April 27, 2004

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ND-BSU SERIES NOTES – Notre Dame holds a narrow lead in the Ball State series (13-11) that dates back to 1976 … BSU has a 9-7 record in 16 previous games at ND, including 3-1 at Eck Stadium … the last four games in the series (all at Eck) have featured three narrow BSU wins (4-3 in ’98, 5-4 in ’01 and 3-1 in ’03) and ND’s 10-1 win in 2002 … the ’98 loss was ND’s only defeat in a span of 24 games (the ND record for a 1-loss streak, at 23-1) … the ’01 loss to BSU was followed by a 16-game win streak that lifted ND to the #1 ranking … Andrew Bushey hit a grand slam in the 2002 win over BSU (ND’s Paul O’Toole then hit a grand slam in the next game of that ’02 season, vs. Toledo).

BSU RESULTS – The Cardinals own single wins over Indiana State (6-2), Seton Hall (7-1), Louisville (10-5) , Cincinnati (12-5) and Purdue (4-1) plus a pair of wins over Valparaiso (12-2, 15-3) while also playing series vs. East Tennessee (8-9, 6-2), Liberty (4-5, 14-2, 11-5), Bowling Green (4-5, 1-2, 7-1), Northern Illinois (3-2, 6-3, 9-6), Akron (13-4, 6-3, 4-5), Central Michigan (6-4, 1-3, 5-3) and Western Michigan (2-4, 6-3, 17-5) … BSU’s other losses have come vs. Evansville (7-8), Furman (3-4), Coastal Carolina (5-6), William & Mary (2-9), Louisville (1-9), Cincinnati (4-8), Findlay (13-16), Xavier (3-5) and Butler (6-7).

IRISH TEAM NOTES – Notre Dame is the nation’s 15th-leading scoring offense (8.5 runs per game), including 14 games with double-digit runs (none in last six) … the Irish are slated to play four straight games this week, yielding a stretch of eight games in eight days … the first nine weeks of the season featured seven weekends on the road for the ND squad (plus spring break and a handful of midweek days) … despite losing three of its last four games, Notre Dame is the nation’s only team with eight losses while only nine teams out of 287 in Division I have fewer losses than the Irish (Texas, Stanford, East Carolina and Albany each have six losses while Rice, Wichita State, Oral Roberts, College of Charleston and Southern all have seven losses) … just one previous ND team has reached 40 games with a better record (34-5-1 in 2001, with five others starting 31-9) … the pair of losses Sunday at Pittsburgh marked just the 5th time that the Irish were swept in 78 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders (24 straight without being swept) … the ND pitching staff owns the 2nd-best walk average (2.73 BB/9 IP) in the Irish record book, trailing only the Aaron Heilman/Danny Tamayo-led staff of 2001 staff (2.48) … 12 ND batters have hit home runs this season (compared to 8 in ’03) … ND’s pace of 1.05 home runs per game (42 HRs in 40 GP) would rank 4th in the Irish record book (the ’03 team hit just 31 HRs) … the Irish have hit 3 HRs in a game six times this season … ND has dominated 2nd-inning scoring (37-7) and owns a 79-24 combined edge in the 7th (47-14) and 8th (32-10) …. the Irish have posted 3-0 sweeps of nine different BIG EAST teams but have notched the tough 3-0 road sweep just six times in BIG EAST play … the Irish are riding the 3rd-longest scoring streak in the program’s history (124 games) and have been shut out just once in the last 354 … ND has scored in 99.33% of the games during the 10-year Mainieri era (596 of 600) … Mainieri’s 22-year career record is 762-447-2 (431-168-1/.719 at ND) … the team’s .418 on-base pct. would rank 4th in ND history (best since ’94) … the Irish have won 19 times by 5-plus runs, with 23 total double-digit hit games (17 with 12-plus).

IRISH PLAYER NOTES – Today’s starter Tom Thornton owns a 2.57 career ERA that would rank 5th in the ND record book (3rd-best since the early 1960s, behind Aaron Heilman’s 2.49 from ’98-’01 and Larry Mohs’ 2.52 from ’94-’97) … ND’s infield shifts – Greg Lopez to SS, Matt Macri SS to 3B, Matt Edwards 3B to 1B and Joe Thaman 1B to LHP – have paid bid dividends, with the four starting IF (also 2B Steve Sollmann) combining for just 21 errors … the leftside infielders have combined for 63 error-free games this season (28 for Lopez; 35 for Macri, including 19 straight and 29 of last 30) … after flipping spots with Danny Dressman (now the leadoff hitter), Sollmann was batting .476 (10-for-21) as the 2-hole hitter during his last 6 games (prior to the April 3 fractured jaw injury that has held him out of 17 games, with ND going just 12-5 in that stretch) … sophomore LF Steve Andres is a classic slugging/on-base double threat (his 1.095 combined “OBS” is 2nd-best among BIG EAST player) … sophomore OF Craig Cooper is riding a 5-game hitting streak (7-for-14) that has pushed him atop the team batting charts (.365) … sophomore DH Matt Bransfield (10 HRs, including 2 on Sunday at Pittsburgh) could become the first ND player since 1999 to hit 15-plus HRs in a season (Frank Jacobs holds the record, with 20 in 1991) … Bransfield and Cooper (5 HRs in ’04) did not homer in 193 combined ABs as freshman … Sollmann has not made an error in his last 26 games with the Irish (16 total Es in last 3 seasons) and ranks 4th on the ND career hits list (280) … Cody Rizzo’s 44 times hit-by-pitch are the ND career record … Thornton’s 6-hit gem at WVU is just ND’s third 9-inning solo shutout in a BIG EAST game during the last six seasons (Danny Tamayo had two in ’01) … … Lopez (.250 in ’03, .346 in ’04) and Macri (.273 in ’02/’03, .350 in ’04) continue to hit well above their career averages heading into ’04 … Lopez totaled just 26 RBI during the ’03 season while Bransfield had only 10 … freshman C Sean Gaston is sidelined with mononucleosis (he missed the last four games) while freshman RHP Derik Olvey has been out since late March with a sore forearm … in addition to Sollmann, other ND players currently out due to injury include two of the team’s top pitchers (junior John Axford and freshman Jeff Manship) who had season-ending elbow surgery in the preseason … sophomore closer Ryan Doherty had converted all seven of his previous save opportunities before taking the loss in game-2 at Pittsburgh (he also saw his scoreless innings streak end at 15.0 while Mike Scanzano’s single halted an 0-for-31 combined streak of opponent batters vs. Doherty) … Thornton had a solid outing last Friday at Seton Hall (9 BF in first 3 IP; 4 R on 5 H and 2 BB in 4.2 IP, with 6 Ks) … hard-throwing freshman RHP Dan Kapala has not been charged with a run in is last 11.0 IP (lowering his ERA from 6.00 to 2.96) … Lopez has just two multiple-error games this season … Macri owns a .458 career batting average at Eck Stadium.

NOTE: please see PDF link for complete note, including updating bio notes and stats on Thornton and each starting position player.