Feb. 29, 2008
IN THE BATTERS BOX
Notre Dame returns to the state of Florida to open its spring break trip with the Papa John's Classic in West Palm Beach. The Irish will play Mount St. Mary's (Sat., 6:00 p.m.), St. Bonaventure (Sun., 11:30 a.m.), Boston College (Sun., 4:00 p.m.), Maine (Tues., 2:00 p.m.) and Lehigh (Wed., 3:00 p.m.). All five games can be heard on ESPN Radio 1490 and UND.com.
PAPA JOHN'S CLASSIC INSIDER
In addition to Notre Dame, the rest of the field includes Mount St. Mary's, St. Bonaventure, Boston College, Maine and Lehigh. The Irish are making an appearance in Clearwater, Fla. for the third consecutive year and will return for the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament in May.
THE STARTING PITCHERS
Notre Dame will start junior right-hander David Phelps (0-1, 11.57 ERA) against Mount St. Mary's in the opening game of the Papa John's Classic. The Hazelwood, Missouri native has made one start for a total of 4.2 innings pitched. He has allowed eight hits and three walks while striking out two. Phelps has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .381 against him. He struggled in the season-opening loss to Liberty on Feb. 22. The starting outing was his shortest since March 22, 2006 when he lasted just 3.2 innings against Central Michigan (Phelps had gone at least 5.0 innings in 16 consecutive starts).
The Irish will turn to freshman righty Brian Dupra (0-1, 21.00 ERA) for their match-up with St. Bonaventure. The Rochester, New York has made one start for a total of 3.0 innings. Dupra, who made his collegiate debut in a start against Albany on Feb. 24, has allowed nine hits and three walks with one strikeout. He has allowed two home runs and opponents are batting .500 against him.
Senior southpaw Wade Korpi (0-0, 10.12 ERA) will take the mound against Boston College. Korpi has made one start for a total of 5.1 innings pitched. The Santulucces, Florida native has allowed five hits and five walks with four strikeouts. He has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .250 against him. Korpi, who went 7-2 in 2006 with a 2.00 earned run average, is still looking for his first victory since Feb. 17, 2007 (a span of 10 starts and 14 appearances).
Freshman right-handed hurler Evan Danieli (0-0, 8.10 ERA) will start the fourth game of the tournament against Maine. The East Hanover, New Jersey native has made one appearance out of the Irish bullpen and tossed 3.1 innings. He has yielded three hits and three walks with three strikeouts. He has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .300 against him.
Notre Dame will turn to freshman right-hander Ryan Sharpley (0-0, 0.00 ERA) for its final game of the Papa John's Classic. He has made one appearance out of the Irish bullpen and tossed 2.0 scoreless and hitless innings against Albany. He struckout three and did not walk a batter.
WARMING UP IN FLORIDA
The Irish baseball team owns a 64-51-1 all-time record (.556) in the state of Florida, but found the Sunshine State to be an especially welcome home-away-from-home over the previous nine seasons, racking up a 42-16 record (.724) in Florida during that 2000-08 span. Notre Dame opened the season in Florida for just the third time over the last 30 years.
NOTRE DAME IN THE SUNSHINE STATE
The Notre Dame baseball team has made regular visits to Florida, totaling a 64-51-1 record against various top teams in games played in Boca Raton, Ft. Myers, DeLand, Gainesville, Homestead, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Winter Park, Tampa and Clearwater - in addition to last week's Clearwater Invitational, the Irish will travel to West Palm Beach this week for the Papa John's Classic before returning to Clearwater and Brighthouse Networks Field for the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament in May.
- The Irish went 1-2 last weekend at the Winning Inning Clearwater Classic. Notre Dame opened the season on the losing end of a 6-2 decision to Liberty before rallying past Iowa, 14-13, in a 10-inning thriller. The Irish closed the weekend with a 12-4 defeat against Albany.
