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    Fighting Irish

    Dan Leatherman and
    the Irish face
    St. John's.

     

    No.24 Baseball Makes Run at Big East Title

    3rd-place St. John's comes calling.

    May 7, 1998

    Notre Dame (37-13, 14-2 BIG EAST)-picked first in the BIG EAST coaches poll-has clinched a spot in the six-team BIG EAST Tournament and remains pct. points ahead of idle Rutgers (17-3) in the race for the regular-season title ... Notre Dame plays host to St. John's (May 9 doubleheader, May 10 single game) before heading to Norwich, Conn. for the double-elimination tournament ... one more Irish loss would result in Rutgers claiming the title and #1 seed ... the Irish are ranked 24th in the national Collegiate Baseball magazine while receiving the 28th-most votes in the USA Today coaches poll ...

    Notre Dame has won 17 of its last 20 games but has lost three of its last seven ... the Irish are 53-7 in their last 60 home games at Frank Eck Stadium and 90-16 (.849) in the four-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri ... the Irish have won 11 of their last 12 games away from home ... Notre Dame is 27-4 since March 26, 34-8 in its last 42 BIG EAST regular-season games (including 20 straight home conference wins) and 35-6 since dropping a three-game series at the University of Miami.

    SCHEDULE NOTES: Notre Dame-which has seen 16 games cancelled due to weather this season in seven different states-will play a maximum of 53 games this season, three below the NCAA maximum ... WHME radio (103.1 FM) will carry the remainder of the schedule and all postseason action ... all WHME radio broadcasts are available on realaudio via the Notre Dame website (www.und.com), as are real-time stats and boxscores for home games.

    AROUND THE HORN: Sophomore 3B Brant Ust-who has a hit in 15 of 16 BIG EAST games this season-tied four records in the April 25 nightcap at Seton Hall, going 5-for-5 with three home runs and five runs scored * clutch-hitting junior C Mike Knecht was named BIG EAST player of the week for April 27-May 2, becoming the seventh Irish player honored by the conference this season * Notre Dame's recent doubleheader sweep of Pittsburgh (11-0, 12-1) saw the Irish pitchers allow just four balls out of the infield while totaling 26 K's * the Irish are 30-2 when scoring 5-plus runs * Notre Dame has home runs in 25 of the last 32 games (49 in that stretch) and a record 68 for the season * Wagner's HR on April 13 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee was the 38th of his career, breaking the Irish record (he now has 40) * Notre Dame's recent 23-1 run is the longest streak with one loss in the program's history

    * Notre Dame's offensive highlights have included 23 hits vs. Georgetown--equaling the most by a Notre Dame team in the '90s--and a record seven-home-run game at Boston College on April 5 (Dan Leatherman had two, five others had one) * Notre Dame is 34-8 in its last 42 BIG EAST regular-season games, with 23 wins in the last 27 and a 22-1 record in the last 23 BIG EAST home games * Ust's 17 HRs have included nine on the road while his .784 slugging would best Dan Peltier's ND record (.783, '89) * freshman RHP Aaron Heilman-who won BIG EAST pitcher of the week and rookie of the week in succession (4/7, 4/13)-saw his 33.1-inning shutout streak (over 19 appearances) snapped last week

    * Heilman's 1.44 ERA ranks 2nd in the nation and represents the 2nd-best ERA at Notre Dame since 1962 * Notre Dame's team fielding pct. (.962) has taken a 20-point jump from last season while then Irish have lost just one game due to unearned runs (compared to eight last season).SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame and St. John's have met just twice--in contrast to the 11 games played vs. West Virginia the past three seasons ...

    Notre Dame beat St. John's 7-3 at Eck Stadium on 4/4/96 but the second game was called off due to the weather ... Darin Schmalz tossed a complete game in the opener (6 K's) while J.J. Brock and Jeff Wagner both were 2-for-3 with an RBI ... Rowan Richards hit a 1st-inning home run before a four-run 5th gave the Irish the final 7-3 margin ... the teams also met in a BIG EAST Tournament elimination game on 5/17/96, with Dan Stavisky (9 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 4 K's) pushing his scoreless streak to 22.1 innings in a 4-0 Irish win ...

    George Restovich accounts for most of the Irish runs, with a sacrifice fly and two-run homer while Mike Amrhein scores two of the four Irish runs ... the teams were rained out of a doubleheader at St. John's on March 30, 1997 and did not meet in the '97 BIG EAST Tournament (the Irish would have faced the Red Storm for the title, if not for a 5-4, 11-inning elimination loss to Villanova).

    WHO ARE THOSE GUYS?: Only three Notre Dame players have faced St. John's: sr. RHP Dan Stavisky, jr. C/DH Jeff Wagner and sr. SS J.J. Brock ... Stavisky pitched a complete-game win over the Red Storm at the '97 BIG EAST Tournament (4-0) while Wagner is 2-for-7 with one RBI and 2 K's vs. St. John's and Brock 1-for-5 (1 R, 2 BB, 2 K) ... five St. John's players have faced the Irish: sr. CF Steven Lewis (2-for-8, 2B, 3 K), sr. RF Gary Villacres (2-for-7, R, BB, K, SB), sr. 3B John Armento (1-for-3, 2B, E), jr. C Robert Fierro (1-for-6, K) and sr. SS Giancarlo DiPrima (0-for-6).

    SCOUTING THE RED STORM: St. John's is 25-14-1 and 3rd in the BIG EAST (12-6) after winning one of three at home last week vs. Providence (6-5, 3-6, 2-5) ... the Red Storm can finish 3rd-6th in the BIG EAST ... SJ returned 19 of 31 letterwinners from its '97 team that went 35-17, finished second in the BIG EAST American Division (16-7) and beat Villanova for the BIG EAST Tournament title (9-7) ...

    SJ beat Rider (14-9) in the '97 NCAA East Regional at Columbia, S.C. before losing to the host Gamecocks (6-13) and Western Carolina (6-9) ... St. John's ranks 5th in the nation for team ERA (3.74)--led by freshman RHP Kevin McGerry (8th, 2.01)--while ranking 6th in the BIG EAST for team batting avg. (.320) and 1st in fielding (.967) ... the Red Storm rank 2nd in the BIG EAST with 90 stolen bases (123 att.) but rank just 9th in home runs (38), which is fewer than the combined total of Notre Dame's Brant Ust (17), Jeff Wagner (13) and J.J. Brock (11) ... the Red Storm had three pitchers lost to the first 10 round of the '97 major-league draft--Mike Rooney, Derek Adair and Mike Hughes--but have reloaded with transfers Patrick Collins (Clemson) and Ron Marietta (Arizona State) and freshmen Keith Stamler and McGerry joining junior returnee Greg Peterson ...

    Hughes and current senior SS Giancarlo DiPrima were 1st team All-BIG EAST selections last season while Adair and current sophomore 3B Mike Druzilla were named to the 2nd team ... top hitters this season: Druzilla (.444, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 20-23 SB), DiPrima (.364, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 43 R, 20-27 SB) and senior OF Tyrone Wayne (.354, 13 HR, 54 RBI, 9-11 SB) ... likely starting rotation: fr. RHPs Stamler (3-1, 3.18, 39.2 IP, 44 H, 31 K/13 BB) and McGerry (5-2, 2.09, 51.2 IP, 40 H, 47 K/29 BB) and soph. RHP Collins (4-2, 4.20, 64.1 IP, 58 H, 73 K/31 BB), while. RHP Peterson (4-2, 3.63, 34.2 IP, 29 H, 28 K's/21 BB) and jr. LHP Marietta (1-4, 4.37, 57.2 IP, 60 H, 50 K's/25 BB) will be available in relief, as the Red Storm played no mid-week games this week ... other BIG EAST wins: West Virginia (9-1), @Pitt (2-0, 7-4, 11-3), Georgetown (4-3, 10-5), @UConn (8-4), UConn (7-0) and BC (14-7, 11-2, 15-3) ... other losses: WVU (1-2, 3-4), Villanova (3-10) and UConn (4-5).

    JUMP DOWN, TURNAROUND: Notre Dame's season ERA remains skewed by the three-game series at the potent University of Miami, when the Hurricanes totaled 52 earned runs in 24 innings ... the current team ERA of 3.91 is below last year's final ERA (4.51) and ranks 9th in the nation, just behind upcoming BIG EAST for St. John's (3.74), Cal State Fullerton (3.83), Virginia Commonwealth (3.88) and Stanford (3.90) ...

