April 9, 1998
Irish to Host Rutgers and Villanova
- Wagner homers vs. Ball State, ties Irish career record (37)
- Irish move into sole possession of first place in BIG EAST
- Surging freshman Heilman named BIG EAST pitcher of the week
- Home run streak reaches 13 games, led by Ust, Wagner and Brock
* On WHME radio 103.1 FM, available via realaudio through the Notre Dame website, at www.und.com.
The Notre Dame baseball team (21-10, 6-0 BIG EAST)--picked first in the BIG EAST coaches preseason poll--returns home this week for BIG EAST doubleheaders with Rutgers (April 9) and Villanova (April 11) ... Rutgers (12-11, 5-1) is second in the BIG EAST standings, followed by West Virginia (3-1), Providence (5-2-1), St. John's (4-2), Seton Hall (4-2) and Connecticut (3-4) ... the Irish then will play home games vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (April 13, makeup game), Manchester (April 14, changed to DH) and Purdue (April 15) ... Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig will throw out the first pitch of the Purdue game, which will serve as the annual turn-back-the-clock night.NOTRE DAME 1998 BASEBALL SCHEDULE (21-10)
Thur. 4/9 *Rutgers (DH) BIG EAST Conference Frank Eck Stadium Noon Sat. 4/11 *Rutgers BIG EAST Conference Frank Eck Stadium Noon Mon. 4/13 *Wisconsin-Milwaukee Frank Eck Stadium 4:00 Tues. 4/14 *Manchester (DH) Frank Eck Stadium 5:05 Wed. 4/15 *Purdue "Turn-Back-the-Clock Night" Frank Eck Stadium 6:05 Sat. 4/18 *at Pittsburgh (DH) BIG EAST Conference Three Rivers Stadium 6:30 Sun. 4/19 *at Pittsburgh BIG EAST Conference Three Rivers Stadium 5:00
SCHEDULE ADJUSTMENTS: Notre Dame has changed its April 14 game vs. Manchester to a doubleheader while adding an April 30 home game vs. the University of Chicago (3 PM), brining the schedule back to its full 56 games ... other remaining makeup games include April 13 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (4 PM) and April 23 vs. Toledo (6:05) ... all of the makeup games are scheduled for Frank Eck Stadium ... WHME radio (103.1 FM) will carry the remainder of the Notre Dame baseball schedule this season but, due to scheduling conflicts, will not broadcast the following games that originally were scheduled for WHME-46 TV: Villanova (4/13), Michigan (4/21) and West Virginia (5/2) ... WHME TV has added a TV simulcast for the April 15 "turn-back-the-clock" game vs. Purdue ... Milwaukee Brewers owner Bud Selig will throw out the first pitch of the Manchester doubleheader while the Purdue game will serve as the annual turn-back-the-clock night."...all WHME radio broadcasts are available on realaudio via the Notre Dame website (www.und.com), as are real-time stats and boxscores for all home games.
AROUND THE HORN: The Irish are 19-1 when scoring 5-plus runs ... Notre Dame's 13-game home run streak has included 27 home runs, 32 doubles and a .359 batting avg. (Brant Ust has eight home runs in the streak while J.J. Brock and Jeff Wagner have five each) ... the Irish have home runs in 16 of the last 17 games and are on pace for 87 home runs over 60 games, which would shatter last season's team record (66) ... Wagner is tied for the Irish career home run record (37) ... Wagner is averaging 9.8 at-bats per strikeout and has just one K in his last 12 games (51 ABs) ... Notre Dame has gone 19-4, with wins in 11 of its last 12, since dropping a three-game series at the University of Miami ... Ball State's 4-3 win over Notre Dame on April 7 ended the 10-game Irish winning streak ... Notre Dame's offensive highlights this season have included 23 hits vs. Georgetown--equaling the most by a Notre Dame team in the 1990s--and last week's seven-home-run game at Boston College (Dan Leatherman had two HRs while five others players had one) ... Notre Dame is 26-6 in its last 32 BIG EAST regular-season games, with nine straight wins and 15 wins in the last 17 ... Ust's 11 HRs have included six on the road while his .783 slugging would tie Dan Peltier's ND record ('89) ... BIG EAST pitcher of the week Aaron Heilman had 11 K's in four games last week, allowing two hits and two walks over 5.2 innings ... the freshman RHP saved both games of the doubleheader at Boston College and struck out six of the nine Bowling Green batters he faced two days earlier ... Heilman's 1.61 ERA would rank 8th in Irish history and 2nd-best in the 1990s while his .173 opponent batting average would rank 2nd in Irish history ... Heilman has not allowed a run in his last 10 outings (15 innings).