- Last year, Notre Dame participated in the Stetson Invitational (DeLand), Clearwater Classic and Florida Gulf Coast Classic (Ft. Myers). The Irish posted a 6-5 record in those tournaments, including a 16-6 victory over #7 Nebraska on March 4.
- The 2006 team swept a series at then-BIG EAST newcomer South Florida (9-6, 10-4, 10-1) and then won the program's fifth straight BIG EAST Tournament title by going 4-1 in action at Brighthouse Networks Field, in Clearwater.
- The 2005 team opened 3-1 in games played at Central Florida (18-3 vs. Florida A&M, 1-2 vs. UCF, 4-3 vs. FAMU, 4-2 vs. UCF) and then ended its season at the NCAA regional played at the University of Florida (1-5 vs. North Carolina, 7-4 vs. Stetson, 3-0 vs. UNC and 3-23 vs. UF) - the 2005 trip to Orlando marked just the second time in 27 seasons that the Irish have opened in the Sunshine State.
- In addition to participating in the 2000 (7-1 record) and 2003 (6-1) Kennel Club Classics, the Irish recently have played three series at Miami (1-2 in 1992 and 1995, 0-3 in 1998) while participating in the first ACC/Disney Blast in Orlando (1998; 1-2 with win over FSU) and winning the 2004 Florida Atlantic Classic.
- Notre Dame nearly advanced to the 1992 and 1993 College World Series, after competing in NCAA regionals at Miami and Florida State (the Irish upset the host schools and reached the final day of competition in both 1992 and 1993). The 2002 Irish team won their NCAA Super Regional series at Florida State to earn a College World Series spot (Florida native Chris Niesel picked up the decisive win over FSU).
- The program's first Florida trip came in 1956 (2-5 in games around the Tallahassee area). Other early Notre Dame trips to Florida included a 5-2 loss at FSU in 1958, three wins at Rollins in 1967, tournaments at Miami in 1970 (1-5) and Rollins in 1978 (3-5-1), seven games around the state in 1979 (2-5) and six games played at Rollins and Miami in 1989 (4-2).
The 2008 Notre Dame baseball roster includes three players from Florida. Senior 2B Ross Brezovsky (Naples/Collier H.S.), senior LHP Wade Korpi (Lake Worth/Santaluces H.S.) and junior 3B/1B Eddy Mendiola (Miami/Palmer Trinity H.S.) all hail from the Sunshine State.
The Irish baseball program's list of all-time monogram winners includes 20 Florida natives, among them Academic All-America first baseman and Tampa native Henry Valenzuela (Jesuit H.S.; 1979-82, hit .314 with 15 HR, 123 RBI) ... recent pitching ace Chris Niesel (Plantation; 2002-04, 3.21 ERA, 21-4, 2 SV, 233 Ks and just 57 BB in 272. IP) joined other noteworthy RHPs such as Mike Pasilla (Windemere/Bishop Moore H.S.; 1987-89), David Sinnes (Miami/Palmetto H.S.; 1990-93, 2.91 career ERA, 32-8 record, 315 Ks in 297.1 IP), closer John Corbin (Hollywood Hills H.S.; 1998-00, 20 saves) and Danny Tamayo (Miami/Ransom Everglades H.S.; 1998-01, 3.27 ERA, 141 Ks in 160 IP) ... Sinnes held ND record for career win pct. and Ks (best by Aaron Heilman in 2001) while Corbin is the Irish career saves leader and Tamayo formed a potent 1-2 punch with Heilman ... other noteworthy ND players from Florida have included: SS Daniel Cunha (St. Petersburg; 1933-35), IF Joe LaRocca (Ft. Lauderdale/Gibbons H.S.; 1970-72), OF Mike Galloway (Cocoa Beach H.S.; 1975-77), DH Ken Meyer (Ft. Myers/Verot H.S.; 1999-02), catcher Javi Sanchez (Miami/Columbus H.S.) and RHP Joey Williamson (Lantana/Santaluces H.S.; 2005-07).