    Notre Dame owns a 2.11 team ERA over the past 17 games while the ERA is just 2.88 since the Miami series (42 games) and 2.94 when excluding the Miami series-which would rank ahead of the NCAA leader Florida State (3.39) ... jr. RHP Alex Shilliday has a 3.19 overall ERA but 2.69 when throwing out his Miami game ... another jr. RHP, Brad Lidge, would see his ERA drop from 4.54 to 3.41 when not counting his Miami outing ... two lefthanders--jr. Chris McKeown (3.89/2.87) and soph.

    Tim Kalita (2.49/1.56)--also would see their ERAs take major drops without their Miami outings ... in his 10 appearances since the Miami series, Kalita has allowed just eight earned runs in 53.1 innings (1.35) ... opposing batters are hitting .265 vs. the Irish this season and just .249 when not counting Miami's 58-hit barrage.

    HEILMAN, KALITA CRACK ERA LIST: Notre Dame fr. RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) checks in as the nation's second-leading pitcher for season ERA (1.44) while soph. LHP Tim Kalita (Oak Park, Ill.) ranks 21st (2.49) ... Heilman finally reached the NCAA minimum of one inning/team game, logging 14 IP last week ... he has allowed nine earned runs in 56.1 IP while helping the Irish go 37-13 ... Heilman's 1.44 ERA would rank 6th in Irish history and 2nd-best since 1962 (David Sinnes led the nation with a 1.05 in '90) ... Florida's Josh Fogg (1.21, 8 ER, 59.2 IP) leads the nation while Florida State's Nick Stocks (1.53, 58.2 ER, 10 ER) is 3rd, with Fogg, Heilman and Stocks owning very similar ER and IP totals ...

    Heilman's saw his 33.1-inning, 19-appearance shutout streak end on May 2 vs. West Virginia but is coming off a gutsy weekend ... he allowed four runs (6 H, 3 BB) over the final 4 IP in a 64-pitch, losing outing in the May 2 nightcap before returning the next day for a 6-inning, 76-pitch victory (5-3) in the 15-inning marathon (0 R, 5 H, 3 BB, 5 K's, 6 groundouts, 2 DP balls) ... Heilman is 5-1 with 7 saves (2nd-most in Irish history) ... he leads the Irish in low opp. batting avg. (.207) and K-to-BB ratio (4.3) while ranking second in K's/9 IP (10.9) ... he has finished 21 of his 24 relief outings and allowed earned runs in only three of his 25 appearances ...

    Kalita allowed just two earned runs in 16.1 IP (1.10 ERA) last week vs. two different BIG EAST teams (19 H, 3 BB, 16 K's) ... he opened the week with his first career complete game and a career-best 10 K's in the 6-1 win at Seton Hall (1 ER, 10 H, 1 BB) ... Kalita finished the week with no decision in the final game vs. WVU (1 ER, 7.1 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 6 K's) ... Kalita has allowed just two earned runs in his last four appearances (28.2 IP) and owns a 1.56 season ERA when not counting his outing vs. Miami (7 ER, 3.2 IP) ... he has 59 K's and 31 BBs in 61.1 IP, including a BIG EAST-best 30 K's "looking".

    KNECHT CONNECTS, COPS BIG EAST PLAYER OF WEEK AWARD: Notre Dame jr. C Mike Knecht (Newport Beach, Calif.) was named the BIG EAST Conference baseball co-player of the week for April 27-May 3, after providing some clutch plays during an entertaining series vs. West Virginia ... Knecht led the team during the five-game week with a .368 batting avg. (7-for-19) and four runs scored, including 6-for-12 in four BIG EAST games ... his other totals included two RBI (both in team's final at-bat to tie the game in eventual wins over WVU), plus a double, walk, stolen base and errorless play behind the plate ...

    Knecht started all five games at catcher while directing an Irish pitching staff that posted a 3.42 team ERA for the week, including just one earned run allowed in the 5-3, 15-inning win over WVU on May 3 ... the 5-6, 155-pound Knecht provided two of the biggest plays during the WVU series, tying both wins over the Mountaineers in Notre Dame's last at-bat ... his 7th-inning, RBI groundout scored Dan Leatherman to tie the May 2 opener (3-3) and the Irish won 4-3 two batters later ...

    Knecht also plated Leatherman the next day with a two-out, two-strike, 9th-inning single past the diving third baseman to force extra innings (3-3) in the marathon series finale ... Knecht-who led the Irish in the final WVU game with a 3-for-6 day--also had singled and scored the team's first run in the 8th inning of the May 3 game ... he opened the week going 2-for-4 with two runs, a double and a stolen base in the 6-1 win at Seton Hall ... despite hitting 9th and despite entering the season with one hit in three career at-bats, Knecht ranks 4th on the team with a .338 season batting avg. (22-for-65), including 13-for-33 (.394) in 10 BIG EAST games ... he leads the squad in two-out batting (.422, 9-for-22) while ranking 6th for batting with runners in scoring position (.350, 7-for-20).

    IRISH, UST NEAR SWEEPS: The Notre Dame baseball team and sophomore 3B Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) are close to sweeping their respective three major categories in BIG EAST games ... the Irish lead the BIG EAST in conference batting (.357, ahead of West Virginia's .356) and fielding pct. (.974, to St. John's .972) while ranking 2nd to St. John's in BIG EAST ERA (3.65, to 3.58) ... Ust leads the BIG EAST in with a .530 batting avg. (ahead of St. John's Matt Druzilla, .500), a 1.061 slugging pct. (teammate J.J. Brock is next, at .806) and a .556 on-base pct. (Druzilla is 2nd, at .506) ...

    Ust also leads the BIG EAST in overall home runs (17) and conference HRs (8) ... Irish junior C/DH Jeff Wagner nearly swept all three categories last season, finishing 1st in batting (.488) and on-base (.538) and 2nd in slugging (.990), behind '97 BIG EAST player of the year David Kim of Seton Hall.

    LEATHERMAN'S GLOVE, BAT BOOST IRISH: Senior 1B Dan Leatherman (Orland Hills, Ill.) has provided expected defensive stability while adding an unexpected offensive surge ... Leatherman's eight home runs have been one of the keys to Notre Dame's record total of 68 while the 5-11, 170-pound lefthander ranks 2nd on the team in batting avg. .357) and 4th in runs scored (40) while totaling more walks (20) than K's (16) ... Leatherman spent much of this season batting in the #9 spot (28 games) but lately has been used in the #6 (8 games) and #7 (7 games) slots, in addition to hitting 2nd twice ...

    Leatherman (.981 fielding pct., 8 E) has been noted for his strong defense this season and ability to dig balls out of the dirt, helping the Irish boost their team fielding pct. 20 points from last season (.942 to .962) ... his season highlights include two HRs in Notre Dame's record-setting seven-home-run barrage at Boston College on April 5 and tying the Irish record for hits in a game with a 5-for-5 effort vs. Toledo on April 23 ...

    Leatherman ranks third on the team with .629 slugging (4th in home runs) while his .768 slugging in BIG EAST games ranks 4th in 4th in the conference, behind teammates Brant Ust (1.061) and J.J. Brock (.806) and BC's Sean McGowan (.789) ... he also checks in with the conference's 11th-best on-base pct. (.469) in BIG EAST games while his .440 overall on-base pct. trails only Ust (.440) among Irish players.

    MAINIERI NEARS 500 WINS: Fourth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri owns a 494-350 (.585) record in 16 seasons as a college head coach, six shy of the 500-win milestone ... in addition to his 162-71 (.695) mark with the Irish, Mainieri was 180-121 in six seasons at St. Thomas (Fla.) and 152-158 in six seasons at Air Force ...

    Mainieri has experienced two noteworthy homecomings in '98, making his second return to the University of New Orleans (where he played) with the Irish baseball program and his second return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach ... he coached his 800th game Feb. 20 at Miami, after the Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out ... Mainieri's 162 wins rank 3rd at Notre Dame, behind Pat Murphy (318, '88-'94) and Jake Kline (558, '34-'75) ...

    Mainieri has seen 13 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with nine selected in the draft ... Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combo in college baseball history to each top 400 career coaching wins ... Demie won 1,018 in his 30-year career at Miami-Dade North CC ... in the Mainieri era, the Irish have visited the following cities: Fullerton, CA, Seattle, WA, San Antonio, TX, Miami, FL, Atlanta, GA, New Orleans, LA, Boston, MA, Washington, D.C., Long Beach, CA, New York City, NY, and Orlando, FL.

    PORZEL POURS IT ON: Notre Dame freshman LF Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.)--the BIG EAST rookie of the week for April 22-28--has provided some clutch hits for the Irish in recent weeks while raising his season batting average to .265, home run total to seven and RBI total to 34 ... during the last 22 games, Porzel is hitting .294 (22-for-75) with five home runs and 27 RBI compared to his production over his first 24 games of the season, when Porzel hit just .237 with two home runs and eight RBI ...

