March 19, 1998
Big East Favorite Irish Back on Road
Brock, Lidge garner conference honors
Notre Dame Baseball (9-7)
Day Date Opponent Location Time Sat. 3/21 at Providence (DH) Hendricken Field Noon Sun. 3/22 *at Connecticut (DH) J.O. Christian Field Noon Tue. 3/24 *Cincinnati Frank Eck Stadium 5:05 PM Wed. 3/25 Indiana Tech Frank Eck Stadium 4:00 PM Thur. 3/26 Northeastern Illinois (DH) Frank Eck Stadium 4:00 PM Sat. 3/28 *Georgetown (DH) Frank Eck Stadium Noon Sun. 3/29 *Georgetown Frank Eck Stadium Noon
* On WHME radio 103.1 FM, available via realaudio through this Notre Dame website.
This Week: The Notre Dame baseball team--picked first in the BIG EAST coaches preseason poll--hits the road for the sixth straight week, as the Irish will open BIG EAST Conference play with a pair of doubleheaders at Providence (March 21) and Connecticut (March 22) ... the games at UConn will be carried by WHME radio and are available via the internet (the games at PC will not be broadcast, due to unavailability of phone lines) ... Notre Dame went 3-1 during last week's stay in San Antonio, Texas but saw its final three games called off due to the rain ... two games have been added for next week, meaning that the Irish are scheduled to play 11 games in a nine-day stretch (see schedule note below) ... Notre Dame has won seven of its last eight, including 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)
IRISH ADJUST SCHEDULE: Notre Dame has made the following schedule adjustments as makeup games for last week's three rainouts: Wednesday, March 25 vs. Indiana Tech (4 PM), Thursday, March 26 vs. Northeastern Illinois (4 PM doubleheader, previously scheduled for one 5 PM game) and April 13 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (4 PM) ... all of the makeup games are scheduled for Frank Eck Stadium ... WHME was not scheduled to air the initial Northeastern Illinois game but may broadcast the other two makeup games (TBA).
QUICK NOTES: The Irish pitching staff has allowed just eight earned runs in the last five games and 11 in the last seven ... fourth-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri recently 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 ... senior 1B Dan Leatherman is out on a day-to-day basis with a hamstring injury while freshman RHP Danny Tamayo is out with an arm injury ... Notre Dame returns 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 home runs (66), doubles (127), slugging (.529) and K's thrown (399) while equaling the record for team batting avg. (.334).
SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame leads the series with Providence, 4-2, including a doubleheader sweet at home last season (10-5, 14-10) ... the Irish split a doubleheader at PC in '96 (7-18, 10-7) before eliminating the Friars from the '96 BIG EAST Tournament (10-7) ... the teams first met late in the 1928 season, a 6-1 PC home win on June 14 ... Notre Dame leads its brief series with Connecticut, 2-1 ... the Irish split a doubleheader with UConn at Eck Stadium in 1996 (7-6, 9-10) before winning last season on March 29 at UConn (7-2), with the second game that day halted in the 4th inning due to rain (4-4).
ND-PC '97 RECAP: Jeff Wagner and Mike Amrhein combined for five of eight Notre Dame home runs as the Irish powered their way to a doubleheader sweep of PC, 10-5 and 14-10 on April 5, 1997 ... the start was pushed back to 2:15 due to rain ... PC was done in by a 5-run Irish 3rd inning in the opener before surging to a 4-0 lead in the nightcap, but the Irish scored twice in the 4th, three times in the 6th and nine times in the 7th ... Darin Schmalz picked up the opening win (7 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 1 K) ... Brad Lidge overcame a choppy start in the second game (7 IP, 4 ER, 8 K, 4 BB, 9 K) ... the Irish pounded out 17 hits in the nightcap, with every starter coming through with at least one hit, one RBI and one run ... Wagner homered once in the first game and twice in the nightcap, Amrhein added a home run in each game and J.J. Brock provided the clinching two-run shot in the opener ... Jeff Felker and Brant Ust rounded out Notre Dames five-home-run effort in the second game ... after opening the day with a run in the 1st, Amrhein hit a two-run shot as the Irish put five runs on the board in the 3rd vs. Todd Incantalupo (5 IP, 9 ER, 12 H, 2 BB, 1 K) ... Andy Byron throttled the Irish in the nightcap with his breaking ball over the first three innings as PC opened to a 4-0 lead, highlighted by an RBI double from Bryan Tamul and a run-scoring single from Angelo Ciminiello ... Wagner and Ust hit consecutive solo shots in the 4th and the Irish surged ahead with three runs in the 6th, capped by Felker's two-run blast ... the Irish sent 13 batters to the plate in the 7th, with Wagner blasting a two-run shot to center and Amrhein sending an impressive three-run linedrive over the leftfield fence.