Notre Dame's Probable Starting Lineup *-lefthanded hitter; #-switch hitter Pos. Player Yr. Ht./Wt. Hometown CF #Allen Greene Jr. 6-1/195 Seattle, WA .331, 28 RBI, 29 R, 5 HR, 2 3B, 7 2B, 13 BB/19 K, 3-8 SB, 2 E Reached on 38.2% of leadoff ABs SS J.J. Brock Sr. 6-0/175 Colo. Springs, CO .352, 34 RBI, 32 R, 9 HR, 1 3B, 9 2B, 14 BB/20 K, 3-5 SB, 14 E .411 career avg. in BIG EAST games RF *Jeff Felker So. 6-5/185 Ellicott City, MD .314, 22 RBI, 20 R, 2 HR, 3 3B, 8 2B, 9 BB/16 K, 2 E Hitting .469 (23-49) in last 13 games C Jeff Wagner Jr. 6-3/220 Louisville, KY .342, 31 RBI, 23 R, 10 HR, 6 2B, 14 BB/12 K, 7 E Tied for Irish career HR record (37) 3B Brant Ust So. 6-1/190 Redmond, WA .400, 33 RBI, 31 R, 11 HR, 13 2B, 8 BB/17 K, 5-9 SB, 10 E 8 HRs in last 13 games; .783 slug % DH #Jeff Perconte So. 5-10/180 Arlington Hts, IL .260, 12 RBI, 12 R, 2 3B, 7 2B, 16 BB/10 K, 6-7 SB, 2 E One of 2 ND players with BBs > Ks or Larry Zimont So. 6-3/220 Oak Forest, IL .270, 8 RBI, 6 R, 2 2B, 2 BB/20 K, 3-3 SB Returned from hamstring injury LF Alec Porzel Fr. 6-0/180 Lisle, IL .244, 10 RBI, 19 R, 3 HR, 1 3B, 5 2B, 4 BB/16 K, 4-6 SB, 0 E Hit two home runs last week 2B #Todd Frye Sr. 5-11/170 Aledo, IL .240, 9 RBI, 17 R, 6 SAC, 1 3B, 3 2B, 8 BB/11 K, 1-3 SB, 5 E BIG EAST-best 12 sac bunts in '97 1B *Dan Leatherman Sr. 5-11/170 Orland Park, IL .333, 14 RBI, 21 R, 5 HR, 5 2B, 10 BB/10 K, 3-3 SB, 6 E Batting 10-for-20 in BIG EAST games Probable Starters RHP Alex Shilliday Jr. 6-1/205 Dunwoody, GA 2.90, 5-2, 9 GS, 49.2 IP, 56 K/13 BB, .247 opp. batting 10.1 K's/9 IP, 4.7 K's per BB LHP Tim Kalita So. 6-1/220 Oak Park, IL 4.13, 1-0, 9 GP/5 GS, 32.2 IP, 32 K/23 BB, .282 opp. batting No decision vs. G'town and BC RHP Brad Lidge Jr. 6-3/200 Englewood, CO 4.70, 4-2, 8 GS, 38.1 IP, 47 K/18 BB, .238 opp. batting 11.6 K's/9 IP, #31 preseason prospect LHP Chris McKeown Jr. 6-3/205 Arlington Hts, IL 5.23, 2-1, 11 GP/1 GS, 20.2 IP, 15 K/13 BB, .287 opp. batting Beat Georgetown (2.1, 0 R, 2 H, 3 K) or RH Scott Cavey So. 6-5/200 Omaha, NE 9.00, 0-0, 8 GP/1 GS, 11.0 IP, 8 K/4 BB, .383 opp. batting vs. BSU: 4 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 K THE BULLPEN RHP Aaron Heilman Fr. 6-4/200 Logansport, IN 1.61, 3-0, 15 GP/1 GS, 28.0 IP, 36 K/7 BB, .173 opp. batting 15 straight shut. inn.; 11.6 K's/9 IP RHP Steve Szczepanski So. 6-2/180 Lombard, IL 4.44, 2-3, 11 GP/1 GS, 26.1 IP, 14 K/7 BB, .260 opp. batting Tied for 2nd on team in appearances RHP Dan Stavisky Sr. 6-2/200 Mt. Pleasant, PA 20.86, 0-1, 5 GP/1 GS, 7.1 IP, 3 K/7 BB, .462 opp. batting 12-4 career record RHP Tom O'Hagan So. 6-2/180 Crystal Lake, IL 4.50, 1-0, 4 GP, 6.0 IP, 7 K/2 BB, .250 opp. batting Recorded two K's to beat BG RHP Mike Carlin Fr. 6-4/200 Manhattan, KS 4.76, 0-0, 3 GP/1 GS, 5.2 IP, 4 K/2 BB, .250 opp. batting Threw shutout inning vs. Chicago St. LHP Mark Lapinskas So. 6-2/200 Naperville, IL 0.00, 0-0, 1 GP, 1.0 IP, 1 BB, .000 opp. batting 1st appearance was 3/26 vs. NEIU LHP Mike Naumann Fr.5-11/175 Tucson, AZ 2.38, 1-0, 5 GP/1 GS, 11.1 IP, 5 K/2 BB, .348 opp. batting Started 1st NEIU game (3/26) LHP Pat Davis Sr. 6-4/225 San Antonio, TX 27.00, 0-0, 1 GP, 1.0 IP, 2 BB, .400 opp. batting Pitched vs. BYU (3/9) RHP John Corbin So. 6-2/190 Hollywood, FL 9.00, 0-0, 1 GP, 1.0 IP, 1 K/2 BB, .000 opp. batting Pitched 3/25, 1st app. since 3/20/97