KORPI RETURNS TO FAMILIAR GROUNDS
Senior LHP Wade Korpi not only returns to his home state of Florida, but he returns to the same diamonds he starred in high school at Santaluces H.S. Korpi closed his career at Santaluces with first team all-state honors in 2004. He went 10-0, posting a 1.18 ERA and registered a school record 125 strikeouts in 65.0 innings pitched. Korpi, who led the county in both victories and strikeouts, helped the team to '03 and '04 conference titles. He was awarded all-conference and all-city in each of his final two seasons and was a three-time honorable mention all-area selection (first team in '04). As a junior in '03, Korpi posted 1.06 ERA and 4-1 record on Florida's top-ranked squad.
PROBABLE POSITION STARTERS
Pos. # Player B-T Cl. GP-GS Avg. HR RBI C Sean Gaston L/R Sr. 3-3 .250 0 2 Team tri-captain; Missed the entire 2007 season with shoulder injury
1B Casey Martin R-R Jr. 3-2 .111 0 0 Indiana State transfer; finished second on the Sycamores in home runs in 2007
2B Jeremy Barnes R-R Jr. 3-3 .333 0 2 Three-year starter that was named All-BIG EAST second team in 2006
3B Mick Doyle R-R Fr. 2-2 .400 0 1 Became the second consecutive freshman to start the season opener at third base (Pollock)
-or- Evan Sharpley L-R Jr. 3-1 .286 0 1 Two-sport standout doubled as Irish starting quarterback for three games in 2007
SS Brett Lilley L/R Sr. 3-3 .500 1 5 Three-time All-BIG EAST selection; 2007 Academic All-American
LF Ross Brezovsky L-R Sr. 3-3 .417 0 4 Team tri-captain; Has started 165 of 167 games played over career
CF A.J. Pollock R/R So. 3-3 .214 0 1 Led Irish in hitting in 2007; All-BIG EAST third team and Freshman All-American
-or- Golden Tate L-L Fr. 3-2 .333 0 2 Two-sport standout doubles as Irish wide receiver and kick returner in 2007
RF Billy Boockford R-R So. 3-3 .250 0 0 Missed most of 2007 season after undergoing knee surgery
-or- A.J. Pollock R-R So. 3-3 .214 0 1 Led Irish in hitting in 2007; All-BIG EAST third team and Freshman All-American
DH Ty Adams R-R Fr. 2-1 .000 0 0 Was listed by Baseball America as Indiana's eighth best high school prospect
-or- David Casey L-L Fr. 2-1 .000 0 0 Was listed by Baseball America as Wisconsin's fifth best high school prospect
IRISH OFFENSE, EARL WEAVER
Notre Dame entered the 2008 season with a total of 23 career home runs from returning players. Of those 23 long balls, 14 or just 60-percent have been of the three-run variety. Senior SS Brett Lilley has drilled four career home runs and three of them have driven in three runs, including his go-ahead bomb against Iowa on Feb. 23. Senior OF Ross Brezovsky has hit seven career bombs and three are three-run taters.
BREZOVSKY LOVES HIS HOME STATE
Senior OF Ross Brezovsky really enjoys when the Irish return and play in his home state of Florida. He hit .333 with a home run and team-high 11 RBI over Notre Dame's 11 games in the Sunshine State a year ago. Brezovsky drove in four last weekend and registered a .417 batting average in Clearwater. Over his career in games played in Florida (24 games), Brezovsky is batting .296 with three home runs, a triple, four doubles, 15 runs scored and 25 RBI.
Heading into this weekend's games, senior SS Brett Lilley, senior OF Ross Brezovsky and junior 2B Jeremy Barnes each have a hitting streak of at least three games. Lilley carried a two-game hitting streak into this season, while Barnes had a hit in his last game in 2007.
Player Statistics During Streak Brett Lilley (5) .563 (9-for-16), 5 BB, 6 RBI, 5 R Jeremy Barnes (4) .308 (4-for-13), 1 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI 4 BB Ross Brezovsky (3) .417 (5-for-12), 2 BB, 4 RBI, 3B, 5 R
NOTRE DAME NOTES FROM CLEARWATER CLASSIC
- Notre Dame dropped its season opener for the first time since the 2001 season -- snapping its streak at six straight victories.
