June 3, 2006

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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES – NCAA Lexington Regional, vs. Kentucky (June 3, 2006)

Note: this release is best viewed via the PDF link (much of data is in chart form)

Tom Thornton CAREER STATS (see PDF)





Tom Thornton UPDATED BIO. CAPSULE (Sr., LHP; Middleboro, Mass.)

* Received first team Academic All-District V honors from CoSIDA and advanced to the Academic All-America ballot (only six pitchers in the nation receive Academic All-America honors).

* Graduated with a 3.58 cumulative GPA as a double major in anthropology and film-television-and-theater (3.87 in ’06 spring semester) … his final five semester GPAs included 3.73, 3.81, 3.73, 3.75 and 3.87.

* Joined former women’s basketball player Ruth Riley (’01) as the only Notre Dame student-athletes ever to receive the athletic departments Byron Kanaley Award (recognizing those who are exemplary as students and leaders) and the Chris Zorich Award (recognizing community service excellence) … the baseball program’s 13th recipient of the Kanaley Award (third of the Mainieri era) and first to receive the Zorich Award.

* Has served as a co-captain for the 2006 baseball team, a rare leadership role for the pitcher position.

* Currently serves as one of team’s top weekend starters, ranking 3rd on the staff in wins (7-1; 5th-best among BIG EAST Conference pitchers), innings pitched (78.1) and starts (13), plus 4th in strikeouts (57), with a 3.68 ERA (9th in the BIG EAST), just 5 walks, no wild pitches and only 2 home runs allowed while helping the team rise as high as No. 8 in the national polls … his other 2006 stats include 86 hits allowed, a .285 opp. batting avg. in 14 total appearances.

*His low rate of walks (0.57 per 9 IP) and lofty K-to-walk ratio (11.4) in 2006 both rank 2nd in the ND record book … no other pitcher in the BIG EAST has totaled fewer than 16 walks this season while only three BIG EAST “regular” pitchers (1 IP per team game) have surrendered 0-1 HRs.

* For his career, he owns a 3.72 ERA in 61 appearances while 2nd in Notre Dame history with a low 1.70 career walk avg. (per 9 IP), plus 3rd in starts (52), 5th in innings (328.2), 7th in wins (27-11) and 11th in strikeouts (203) … his other career stats include 350 hits allowed (.278 opp. avg.), just 62 walks, 9 wild pitches and a 3.27 K-to-walk ratio.

* Has helped Notre Dame compile one of the best four-year records in all of college baseball during his career (179-69-2, from ’03-’06) and named BIG EAST pitcher of the week five times in his career, 2nd-most in the 22-year history of BIG EAST baseball (behind former ND ace Aaron Heilman’s 10) … those honors came after outings such as an opening-week win at #20 USC in ’04 (6 IP, UER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 Ks), a shutdown effort vs. a potent Texas Tech team later that season (3 BB, HB, 7 Ks; 8-1) and this season’s five-hit solo shutout of Southern Illinois (2 Ks, 0 BB; 4-0).

* His all-BIG EAST junior season saw him become the only pitcher in the Mainieri era to throw three straight 9-inning complete games before finishing 13th among the league’s pitchers with a 2.83 ERA in ’05 BIG EAST games.

* Was a proven big-game pitcher in ’04, finishing atop the BIG EAST charts for wins (9-2) while ranking 2nd with 99.2 innings and 5th in Ks (77) … his top games that season included a rare 9-inning shutout at West Virginia; (6 H, 2 BB; 4-0) and a career-best 12 Ks in an NCAA elimination game versus Kent State (3 H, 2 BB; 7-1) … tabbed by the NDWorks magazine as a “senior we will miss.”

* Currently under consideration for a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

* Has been a consistent and eager participant in community service work throughout his career as a Notre Dame student-athlete … took on a personal project in 2005-06 by serving as a weekly mentor to students at South Bend’s Veritos Academy … also has been a leading participant in the baseball’s teams many service activities, including: the Buddy Walk for children with Downs Syndrome; adopting an area family for Christmas, through the Salvation Army; participating in the South Bend Reads program and the D.A.R.E. drugs and alcohol education program; and the athletic department’s annual Christmas party for patients from Memorial Hospital’s hematology/oncology ward … also was an invited participant in the athletic department’s Academic Honors faculty mentoring program.