SERIES NOTES: Notre Dame had not played Rutgers of Villanova prior to joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1996-97 ... the Irish have split six games with Rutgers, including three one-run games, two two-run games and a three-run game ... Notre Dame lost a home series with RU in '96 (4-2, 5-3, 10-7) before returning the favor in Piscataway last season (3-2, 14-15, 6-5) ... Notre Dame and Villanova were rained out in the 1996 regular season (at VU) but the Irish beat the Wildcats in the '96 BIG EAST Tournament (7-3) ... Notre Dame took a late-season home series from VU last season (4-3, 14-3, 10-8) but the Wildcats beat the Irish in the first round of the '97 BIG EAST Tournament (10-5) before eliminating Notre Dame two days later (5-4 in 11 innings).
ND-RU '97 RECAP (3-2, 14-15, 6-5): Jeff Wagner's two-run homer in the sixth lifted Notre Dame to the opening win while Darin Schmalz (6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 3 K) picked up the win and Larry Mohs notched his eighth career save ... the Irish benefitted from some big defensive plays in the seventh and final inning by third baseman J.J. Brock (backhanded stab) and leftfielder Allen Greene (sliding catch) ... Mike Mundy took the loss (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 K) ... RU scored in every inning of the nightcap while overcoming two home runs from Wagner and a late Irish rally ... the Knights jumped on Brad Lidge (4.2 IP, 7 R, 5 ER, 9 H, 3 BB, 6 K) and three relievers, with an 8-2 lead after five innings ... the Irish chipped away but the Knights always had an answer, including two crucial runs in the 8th ... Notre Dame cut the lead to 13-11 in the top of the 8th, highlighted by Wagner's two-out, three-run blast by Wagner ... Wagner flew out as the potential tying run in the 9th ... Keith Connoly picked up the win (6.1 IP, 6 R, 10 H, 2 BB, 8 K) ... in the finale, a balanced Irish attack helped overcome 16 runners left on base while Alex Shilliday (5 H, 7 K) pitched eight solid innings and Mohs picked up his second save of the series ... the Irish jumped out to a 4-1 lead after five but the hosts used three home runs to tie the game after seven ... Wagner then plated Pat O'Keefe in the 9th, on a two-out single to center ... with the tying run on second in the 9th, Mohs forced Matt Keller into a foul pop-up and Darren Fenster into a game-ending groundout ... Dan Brassem took the loss (1.2 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB).
