March 23, 2001
PITSBURGH, Pa. – The eighth-ranked Notre Dame baseball team-already in the midst of its best start since 1910-equaled an 85-year old team record Friday by completing a string of three consecutive shutouts, as the Irish opened BIG EAST Conference play with a pair of 3-0 victories over the University of Pittsburgh at Trees Field.
Danny Tamayo and fellow senior righthander Aaron Heilman each posted his second solo shutout of the season, with Tamayo matching his career high of 10 strikeouts in the seven-inning opener while Heilman held the Panthers to a pair of hits in the nine-inning second game.
Notre Dame (16-2-1) continued to struggle at the plate, managing just four hits in the first game before stranding 10 baserunners in the nightcap.
The Irish also blanked Cleveland State (3-0) in Wednesday’s home opener vs. Cleveland State, yielding the program’s first three-game shutout streak since the 1916 squad held Michigan State (then Michigan Agriculture, 2-0), Purdue (1-0) and Western Michigan (then Western State, 6-0) scoreless in consecutive games.
The Notre Dame pitching staff now owns an eye-popping 2.42 season ERA and .216 opponent batting average, led by a 1.80 season ERA from the Irish starters.
Junior catcher Paul O’Toole provided the big hit in the third inning of the doubleheader, slicing a first-pitch. two-run double to left-center for a 3-0 Irish lead. Senior shortstop Alec Porzel had a similar hit in the nightcap, driving a two-run double high off the wall in left-center for a 3-0 lead in the top of the ninth.
Tamayo (3-1)-who owns three shutouts in his last seven starts-faced just three batters over the minimum (24) while yielding only four hits and no walks. His 89-pitch outing included six groundball outs to complement the 10 Ks, five of which came on called third strikes.
Heilman (6-0)-who allowed just a handful of balls to leave the infield-now has won 16 of his last 17 decisions, with his 34-7 career record placing him in a tie with Chris Michalak (34-13, `90-’93) for second on the Irish career victories list-six shy of Tom Price’s record (40-10, `91-’94). He faced just five batters over the minimum (32) in Saturday’s 108-pitch outing while scattering two hits, four walks, two hit batters, eight Ks and 16 groundball outs (including three double-play balls) over the full nine innings.
Heilman’s mastery produced a boring game for the Irish outfielders, who had to track down just two flyouts, plus a bloop single and a hit through the infield. Tony Railing collected both hits, the first coming when he led off the bottom of the first and the second coming in the eighth.
NOTES: Just two other ND teams have posted three consecutive shutouts, with the 1907 Notre squad blanking Indiana (6-0), Nebraska (4-0) and Oberlin (5-0) from May 9-15 while the 1908 squad opened with shutouts of Winona (19-0), Albion (18-0) and Kalamazoo (19-0) … Tamayo (1.73, 42 Ks/6 BB, .177 opp. avg.) and Heilman (1.34, 43 Ks/11 BB, .174) continue to make their case for being one of the nation’s top pitching tandems (Heilman lowered his career ERA to 2.59) … Porzel preceded his big hit in the ninth inning of the nightcap with a defensive gem in the bottom of the eighth, when he made a diving stop behind the second-base bag and completed a 6U-3 double play after Railing had singled … Porzel’s impressive .990 season fielding percentage includes just one error in 97 fielding chances (with no errors in the last 10 games).
#8 Notre Dame 1-0-2 0-0-0 0 – 3 4 0
Pittsburgh 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 – 0 4 0
Danny Tamayo (3-1) and Paul O’Toole.
Joe Engel (2-2) and Charis Britt.
Doubles: Paul O’Toole 2 (ND), Corey Joyce (Pitt).
#8 Notre Dame (16-2-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-2 – 3 7 0
Pittsburgh (9-7, 2-2 BIG EAST) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 – 0 2 2
Aaron Heilman (6-0) and Paul O’Toole.
Scott Schultz (L, 2-1), T.J. Gornati (5) and Charis Britt.
Doubles: Steve Stanley (ND), Alec Porzel (ND).