MISTER “MJ” (May/June) – Senior LF/DH Steve Andres is just a .250 career hitter (95-for-380) in regular-season games but is batting at a .373 clip (28-for-75) in all postseason Action, including .395 (15-for-38) in the NCAAs, (5th-best in ND history).


• Three ND juniors – RHP Jeff Samardzija, C Sean Gaston and LHP/DH Mike Dury – are former teammates of Kentucky junior OF Billy Grace (a native of the South Bend suburb of Granger) … Gaston, Dury and Grace played together on the potent Indiana Bulls summer-league team.

• Gaston and UK junior IF John Shelby played for the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League during the summer of 2005. • Samardzija and Ball State senior CF Mike Sullivan gre up playing on youth baseball teams together while Gaston and BSU freshman IF Cory Dragstrem were teammates at Brownsburg High School.

• Two current ND seniors – RF/C Cody Rizzo and LF/DH Matt Bransfi eld – played during the summer of 2005 alongside Charleston junior RHP Josh McLaughlin (with the Alaska League’s Mat-Su Miners).

• ND sophomore RHP Joey Williamson and two College of Charleston players (senior OF/LHP Drew Shamrock and soph. OF Michael Harrington) were teammates during the summer of 2005 with the Valley League’s Luray (Va.) Wranglers. • Three ND juniors

ROAD TRIPPERS – Today marks Notre Dame’s 14th straight game on the road while the Irish will have logged more than 18,000 travel miles this season upon their return to campus … ND also now has played in front of more than 100,000 total fans this season.

AVOIDING 0-and-2 – Notre Dame has yet to go 0-and-2 at a postseason tournament in the 12-year Paul Mainieri era, a span of 22 tournaments (12 conference tournaments, eight NCAA regionals, the `02 super regional and `02 CWS) … the ND program overall has played 36 consecutiev postseason tournaments without an 0-2 start (since 1960) and has avoided 0-2 in 41 of 43 all-time postseason tournament.

IRISH LOSE ONE OF LONGEST GAMES IN NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY – Friday’s 16-inning marathon lasted 4:18 and was the longest NCAA Tournament game (in terms of innings) since 1998, when South Alabama beat Clemson 2-1 in 16 innings … Clemson also was involved in the longest tournament game, a 3-2, 19-inning victory over Florida in 1988 … the game also matches the second-longest of the 12-year Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame, trailing only a 19-inning game at Rutgers on May 11, 2003 (RU won that game, 5-3) … the Irish also lost a 16-inning game to Michigan in Mainieri’s first season (7-6; on May 2, 1995, in Grand Rapids).

SHUTOUT CITY – After the game was tied 4-4 in the 6ht, the ND and Chareston pitching staffs combined to throw 19 straight zeroes up on the scoreboard before the decisive rally in the bottom of the 16th.

OFFENSE RECAP ¬ The Irish finished with a 15-11 edge in hits, with senior SS Greg Lopez (3-for-6, BB) among six ND players with multiple hits … the Notre Dame offense had entered the day averaging just 4.5 strikeouts per 9.0 innings this season but a high K total (13; 7.3 per 9 IP) proved costly in Friday’s tight game … the Irish totaled 27 baseunners and left 17 on base.

CLOSE LOSSES – Notre Dame’s 16 losses this season have come by a total of just 52 runs (avg. margin of 3.3 runs per loss), with 10 of the losses coming by one (6) or two (4) runs and three of the defeats extending to extra-innings.

TWO FOR THE SHOW – Junior righthander Jeff Samardzija and freshman closer Kyle Weiland both turned in heroic efforts on the mound, limiting Charleston to 11 total hits (plus three walks and a hit batter) in the 15-plus innings … thehe Irish pitchers allowed seven leadoff batters to reach but then 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.

SHARK TALES -Samardzija, making his 10th game-1 start of the season , yielded the four runs on seven hits and a pair of walks while striking out three with 67 strikes among his 107 pitchers … Charleston put three leadoff runners on base versus the two-sport standout but Samardzija then limited them to 3-for-12 batting with runners on and 1-for-8 with 2-outs … all three of Samardzija’s career starts in the NCAAs now have resulted in no-decisions.