ND-VU '97 RECAP (4-3, 14-3, 10-8, 5-10, 4-5): Brant Ust won the opening game with a solo third-inning home run while Darin Schmalz (3 UER, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K) pitched the full seven innings ... Alex Shilliday (7 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 1 BB, 8 K) won the nightcap, backed by a pivotal string of eight unearned Irish runs in the fourth inning, after a two-out error by 1B Dan Boublis ... the Irish then sent 12 batters to the plate in a classic two-out performance, highlighted by Mike Amrhein's grand slam ... Wagner led off the bottom of the 6th with a towering shot over the leftfield fence ... VU's losing pitchers in the DH were Craig Culhane (6 IP, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K) and Sean Dunne (3.2 IP, 11 R, 2 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 1 K) ... the Irish rallied to take the series finale while Mike Balicki (2 H, 4 K) picked up the win, pitching the final 2.2 innings ... VU led 8-4 before the Irish score five times in the 7th, highlighted by RBI doubles from Mike Amrhein and Jeff Wagner ... J.J. Brock's bases-loaded walk tied the game before Randall Brooks plated the go-ahead run with a single down the leftfield line ... Trevor Pepkowski faced six batters while taking the loss (0.1 IP, 5 R, 4 H, 1 BB) ... VU got revenge in the opening game of the BIG EAST Tournament, as six Irish errors led to five unearned runs ... Schmalz took the loss (5 IP, 7 R, 5 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 4 K) while Culhane posted the win (6.2 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 6 K) ... Wagner homered for the Irish but VU's Matt Neyland (4-for-5, 5 RBI) and Mike Perate (2-for-5, 5 R) made the clutch plays ... VU knocked the Irish from the tournament two days later, with Notre Dame stranding 11 runners ... Pepkowski (5.1 IP, 4 H, 4 K) was the winner and Mohs (3.1 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K) the hard-luck loser ... the Irish led 4-1 in the 5th before VU chipped away ... Brian Fili stroked the winning hit in the 11th to left field, plating Bill Brehm ... the heart of the Irish order--Amrhein, Wagner and Ust--combined to go just 1-for-14 with no RBI and one run scored.
SCOUTING THE SCARLET KNIGHTS: Rutgers (12-11, 5-1 BIG EAST) took two of three games last week at Villanova (6-5, 19-5, 8-11) ... RU returned 25 of 29 letterwinners from its 1997 team that went 28-24 and finished second to Notre Dame in the national division (13-11) ... current junior 1B Pete Zoccolillo joined Notre Dame DH Jeff Wagner as the only unanimous first team All-BIG EAST selections last season, after batting .396 with seven home runs and 44 RBI ... senior RHP Mike Mundy was second team All-BIG EAST last season while shortstop Darren Fenster and first baseman Mike O'Brien were named to the all-rookie team ... RU ranks 4th among BIG EAST teams in batting avg. (.336), 5th in stolen bases (38), 7th in home runs (19), 10th in ERA (6.83) and 8th in fielding pct. (.948, 45 errors) ... freshman 3B Jake Daubert--the reigning BIG EAST rookie of the week--leads Rutgers and ranks 35th in the nation with a .436 batting avg., plus 26 RBI, two home runs and 15 doubles ... other top hitters include senior C Chris Dorsett (.390, 4 HR, 20 RBI) and Zoccolillo (.382, 6 HR, 27 RBI) ... likely starting pitchers: senior RHPs Brian Stegen (4-1, 4.88, 31.1 IP, 28 K/28 BB) and Mike Mundy (3-2, 5.94, 33.1 IP, 31 K/8 BB) ... other wins: @Old Dominion (13-11), vs. UConn, in Minn. (16-9), @Florida Atlantic (5-1), Lafayette (24-5), St. Peter's (15-7), Pittsburgh (4-1, 12-2, 9-6), Princeton (10-6) and Monmouth (15-10) ... other losses: @ODU (9-10, 5-9), vs. Minnesota (8-9), vs. California, in Minn. (5-11), @Miami (4-9, 2-10, 6-18), @ Florida Atlantic (8-16, 1-4) and @Rider (4-8).