    Porzel also has shown more discipline at the plate, as he totaled 15 strikeouts and no walks over his first 22 games but has 11 walks and eight K's in his last 24 games ... Notre Dame owns nine wins this season in one-run and/or extra-inning games, with Porzel playing a leading role in each of those last three close games ...

    Porzel's two-out, two-strike single plated Brant Ust to beat Valparaiso, 1-0, in a game that was extended to nine innings ... Porzel's leadoff home run, coupled with Mike Knecht's RBI groundout and J.J. Brock's squibber to the left side, accounted for the Irish three-run rally in the 7th and final inning to beat West Virginia (4-3) ... the next day, Knecht forced extra innings with a 9th-inning, 2-out, 2-strike single through the left side before Porzel beat WVU with a 2-run, 2-out home run in the 15th.

    WHO YOU GONNA CALL?: Despite his frustrating 0-for-6 game (one intentional walk) in the 5-3, 15-inning win over West Virginia on May 3, Notre Dame junior C/DH Jeff Wagner (Louisville, Ky.) is clearly the squad's top hitter this season in games decided by 1-2 runs ... the Irish are 12-6 in such close games, led by Wagner's .431 batting (28-for-65) in those games ... by comparison, the rest of the Irish squad is hitting just .239 in close games this season ... Wagner has six of Notre Dame's 20 home runs and 16 of the team's 81 RBI in the 18 close games this season.

    1-2 PUNCH: Notre Dame junior RHP's Alex Shilliday (Dunwoody, Ga.) and Brad Lidge (Englewood, Colo.) have emerged as one of the BIG EAST's top duos, combining for a 16-5 mark, 3.81 ERA and 162 K's in 146.1 innings ... Shilliday (9-3, 3.19, 79 IP, 79 K's) has won 15 of his last 19 decisions with the Irish, in addition to going 9-0 last summer in the Alaska League ...

    Lidge (7-2, 4.54, 67.1 IP, 83 K's) has won his last seven decisions and would own a 3.41 ERA if not for a rocky outing vs. the potent Miami Hurricanes (9 ER in 1.1 IP) ... Shilliday and Lidge should become the 2nd pair of Irish hurlers to top 80 K's, a feat turned in by David Sinnes (90) and Chris Michalak (83) in '93 ...

    Lidge needs seven K's to join Sinnes and record-holder Frank Carpin (102, 1958) as the only Irish players to rack up 90-plus K's in a season ... the dominance of Shilliday and Lidge was the highlight of Notre Dame's 25-strikeout doubleheader vs. Pittsburgh (11-0, 12-1) on April 18 at Three Rivers Stadium ... Shilliday-who earned BIG EAST pitcher of the week-and Lidge both pitched seven innings while their 42 outs broke down as follows: 21 K's, 14 groundouts, 2 double-play balls, 3 infield popups, 1 caught stealing and 1 flyout ... the pair allowed just eight baserunners on three hits, four walks and one hit batter while facing 48 batters (six over the minimum) ... Shilliday was working on a no-hitter in the 6th before Aaron Vicari's leadoff, first-pitch bunt down the first-base line ...

    Shilliday (1 BB, 1 HP, 9 K's) needed just 79 pitches and faced 23 batters, two over the minimum, while recording the first solo one-hitter by an Irish pitcher in five years, since David Sinnes' 6-0 win at Evansville on April 24, 1993 (9 IP, 1 BB, 1 HP, 5 K's, 31 BF) ... the last Irish no-hitter came May 11, 1988, by Brian Piotrowicz vs. Ball State (4-) ... Shilliday allowed one ball to leave the infield--Harry Ciavarella's game-ending flyout to center ... he had two K's in each of the first four innings while serving up eight groundouts and two infield popups (the other out came on a caught-stealing) ...

    Lidge (109 pitches) racked up a career-best 12 K's and faced 25 batters, allowing two hits and three walks while totaling six groundouts, one infield popup and two DP balls ... Lidge's 12 K's equal the most by an Irish pitcher since Bob Bartlett totaled 13 K's vs. Bethel in 1980.

    ROAD-TESTED: Notre Dame has been strong at home in its five years in Frank Eck Stadium--going 119-20 mark (.856)--but the Irish lately have performed well on the road as well, winning 11 of their last 12 games away from home this season ... that streak began with three wins in San Antonio, Texas (8-0 vs. SW Texas, 15-4 vs. BYU and 4-3 vs. So. Illinois) and was extended with series sweeps at BC (5-2, 6-4, 16-6) and vs. Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium (11-0, 12-1) ... the Irish then beat Michigan (9-1) at Old Kent Park in Grand Rapids before winning two of three at Seton Hall (4-5, 11-3, 6-1) ... during the last 12 road games, Notre Dame has owned a .335-.231 hitting edge, with 21 HRs, .577 slugging, a 2.41 ERA and .980 fielding (just 9 E's) ... top hitters during those last 12 road games have included soph. 3B Brant Ust (.565, 6 HR, 18 RBI), sr. SS J.J. Brock (.415, 5 HR, 18 RBI), jr. CF Allen Greene (.348, 3 HR, 17 RBI) and fr. LF Alec Porzel (.342, 2 HR, 12 RBI).

    IRISH, WVU TURN IN MEMORABLE SERIES: Notre Dame and West Virginia added to their growing BIG EAST rivalry with a memorable three-game series at Eck Stadium on May 2-3 ... the Irish pushed across three runs in the seventh and final inning of the opener to post a 4-3 win before WVU overcame two four-run deficits to claim the nightcap, 11-9 in 10 innings ... the Irish then rallied to tie series finale (3-3) in the bottom of the 9th before winning 5-3 in 15 innings on Alec Porzel's two-out home run ... the teams have met 11 times since joining the BIG EAST in 1996, producing two 1-run games, five 2-run games, three 3-run games and just one blowout (Notre Dame's 8-1 win in last year's BIG EAST Tournament).

    UST, HEILMAN RECEIVE NATIONAL RECOGNITION: Notre Dame 3B Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) and RHP Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind..) both were named to Baseball America's All-Americans by Class list ... Ust--a consensus freshman All-American in 1997--was joined in the All-Sophomore team infield USC C Eric Munson, Wichita State 1B Pat Magness, Arizona State 2B Willie Bloomquist and Miami SS Bobby Hill ... other position players named to the All-Sophomore team were Ball State OF Larry Bigbie, UNLV OF Ryan Ludwick, Delaware OF Kevin Mench, LSU DH Brad Cresse and Baylor utility player Jason Jennings ...

    Heilman's counterparts on the All-Freshman team pitching staff were Kip Bouknight (South Carolina), Kevin McGerry (St. John's), Matt Smith (Oklahoma State) and Justin Wayne (Stanford) ... other players named to the All-Freshman team included Loyola Marymount C Scott Walter, Houston 1B Jayme Sperring, California 2B Xavier Nady, Old Dominion SS Tim Hummel, UCLA 3B Garrett Atkins, Clemson OF Patrick Boyd, Florida State OF Matt Diaz, Georgia Tech OF Derik Goffena, Stanford DH Joe Borchard and Long Beach State utility player Jason Berni.

    THE YOUNG CHICAGOANS: Notre Dame in '97 was led by three Chicago-area natives, all of whom were seniors--C Mike Amrhein (.394, 14 HR, 71 RBI), CF Randall Brooks (.366, 39 RBI, 50 R, 17 SB) and RHP Darin Schmalz (9-3, 3.67, 58 K's) ... the current Irish includes nine Chicago-area natives, with only one senior, one junior, six sophomores and one freshman ... sr. 1B Dan Leatherman (Orland Hills) has been a steady defensive force while providing consistent offensive output (.357, 8 HR, 13 2B, 24 RBI, 40 R, 20 BB/16 K) ... jr. LHP Chris McKeown (Arlington Heights) is 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA and 32 K's in 39.1 innings ... soph.

    LHP Tim Kalita (Oak Park) has claimed the #3 starter role and ranks 21st in the nation with a 2.49 ERA, in addition to a perfect 4-0 mark and 59 K's in 61.1 innings ... fr. LF Alec Porzel (Lisle) is hitting .265 while providing an unexpected power boost (7 HR) and several clutch RBI (he has 34 total) ... four sophomores have made important contributions of the Irish this season: OF Jeff Perconte (Arlington Heights; .252, 8 2B, 17 RBI, 7-10 SB), RHPs Steve Szczepanski (Lombard; 5.14, 2-3) and Tom O'Hagan (Crystal Lake; 4.22, 1-0) and DH Larry Zimont (Oak Forest; .288, 2 HR, 13 RBI) ... Notre Dame's other Chicago-area native is soph. LHP Mark Lapinskas (Naperville; 0.00 in 2 IP).