YOUNG GUN – Weiland entered the NCAAs ranked second nationally in saves (16) but ended up logging 103 pitches (60 strikes) in a game that was deadlocked for nine-plus innings … the freshman righthander earlier had closed the series finale at Connecticut with 5.0 full innings (that game ended in a tie, after 13 innings) but went two innings longer in the NCAA opener, with his 21 outs including seven via strikeouts and nine 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) … Weiland lowered his season ERA to 2.37 while dropping his opponent batting average to .224, which would rank third-best by an Irish freshman in the past 16 seasons (when stat was first officially kept)- trailing only the .198 turned in by Aaron Heilman in 1998 (when he also led the nation with a 1.61 ERA) and the .201 by Larry Mohs in ’94 … Weiland also now owns nearly a 2.5-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (48/20) and has logged 11 more innings pitched (49.1) than hits allowed (39).

STRONG STARTS, POOR FINISHES – The teams combined to put 12 leadoff batters on base in Friday’s opening game but the pitchers won most of the battles with runners on base … all told, the Irish and Cougars combined to bat just .255 with runners on (12-for-47), .118 with men in scoring position (4-for-34) and .088 with 2-outs (3-for-34). The game’s final tally included 28 runners left on base, 17 by the Irish.

UNLIKELY LONG BALLS – Sophomore 2B/DH Ross Brezovsky homered twice last week at the BIG EAST Tournament, matching his total form the entire 2006 regular season (he also had just 2 HRs in all of ’05) … senior CF Alex Nettey then homered vs. Charleston, after totaling just two previous HRs this season and four in his career before that blast.

KER-PLUNK – Senior RF/C Cody Rizzo was hit by a pitch for the 84th time in his career, still 2nd in NCAA history and now eight shy of the record held by former San Francisco player Tony Hurtado.

COOPER, MANSHIP PICK UP ALL-AMERICA HONORS – Notre Dame’s Craig Cooper and Jeff Manship (junior RHP) last week were named the respective BIG EAST player and pitcher of the year and each was named on Friday to the Collegiate Baseball magazine Louisville Slugger All-America team (Cooper was 2nd team, Manship 3rd team) … Cooper also has been named an All-American by the College Baseball Foundation and is one the final-30 candidates for the Brooks Wallace player-of-the-year award … Kentucky’s Ryan Streiby was the 1st-team first baseman on the CB Louisville Slugger All-America team … look for a complete release on Cooper and Manship’s All-America season coming soon on und.com. IRISH CRACK 100,000 FANS – Friday’s crowd of 2,338 means that more than 100,000 fans have seen Notre Dame play this season (100,996), including a record-setting 60,334 in 24 home dates (2,513 per home game, also an Eck Stadium record).

COOPER UPDATE – Has reached base two-thirds of the time (35-of-53) when leading off the game for the ND offense this season … his pair of hits on Friday give him 95 for the season, still 6th in ND history but now one back of the 1993 total posted by Eric Danapilis (Cooper’s former teammate Steve Sollmann had 98 hits in 2003) … Cooper’s 78 runs still are 4th on that ND single-season list, now three shy of 2nd place (Pat Pesavento had 81 runs in 1988 and 88 in ’89, with Dan Peltier scoring 81 in the `89 season as well) … Cooper’s season batting avg. dipped to .422 with the 2-for-7 game (still 6th in ND history and 2nd-best in the Mainieri era) … his .518 season on-base pct. has slipped to 5th in ND history (still best since 1993) … Cooper’s 147 total bases this season are tied for 10th in ND history (Tim Hutson had 148 in ’88, Brant Ust 150 in ’99, Ryan Topham 151 in ’95 and Mike Amrhein 152 in ’97) … Cooper’s career batting avg. remains at .360 (10th in ND history) while his career hit total now stands at 263 (six behind Amrhein for 7th place) … Cooper’s 220 career games played still ranks 12th in ND history (one behind Steve Sollmann) while his 731 at-bats are 11th all-time and his 190 runs 9th on that ND career list (one behind Paul O’Toole) … Cooper’s 110 career walks move him into 10th on that ND list, passing Louisville native Jeff Wagner (who was in attendance at Friday’s game, as was former standout closer and current Eastern Kentucky pitching coach John Corbin) … Cooper has reached base in all but two of his 56 games played this season (hits in 50, runs in 48).