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Villanova (15-9-1, 2-5-0) us coming off a 12-8 win at Temple on April 8, after taking one of three over the weekend vs. Rutgers (5-6, 5-19, 11-8) ... the Wildcats returned 15 of 23 letterwinners from their 1997 team that went 29-27 and claimed the final BIG EAST Tournament spot with a 12-12 conference record before advancing to the championship game (where they lost to St. John's) ... VU ranks 7th among BIG EAST teams in batting avg. (.309), 11th in stolen bases (11), 3rd in home runs (26), 9th in ERA (6.53) and 9th in fielding pct. (.948, 43 errors) ... top hitters: freshman IF Matt Longo (.396, 23 RBI, 6 HR), junior 1B Dan Boublis (.387, 24 RBI, 4 HR) and junior IF Pat Kane (.337, 15 RBI, 3 HR) ... starting pitchers: senior RHPs Boublis (2-2, 5.35, 38.2 IP, 39 K/15 BB) and Brian Buckingham (1-1, 5.96, 22.2 IP, 19 K/7 BB), junior RHP Chris Pilato (2-4, 7.07, 28 IP, 37 K/18 BB) and senior RHP Drew Baylor (1-0, 7.08, 20.1 IP, 17 K/13 BB) ... other wins: vs. LaSalle (9-1), @Florida International (6-3, 9-4), vs. Pace (11-5), @LaSalle (5-1), @Wagner (19-11, 13-4), St. Joseph's (14-8, 12-4), Philadelphia Textile (8-5), Temple (6-1), Georgetown (11-1) and vs. Pennsylvania (15-6) ... other losses: @Florida Atlantic (4-10), vs. LaSalle (4-10), vs. Eastern Michigan (5-6), @Rider (6-18) and Providence (2-8, 3-11, 3-23) ... tie vs. Drexel (8-8).
THE PRODIGAL SON RETURNS: Sophomore RF/DH Jeff Felker 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 .419 in the friendly confines of Eck Stadium but just .237 in all road games (.222 on the opponent's field) ... Felker as has 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), Felker has raised his season batting average to .314, including 23-for-49 (.469) during the last 13 games.
WIN STREAK ENDS AT 10: Notre Dame's 10-game win streak ended with a 4-3 loss to Ball State, leaving the Irish one shy of equaling the longest run in the four-year Paul Mainieri era ... the streak was the longest since the 1996 Irish team also won 10 straight in midseason ... the Irish turned in three seven-game winning streaks last season ... the longest winning streak during the Mainieri era came in his first season, a 11-game run from April 13-23 of 1995 ... top hitters during the recent 10-game streak were: sophomore 3B Brant Ust (.524, 7 HR, 7 2B 16 RBI), senior SS J.J. Brock (.476, 4 HR, 18 RBI), senior 1B Dan Leatherman (.455, 9 RBI, 13 R) and sophomore RF/DH Jeff Felker (.436, 2 HR, 15 RBI).
CLEARING THE COBWEBS: Notre Dame has been outscored 26-13 in the 1st inning, despite outscoring the opposition 223-184 overall ... Notre Dame's most productive innings have been the seventh (34 runs), second (33), fourth (31) and sixth (30) while the best run differential has been +15 in the sixth inning (30-15) ... the Irish have outscored the opposition by 35 runs from the sixth inning on (101-66) but own just a +5 run differential in the first three innings (73-68).
