March 7, 2004
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL GAMEDAY NOTES – vs. Texas-San Antonio (March 7, 2004)
Tom Thornton 2004 Appearances and Career Stats (see PDF)
NEVER SAY DIE – In the 12-11 win over SIU, Notre Dame twice was down to its final out with no runners in scoring position but responded with a game-tying run in the bottom of the 9th and two more runs in the 10th to again tie the score, before winning in the 11th.
STRONG OUT OF THE GATE – Notre Dame has opened 7-0 for the ninth time in the program’s 112-year history and for just the second time in the last 68 years … the last time an ND team started 7-0 was 44 years ago, when the 1960 team started 9-0 … the top undefeated starts in ND history are 17-0 (1907) and 13-0 (’08), with both the 1909 and ’13 teams opening 8-0 (the 1901, ’22 and ’36 teams match the current team with 7-0 starts) … a win over UTSA would yield just the second 8-0 start by an ND team in the last 92 years (since 1913).
SLOW STARTERS – The Notre Dame batters have combined to hit just .218 (17-for-78) with 10 runs scored in the 1st-3rd innings of games this season, compared to .429 (78-for-182) with 65 runs after the 3rd inning … the Irish have opened the last two weekends with a similar offensive pattern … against Winthrop at the FAU Classic, ND had no baserunners after three innings before erupting for 29 baserunners en route to a 19-6 win over the Eagles … the Irish then opened the Alamo City Classic without a hit in the first three innings with just one baserunner (on a hit-by-pitch) but came alive with 20 hits and 25 baserunners over the final eight innings (SIU had just nine baserunners in that stretch, including only three runners after the 5th inning).
PLENTY-O-RUNS – Notre Dame has posted double-digit run totals in four of its last five games: 19-6 vs. Winthrop, 12-3 vs. Florida Memorial, 19-7 vs. Minnesota and 12-11 vs. SIU.
OFFENSIVE MACHINE – Notre Dame’s .363 team batting average is nearly 30 points above the team record for season batting average (.334), shared by the 1989, ’93 and ’97 squads … since 1993, only one ND team has hit above .323 for a season (the ’97 team’s .334).
LAST-OUT HEROES – Five Notre Dame batters delivered hits vs. SIU with the Irish down to their last out … ND faced a 9-8 deficit in the 9th when junior 3B Matt Macri sent a 2-out, 0-1 pitch up the middle … P.J. Finnigan then worked ahead to an 0-2 count on Steve Andres but the lefthanded DH was not fooled on a third straight changeup, slicing an opposite-field double into the left-center gap (Macri was running on the play and motored all the way around to force extra innings) … SIU answered with two in the top of the 10th but ND again fought back with 2 outs, this time with Steve Sollmann on first … clutch singles from junior first baseman Matt Edwards (a first-pitch shot up the middle) and senior catcher Javi Sanchez (a 2-1 ball hit to the left side) loaded the bases before sophomore rightfielder Cody Rizzo – who had struck out in the ninth – gained redemption versus Finnigan by sending the first pitch he saw into left field for a two-run single.
GAME-WINNER – Sophomore Craig Cooper was an unlikely hero in the 11th, after enduring a case of the flu that had limited him to earlier pinch-runner duties … in the game as a righthanded DH, Cooper greeted righthander Tyler Norrick with a double to right-center (on a 1-1 pitch) … SIU then misplayed a sacrifice bunt from Greg Lopez and Cooper scampered home moments later with the winning run, on a wild pitch.
HOLDING THE FORT – Senior lefthander Joe Thaman and freshman righthander Jeff Samardzija both logged 2.1 solid innings vs. SIU, in relief of Chris Niesel and Dan Kapala … Thaman retired all seven batters he faced while Samardzija also set down the first seven before walking his final batter … sophomore closer Ryan Doherty (2-0) then recorded the final five outs to complete the multi-comeback day.
AIRTIGHT-D – The Irish defense posted its fourth error-free game of the season, boosting ND’s team fielding percentage to an eye-popping .989 that includes just three errors (only one of those by the starting infielders and outfielders).
TOURNEY-TESTED – The Irish are 13-1 in their last 14 regular-season tournament games and have avoided an 0-and-2 start in 21 of the last 22 regular-season tournaments … ND now is 22-3 as the host team in San Antonio tournaments, with wins each of the last 13 San Antonio games …
QUALITY PLATE APPEARANCES – In addition to owning a .363 team batting avg., the ND hitters own another another impressive number with nearly as many walks + HBP (25+14) as strikeouts (40) … the Irish are averaging 11.4 runs per 9 innings (75 in 59).
BIG HIT TOTALS – Notre Dame now has posted 20, 19 and 18-hit games in the young ’04 season.
BIG INNINGS – The Irish have dominated the scoring column this season in the 7th-8th innings (21-1 combined; 10-0 in 7th, 10-1 in 8th).
WINNING THE TIGHT ONES – The Irish are 11-1 in their last 12 one-run games (spanning the ’03 and ’04 seasons).