    UST TIES FOUR RECORDS: Sophomore 3B Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) sent the first pitch he saw in the 9th inning of the April 25th nightcap at Seton Hall over the fence in left-center field, tying three Notre Dame records and one BIG EAST in the process ... five was the magic number for Ust that day, as he went 5-for-5, with five RBI and five runs scored-plus three first-pitch home runs vs. three different SHU pitchers ...

    Ust became the 17th Irish player to collect five hits in a game, joining teammates Allen Greene (5-for-6 vs. IUPUI, 3/20/97) and Dan Leatherman (5-for-5 vs. Toledo, 4/23/98) in that distinction ... Ust's three-home-run game is just the 7th in Irish history and the first since Joe Binkiewicz did it twice in 12 days during April of 1991 (vs. Evansville and Michigan) ... Ust also joined Pat Pesavento (vs. Pennsylvania, 3/10/89) as the only Irish players who have scored five runs in a game ... five previous BIG EAST players have scored five runs in a BIG EAST game (first done by Seton Hall's Mo Vaughn vs. Pittsburgh on 3/28/87, most recently done by UConn's Jeff Uccello vs. Boston College on 4/20/96) ...

    Ust's 5-for-5 day included a solo shot to left in the 2nd vs. LHP Cameron Esslinger, a hard-fought at-bat that ended with an opposite-field single to right in the 4th, a near-home-run in the 6th (double high off the left-center wall) and a leadoff shot to left in the 8th vs. RHP Paul Viole ... leadoff singles by J.J. Brock and Ben Cooke in the 9th assured Ust a final at-bat and he delivered with a one-out, three-run shot to left vs. RHP Mike Wren.

    AND THE WINNER IS ... : Seven Notre Dame players have combined for eight BIG EAST weekly awards this season, tying with Rutgers for most among the 11-team conference (Providence is next with three) ... Notre Dame has the most individuals who have won BIG EAST weekly awards (7), followed by Rutgers (4) ... the Irish are the only team to produce three different BIG EAST pitchers of the week this season: junior RHP Brad Lidge (3/16), freshman RHP Aaron Heilman (4/6) and junior RHP Alex Shilliday (4/20) ...

    RU's Mike Mundy has earned the award twice while RU senior LHP Jeff Miller also has been named BIG EAST pitcher of the week ... Notre Dame is the only school to have produced three players of the week this season: senior SS J.J. Brock (3/16), sophomore 3B Brant Ust (4/13) and junior C Mike Knecht (5/4) ... Heilman (4/13) and freshman LF Alec Porzel (4/27) are the only teammates to have earned BIG EAST rookie of the week in 1998 ... RU 3B Jake Daubert has earned the rookie award three times while WVU LHP Shane Rhodes is a two-time winner.

    23-1 RUN RANKS 5TH IN IRISH HISTORY: Notre Dame won 23 of 24 games from March 26-April 23 to establish the longest single-season streak with one loss in the 107-year history of the Notre Dame baseball program ... the Irish turned in 19-1 runs in 1991, 1992 and '94 while the previous best one-loss runs in Irish history include a 21-1 streak in 1992 and 20-1 runs in 1980, 1990 and 1991 ... top Irish hitters over that 24-game stretch included: senior 1B Dan Leatherman (.471, 16 RBI, 29 R, 5 HR-1 3B-8 2B), sophomore 3B Brant Ust (.456, 30 RBI, .911 slugging %, 9 HR-1 3B-12 2B) and junior C Jeff Wagner (.392, 25 RBI, 7 HR-2 3B-7 2B) ... the Irish hit .359 in the record-setting 23-1 run , with a .619 team slugging pct. (40 HR-13 3B-63 2B), a 2.52 team ERA, .232 opponent batting and a .963 team fielding pct. (33 errors).

    HERE COME THE IRISH: Notre Dame has fallen behind in the first inning of 16 games this season but has come back to win 10 of those games, including wins in eight straight games when facing a first-inning deficit-a streak that April 28 vs. Michigan State (0-2 ... 1-4) ... six of those recent comebacks from 1st-inning deficits have come in BIG EAST play: vs. Georgetown (0-4 ... 7-6), at Boston College (0-1 ... 6-4), twice vs. Villanova (0-1 ... 9-4 and 0-3 ... 14-10), at Seton Hall (0-1, 11-3) and West Virginia (0-1 ... 5-3) ... other comebacks from early deficits include: vs. Southern Illinois (0-1 ... 4-3), Northeastern Illinois (0-3 ... 11-6), Bowling Green (0-2 ... 6-4 in 11 inn.) and Toledo (0-4 ... 15-4).

    COMEBACK KIDS: Notre Dame has posted 16 come-from-behind victories, including the above 10 games when falling behind in the first inning ... one of the most noteworthy comebacks came on March 24 vs. Cincinnati, as the Irish faced a 2-0 hole before Jeff Wagner hit an RBI single in the 6th and a two-run homer in the 8th for a 3-2 win ... Wagner also was one of the heroes in the March 1 game vs. Indiana, homering in the 8th to tie the game (5-5) before Jeff Perconte singled home Todd Frye in the 9th for a 6-5 win ... Central Michigan held a 4-3 lead at Notre Dame on Feb. 25 before Alec Porzel hit a two-run homer in the 6th, helping push the Irish to a 7-5 win ...

    Notre Dame's first comeback come on Feb. 14 vs. Loyola (La.), as the Irish erased a 2-0 deficit behind Perconte's RBI double in the 5th and successive RBI hits by Wagner (1B), Allen Greene (3B) and Perconte (2B) in the 7th ... one of Notre Dame's latest-inning comebacks came on April 8 vs. Chicago State, as an eight-run 7th turned a 5-3 Cougars lead into an 11-5 Irish win ... most recently, Mike Knecht's key RBI tied a pair of games vs. West Virginia in Notre Dame's final at-bat and the Irish went on to post 4-3 and 5-3 (15 inn.) comeback wins.

    DRIVE FOR FIVE: Notre Dame is 30-2 this season when scoring five-plus runs but just 7-11 when scoring 1-4 runs ... the Irish lost a 10-8 game to North Carolina State on Jan. 31 at the ACC/Disney Baseball Blast in Orlando, Fla. but then won 28 straight games when scoring five or more runs, until last week's 11-9 lost to West Virginia in 10 innings ... much of the success in those games is attributable to a talented and deep Irish pitching staff that ranks 9th in the nation with a 3.91 team ERA ... four of Notre Dame's 13 losses this season could have been averted by scoring five runs (1-3 vs. Duke, 3-4 vs. New Orleans, 3-4 vs. Ball State and 1-4 vs. Michigan State) while a fifth run in the opener at Seton Hall could have forced extra innings (4-5).

    BOMBS AWAY: Notre Dame set a team record with seven home runs in the 16-6 win at Boston College on April 5 ... the home runs came from senior 1B Dan Leatherman (2), sophomore 3B Brant Ust, junior C Jeff Wagner, senior SS J.J. Brock, junior CF Allen Greene and freshman LF Alec Porzel ... a week earlier, the Irish racked up 23 hits in a 19-7 win over Georgetown, equaling the most hits by an Irish team in the 1990s ... top hitters in that game included Ust and sophomore RF Jeff Felker (both 4-for-6), with Greene, Brock, Leatherman and junior C Mike Knecht adding three hits each.

    IMPROVED FIELDING BOOSTS IRISH: One of the question areas for the Notre Dame baseball team heading into '98 was defense and the Irish have responded in strong fashion ... Notre Dame ranked 10th in the BIG EAST last season (.942), after averaging 2.2 errors per game (132 total) and seeing eight of its 19 defeats come as a result of unearned runs ... this season, the Irish fielding has made a big 20-point jump to .962, ranking 2nd in the BIG EAST, and only one loss has been due to unearned runs (4-9 vs. SW Texas, 7 UER) ... the Irish are averaging just 1.44 errors/gm while totaling 10 error-free games, 20 with one error and just six with three-plus errors ... the Irish have gone 24 straight games with 0-2 errors (25 total E's in that stretch), with the last three-error game coming April 2 vs. Bowling Green ...

