May 14, 2006


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NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES – at Seton Hall (May 14, 2006)

Tom Thornton CAREER STATS (see PDF)



CAREER STARTS (including SHU game)
1. Tom Price – 56
2. Darin Schmalz – 53
3. Brian Piotrowicz – 52
4. Tom Thornton – 50

1. Aaron Heilman – 393.2
2. Tom Price – 390.0
3. Brian Piotrowicz – 337.2
4. Alan Walania – 324.0
5. Tom Thornton – 308.2

1. Aaron Heilman – 43-7
2. Tom Price – 40-10
3. Chris Michalak – 34-13
4. David Sinnes – 32-8
5. Alan Walania – 30-12
Darin Schmalz – 30-13
7. Brian Piotrowicz – 27-17
8. Tom Thornton – 25-10

1. Brandon Viloria – 1.61
2. Alan Walania – 1.64
3. Tom Thornton – 1.78 (his 0.62 BB in 2006 ranks 2nd in the ND single-season record book)

COOPER COMPILING ONE OF TOP ALL-AROUND SEASONS EVER BY AN ND HITTER – Craig Cooper’s current season stats include a .538 on-base pct. that would break the ND record (.531, by Eric Danapilis in ’93) … Cooper also owns a .693 season slugging pct. (10th ND history) while his 1.232 OPS (on-base plus slugging) would rank 3rd all-time:
Dan Peltier (1989) .513 on-base .783 slugging 1.296 OPS
Eric Danapils (1993) .522 on-base .726 slugging 1.248 OPS
Craig Cooper (2006) .538 on-base .693 slugging 1.232 OPS

COOPER IN THE RECORD BOOKS – Here’s an update of where Craig Cooper ranks in the ND career record book: 7th in on-base pct. (.461), 9th in batting avg. (.361), 9th in hits (247, tied with Paul O’Toole; Dan Peltier next with 257), 9th in stolen bases (45; one behind Eric Danapils), 11th in walks (105, needs 4 for top-10), 11th in runs (179, needs 4 R for top-10) and 14th in doubles (47) … his 156 career RBI are 10 shy of that top-10 list.


Jeremy Barnes – has hits in 12 of his past 13 games (multiple hits in 4 of 6), raising his batting avg. from .272 to .294 in that span … has surged to team RBI lead with 15 in past 9 games.

Matt Bransfield – had 11-game hit streak, then 0-for-8 in final two games vs, Louisville before batting 5-for-8 in the SHU doubleheader (4 RBI, 2 R).

Ross Brezovsky – batting just 4-for-19 (.211) in past 5 games, with only 3 RBI in past 7 games.

Craig Cooper – has reached base in 44 of 45 GP this season, with hits in 41 … batting at a .563 clip (18-for-32) in the past 8 games … has struck out just twice in the past 16 games … owns 24 multiple-hit games … has scored in 39 games,this season, with multiple runs in 20.

Danny Dressman – has gone seven games without multiple hits (3-for-20)

Sean Gaston – has hits in 8 of his past 10 games, raising his avg, from .299 to .313 (12-for-34; .353).

Brett Lilley – no strikeouts in past 8 games … yesterday made his only error in past 10 games.

Greg Lopez – batting just .143 (4-for-28) in the past 7 games (1 RBI, 2 R) … had made just one error in 13-game stretch before 2 Es yesterday … has struck out just once in past 9 GP (2 Ks in past 22 GP),

Alex Nettey – hit 3-for-7 yesterday vs. SHU while collecting his 2nd RBI in past 12 games.

Cody Rizzo – has gone hitless in 7 of his past 9 games (4-for-23; .174).

COMPETITIVE CREW – ND’s 12 losses this season have come by a total of just 35 runs (avg. of 2.9 margin per loss) … four of the ND losses have been by one run and three by 2-run margins (2 by 3-runs) … the Irish also have lost twice in extra innings this season … ND has held leads in seven of its losses, including late-game leads in four of those defeats … all told, the Irish have been competitive into the late innings of every game except the early-season losses to Nebraska and Minnesota.