OTHER RECORD BOOK UPDATES – The ND pitchers extended their team-record strikeout total and now are just five shy of 500 Ks (495) … Rizzo’s HBP was ND’s 100th of the season (still 3rd in Irish history), making ND the only Division I team ever to reach 100 HBPs in three seasons (also 130 in ’05, 106 in ’04) … the team’s 64 sacrifice bunts now are two shy of the ND record (66, in ’02) … the 2006 staff has logged 563 innings, 2nd in ND history behind the 2002 CWS team (584.1) … the .248 opponent batting avg. is 2nd-best by an ND staff since 1992 (.244 in ’01) … the team fielding pct. remains at .973, three points ahead of that ND record (.970, in ’03) … Rizzo has played in all 62 games this season and 232 in his career (still 7th in ND history) while Lopez has played in 229 (8th), with 216 starts (10th) … Andres drew his 99th career walk.

FUNGOS – The ND offense entered the NCAAs with a +74 plate-discipline ratio (BB+HBPs-Ks) but were -6 on Friday (6 BB, 1 HBP, 13 Ks) … Charleston became the 286th all-time opponent in 114 seasons of Notre Dame baseball … ND had been 23-1 when hitting a home run this season, prior to Friday’s loss … the Irish now are 37-6 when outhitting the opponent, 32-6 when collecting double-digit hits and 38-7-1 when holding the opponent to 0-5 runs .., the home run was just the 18th allowed by ND this season (the Irish bullpen has allowed just 3 HRs in 197 innings, with none in the past 20 games spanning 74 innings) … the Irish now own a 66-35 scoring edge in the 1st-inning this season … despite having lost each of the three-longest games in the Mainieri era, the Irish have won the next longest games on that list (both 15 innings, at ND’s Eck Stadium), including a 2004 win over one of the other teams in the Lexington Regional (7-6 vs. Ball State, on April 27, 2004) … Alec Porzel’s game-ending home run gave the Irish a 5-3, 15-inning win over West Virginia on May 3, 1998 … Samardzija has allowed just 11 earned runs from the 3rd-5th innings this season (2.54 ERA, well below his 4.33 overall mark).


* Notre Dame owns a 36-42 all-time record (.462) vs. teams from the SEC, including games versus all 12 of the current members … here’s the breakdown:

ND vs. …
Alabama – 4-3 (the Irish also played in the 1996 NCAA regional at Alabama but DNP vs. the Tide)
Arkansas – 6-6
Auburn – 0-4 (includes final game of Pat Murphy era, 8-0 loss at 1994 regional held at Clemson)
Florida – 1-4
Georgia – 7-5
Kentucky – 5-5 (previous games were in 1993; 7-6, 10-13, 7-8 and 6-9 as UK took the series)
LSU – 2-2
Mississippi – 1-4
Mississippi State – 4-2
South Carolina – 1-1
Tennessee – 1-4
Vanderbilt – 4-2
TOTAL – 36-42

* The Irish are 8-3 vs. SEC teams during the 12-year Paul Mainieri era:

ND vs. …
Alabama – 1-1 (5-3 and 1-9; at ND in 1996)
Arkansas – 1-0 (8-5 in 1997; at Millington, Tenn.)
Florida – 0-1 (3-23 in 2005; at NCAA Gainesville Regional)
Georgia – 1-0 (6-4 in 2000; at Metrodome Classic)
Mississippi – 0-1 (5-11 in 1997; at Long Beach State Classic)
Mississippi State – 4-1 (1-8, 7-0, 8-10 at 2000 NCAA Starkville Regional; 7-5, 4-2 at MSU in 2001)
Vanderbilt – 1-0 (3-1, 10-innings in ’03 in Jacksonville; duel between Chris Niesel and Jeremy Sowers)
TOTAL – 8-4 (no games vs. Auburn, LSU, South Carolina or Tennessee)

Notre Dame vs. the SEC in the NCAAs (2-5)
1992 – South Carolina 5, Notre Dame 1 (at Miami; game-1)
1993 – Notre Dame 15, Mississippi State 1 (at Florida State; game-1)
1994 – Auburn 8, Notre Dame 0 (at Clemson; first championship game)
2000 – Mississippi State 8, Notre Dame 1 (winners-bracket game) … Notre Dame 7, at Mississippi State 0 (first championship game; shutout by Danny Tamayo) … Mississippi State 10, Notre Dame 9 (second championship game)
2005 – Florida 23, Notre Dame 3 (first championship game)