    Sophomore 3B Brant Ust actually has a lower fielding pct. (.888, 16 E) than he did last season (.931, 18) but senior SS J.J. Brock has boosted his fielding from .884 (26 E) to .933 (16 E), with Brock's nine-game errorless streak ending on May 3 vs. West Virginia (he has just two errors in the last 23 games/115 fielding chances) ... the other middle infielder, senior 2B Todd Frye, owns an impressive .957 fielding pct. (just 10 E), nearly 100 points above his '97 pct. (.860, 22 E) ... senior 1B Dan Leatherman's fielding numbers (.981, 8 E) are identical to Jeff Felker's from last season (.981., 8 E), although Leatherman has come up with countless tough plays ... the combined fielding pct. of Ust, Brock, Frye and Leatherman is .951 (50 errors), a full 24 points above the combined pct. of .927 (85 E) posted by Ust, Brock, Frye, Felker and SS Paul Turco (.892, 11 E) last season ...

    Last year's infield averaged 1.42 errors per game, compared to 1.00 this season ... a hidden factor behind the improved fielding is the boost in strikeouts by the Irish pitching staff ... the Irish hurlers are averaging 8.28 K's per nine innings, compared to 7.12 last season ... strikeouts have accounted for 30.7 percent of the Irish putouts this season, compared to just 26.4 percent last season ... junior CF Allen Greene has made a smooth transition after shifting over from LF ... Greene has a .960 fielding pct. and just four errors, ahead of Randall Brook's .935 fielding in center last season (8 E) ... Greene made five errors in left field last season (.941) but freshman LF Alec Porzel has just one error this season (.980) ... current junior C Jeff Wagner (0) and '97 graduate Mike Amrhein (6) combined for just six errors behind the plate last season, comparable to the totals of Wagner (7) and classmate Mike Knecht (0) this season.

    STRONG UP THE MIDDLE: Seniors J.J. Brock (SS) and Todd Frye (2B) have helped the Irish turn 55 double plays this season (an avg. of 1.10 per game), just three shy of the team record (58) set in the 68-game 1989 season ... Brock and Frye helped the Irish turn eight timely double plays in last week's crucial three-game series vs. West Virginia ... Brock has just two E's in his last 23 games (115 chances) while Frye has only three miscues in his last 15 games ... Brock (.933, 16 E) and Frye (.957, 10 E) have combined for a .945 season fielding pct. (their combined pct. last season was just .874) ... Brock has started all 50 games at shortstop this season while Frye has appeared in every game and made 47 starts at second base.

    ADJUSTING TO THE SITUATION: Sophomore 3B Brant Ust and junior C Mike Knecht are the only Notre Dame players who rank among the team's top-six players in the following situational hitting categories: runners in scoring position, two outs, and leadoff on-base pct. ... Ust leads the team in leadoff OB pct. (.559) while ranking 2nd in batting with 2 outs (.394, 21 RBI) and 3rd with RBI opportunities (.356), behind junior CF Allen Greene (.371) and sophomore DH Larry Zimont (.364) ...

    Knecht is the team's best two-out hitter (.400, 4 RBI) while ranking 4th on the team in OB pct. (.444) and 6th in RBI opp. batting (.350) ... senior SS J.J. Brock and sophomore RF Jeff Felker are tied for 4th on the team in RBI-chance batting (.351), other top two-out hitters include senior 1B Dan Leatherman (3rd, .367, 6 RBI), junior C/DH Jeff Wagner (4th, .316, 20), Greene (5th, .315, 14) and freshman LF Alec Porzel (.298, 13) ... other top leadoff performers include Leatherman (2nd, .489), sophomore OF/DH Jeff Perconte (3rd, .458), Brock (4th, .444) and Porzel (6th, .415).

    CLEARING THE COBWEBS: Notre Dame has been outscored 38-28 in the 1st inning this season, despite outscoring the opposition 362-240 overall ... Notre Dame has bounced back to score 47 runs in the 2nd while averaging 49 runs/inning from the 4th-6th (49-45-53) ... Notre Dame's best run differential has been +34 in the 6th inning (53-19) ... the Irish have outscored the opposition by 72 runs from the 6th inning on (158-86)--including 25-5 in the 9th--but own just a +13 run differential in the first three innings (110-97) ... during the current 17-3 run, Notre Dame has dominated the opposition in the 5th (22-7) and 6th (23-4) innings by a combined run margin of 45-11, in addition to owning a rare 16-12 edge in the 1st inning and a 12-0 scoring edge in the 9th during the last 20 games.

    IRISH GET BEST OF CRAFTY LEFTHANDERS: Notre Dame is 13-2 vs. lefty starters, with wins in games started by Purdue's David Gassner (12-6, 7-1), BYU's Matt Rex (15-4), Georgetown's Randy Erwin (19-7) and Derek Pines (10-2), Boston College's Andy Sullivan (6-4) and David Conley (16-6), Manchester's Erik Fike (11-1), Pittsburgh's Kevin Lazeski (12-1), Valparaiso's Devin Helps (3-1), Toledo's Tom Fleetwood (15-4) and West Virginia Garrett Zyskowski (4-3) and Louie Ross (5-3 in 15) ... the Irish lost the Indiana Tech game started by Warriors' lefthander Ken Fischer (2-7), despite totaling nine hits (the Irish were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position) before losing a 4-1 game earlier this week to Michigan State's Mike Mulder, one of the nation's top prospects ...

    Notre Dame is hitting .343 vs. lefthanders, a full 29 points above the team's overall batting average ... the Irish regulars include three switch-hitters-senior 2B Todd Frye, junior CF Allen Greene and sophomore RF Jeff Perconte-while freshman reserve Ben Cooke also bats from both sides.

    HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame has won 53 of its last 60 at Eck Stadium, stretching back to the final seven home games of the 1996 season ... the Irish were 25-2 at home last season, losing to Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1-2) and Northwestern (3-12) ... Notre Dame is 21-5 at home this season, with losses to Indiana Tech (2-7), Northeastern Illinois (4-10), Ball State (3-4), Michigan State (1-4) and West Virginia (9-11, in 10) ... in 26 overall home games this season, the Irish are hitting .329 with 34 HRs, 10 3Bs, 59 2Bs, .540 slugging, a 3.36 ERA and .962 fielding (38 errors)... top hitters at home this season include junior C Mike Knecht (.405, 8 RBI, 13 R), junior C/DH Jeff Wagner (.383, 7 HR, 24 RBI), senior 1B Dan Leatherman (.375, 2 HR, 10 2B 15 RBI, 22 R), sophomore 3B Brant Ust (.364, 8 HR, 11 2B, 25 RBI) and sophomore RF Jeff Felker (.342, 3 HR, 20 RBI).

    SILVER STREAKS: Notre Dame's midseason 10-game win streak ended with a 4-3 loss to Ball State on April 7, leaving the Irish one shy of equaling the longest run in the four-year Paul Mainieri era ... after the BSU loss, the Irish then won 13 straight before a 5-4 loss at Seton Hall on April 25 ... that 13-game win streak ties for fifth in Irish history and has been bettered just twice in the 1990s: a team-record 18-game streak in 1991 and a 14-game run in 1993 ... the program's other top-four all-time winning streak include a 17-game run in 1907 (which stood as the record for the next 84 years) and a 16-game winning streak in 1988 ...

    Notre Dame's previous longest winning streak during the Paul Mainieri era came in his first season, an 11-game run from April 13-23 of 1995 ... top hitters in the 13-game streak were: senior 1B Dan Leatherman (.500, 7 RBI, 16 R, 3 HR, 5 2B), senior 2B Todd Frye (.415, 3 RBI, 7 R), junior C Jeff Wagner (.413, 10 RBI, 2 HR, 5 2B) and sophomore 3B Brant Ust (.409, 13 RBI, 2 HR, 5 2B) ... the Irish hit .358 during the 13-game win streak, with a .588 slugging pct. (15 HR-8 3B-34 2B), a 2.06 team ERA and a .963 fielding pct. (17 errors) ... top hitters during the earlier 10-game streak were: Ust (.524, 7 HR, 7 2B 16 RBI), senior SS J.J. Brock (.476, 4 HR, 18 RBI), Leatherman (.455, 9 RBI, 13 R) and sophomore RF/DH Jeff Felker (.436, 2 HR, 15 RBI).

    BIG EAST BULLIES: Three Notre Dame players rank among the BIG EAST's top-nine all-time leaders for career batting avg. in regular-season conference games: soph. 3B Brant Ust (1st, .452/66-for-146), sr. SS J.J. Brock (6th, .416/86-for-213) and jr. C/DH Jeff Wagner (9th, .407/85-for-209) ... Ust (1st, .530/35-for-66) and Brock (4th, .444/32-for-72) also remain among the top hitters in BIG EAST games this season, as part of an Irish squad that leads the BIG EAST with a .357 team batting avg. in conference games ...