ND-UCONN '97 RECAP: Darin Schmalz (7 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 7 K) turned in a complete game and Mike Amrhein extended his hitting streak to 19 games as Notre Dame won at Connecticut, 7-2, on March 29, 1997 ... the second game was cancelled due to rain, after the teams had played to a 4-4 tie in the top of the fifth ... UConn failed to score after putting two runs on the board in the bottom 1st ... Josh Santos (7 R, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 K) was forced from the game in the 5th after giving up consecutive doubles to Amrhein and Jeff Wagner ... Notre Dame scored four runs in the 1st, after three consecutive two-out hits: a double by Wagner, single by Brant Ust and an opposite-field, righthanded home run by switch-hitting Allen Greene ... UConn's runs came on a solo home run from Matt Zawalich, a single by Billy Rich, a walk by Jason Grabowski and two-out double by Willy Mercado ... the Irish stretched to a 7-2 lead in the 5th, highlighted by consecutive doubles from Amrhein and Wagner ... Wagner had a memorable opposite-field home run wiped off the stat sheet after the second game was cancelled.
SCOUTING THE FRIARS: Providence--picked 8th in the BIG EAST preseason poll--is 13-5, with victories in six of its last seven games ... the Friars return 18 of 30 letterwinners from their 1997 team that went 26-23 and finished 4th in the BIG EAST American Division (10-15) ... PC's 1997 BIG EAST overall stat rankings: 1st in fielding pct. (.960), 3rd in runs/gm (7.75), 4th in ERA (5.30), 5th in home runs (42), 6th in batting avg. (.314) and 7th in stolen bases (52) ... PC returns first team All-BIG EAST utility played Angelo Ciminiello (.331, 4 HR, 39 RBI) but has lost 2nd team All-BIG EAST 2B Scott Palmieri ... OF Keith Reed was a member of the 1997 BIG EAST All-Rookie Team ... other top returners include senior C Scott Friedholm (.352, 3 HR, 30 RBI), senior SS Pat Carey (.323, 5 HR, 25 RBI) and senior OF Bryan Tamul (.345, 9 HR, 51 RBI) ... Tamul last season ranked 8th in the BIG EAST for slugging pct. (.672) and 7th in conference RBI (27) ... other top losses include junior LHP Todd Incantalupo (7-5, 5.55, 62 K) and senior OF Mike Harrington (.356, 8 HR, 43 RBI) ... PC's 1998 team stats this season include a .371 batting avg., 32 home runs, 34-of-39 stolen bases, a 5.14 ERA and .958 team fielding pct. (27 errors) ... top batters this season include: Friedholm (.446, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 21 BB, 6-6 SB), freshman 1B Mike O'Keefe (.435, 2 HR, 5 2B, 16 RBI 5-5 SB), Ciminiello (.419, 5 HR, 6 2B, 23 RBI) and sophomore OF Keith Reed (.394, 9 HR, 31 RBI) ... O'Keefe won BIG EAST rookie of the week honors after going 9-for-19 last week, with seven RBI ... likely starting pitchers: senior RHP Marc DesRoches (3-1, 4.68, 25 IP, 19 K), junior RHP Josh Burnham (3-0, 5.32, 22 IP, 13 K) and junior RHP Rob Carraro (1-2, 5.90, 29 IP, 21 K) ... PC's wins: @Davidson (4-1, 13-3), vs. Troy State (13-10, vs. Iowa (11-8), vs. Michigan State (14-1), @Lynn (20-10), vs. LaSalle (20-7), Central Connecticut (10-9), @Maryland-Eastern Shore (36-2), @Coppin State (8-3, 14-0), @Maryland-Baltimore County (14-13), Bryant (4-2) ... losses: @Davidson (6-7), @Barry (4-5), vs. Ball State (8-10), @ Florida Atlantic (6-8), @Maryland-B.C. (0-2).