- Junior right-handed pitcher David Phelps struggled in his season opening start against Liberty. He lasted just 4.2 innings and surrendered six earned runs on eight hits. The start was the first for Phelps in which he failed to toss at least 5.0 innings since March 22, 2006 against Central Michigan (a span of 16 starts). The six earned runs were the most allowed by Phelps since he yielded six against Seton Hall on May 13, 2006.
- Senior shortstop Brett Lilley put together quite a game against Iowa. He went 3-for-5 with three runs scored, five RBI, including a go-ahead three-run home run in the eight and gamewinning, two out, two-run single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Lilley became the second player in Notre Dame history to ever record at least five hits, five runs and five RBI in separate games over his career. Matt Macri is the only other Irish player to do so (five hits, five runs scored and six RBI).
- The Notre Dame pitching staff struggled mightily over its opening weekend. The Irish allowed 26 earned runs and posted a 8.36 earned run average. Notre Dame had not allowed that many earned runs or a higher ERA over an opening weekend since 2003 when they surrendered 34 and registered a 9.56 ERA over four games (Irish went 2-2). Interestingly enough, the '03 Notre Dame team finished the season with a 43-15 record, captured its second straight BIG EAST Tournament Championship and ultimately fell a game shy of the NCAA Super Regionals. The Irish finished the season with a 3.35 ERA (the second-best over the last 14 years).
- Notre Dame hit .282 (31-for-110) for the weekend -- the highest batting average over the opening weekend since 2004 (the Irish hit .310 in two games). Over the last 14 years, only three teams hit for a higher average over the opening weekend.
- After struggling defensively throughout the 2007 season, the Irish showed they took tremendous strides in that department. Notre Dame committed just two errors last weekend -- the fewest over an opening weekend since 2004 when the Irish committed just one in two games. Notre Dame's .982 fielding percentage is the highest since the same '04 season and second-best over the past 14 seasons.
- A total of 10 Notre Dame freshmen made their respective Irish debuts. including four (OF Golden Tate, 3B Mick Doyle, DH/1B Ty Adams, DH/1B David Casey) that earned starts in the field and Brian Dupra took the mound against Albany. The remaining rookies that played last weekend were INF Greg Sherry, DH/C Matt Scioscia, C Cameron McConnell, RHP Evan Danieli and RHP Ryan Sharpley.
After five games at the Papa John's Classic, Notre Dame will fly to Texas for the Whataburger Classic in Corpus Christi. The Irish will play Texas A&M-CC, South Alabama and Arizona over the weekend of March 7-9.
Notre Dame is unranked in each of the four polls. Mount St. Mary's, St. Bonaventure, Boston College, Maine and Lehigh are also each unranked.
Recent season openers
The Irish have captured nine of their last 11 season openers. Notre Dame suffered a tight loss to New Orleans in the 2001 season opener (7-6 at Mississippi State) and 6-2 this season against Liberty, but have opened season with victories in 1998 (10-1 vs. Florida State in Orlando), 1999 (8-4 vs. James Madison at FIU), 2000 (6-0 vs. Air Force in Millington, Tenn.), 2002 (7-6 vs. Missouri at New Orleans), 2003 (10-9 vs. Dayton at Arizona State), 2004 (7-1 vs. San Diego State at USC), 2005 (19-8 vs. Florida A&M at UCF), 2006 (3-0 vs. Indiana State in Millington, Tenn.) and 2007 (15-8 vs. Prairie View in San Antonio).
- The 2001-03 openers each produced one-run games (the Missouri game in 2002 went 10 innings), but Notre Dame has won the 2004-07 opening games by a combined 44-17 margin. The 19-8 rout of Florida A&M in 2005 was Notre Dame's largest margin of victory and most runs in a season opener since the 1963 squad won 20-3 at Indiana.