    Irish players also own three of the top-four BIG EAST slugging pcts.: Ust (1st, 1.061/8 HR-1 3B-9 2B-17 1B), Brock (2nd, .806/6 HR-2 3B-4 2B-20 1B) and senior 1B Dan Leatherman (.768/4 HR-1 3B-7 2B-9 1B) ... that trio has combined for nearly as many extra-base hits (42) as singles (46) in BIG EAST play, including 18 HRs, four 3Bs and 20 2Bs ... Ust's .452 career BIG EAST avg. is ahead of the standing record, held by Seton Hall's Marteese Robinson (.432, 1985-87) while his .530 season mark is ahead of the record set in 1986 by UConn's Dave Ford (.522) ... former Villanova player Dennis McCaffery (.420, 1990-91), former Irish player Randall Brooks (.418, 1996-97) and West Virginia's Jason Frushour (.418, 1996-97) are among the players in front of Brock and Wagner on the career list.

    A NEW BIG THREE: Jeff Wagner (17), Mike Amrhein (14) and Brant Ust (11) last season became the first Notre Dame threesome to hit 10-plus home runs in the same season but it appears that--following the graduation of Amrhein--Wagner, Ust and sr. SS J.J. Brock could soar past the 42 HRs totaled by last season's big trio ... Ust (17) and Wagner (13) were the first Irish players to reach double-digit home runs this season and Brock (11) joined them with a pair of bombs in late April at Seton Hall ... Ust (20), Wagner (16) and Brock (13) are on pace for three of the top-nine home run totals in Irish history, with Frank Jacobs record of 20 ('91) in jeopardy ...

    Tim Hutson ('88) and Ryan Topham ('95) both turned in 18-home-run seasons while Wagner had 17 in '97 ... a pair of Irish players have belted 13-plus home runs in the same season three times previously: Jacobs (20) an Joe Binkiewicz (15) in '91, Edwin Hartwell (13) and Eric Danapilis (13) in '93 and Wagner (17) and Mike Amrhein (14) last season ... the current threesome is on pace for an impressive 49 home runs, which would best the team totals for all but five previous Irish seasons (66 in '97, 64 in '93, 62 in '91, 60 in '95, 58 in '96).

    BREAKING THE 400-K BARRIER: The Irish pitching staff last week totaled 44 K's in five games, including 12 vs. Michigan State and in the 15-inning marathon vs. West Virginia ... other recent top K totals have included a season-high 16 K's in the second game versus Pittsburgh (4/18), after totaling 13 K's in the series finale vs. Georgetown (3/29), 14 vs. W. Michigan and 15 vs. Bowling Green ...

    The staff has totaled 396 strikeouts in 430.2 innings, which factors out to 8.28 K's per nine innings--5th-best in Irish history and best in 20 years, just behind the 1968 avg. (8.29) ... the ND pitchers are on the verge of eclipsing last year's team record for K's in a season (399) and are pace to total 475 K's over a 60-game season ... fr. RHP Aaron Heilman has 62 K's and just 10 walks in 46.1 innings, for team-best totals in K's/9 IP (12.0) and K-to-BB ratio (6.2)... jr. RHP Alex Shilliday owns impressive ratios in those areas as well (9.5, 4.0), after totaling 76 K's and just 19 walks in 72 innings ... jr. RHP Brad Lidge has 77 K's in 61.1 IP (for 11.3 K's/gm) while soph. LHP Tim Kalita has 53 in 54 (8.8).

    SURPRISING BATS SET HR RECORD: Notre Dame entered '98 without the services of graduated Mike Amrhein, whose 14 home runs in '97 accounted for much of that team's then-record 66 ... but just 49 games into '98, Notre Dame bested the previous record on jr. C/DH Jeff Wagner's three-run shot vs. West Virginia on May 2 (freshman LF Alec Porzel added the team's 68th the next day) ... soph. 3B Brant Ust leads the BIG EAST with 17 HRs, six above his '97 total, while Wagner has 11 (four below last year's output) ... senior SS J.J. Brock had eight home runs in his previous three seasons ( one per every 78.5 at-bats) but has exploded for 11 HRs this season (one per every 18.3 ABs) ...

    Porzel (7) and senior 1B Dan Leatherman (8) have been the major home run surprises this season while junior CF Allen Greene has equaled his 1997 total (7) ... sophomore RF Jeff Felker (3) and sophomore DH Larry Zimont (2) round out the 1998 Irish home run contingent ...Notre Dame also has 112 doubles and is on pace for 134 (ahead of last year's record total 127) ... the Irish are averaging 24.9 at-bats per home run (ahead of the 1991 record, 30.53) and 1.36 home runs per game (the record of 1.10 was set last season) ... the current .522 slugging pct. is just off the record set last season (.529).

    THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS: Sophomore RF/DH Jeff Felker (Ellicott City, Md.) was the only Notre Dame player last season who hit better on the opponents' field (.417) than at home (.318) but this season he has come full circle, hitting .342 at Eck Stadium but just .235 in all road games (.205 on the opponent's field) ... Felker bounced back from a rocky start to his 1998 season while settling in as Notre Dame's #3 hitter .... after a forgettable 9-for-53 start (.170) over his first 17 games, Felker has raised his season batting average to .287, including .346 (36-for-104) over his last 29 games.

    BUSTING OUT: Sophomore 3B Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) has put to rest any notions of a sophomore slump, after garnering consensus Freshman All-America honors and the BIG EAST rookie of the year award in '97 while this season making a strong push to join Mo Vaughn (Seton Hall, '88) and Jason Grabowski (Connecticut, '96) as the third sophomore ever to win BIG EAST player of the year ... Ust--who has started all of Notre Dame's 110 games during his career--has surpassed his freshman home run total (11) with a team-high 17, including 14 in the last 32 games .. his .784 season slugging pct. (20 doubles, 38 singles, one triple) would best the team record set by eventual Major Leaguer Dan Peltier in '89 (.783) ...

    Ust leads the BIG EAST this season with a .530 batting avg. in conference games-ahead of Dave Ford's record of .522 set with UConn in 1986-while his .452 career average in BIG EAST games is ahead of the record held by Seton Hall's Marteese Robinson (.432, 1985-87) ... Ust's other season totals include team-highs in RBI (53), stolen bases (9-of-13), runs (50), on-base pct. (.443) and sacrifice flies (4), plus 13 walks ... he also has reached base on a team-best 55.9 percent of his chances when leading off the innings while ranking second on the team in two-out batting (.394, team-high 21 two-out RBI) and third in batting with runners in scoring position (.356) ... Ust is on pace for 91 hits (5th in Irish history), 20 home runs (1st) and 24 doubles (2nd) ... the Irish season home run record of 20 was set by Frank Jacobs in 1991 ... Peltier's record slugging season included 63 singles, an Irish-record 32 doubles, five triples and 15 home runs in 258 at-bats (202 total bases) ... Ust has 149 total bases in 190 ABs.

    CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN: Senior SS J.J. Brock (Colorado Springs, Colo.) has turned in a senior year that is similar to the final season of another former Irish captain and leftside infielder, Craig Counsell, who earned team MVP honors and NCAA Tournament All-Regional honors for the 1992 team that was a win away from the College World Series ... Brock's 11 home runs have surpassed his total (8) from the previous three seasons and he is on pace for a 61-RBI season over 60 games, after totaling 29, 41 and 50 his first three seasons ... by comparison, Counsell hit 12 home runs as a senior--double his total (6) from the first three seasons--while collecting 63 RBI (he had 32, 24 and 37 his first three years) ...

    Brock has a .587 slugging pct. this season (.430 over his first three seasons) while Counsell posted .604 slugging as a senior (.388 over his first three seasons) ... Counsell was selected in the 11th round of the '92 draft by the Colorado Rockies and ironically spent several seasons playing in Brock's hometown with the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox ... Brock (230) recently passed Counsell (223) atop the Notre Dame career games started list and ranks 3rd in Irish history for games played (230), behind Counsell (236) and Mike Coss (235) ... Brock also ranks 4th at Notre Dame in career hits (261), 5th in RBI (171), 2nd in triples (15) and 7th in doubles (40) ... he has started in 95 straight games for the Irish while missing just three games in his career (one during each of the past three seasons).

    HARD TO BEAT: Junior RHP Alex Shilliday (Dunwoody, Ga.) is 15-4 in his last 19 decisions with the Irish (9-3 this season), in addition to going 9-0 last summer in Alaska with the Peninsula Oilers--for a combined record of 24-4 since an 8-5 loss to Creigthon on 3/15/97 ... his losses this season include a 17-3 game vs. the potent Miami Hurricanes, a 9-4 game vs. SW Texas (Irish errors led to 7 UER) and the April 25 loss at Seton Hall (5-4) ... Shilliday-who has won seven of his last eight starts-has proven to be one of the BIG EAST's top pitchers this season, after the conference saw 10 of its pitchers drafted in the first 30 rounds at the end of the '97 season ... Shilliday (79) and classmate Brad Lidge (83) trail only UConn's Josh Santos (91) atop the BIG EAST strikeout list while Shilliday ranks 7th on the Irish career K's list (195), six behind 1990 graduate Brian Piotrowicz ...