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES: UConn--picked 7th in the BIG EAST preseason poll--is 4-4 (with a game on March 19), after going 4-1 at the Homestead (Fla.) Challenge ... UConn returns 15 of 20 letterwinners from its '97 team that went 27-20 and finished 3rd in the BIG EAST American Division (11-13) ... UConn's 1997 overall BIG EAST stat rankings: 1st in runs/gm (8.49), 1st in home runs (69), 3rd in bating avg. (.324), 7th in fielding pct. (.944), 9th in ERA (6.00) and 9th in stolen bases (51) ... UConn returns 1st team All-BIG EAST OF Billy Rich and 2nd team All-BIG EAST SS Jason Edgar but has lost two of its leading hitters--junior C Jason Grabowski (.384, 16 HR, 57 RBI) and senior OF Mark Zawalich (.386, 12 HR, 38 RBI) ... 3B Brian Packin was a member of the '97 BIG EAST All-Rookie team ... Rich ranked in the following '97 BIG EAST categories: 2nd in batting avg. (.432), 2nd in BIG EAST batting (.475), 3rd in slugging pct. (.753), 3rd in on-base pct. (.502), 5th in BIG EAST RBI (28), 6th in runs (61), 6th in RBI (55) and 8th in HRs (13) ... Edgar ranked 2nd in the BIG EAST last season with 67 runs scored, tied for 3rd with 16 HRs and ranked 6th with .689 slugging ... senior RHP Chris Barton last season ranked 3rd in the BIG EAST for overall ERA (2.86) and 7th for low opponent batting avg. (.239) ... other top returning pitchers: junior LHP Josh Santos (5-3, 5.28, 46 IP, 40 K) and sophomore RHP Scott Berney (4-2, 5.68, 52.1 IP, 44 K) ... UConn's complete '98 team stats were not available as of March 19 ... UConn opened with three losses at the Hormel Classic, held at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. (8-22 vs. Cal, 9-15 vs. Rutgers and 1-11 vs. Minnesota) ... UConn's wins in Florida have come vs. Indiana (18-10), Marist (6-3), Liberty (6-5/11 inn.) and New York Tech (6-3), with a 6-1 loss to Northern Iowa.
BROCK, LIDGE EARN BIG EAST WEEKLY HONORS: Notre Dame produced two honorees in the first BIG EAST Conference weekly awards, as senior SS J.J. Brock was been named BIG EAST player of the week while junior RHP Brad Lidge was named the BIG EAST pitcher of the week ... Brock led the Irish last week with a .500 batting average (8-for-16), two home runs, six RBI and six runs scored, plus a double, three walks, a stolen base and just one strikeout ... Brock hit 5-for-9 with two outs while collecting five of his six RBI with two outs ... he went 2-for-5 with four RBI, three runs, a walk and a two-run home run in 15-4 win over BYU and 2-for-3 with a walk, solo home run and two runs in the 4-3 win over Southern Illinois ... Lidge tossed seven shutout innings in the 8-0 win over Southwest Texas State, with seven strikeouts, five hits allowed and no walks ... he faced just five batters over the seven-inning minimum while retiring the leadoff batter in each inning.
WAGNER RESUMES ASSAULT ON BIG EAST RECORD BOOK: Junior C Jeff Wagner heads into this weeks conference-opening weekend ranked 5th on the BIG EAST all-time batting average list (.417), just two pct. points out of third ... his 31 career home runs are six shy of equaling the Notre Dame all-time record while Wagner's 16 home runs in BIG EAST games are 10 shy of the conference record set by Seton Hall's Mo Vaughn (1987-89) ... Wagner has posted some impressive combined career numbers vs. this week's opponents (Providence and UConn), as he is 18-for-24 (.667) in eight games vs. those teams, with seven home runs, 15 RBI, six walks, two Ks and 45 total bases ... he is 12-for-17 (.631) in five games vs. PC the past two seasons, with five home runs, 10 RBI and 30 total bases ... in the second game at PC as a freshman, Wagner took just four swings but they were memorable ones, as he belted two home runs, just missed a third on a triple to the deepest part of the park and added a line-drive double off the wall ... Wagner added a home run in the BIG EAST Tournament vs. PC and turned in another two-run homer game vs. PC last season ... ... Wagner is 6-for-7 (.857) in three career games vs. UConn, with five RBI, two home runs and four walks (he also had a home run wiped off the books when last year's second game at UConn was called off in the top of the fifth).