LILLEY HITS FIRST TWO CAREER HOME RUNS – Sophomore 3B Brett Lilley had played 106 games and totaled 371 at-bats in his ND career without hitting a home run but the 2-hole batter smacked a pair of 3-run shots in game-2 vs. SHU … the lefthanded-hitting Lilley connected on a full-count pitch from righthander starter Dan McDonald in the 5th, riding a brisk wind over the rightfield fence for a 5-3 lead … two innings later, he laid off a bunt attempt and then sent a 1-2 pitch from LHP Mark Irwin.

THE BIG EAST RACE – Notre Dame (38-12-1, 18-4-1/.804 BIG EAST) has inched closer to claiming the BIG EAST regular-season title, with Connecticut still in second place (15-5-1/.738) while third-place St . John’s (14-8) has only a slim chance of catching the Irish in the BIG EAST standings … Seton Hall (16-31, 6-17) has been eliminated from contention for the 8-team BIG EAST Tournament while 11th-place Pittsburgh (7-16) likely is out of the running as well … Louisville (13-10) is riding a four-game BIG EAST win streak and now is alone in 4th place while Rutgers and West Virginia are tied for 5th (12-11), Cincinnati is 7th (11-12) and South Florida 8th (10-13), followed by Georgetown (9-14) and Villanova (8-14) … if the Irish win the regular-season title, they will be placed into a four-team, double-elimination bracket at the BIG EAST Championship with the teams that finish 4-5-8 (with an opening game vs. the #8 seed).

BIG EAST WIN TOTAL NEARS 20 – Despite losing three of its past four BIG EAST games, the Irish yesterday became the 16th team in 22 years of BIG EAST baseball that has reached at least 18 wins in a season, with ND now owning six of those seasons with 18-plus BIG EAST wins (Rutgers is next with four, followed by St. John’s with a pair of 18-plus win totals) … six previous teams have won 19-plus BIG EAST games in a season, including three Notre Dame squads (22-4 in ’01; 20-5 in ’99; 20-6 in ’04), plus two Rutgers teams (19-6 in ’03; 19-7 in ’99) and SJU in 2005 (19-4) … ND’s other seasons with 18-plus BIG EAST wins also include 18-7 in 2000 and 18-8 in ’02 … other teams with 18-plus BIG EAST wins (in addition to ND, RU and SJU) include West Virginia, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Providence (each with one).

COOPER KEEPS CRANKING – Craig Cooper batted 4-for-9 in the doubleheader and is on the verge of claiming the BIG EAST record for highest career batting avg. in BIG EAST play … the senior 1B now is batting .454 in BIG EAST games during his career (114-for-251), 11 points above the record held by former Rutgers player Joe Cirrone (who had only 115 career BIG EAST at-bats, just one more than Cooper’s HIT total) … Cooper’s season batting avg. remains at .441, just six points shy of Edwin Hartwell’s team record … he also remains on pace for an unprecedented third BIG EAST batting title, now hitting at a .505 clip in 2006 conference games.

WEILAND TIES SAVE RECORD – Kyle Weiland was the third ND pitcher to take the mound in the 9th inning of the nightcap and recorded the final out with the tying run on base for his 13th save in 14 opportunities this season … the freshman RHP now shares the ND record for saves in a season with J.P. Gagne (’03).MANSHIP THE MAN – Junior RHP Jeff Manship improved to 8-1, after matching his career-high of 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings of game-2 vs. SHU … the BIG EAST pitcher of the year candidate allowed four runs on six hits and just one walk while posting his sixth consecutive winning decision.

STRIKEOUT CENTURY MARK IN SIGHT – Manship is on the verge of becoming the fourth different ND pitcher to post 100-plus strikeouts in a season … his 96 Ks rank 7th in the ND record book, behind three Aaron Heilman seasons (118 in 1999 and 2000; 111 in ’01), Danny Tamayo (106, ’01), Frank Carpin (102, ’58) and Tim Kalita (97, ’99) … Manship has logged 80.2 innings and now owns a season avg. of 10.71 Ks per 9.0 IP that would rank 6th-best in the ND record book (Ryan Doherty is the only pitcher from the 12-year Paul Mainieri era with a better season K avg.) … Manship also now owns an impressive 5.33 season K-to-walk ratio (18 BB) that would rank 5th-best in the ND record book, behind Tom Price (12.14, in ’94),Tamayo (6.24, in ’01), Scott Cavey (5.88, in ’99) and Alan Walania (5.62, in ’93) … his career avg. of 10.13 Ks per 9 IP has surged past current Major League all-star closer Brad Lidge (9.93) into 4th place on the ND charts, behind Dan McGinn (12.66), Doherty (12.17) and Rick Rusteck (10.75) … Doherty is the only ND pitcher in the past 40 years with a higher career strikeout rate than Manship … Manship also has moved ahead of another former teammate (Chris Niesel, 4.09) atop the Irish list for career K-to-walk ratio (4.14; 116/28, in 103.1 IP).