    Shilliday needs 31 more strikeouts to total the most K's ever by an Irish player in three seasons, a distinction currently held by David Sinnes, who totaled 325 from 1990-92 (Tom Bujnowski, who played in 1952, '56 and '57, totaled 206 K's) ... based on a minimum of two more starts and his average of six K's per start, Shilliday would add roughly 12 more K's to slide by Bujnowski into 5th on the career strikeout list ... should Shilliday remain healthy throughout his senior season, he could make a run at the top-four Irish strikeout leaders, a formidable group that played together for three seasons: Sinnes (315, '93), Tom Price (276, '94), Chris Michalak (263, '93) and Al Walania (236, '93).

    THAT WAS A CLOSE ONE: Notre Dame is 9-4 in games decided by one run or in extra innings this season, posting victories over Indiana (6-5), Southern Illinois (4-3), Cincinnati (3-2), Georgetown (7-6), Bowling Green (6-4 in 11 inn.), Manchester (3-2), Valparaiso (1-0, extended to 9 inn.) and West Virginia (4-3, 5-3 in 15) ... the Irish beat IU when Jeff Perconte's single plated Todd Frye in the bottom of the 9th ... Notre Dame jumped out to a 4-1 lead on SIU--highlighted by J.J. Brock's solo home run in the 1st and single and run scored in the 3rd ...

    Jeff Wagner brought home Perconte and beat Cincinnati with an 8th-inning home run ... Brock's two-out double in the 6th inning scored Frye to end the seven-inning opener with Georgetown ... Wagner hit a two-out single vs. Bowling Green in the 11th and Brant Ust followed with a game-ending, opposite-field home run ... Allen Greene's 5th-inning, pinch-hit single plated Ben Cooke to beat Manchester ... Alec Porzel's two-out, two-strike single plated Ust to beat Valparaiso ...

    Porzel's leadoff home run, Mike Knecht's RBI groundout and Brock's squibber to the left side accounted for the Irish three-run rally in the 7th and final inning to beat WVU (4-3) ... the next day, Knecht forced extra innings with a 9th-inning, 2-out, 2-strike single through the left side before Porzel beat WVU with a 2-run, 2-out home run in the 15th ... the Irish lost a 4-3 game in 11 innings at New Orleans, dropped a 4-3 game to Ball State on April 7, lost 5-4 at Seton Hall on April 25 and dropped an 11-9 game in 10 innings to WVU on May 2.

    GREENE STILL MEANS GO: Junior CF Allen Greene has settled in as Notre Dame's leadoff hitter, a spot he has occupied for 36 of the 50 games this season ... Greene has hits in 40 games, including a seven-game hitting streak and an 11-game streak (2nd-longest by an Irish player this season) that ended on April 1 vs. Western Michigan ... he entered the season with a poor K-to-walk ratio (67/30)--including 44 K's and 22 walks last season--but has shown progress in that area, ranking 7th in the BIG EAST with 29 walks (compared to 39 K's) ... Greene led the Irish last season with a .435 batting avg. when runners were in scoring position and again leads the team this season with a .371 batting avg. with RBI opportunities.

    TOUGH OUT: In addition to owning the Irish career home run record (40), junior C/DH Jeff Wagner (Louisville, Ky.) has developed into a complete hitter ... Wagner is third on the team in batting average (.344) and has a solid HR-to-K ratio (13/22), in addition to 23 walks and an average of 8.5 at-bats per K ... Wagner hit 10 home runs as a freshman but struck out 44 times, every 4.11 ABs ... as a sophomore, Wagner smacked 17 home runs while improving his strikeout ratio to every 7.8 ABs (28 Ks) ... for his career, Wagner is averaging a home run every 14.7 at-bats and 6.3 ABs per K ... during the past two seasons, Wagner has homered every 13.5 at-bats and averaged 8.3 ABs per K.

    BIG EAST ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY: The BIG EAST has changed its baseball alignment for the 1998 season, as the 11 teams are competing as one conference, as opposed to the previous two-division format ... the top six teams will advance to the BIG EAST Tournament, May 13-16 in Norwich, Conn. ... Notre Dame won last year's National Division title with the best winning pct. of any BIG EAST team (15-6) while West Virginia captured the American Division title (17-7) ... three National Division teams--Rutgers, Seton Hall and Villanova--also advanced to last year's BIG EAST Tournament while St. John's joined WVU out of the American ... WVU, Providence and St. John's advanced from the American Division in 1996 while the National entrants were Villanova, Rutgers and Notre Dame.

    QUICK NOTES: Notre Dame went 3-1 during the Spring Break stay in San Antonio, Texas but saw its final three games called off due to the rain ... the Irish turned in a championship performance at the Diamond Classic in Evansville, Ind., which featured the state's eight Division I teams (wins over Evansville, Purdue and Indiana) ... fourth-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri this season had homecoming weekends at Miami (where he grew up) and at the University of New Orleans where he played) ...

    Mainieri fittingly coached his 800th career game on Feb. 20 at Miami (his 800th game ironically was rained out at UNO) ... the Irish won the earliest season-opener in the program's 106-year history, beating then-#23 Florida State 10-1 on Jan. 30 at the ACC/Disney Baseball Blast in Orlando, Fla. ... the Irish then lost a pair of tough two-run games to North Carolina State (10-8) and Duke (3-1) ... each of that tournament's six teams was listed among the top 50 teams in Baseball America's preseason rankings (Ohio State and Tennessee also took on the ACC teams), with FSU (4th), Notre Dame (7th), NCSU (10th), OSU (14th) and Tennessee (17th) ranking among the nation's winningest Division I teams in the '90's ... freshman RHP Danny Tamayo remains out with an arm injury while sophomore DH Larry Zimont is out with a hamstring pull. ..

    Notre Dame returned 22 players and 16 of 26 letterwinners from its '97 team that went 41-19, won the BIG EAST Conference national division title (15-6) and went 2-2 in the BIG EAST Tournament ... the Irish return seven of nine offensive starters and five pitchers with starting experience ... the 22 returners accounted for 66% of the hits last season, 68% of the RBI, 70% of the home runs, 54% of the wins, 62% of the innings and 66% of the K's thrown ... the '97 Notre Dame squad set team records for HRs (66), doubles (127), slugging (.529) and K's thrown (399) while equaling the record for team batting avg. (.334).

    TEAM NOTES: Prior to the Jan. 30 game vs. FSU, Notre Dame's earliest opener came on an unseasonably warm day on Feb. 5, 1990, when the Irish posted a 3-0 home victory over Goshen ... the 10-1 win over FSU gave Notre Dame its first opening-game win since an 8-2 win at Tulane in 1994, with the recent opening losses coming vs. Texas, Georgia Tech and Long Beach State ... that Irish win also snapped a 16-year FSU winning streak on opening day (Georgia Southern beat FSU in '81, 3-2) ...

    Notre Dame's 7-5 win over Central Michigan on Feb. 25 was the earliest home opener for the Irish since that 1990 Goshen game ... Notre Dame has posted nine straight seasons with 40-plus wins and is 413-159 during the past nine-plus seasons (average record of 45-17) ... Notre Dame's 32-player roster includes players from 17 states.

    Notre Dame's totals of 43 HRs, 130 2Bs and 237 K's thrown have the Irish on pace for records in those categories: 89 HRs, 130 2Bs and 490 K's thrown (the standing records of 66, 127 and 399 were set last season) ... the team's .525 slugging is just off last year's record (.529) ... the Irish are averaging 1.48 HRs per game (record of 1.10 set in '97) and 23.2 ABs per HR (record of 30.53 set in '91) ... the pitching staff's 8.48 K's per nine innings remains 4th-best in Irish history and highest since '63 ...

    Ust already is tied with George Restovich for 9th in Irish history with 22 career home runs ... Brock's 209 career starts are tied with Eric Danapilis (1990-93) for 4th in the Irish record books ... Brock's 236 career hits move his past former teammate Randall Brooks (233) and Craig Counsell (235; 1989-92) into 6th on the Irish career hits list, three behind former teammate Scott Sollmann.