BIG EAST BECOMES ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY: The BIG EAST has changed its baseball alignment for the 1998 season, as the 11 teams will compete 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.
THEY'RE BACK!!!: Notre Dame, Providence and Connecticut have four of the seven returning first team All-BIG EAST performers: Notre Dame junior C Jeff Wagner (unanimous as a DH), Notre Dame sophomore 3B Brant Ust (chosen as a 2B in '97), UConn senior OF Billy Rich and PC junior utility player Angelo Ciminiello ... the other returning 1st teamers include Rutgers junior 1B Pete Zoccolillo, St. John's senior SS Giancarlo DiPrima and Seton Hall junior 3B Craig Zimmerli ... UConn senior SS Jason Edgar is one of six returning 2nd team All-BIG EAST performers ... Rich was a 12th-round selection of the Boston Red Sox last season but elected to return for his senior season (he is the highest-drafted BIG EAST returning player).
AROUND THE HORN: Freshman LF Alec Porzel was third on the team during the San Antonio trip with .385 batting (5-for-13), plus four runs, a double and one RBI ... he went 2-for-4 in the wins over Southwest Texas (8-0) and BYU (15-4), with an RBI and run scored vs. SWTS and two runs vs. BYU ... senior SS J.J. Brock continues to move up the Irish career charts, ranking 5th in triples (13), 6th in at-bats (696), 10th in hits (214) and 10th in RBI (131) ... the Irish are hitting .282 overall but .234 with two outs and .275 with runners in scoring position ... the opponents are hitting .278 with two outs and .305 with runners in scoring position (18 pct. points higher that the .287 overall opponent batting avg.) ... the opponents have 45 two-out RBI while the Irish have 34 ... top hitters with RBI opportunities have been Jeff Wagner (.462), Larry Zimont (.357) and Brant Ust (.353) while the following players are looking to improve with men in scoring position: Jeff Felker (.158), Alex Porzel (.167) and Dan Leatherman (.111) ... Leatherman actually is the top Irish hitter with two outs (.500), followed by Allen Greene (.348) and Wagner (.333) ... players looking to boost their two-out hitting are Zimont (.188), Todd Frye (.133) and Ust (.120).
TEAM NOTES: Notre Dames team ERA stands at 5.50 but is just 2.47 when excluding the tough three-game series at potent Miami, when the Irish gave up 54 earned runs in 24 innings ... prior to the Jan. 30 game vs. FSU, Notre Dames 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.
SAN ANTONIO RECAP: Notre Dame dropped a 9-4 game to Southwest Texas State, as Irish errors led to seven unearned runs ... Notre Dame trailed 4-3 heading into the 5th inning before surrendering four unearned runs ... Alex Shilliday took the hard-luck loss (4.2 IP, 8 R, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 9 K) ... Notre Dame came back the next day to beat the SWTS 8-0, behind Brad Lidge (7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K), Allen Greene (3-for-4, 2 RBI) and Brant Ust (3-for-4, 3 R) ... the Irish kept rolling with a 15-4 win over BYU, with Tim Kalita picking up the win (6.0 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K) ... nine Irish players combined for 16 hits vs. BYU, led by J.J. Brock (2-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R) ... Aaron Heilman (1.1 IP, 1 H, 2 K) saved the 4-3 win over Southern Illinois for Steve Szczepanski (5 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K) while Brock hit a solo shot in the 1st before singling and scoring in the 3rd.
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI has experienced two noteworthy homecomings this season, making his second return to the University of New Orleans with the Irish baseball program and his second return to his hometown of Miami as the Notre Dame coach ... Mainieri is in his 16th season as a college head coach, with a record of 465-344 (.575), including 133-64 (.675) in three-plus seasons with the Irish ... Mainieri fittingly coached his 800th game Feb. 20 at Miami, ironically after the Feb. 15 game at UNO was rained out ... he is 35 victories away from the 500-win plateau ... Mainieri's 133 wins rank 4th at Notre Dame, behind Larry Gallo (157, 1981-87), Pat Murphy (318, 1988-84) and Jake Kline (558, 1934-75) ... Mainieri has seen 13 of his Irish players go on to pro baseball, with nine selected in the major-league draft ... Mainieri and his father Demie are the only known father-son combination in college baseball history to each top 400 career coaching wins ... Demie won 1,018 games 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.