SUPER TROOPERS – Notre Dame, which is slated to spend just five of 15 weekends at home this season (including a bye weekend), truly has enjoyed its 6-0 start despite the various challenges that come with spending the first month of the season away from home … the Irish opened the ’04 season by playing on both coasts (in Los Angeles and Boca Raton) before heading to Texas for the current Spring Break trip (followed by a pair of games at Southern Illinois, two midweek home games, and the first BIG EAST series at West Virginia) … Notre Dame’s emphasis on student-athlete class attendance (teams can only miss three Tuesday/Thursday classes and three Mon./Wed./Fri. classes, for a total of six class misses per season) poses some unique challenges for several Irish teams, including the baseball program … the Irish players wrapped up midterm week by attending classes on Friday, then were delayed out of Chicago by heavy winds – with the team arriving in San Antonio at 1:00 a.m. (the players then headed off with their respective host families and were due at Wolff Stadium at 10:00 a.m., with the staff set to arrive at 8:30 a.m. to set up the Irish locker room for the four-day stay) … the Irish also headed into midterm week following a long day that stretched 21 hours … after playing a pair of games in Boca Raton on Saturday, Feb. 28, the Irish had a 6:00 a.m. wakeup call on Sunday the 29th and headed back to FAU Stadium for the final game of the weekend, vs. Minnesota at 11:00 a.m. … the team then flew to Chicago Midway on Sunday night and pulled into campus at 2:00 a.m., with most players and staff reaching their beds at 3:00 a.m. (a full 21 hours after waking up the previous day).
Texas-San Antonio Notes (see www.goutsa.com) – UTSA – which lost to Penn State in the first day of the Alamo City Classic (6-5) – is 6-5 after playing at New Mexico State (12-13, 9-7, 15-5) and Baylor (1-6), plus games at Wolff Stadium vs. Army (6-5 in 11, 4-0, 3-6) and George Washington (5-3, 5-9, 5-3) … the Roadrunners entered the weekend batting .278 with a 66-58 scoring edge, 12 home runs, 42 walks, 7 9strikeouts and 21-of-23 stolen bases … the UTSA defense entered the tournament with a .972 fielding pct. (10 Es, 8 DP) while the staff holds a 5.22 ERA (87 Ks, 29 BB, 98 H/.280 in 88 IP) … top ’04 hitters (pre-Alamo) included senior OF Sam Mitchell (.393, 10 RBI, 6 R, 2 HR, 4 SB) and junior OF/Chris Lewis (.333, 6 RBI, 3 HR, 6 BB) … UTSA returned 14 of 25 letterwinners from its ’03 team that went 29-27 and finished 6th in the Southland Conference … top returning hitters included sophomore SS Ryan Crew (.313, 5 HR, 34 RBI) and 2B Aaron Stemper (.258, HR, 19 RBI).
THE ND-UTSA SERIES (1-1) – These teams first met at San Antonio’s Wolff Stadium in 1995 (a 7-3 win for UTSA) and in 2001, across town at St. Mary’s Keefe Field (an 8-3 ND win).
MANSHIP RETURNS HOME – Notre Dame freshman RHP Jeff Manship – who recently underwent season-ending Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery – is a San Antonio native and earned All-America honors as a junior and senior at Reagan High School (his combined ’02 and ’03 stats included a 0.65 ERA, 22-2 record and a 7-9 K-to-walk ratio (192 Ks, 37 BB).
FRIEND OR FOE? – Notre Dame junior RHP Tyler Jones (Arlington, Texas) and Texas-San Antonio’s Robbie Jones were teammates at James Martin H.S. … UTSA outfielder Dan Mitchell played alongside ND junior RHP Martin Vergara with the Sanford Mainers in the summer of ’03 … UTSA pitcher Steven Vasquez and ND freshman pitcher Jeff Manship also are former teammates.
ND IN TEXAS RESULTS – Notre Dame has made 18 trips to Texas in the last 28 seasons (see p. 97 of media guide for full list), now owning a 66-46 all-time record in Texas during those games (.586) … the Irish have posted a 31-15 combined record in eight Texas swings during the Mainieri era, with all of those games in San Antonio except for the 2002 Round Rock Classic (1-3).
IRISH BASEBALL CLASSIC HISTORY – This marks the eighth tournament that Notre Dame has hosted in San Antonio, with the Irish now owning a 22-3 record in the eight events (13-0 spanning the ’99, ’01, ’02 and ’03 tournaments) … Notre Dame won the event in ’96 (10-6 vs. Oral Roberts in championship game), 1999 (15-3 vs. Creighton), 2001 (3-0 round-robin) and 2003 (3-2 vs. Southern Illinois) … the 2001 event (called the Alamo Invitational) was played at St. Mary’s … ND lost to Baylor in the 1995 Irish Baseball Classic title game (4-10) and to Creighton in ’97 (5-8), with the 1998 game rained out (except for one game, a 4-3 win for ND over SIU) … ND’s Irish Baseball Classic tournament MVPs have included OF Rowan Richards (’96), RHP Aaron Heilman (’99) and LF Brian Stavisky (’02).
See PDF for updated career stats of veteran position players and bullpen pitchers.