    Games Played 
        1.  Craig Counsell (1989-92)   236
        2.  Mike Coss (1988-91)        235
        3.  J.J. Brock (1994-  )       230
    

    Games Started (since '89) 1. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 230 2. Craig Counsell (1989-92) 223

    At-Bats 1. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 829 2. Pat Pesavento (1986-89) 806

    Batting Average 1. Dan Peltier (1987-89) .406 2. Eric Danapilis (1990-93).405 3. Brant Ust (1997- ) .385

    Hits 3. Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 269 4. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 261

    Runs Batted In 4. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 176 5. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 171 6. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 166 Craig Counsell (1989-92) 166 7. Ryan Topham (1993-95) 165 9. Cory Mee (1989-92) 164 10. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 158

    Home Runs 1. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 39 2. Frank Jacobs (1989-91) 37 Mike Amrhein (1994-97) 37 4. Ryan Topham (1993-85) 34 5. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 33 6. Eric Danapilis (1990-93) 29 7. Tim Hutson (1985-88) 28 Dan Peltier (1987-89) 28 Brant Ust (1997- ) 28 10. George Restovich (1993-96) 22 - J.J. Brock (1994- ) 19

    Triples 1. Scott Sollmann (1994-96)24 2. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 15

    Doubles 5. Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) 48 6. Jeff Wagner (1996- ) 43 7. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 40

    Times Hit-By-Pitch 6. Mike Amrhein (1994- ) 24 7. J.J. Brock (1994- ) 19 8. Allen Greene (1996- ) 17

    Strikeouts Thrown 5. Tom Bujnowski (1952, '56-'57) 206 6. Brian Piotrowicz (1987-90) 201 7. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 195

    Innings Pitched 9. Erik Madsen (1986-89) 239.2 10. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 209.1

    Victories 8. Herb Kelly (1912-14) 22 9. Alex Shilliday (1996- ) 21

    Saves 3. Larry Mohs (1994-97) 10 4. Rich Sauget (1994-96) 9 5. Al Walania (1990-93) 8 6. Aaron Heilman (1998- ) 7

    Earned Run Average 8. David Sinnes (1990-93) 2.91 9. Tom Cuggino (1966-68) 2.93 10. Mickey Walker (1961-63) 2.96 - Tim Kalita (1997- ) 3.02

    OVERALL Batting AvG. 10. Brant Ust .400

    BIG EAST BATTING AVG. 1. Brant Ust .530 4. J.J. Brock .444

    OVERALL HITS 4. Brant Ust 76 10. J.J. Brock 68

    OVERALL RBI 9. Brant Ust 53

    BIG EAST RBI 3. J.J. Brock 27 11. Brant Ust 24

    OVERALL DOUBLES 2. Brant Ust 20

    BIG EAST DOUBLES 2. Brant Ust 9

    OVERALL TRIPLES 5. Jeff Felker 3 Jeff Perconte 3 Allen Greene 3

    OVERALL HOME RUNS 1. Brant Ust 17 5. Jeff Wagner 13 11. J.J. Brock 11

    BIG EAST HOME RUNS 1. Brant Ust 8 5. J.J. Brock 5

    OVERALL RUNS SCORED 8. Brant Ust 50

    OVERALL SLUGGING PCT. 3. Brant Ust .784

    OVERALL TOTAL BASES 1. Brant Ust 149 8. Jeff Wagner 119 10. J.J. Brock 118

    BIG EAST SLUGGING PCT. 1. Brant Ust 1.061 2. J.J. Brock .806 4. Dan Leatherman .768

    BIG EAST TOTAL BASES 1. Brant Ust 70 6. J.J. Brock 58

    OVERALL WALKS 7. Allen Greene 29

    BIG EAST WALKS 5. Allen Greene 13

    BIG EAST ON-BASE PCT. 1. Brant Ust .556 9. J.J. Brock .474 11. Dan Leatherman .469

    OVERALL SACRIFICE BUNTS 3. Todd Frye 8 Mike Knecht 8

    OVERALL ERA 1. Aaron Heilman 1.44 3. Tim Kalita 2.49 6. Alex Shilliday 3.19 11. Chris McKeown 3.89

    BIG EAST ERA 3. Aaron Heilman 1.77 4. Tim Kalita 2.16

    STRIKEOUTS THROWN 2. Brad Lidge 83 3. Alex Shilliday 79 7. Aaron Heilman 68

    BIG EAST STRIKEOUTS 4. Brad Lidge 47 9. Alex Shilliday 34

    STRIKEOUTS "LOOKING" 1. Tim Kalita 30 3. Aaron Heilman 27 Brad Lidge 27

    BIG EAST K'S LOOKING 2. Brad Lidge 18 8. Tim Kalita 12

    WINS 1. Alex Shilliday 9-3 3. Brad Lidge 7-2

    BIG EAST WINS 2. Brad Lidge 5-0 Alex Shilliday 5-1

    INNINGS 6. Alex Shilliday 79.0

    LOW OPP. BATTING AVG. 1. Aaron Heilman .207 9. Brad Lidge .244

    LOW BIG EAST OPP. BATTING AVG. 4. Brad Lidge .227 10. Aaron Heilman .254

    SAVES 1. Aaron Heilman 7

    BIG EAST SAVES 1. Aaron Heilman 4

    APPEARANCES 1. Aaron Heilman 25 4. Steve Szczepanski 15 5. Alex Shilliday 14

    GAMES STARTED 1. Alex Shilliday 14 3. Brad Lidge 13

    GAMES FINISHED 1. Aaron Heilman 21

    BIG EAST GAMES FINISHED 1. Aaron Heilman 7 SLUGGING PERCENTAGE 1. Brant Ust (1998) .784 2. Dan Peltier (1989) .783

    Home Runs 1. Frank Jacobs (1991) 20 2. Tim Hutson (1988) 18 Ryan Topham (1995) 18 4. Jeff Wagner (1997) 17 Brant Ust (1998) 17 6. Dan Peltier (1989) 15 Joe Binkiewicz (1991) 15 8. Miike Amrhein (1997) 14 9. Edwin Hartwell (1993) 13 Eric Danapilis (1993) 13 Mike Amrhein (1993) 13 Jeff Wagner (1998) 13

    Doubles 1. Dan Peltier (1989) 32 2. Eric Danapilis (1993) 24 Robbie Kent (1994) 24 4. Craig Counsell (1992) 22 5. Dan Peltier (1988) 21 Jeff Wagner (1997) 21 7. Craig DeSensi (1995) 20 Allen Greene (1997) 20 Brant Ust (1998) 20

    Sacrifice Bunts 8. Mike Coss (1991) 11 Randall Brooks (1995) 11 10. Craig Counsell (1991) 10 Dan Bautch (19992) 10 - Todd Frye (1998) 8 - Mike Knecht (1998) 8

    Most Chances Without an Error 1. Joe Binkiewicz (1991) 320 2. Jeff Wagner (1997) 181 3. Mike Knecht (1998) 167

    Team Hits Per Game 1. 1997 11.35 2. 1993 10.92 3. 1998 10.64

    Team Doubles 1. 1997 127 2. 1993 125 3. 1998 112

    Team Home Runs 1. 1998 68 2. 1997 66

    Team Home Runs Per Game 1. 1998 1.36 2. 1997 1.10

    Team At-Bats Per Home Run 1. 1998 24.91 2. 1997 30.53

    Team Slugging Percentage 1. 1997 .529 2. 1998 .522

    Fielding Percentage (since 1982) 1. 1982 .965 1982 .965 3. 1998 .962

    Double Plays (since 1969) 1. 1989 58 2. 1998 55 Appearances 1. Mike Coffey (1989) 37 2. Chris Michalak (1990) 28 3. Tony Livorsi (1989) 27 4. Rich Sauget (1996) 25 Aaron Heilman (1998) 25

    Games Started 4. Chris Michalak (1992) 16 5. Erik Madsen (1988) 15 Pay Leahy (1992) 15 Chris Michalak (1993) 15 Tom Price (1993) 15 9. Alex Shilliday (1998) 14

    Innings Pitched 9. Tom Bujnowski (1957) 91.0 Pat Leahy (1992) 91.0 - Alex Shilliday (1998) 79.0

    Games Won 3. Brian Piotrowicz (1989) 11 Al Walania (1991) 11 Chris Michalak (1993) 11 6. Fran Scanlan (1908) 10 Hugh Magaveeney (1924) 10 Eric Madsen (1989) 10 Chris Michalak (1992) 10 David Sinnes (1993) 10 - Alex Shilliday (1998) 9

    Earned Run Average 1. Jack Mitchell (1960) 0.71 2. David Sinnes (1990) 1.05 3. Nick Palihnich (1959) 1.25 4. Phil Donnely (1962) 1.27 5. Chuck Symeon (1957) 1.30 3. 1955 8.51 4. 1968 8.29 5. 1998 8.28


     
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