Feb. 24, 2004
Notre Dame sophomore lefthander Tom Thornton (Middleboro, Mass.) has received BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week honors in recognition of his primetime performance versus 20th-ranked USC on Feb. 21. Thornton totaled four strikeouts while allowing an unearned runs on four hits and two walks in six innings in the 3-1 win over the homestanding Trojans.
Thornton allowed 2-of-6 leadoff batters to reach base but held USC to 1-for-6 batting with runners on base. The USC lefthanded hitters combined to his just 1-for-5 vs. the 6-6. 215-pound southpaw. Thornton located 46 of his 81 pitches for strikes, with three of his four strikeouts coming on called third strikes.
The outing vs. USC ranks among the top opening-week performaces in the 10-year tenure of Irish head coach Paul Mainieri. Former righthander Scott Cavey is the only other Mainieri-era pitcher to not allow an earned run in six-plus innings of work during the first week of action (Cavey did so as a senior, vs. Air Force in Millington, Tenn.). Others of note include sophomore RHP Alex Shilliday’s five shutout innings vs. Florida State (’98, in Orlando) and three others who tossed four innings without allowing an earned run.
Thornton becomes the 10th different Irish player (and first lefthander) to receive a BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week honor, since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in the 1996 season. The Notre Dame program now has produced 24 BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week recipients in the last eight years, the most from any of the league’s schools during that stretch (Rutgers is next with 21, followed by West Virginia’s 16 and 10 from St. John’s).
Notre Dame’s previous BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week recipients include 10-time honoree Aaron Heilman, from 1998-2001 (no other BIG EAST pitcher ever has totaled more than four). Two other ND pitchers – Cavey (’97-’00) and Danny Tamayo (’98, ’00-’01) – are tied for fourth on the BIG EAST list with three career BIG EAST pitcher-of-the-week awards while current junior Chris Niesel and recent starter/closer specialist J.P. Gagne (’00-’03) each own two BIG EAST weekly awards.
The other four Notre Dame pitchers who have received weekly BIG EAST honors include Christian Parker (’96), Brad Lidge (’98), Alex Shilliday (’98) and Peter Ogilvie (’02).