March 29, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore lefthander Wade Korpi racked up a career-best 11 strikeouts while tossing a three-hitter to become the second Notre Dame pitcher with a nine-inning solo shutout in the past three weeks, leading the way in the Irish baseball team's second straight shutout with Wednesday's 2-0 win over Western Michigan at Eck Stadium. The Notre Dame pitching staff now has logged 29 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run and has held the opponent scoreless in 35 of the past 37 innings.
Korpi faced just 31 batters (four over the minimum) while limiting the Broncos to the three hits, two walks and six total baserunners (one of which reached third base, with only one other reaching second). His 27 outs included the 11 strikeouts (two looking), six groundouts, five flyouts, two infield popups, a pair of successful pickoff moves and an infield lineout. He faced just one batter over the minimum (19) during the final six innings, at one point striking out six of seven batters spanning the 6th-8th innings. Korpi located nearly 70% of his pitches (77 of 114) for strikes while helping the Irish post their third shutout of the season, all in the past eight games.
The 12-year Paul Mainieri era now has produced 14 nine-inning solo shutouts, with Korpi and current senior lefthander Tom Thornton (2) being the only pitchers on that list since J.P. Gagne's mid-2002 effort vs. BYU. Korpi's 11 strikeouts match Christian Parker's 11 in a 1996 win at Georgetown as the most Ks ever posted in a nine-inning solo shutout during the Mainieri era.
Notre Dame (14-8) scored in the first inning for the seventh straight game and now owns a 23-5 scoring edge in the first inning this season. The Irish - who also posted a three-hit shutout of Valparaiso on Tuesday night (12-0) - turned in back-to-back shutouts for the first time since the 2002 College World Series team beat BYU (1-0) and Valparaiso (12-0) on April 1 and 3 of that season.
Korpi - who also beat WMU in 2005 (9-5) - lowered his season ERA to 2.73 while boosting his strikeout average to 12.31 per 9.0 innings (36 in 26.1), which would rank second in Notre Dame history behind Frank Carpin's long-standing mark of 12.63 Ks per 9 IP (set in 1958).
Notre Dame's top four starters - Thornton, junior RHPs Jeff Manship and Jeff Samardzija and Korpi - have compiled some impressive numbers this season in 14 combined starts, with a 2.57 ERA,.228 opponent batting average, a 3.5 K-to-walk ratio (109/31) and 19 more innings pitched (119) than hits allowed (100).
Korpi's five appearances this season include a rough inning in week-two versus Minnesota but his numbers in the four starts include a 1.80 ERA, .226 opponent batting average, nearly a 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (34.6) and just 21 hits allowed in 25 innings. He has held the opponent off the scoreboard in 23 of his 25 innings as a starter.
Senior first baseman Craig Cooper pulled French's first pitch of the game down the leftfield line for a double, marking the 12th time that he has reached base in 13 plate appearances when leading off the game for the Irish this season (he also leads the team with a .615 on-base pct., 16-of-26, when leading off any inning). Sophomore third baseman Brett Lilley then reached on a bunt single and freshman second baseman Jeremy Barnes - again batting in the 3-hole - brought home the runner by sending a 1-0 pitch though the left side.
The Irish used a pair of two-out hits to score again in the third. Junior outfielder Danny Dressman continued to be a strong opposite-field hitter by sending a 2-0 pitch through the left side. Ross Brezovsky then strode to the plate as Notre Dame's ninth player to serve as the designated hitter this season and the lefthanded-hitting sophomore ripped an 0-1 pitch to deep right-center for the 2-0 game, his fourth double in the past four games.
Sophomore righthander Bryan French (0-3) suffered the loss for Western Michigan (11-8) while the 127-game series between the teams now is tied at 63-63-1. Western Michigan is the second-most common opponent in Notre Dame baseball history, behind Northwestern (130 games).
The Notre Dame pitching staff's current 29-inning streak of not allowing an earned run includes nearly a 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (31/8) and a lowly .124 opponent batting average, with just 12 hits allowed in that 29-inning span. The staff's nine-inning averages in the streak of no earned runs include 9.6 Ks, 2.5 walks and just 3.7 hits allowed. The team's season ERA has dropped from 3.83 to 3.21 during the past four games.
Korpi and Thornton (who tossed a 5-hitter in the 4-0 win over Southern Illinois on March 18) are the fourth pair of Notre Dame teammates in the 12-year Paul Mainieri era to each post solo nine-inning shutouts in the same season. Former ace righthanders Aaron Heilman and Danny Tamayo are the only others to do so since 1996 (Christian Parker and Dan Stavisky), with the 1995 duo including Darin Schmalz and Gregg Henebry.
