tournaments (West Virginia in ’96, Villanova in ’97 and Rutgers in ’98).

WHAT THE ECK!: Notre Dame is in its sixth season at Frank Eck Stadium, located on the southeast corner of the Notre Dame campus … the Irish have won nearly 85 percent of their games at Eck during the past five-plus seasons, posting a 141-28 record (.834), highlighted by a 25-2 mark in 1997 and a 112-21 home record (.842) during the five-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri … the Irish head into the Seton Hall series with victories in 68 of their last 78 games (.872) at Eck Stadium (since late in the 1996 season), including a 33-4 mark in home BIG EAST games during that stretch.

ROAD-TESTED: Notre Dame has been strong at home in six years at Frank Eck Stadium-going 128-27 (.826)-but the also have performed well on the road, winning 25 of their last 34 games away from home … that streak began with three ’98 wins in San Antonio, Texas, and was extended with a three-game sweep at Boston College and a pair of wins over Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium … the Irish then beat Michigan at Old Kent Park in Grand Rapids and won two of three at Seton Hall … Notre Dame opened 1999 by beating James Madison (at Florida International) before dropping three games to No. 23 FIU, winning two of three at the New Orleans Invitational, going 6-2 during the spring break trip to San Antonio and winning five of six BIG EAST road games (before the recent loss at Northwestern and win over Michigan in Gran Rapids).

Career Record Book

Batting Average   1.   Dan Peltier (1987-89)      .406   2.   Eric Danapilis (1990-93)   .405   3.   Brant Ust (1997-  )        .379
Runs Batted In 1. Eric Danapilis (1989-92) 221 2. Dan Peltier (1987-89) 202 Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 202 4. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 185
7. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 166 Craig Counsell (1989-92) 166 9. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 165 10. Cory Mee (1989-92) 164 -- Brant Ust (1997- ) 158
Hits 7. Craig Counsell (1989-92) 235 8. Randall Brooks (1994-97) 233 9. Greg Layson (1991-94) 229 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 229 -- Brant Ust (1997- ) 220
Home Runs 1. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 48 2. Brant Ust (1997- ) 44
Doubles 3. Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 58 4. Craig Counsell (1989-92) 50 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 50 6. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 48 Brant Ust (1997- ) 48
Runs Scored 7. Dan Peltier (1987-89) 166 8. J.J. Brock (1994-98) 161 9. Brant Ust (1997- ) 160 10. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 154 Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 154
Earned Run Average 1. Aaron Heilman (1998- ) 2.30 2. Nick Palihnich (1959-61) 2.36
Strikeouts Thrown 1. David Sinnes (1990-93) 315 2. Tom Price (1991-94) 276 3. Chris Michalak (1990-93) 263 4. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 239
8. Pat Leahy (1990-92) 192 Darin Schmalz (1994-97) 192 10. Tim Kalita (1997- ) 189
Innings Pitched 6. David Sinnes (1990-93) 297.1 7. Pat Leahy (1990-92) 255.1 8. Tom Bujnowski ('52, '56-'57) 255.0 9. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 254.0
Victories 7. Pat Leahy (1990-92) 25 8. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 23
Games Started 7. David Sinnes (1990-93) 40 8. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 37

Season Record Book

Slugging Percentage   1.   Brant Ust (1999)     .823   2.   Dan Peltier (1989)   .783
8. Jeff Wagner (1997) .712 9. Jeff Wagner (1999) .703
Home Runs 1. Frank Jacobs (1991) 20 2. Tim Hutson (1988) 18 Ryan Topham (1995) 18 Brant Ust (1998) 18 5. Jeff Wagner (1997) 17 6. Dan Peltier (1989) 15 Joe Binkiewicz (1991) 15 Brant Ust (1999) 15
Saves 1. Mike Coffey (1989) 10 2. Aaron Heilman (1998) 9 3. John Corbin (1999) 8
Opponent Average (since1991) 4. Larry Mohs (1994) .201 5. Aaron Heilman (1999) .205
Strikeouts 7. Tom Price (1994) 85 8. Chris Michalak (1993) 83 9. Pat Leahy (1992) 80 10. Charles Symeon (1958) 79 -- Aaron Heilman (1999) 75 -- Tim Kalita (1999) 73