IRISH GET BEST OF CRAFTY LEFTHANDERS: Notre Dame is 6-1 vs. lefty starters, with wins in games started by Purdue's David Gassner (12-6), BYU's Matt Rex (15-4), Georgetown's Randy Erwin (19-7) and Derek Pines (10-2) and Boston College's Andy Sullivan (6-4) and David Conley (16-6) ... the Irish lost the Indiana Tech game started by Warriors' lefthander Ken Fischer (2-7) ... Notre Dame is hitting .358 vs. lefthanders, a full 62 points above the team's overall batting average ... the Irish regular starting lineup includes 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 of the plate.
HOME SWEET HOME: Notre Dame is 35-3 at home over the past two seasons, losing last year to Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1-2) and Northwestern (3-12) and this season to Indiana Tech (2-7), Northeastern Illinois (4-10) and Ball State (3-4) ... the Irish were 8-2 in the recent 10-game homestand, hitting .349 with 16 home runs, four triples, 25 doubles and 85 runs scored ... the Irish pitching staff posted a 3.45 ERA during those 10 games, with 86 strikeouts in 86 innings and a .227 opponent batting average ... in 13 overall home games, the Irish are hitting .336 with 20 home runs, 30 doubles, a .561 slugging pct., a 3.74 ERA and .957 fielding ... top hitters at home this season include sophomore 3B Brant Ust (.434, 5 HR, 15 RBI) and sophomore RF Jeff Felker (.419, 2 HR, 12 RBI).
K'S CONTINUE TO MOUNT: The Notre Dame pitching staff recently turned in its three-biggest strikeout games of the season, totaling 13 in the series finale vs. Georgetown (3/29), 14 vs. Western Michigan and 15 vs. Bowling Green ... the staff has totaled 248 strikeouts in 269 and two-third innings, which factors out to 8.28 K's per nine innings--fifth-best in Irish history and best in 30 years ... the Notre Dame pitchers are on pace to total 501 K's over a 60-game season, which would blow away the record total of 480 set last season ... freshman RHP Aaron Heilman has 36 K's and just seven walks in 28 innings, for team-best totals in K's/9 IP (11.6) and K/BB ratio (5.1) ... junior RHP Alex Shilliday owns impressive ratios in those areas as well (10.1, 4.7), after totaling 56 K's and just 12 walks in 49.2 innings ... junior RHP Brad Lidge has 47 K's in 38.1 IP (11.0) while sophomore LHP Tim Kalita has 32 in 32.2 (8.8).
PICKING UP THE PACE: After totaling 27 home runs, 32 doubles and a .359 team batting average over the past 13 games, Notre Dame is back on pace to challenge many of the offensive records it set last season ... based on a 60-game season. Notre Dame is on pace for 87 home runs and 128 doubles--both ahead of last year's record totals (66 and 127) ... the Irish are averaging 23.6 at-bats per home run (ahead of the 1991 record, 30.53) and 1.45 home runs per game (the record of 1.10 was set last season) ... the current .519 slugging pct. would tie with the 1993 slugging for second in Irish history, behind the 1997 team's slugging (.529).
A NEW BIG THREE: Jeff Wagner (17), Mike Amrhein (14) and Brant Ust (11) last season became the first Notre Dame threesome each to hit 10-plus home runs in the same season but it appears that--following the graduation of Amrhein--Wagner, Ust and senior SS J.J. Brock could soar past the 42 home runs totaled by last season's big trio ... Ust (11) and Wagner (10) already have hit double digits in home runs while the current trio needs just one more home run from Brock (9) to equal last season's feat of three batters with double-digit home runs ... Ust (21), Wagner (19) and Brock (17) all are on pace for three of the top-seven 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 each belted 13-plus home runs in the same season three times: Jacobs (20) an Joe Binkiewicz (15) in 1991, 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 57 home runs, which would best the team totals for all but five seasons in Irish baseball history (66 in 1997, 64 in '93, 62 in '91, 60 in '95 and 58 in '96).