Notre Dame's four shutouts this season (also 3-0 vs. Indiana State in the opener) already are more than the 2005 staff's total (3) and are the fifth-most ever by a Mainieri-era staff, behind the 1996 (9), 2001 (7), 2004 (6) and 2000 (5) teams. All four of the shutouts this season have come in nine-inning games, one shy of the record for most nine-inning shutouts during the Mainieri era (5, in both 1996 and 2001).
ND's NINE-INNING SOLO SHUTOUTS IN THE MAINIERI ERA - Senior LHP Tom Thornton ('05 and '06) recently joined Dan Stavisky ('96), Danny Tamayo (1 in '00, 2 in '01) and Aaron Heilman ('01) as the four pitchers who have posted multiple nine-inning solo shutouts during the 12-year Paul Mainieri era ... the 14 nine-inning solo shutouts in the Mainieri era also include the strong efforts of Darin Schmalz ('95), Gregg Henebry ('95), Christian Parker ('96) and J.P. Gagne ('02) ... Thornton, Henebry and current sophomore Wade Korpi are the only LHPs on the list ... five on the below list have not walked a batter in their solo shutouts: Parker, Stavisky (2), Gagne and Thornton (vs. SIU) ... four on the list allowed just three combined hits/walks in their solo shutouts: Parker, Stavisky (vs. Pitt), Tamayo (vs. SJU) and Gagne ... the fewest batters faced in a Mainieri-era 9-inning solo shutout: Stavisky (28, vs. Pitt), Schmalz (30), Tamayo (30, vs. Mississippi State and SJU) and Gagne (30) ... the most Ks in a 9-inning solo shutout during the Mainieri era: Parker (11), Korpi (11), Stavisky (10, vs. Pitt), Heilman (9, vs. FAU), Tamayo (9, vs. SJU) and Heilman (8, vs. Pitt) ... here's the list of ND's 9-inning solo shutouts from 1995-2006:
* 3/11/95 ... ND 3, George Washington 0 (in San Antonio) - RHP Darin Schmalz (4 H, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 30 BF, one runner past 2B)
* 4/22/95 ... ND 6, Illinois-Chicago 0 - LHP Gregg Henebry (3 H, BB, HB, 6 Ks, 31 BF, no runners past 2B)
* 4/21/96 ... ND 7, at Georgetown 0 - RHP Christian Parker (3 H, 0 BB, 11 Ks, 5.1 no-hit start, no hit to OF until 2-outs in 9th)
* 4/30/96 ... ND 2, Pittsburgh 0 - RHP Dan Stavisky (3 H, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 28 BF)
* 5/17/96 ... ND 4, St. John's 0 (BET; Norwich, Conn.) - RHP Dan Stavisky (6 H, 0 BB, 4 Ks)
* 5/28/00 ... ND 7, at Mississippi State 0 (NCAAs) - RHP Danny Tamayo (3 H, 1 BB, K, 10 GO, 30 BF, 105 pitches, took no-hitter into 7th)
* 3/2/01 ... ND 3, Florida Atlantic 0 (in St. Petersburg) - RHP Aaron Heilman (5 H, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 11 GO, 4 IF popups/lineouts, rundown, 32 BF, 111 pitches)
* 3/12/01 ... ND 3, New Mexico 0 (in Fresno, Calif.) - RHP Danny Tamayo (3 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 8 GO, 34 BF, 122 pitches)
* 3/23/01 ... ND 3, at Pittsburgh 0 - RHP Aaron Heilman (2 H, 4 BB, 2 HB, 8 Ks, 16 GO, 32 BF, 108 pitches, bloop 1B and 1B thru the infield)
* 4/28/01 ... ND 5, at St. John's 0 - RHP Danny Tamayo (2 H, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 14 GO, 30 BF, 75 of 107 pitches for strikes, bunt single)
* 4/1/02 ... ND 1. BYU 0 - RHP J.P. Gagne (3 H, 0 BB, HB, 7 Ks, 8 GO, 6 IF popups, 30 BF, 71 of 108 pitches for strikes)
* 3/27/04 ... ND 4, at West Virginia 0 - LHP Tom Thornton (6 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 9 GO, 3 IF popups, 34 BF, 75 of 111 pitches for strikes, multiple baserunners only in the 5th)
* 3/18/05 ... ND 4, Southern Illinois 0 (in San Antonio) - LHP Tom Thornton (5 H, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 12 GO, 3 IF popups/foulouts, 31 BF, 64 of 84 pitches for strikes, 3 runners in scoring position/1 reached 3B)
* 3/29/05 ... ND 2, Western Michigan 0 - LHP Wade Korpi (3 H, 2 BB, 11 Ks, 6 GO, 2 IF popups, 2 pickoffs, 31 BF, 77 of 114 pitches for strikes)
Western Michigan (11-8) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 - 0 2 3
Notre Dame (14-8) 1-0-1 0-0-0 0-0-0 - 2 8 1