Fourth-year pitcher who combines with J.P. Gagne and Brandon Viloria to give senior class three pitchers with five-plus career saves ... has pitched in some huge games during his career, most notably during the 2001 season when he served as the closer for the top-ranked Irish ... expected to fill a middle and late-relief role in 2003, with Gagne likely returning to his 2002 closer role ... a poised and fearless pitcher who has shown signs of greatness ... gives hitters a different look due to sidearm delivery (adopted prior to 2001 season) ... posted 10-3 record and five saves in his first three seasons, with 3.80 ERA, 71 Ks, 39 walks and 92 hits (.261 opponent batting) in 90 innings ... hails from Bellaire High School program, called "the Notre Dame of high school baseball" by its coach Rocky Manuel (Bellaire earned No. 1 national rankings in '99 and has produced several major-leaguers, among them Jim Gideon and Chuck Knoblauch) ... one of four Notre Dame players to earn Academic All-District V honors in 2001 ... three-time Dean's List student, with a 3.35 cumulative GPA as an accounting major.
AS A JUNIOR: Made 12 relief appearances, posting 5.73 ERA and his fifth career save, with nine strikeouts, nine walks, three wild pitches and 14 hits allowed in 11 innings ... saved 4-1 game vs. Sacred Heart, rolling up game-ending groundout after entering game in 9th with two outs and runners on first and second ... allowed just one earned run in final six appearances (6.0 IP) ... played key role in 10-9 win over Central Michigan, logging shutout 6th and 7th innings (H, BB) as Irish claimed 10-7 lead ... added shutout innings vs. Toledo (15-4) and Detroit (23-1; 1 H, 3 Ks) ... recorded final out in 12-5 NCAA Super Regional loss at Florida State ... played two innings in left field and had an at-bat in 16-6 win over Chicago State.
AS A SOPHOMORE: Emerged as closer, with 15 shutout innings in first five outings ... logged 22 relief appearances (5-1, 4 saves), with 3.09 ERA on staff that ranked fifth in nation (3.22), plus 28 Ks, 15 walks and 23 hits allowed in 32 IP (4 WP, 6 HB) ... opponents hit just .209 versus him (second on staff) ... allowed just .203 batting with runners on (second on staff) ... yielded just one home run ... his biggest moments came in pair of wins at Mississippi State (saving 7-5 game, winning 4-2) and in 11-inning win at Rutgers (5-4) ... recorded four outs at MSU on first seven pitches, thanks to pair of clutch double-play balls ... took mound in 9th inning of first game, with one out and runners on first and second (the game ended when Matthew Maniscalo's linedrive was snared by SS Alec Porzel for double play) ... the next day, he took the mound again with runners on first and second (in 10th), inducing Brad Rutto into 6-4-3 double play (he closed the 11th, after Joe Thaman's go-ahead hit) ... logged three clutch innings (H, BB, 2 HB, 3 Ks, 36 pitches) to complete first-ever sweep at Rutgers by BIG EAST team ... watched ND tie that game (4-4) with three runs in 9th before working out of bases-loaded jam in 10th, inducing Nick Cerulo's flyout to left and striking out Jeff Marciniak on three pitches (first and third "looking") ... tossed shutout inning to save 5-2 win at Pacific (2 BB, HB) ... picked up third save to complete Peter Ogilvie's 3-0 shutout of Cleveland State (2 IP, H, 4 Ks, 7 BF) ... tossed early relief at Virginia Tech (1.2 IP, 4 H, 3 Ks) as Irish rallied for 8-6 lead (9-8 loss) ... closed 6-1 win over Seton Hall (1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 Ks) ... recorded final two outs to save win over Detroit (9-8; H) ... retired all three batters (2 Ks) in 9th vs. Central Michigan to become unlikely winner, as three Irish batters reached with two-out, two-strike counts before Ken Meyer's grand slam (6-4) ... picked up wild 13-12 win over UConn (1.2 IP, H, BB, 2 Ks) ... added gutsy win in 11-10, 10-inning NCAA elimination game vs. UC Santa Barbara (2.2 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 2 Ks, 37 pitches as fifth ND pitcher) ... returned two days later to close 5-4 regional title-game loss to Florida International (1.1 IP, BB).
AS A FRESHMAN: Fourth on staff with 3.83 ERA in 15 appearances (nine starts), plus 5-2 record, 34 Ks, 15 walks and 55 hits allowed in 47 IP (6 WP, 9 HB) ... allowed just 27.1 percent of leadoff batters to reach (second-best ratio on staff, behind All-American Aaron Heilman?s 19.2 pct.) ... made debut at Memphis (1.1 IP, 2 H, K, HB in 4-3 win) ... beat Illinois (5-1) with five strong innings in first start (3 H, R, 3 BB, 3 Ks) ... beat Siena Heights (9-2) in planned rotation (3 IP, H) ... added wins vs. Valparaiso (7-2; 5 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 Ks), Chicago State (4-2; 4H, R, 2 BB, 5 Ks) and Oakland (9-3; 7 IP CG, 8 K, 2 BB, 6 Ks) ... helped keep Irish in game (2 IP, H, BB) to set up 10-6 rally past Tulane in NCAA elimination game.
PREP & PERSONAL: First freshman to pitch for Bellaire varsity ('96), launching career that included 29-1 record (best in team history) ... team captain, co-MVP of ?99 team (38-2) that won state title (No. 1 in USA Today national rankings) ... USA Today honorable mention All-American ... part of Bellaire program that has won seven state titles ... he and brother Adam (a sophomore pitcher at Virginia) became Bellaire's latest great brother combo, following Tommy and Bubba Crosby and Jose Jr. and Enrique Cruz ... all-state, all-greater Houston, district MVP as senior ... his '99 stats: 14-0, 1.10 ERA, 120 Ks, 35 BB in 85 IP, with four no-hitters, four one-hitters, nine shutouts and 43-inning shutout streak ... received Cardinal Pride Award for Citizenship ... named Houston's Most Outstanding Baseball Scholar-Athlete ... played in summer of '99 at USA Baseball Tournament in Orlando ... all-district as junior (9-1, 1.41, 68 Ks, 18 BB, 50 IP) ... helped Bellaire win three regional titles, with national rankings in '96, '97, '99 ... greater Houston area Scholar-Athlete of the Year ... graduated with 4.1 GPA ... National Merit Commended Scholar ... elected by student body as "Birdkeeper," a prestigious group that guards school mascot ... grandfather Oma Bates played football at LSU ... hails from same area as former Irish basketball guard Elmer Bennett ('89-'92) ... born Dec. 23, 1980, in Houston ... son of Marc and Ann Laird ... full name is Matthew Harris Laird ... an accounting major in Mendoza College of Business.
Laird's Career Stats