OFFENSIVE LEADERS – Senior LF Matt Bransfield hit 5-for-8 in the doubleheader with a pair of RBI and a run scored in each game … freshman DH/2B Jeremy Barnes (3-for-8, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB, 3B) added a productive day from the cleanup spot while sophomore 2B Ross Brezovsky helped spark the game-2 win by batting 3-for-5 (2 RBI, 2 R, 2B) … Bransfield should have been 5-for-7 with 5 RBI but he had a sac. fly wiped off the books when the plate umpire ruled that Barnes had left third base early.

COSTLY MISCUES – The Irish made three errors in the doubleheader but two came in the same inning, producing a costly unearned run in the 3rd inning of the opener … unearned runs now have played a key role in half of ND’s 12 losses this season.

ANOTHER BIG INNING – Notre Dame scored its 14 runs in the nightcap on 14 hits, breaking open the game by scoring six times in the 7th (12-4) … the team’s six hits in the frame included Brett Lilley’s second home run of the day, a triple by Jeremy Barnes and doubles off the bats of Ross Brezovsky and Alex Nettey … it marked the 15th time this season that the Irish have scored 5-plus runs in a game.

LEADOFF LEADER – Craig Cooper entered game-2 having reached base better than 70% of the time when leading off a game for the ND offense and he added to that total with a double to right field before scoring one of his team-leading 67 runs of the season … Cooper now owns a .714 first-inning on-base pct. (30-of-42; 23-for-35 batting/.657, 4 HR, 7 2B, 6 BB, HBP) as the Notre Dame leadoff batter.

RARE LONG BALL – Brett Lilley’s pair of 2-run shots were not the only rare home runs in game-2 of the SHU series … Brandon Cohen’s 3-run HR earlier in that game marked just the 11th time (in 51 games) that the Irish have surrendered a home run.

COMEBACK KIDS – Dating back to the start of the record-setting win streak on March 25, the Irish have made a habit of overcoming deficits and that continued with four runs in the 5th inning of game-2 (as the Irish scored four times for a 5-3 lead) … the inning included singles by Matt Bransfield, Alex Nettey and Craig Cooper (plus Greg Lopez’s RBI groundout) before Brett Lilley connected on his first career home run … ND now has erased 21 of its past 25 deficits faced, over the span of 33 games and seven weeks of action.

HBP HIGHWAY ROLLS ON – The three players who have been hit-by-pitch the most in ND baseball history all were plunked during yesterday’s action … senior CF Alex Nettey was HBP for the 21st time this season (3rd-most in the nation) and 40th in his career … sophomore 3B Brett Lilley later was HBP for the 13th time this season (43rd career), as was senior RF/C Cody Rizzo (11st; 81st career) … Rizzo and former Florida Atlantic player Gabe Somaribba (’99-’02) now are tied for 2nd on the NCAA list for career HBPs (San Francisco’s Tony Hurtado had 92, from ’97-’00).

LILLEY DOUBLES HIS CAREER-HIGH RBI TOTAL – Brett Lilley’s six RBI in game-2 doubled his previous career-high for a single game (3), set earlier this season in game-2 of the St. John’s series.

GETTING THE FIRST GUY – Jeff Manship did not allow a Seton Hall leadoff batter to reach base (0-of-7) and now has limited the opponents to a .293 leadoff on-base pct. (just 2.6 have reached per 9 IP) …

HIGH K TOTALS – Jeff Manship now has posted 8-plus Ks in 9-of-12 starts this season (2 with 10, 3 with 9, 4 with 8, also 7, 6 and 4-K games).

DRAFT DUO – Notre Dame’s Jeff Manship and Jeff Samardzija will be featured on late next week (with feature stories and video interviews that were conducted at the ballpark on Saturday) … the Irish pitchers both are considered among college baseball’s top-50 prospects for the upcoming MLB amateur draft.