WAGNER, BROCK RESUME ASSAULT ON BIG EAST RECORD BOOK: Junior C Jeff Wagner heads into this week ranked 5th on the BIG EAST all-time batting average list (.412/78-for-193), behind Seton Hall's Marteese Robinson (.432, 1985-87), Villanova's Dennis McCaffery (.420, 1990-91), former teammate Randall Brooks (.418, 1996-97) and West Virginia's Jason Frushour (.418, 1996-97) ... Wagner's 37 career home runs are tied for the Notre Dame all-time record while his 18 home runs in BIG EAST games are fourth in BIG EAST history, behind Seton Hall's Mo Vaughn (26, 1987-89), UConn's Jason Grabowski (21, 1995-97) and Villanova's Gary Scott (51, 1987-89) ... senior SS J.J. Brock is hitting .556 in BIG EAST games this season and .411 in his career (69-for-169), sixth-best in conference history ... Wagner is batting .360 (9-for-25) in six career games with Rutgers (4 HR, 8 RBI), including a 3-for-6 game with two home runs in the 15-14 loss last season at RU ... he is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with two home runs and four RBI in six career games vs. Villanova, including a 6-for-11, seven-run series at Eck Stadium last season ... Brock is hitting .375 (9-for-24, 1 HR, 3 RBI) in his career vs. Rutgers and .333 vs. Villanova (7-for-21, 9 RBI).
STATS CAN BE DECEIVING: Notre Dame's season ERA still remains somewhat 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 4.71 is close to last year's final ERA (4.51) but Notre Dame's team ERA is just 3.19 when excluding the Miami series--which would rank ahead of the BIG EAST and NCAA leader West Virginia (3.31) ... junior RHP Alex Shilliday has a 2.90 overall ERA but 2.03 when throwing out his Miami game ... another junior RHP, Brad Lidge, would see his ERA drop from 4.70 to 2.68 when not counting his Miami outing ... two lefthanders--junior Chris McKeown (5.23/3.32) and sophomore Tim Kalita (4.13/2.48)--also would see their ERA take a major drop without their Miami outings ... opposing batters are hitting .270 vs. the Irish this season and just .244 when not counting Miami's 58-hit barrage.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Notre Dame is 5-2 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) and Bowling Green (6-4 in 11 innings) ... 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 7th (and final) inning scored Frye to end the first game 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 ... the Irish lost a 4-3 game in 11 innings at New Orleans and dropped a 4-3 game to Ball State earlier this week.
GREENE STILL MEANS GO: Junior CF Allen Greene has settled in as Notre Dame's leadoff hitter, a spot he has occupied for 18 of the 31 games this season ... Greene has hits in 26 games this season, including a seven-game hitting streak and an 11-game streak that ended on April 1 vs. Western Michigan.
BIG EAST BECOMES 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.BOSTON COLLEGE RECAP:
* ND 5, BC 2 (4/4):
* ND 6, BC 4 (4/5):
* ND 16, BC 6 (4/5): Notre Dame baseball team used a school-record seven home runs and strong pitching from Brad Lidge to finish a sweep at BC ... the record-setting onslaught included a pair of home runs from Dan Leatherman, Brant Ust's fourth straight game with a home run, J.J. Brock's eighth HR of the season and Jeff Wagner's 36th career bomb ... Alec Porzel and Allen Greene rounded out the home run derby ... Lidge (7 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K) allowed no hits and just two walks over the first four innings, highlighted by a stretch of five straight K's ... BC's BIG EAST leading hitter Steve Langone hit a solo home run and two-run shot vs. Lidge ... sophomore lefthander David Conley took the loss (5.1 IP, 8 R, 10 H, 1 BB) ...
top hitters in the BC series: Leatherman (5-for-10), Brock (6-for-13), Ust (5-for-11), Felker (5-for-12) and Porzel (4-for-10) ... the Irish made just one error in the series ...
the Irish are hitting .395 in BIG EAST play, with 17 HRs, 16 2Bs, a whopping .722 slugging pct., a 3.78 team ERA and an impressive .981 fielding pct. (4 errors) ...
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.
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 476-347 (.578), including 146-68 (.682) 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 24 victories away from the 500-win plateau ... Mainieri's 146 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.