This season marked the 75th season and 18th straight that Notre Dame opened away from home. The 1990 Irish team played a rare Feb. 5 home game against Goshen to open the year.
- Florida (now with eight) is the site of the second-most season-opening games in the history of Notre Dame baseball. Tennessee ranks third with seven games and Texas and Georgia are tied for the fourth-most common site for an Irish season-opener. Other states that have been the site of multiple Irish openers include: Kentucky and Louisiana (five), California (four), Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio and Oklahoma (all with three), Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan, Missouri and North Carolina (two). Obviously, Indiana leads all states with 13.
- The most common sites for a Notre Dame road season opener have included: Indiana University (six), Purdue (four), Georgia Tech (three) and USA Baseball Stadium in Millington, Tenn. (three).
OPENING-WEEK LONG BALLS
Notre Dame players combined to hit 32 opening-week home runs during the past 15 seasons (1995-08) ... four players in that span hit multiple opening-week HRs: infielder Brant Ust (two; 1998 and 1999), RF Kris Billmaier (three, in 2003), 1B Matt Edwards (two; 2004, 2005) and LF/DH Steve Andres (two; 2003, 2005) ... Billmaier is the only ND player among those listed below who had a multi-HR game during opening week (vs. Newman, at ASU) ... A.J. Pollock (vs. Prairie View A&M, in San Antonio in 2007) is one of six from this list to homer during the opening week of their freshman season, as did Michael Wright (vs. Prairie View A&M, in San Antonio in 2007), Andres (at Arizona State in 2003), Ed Golom (as a pinch-hitter, at FIU in 1999), OF Brian Stavisky (at Memphis, in 2000) and RF Cody Rizzo (in the second 2003 game at ASU) ... the position breakdown of the opening-week HR hitters since 1995 is as follows: RF (6), 1B (4), DH (4), LF (4), SS (4), C (3), CF (2), 3B (3), PH (1) and 2B (1).
Irish Players Opening-Week Home Runs Since 1995
Rowan Richards (Jr., CF, '95) game 3 vs. Pepperdine, Anaheim (14-5)
Ryan Topham (Jr., RF, '95) game 3 vs. Pepperdine, Anaheim (14-5)
Bob Lisanti (Sr., C, '96) game 1 at Georgia Tech (4-12)
Justin Scholl (Sr., RF, '97) game 2 vs. USC, Long Beach (4-14)
Dan Leatherman (Sr., 1B, '98) game 1 vs. Florida State, Orlando (10-1)
Brant Ust (So., 3B, '98) game 2 vs. NC State, Orlando (8-10)
Jeff Wagner (Jr., C, '98) game 2 vs. NC State, Orlando (8-10)
Brant Ust (Jr., SS, '99) game 1 vs. JMU, Miami (8-4)
Ed Golom (Fr., PH, '99) game 2 at FIU (1-14)
Alec Porzel (Jr., SS, '00) game 3 at Memphis (4-3)
Brian Stavisky (Fr., RF, '00) game 3 at Memphis (4-3)
Matt Bok (Sr., DH, '02) game 1 vs. Missouri, New Orleans (7-6)
Andrew Bushey (Sr., C/3B, '02) game 2 at New Orleans (7-8)
Kris Billmaier (Sr., RF, '03) game 1 vs. Dayton, Tempe (10-9)
Kris Billmaier (Sr., RF, '03) 2 HRs in game 2 vs. Newman, Tempe (15-5)
Steve Andres (Fr., DH, '03) game 3 at Arizona State (3-16)
Matt Macri (So., SS, '03) game 4 at Arizona State (8-14)
Cody Rizzo (Fr., CF, '03) game 4 at Arizona State (8-14)
Matt Edwards (Jr., 1B, '04) game 1 vs. San Diego State, Los Angeles (7-1)
Steve Andres (Jr., LF, '05) game 1 vs. Florida A&M, Orlando (18-3)
Matt Edwards (Sr., 1B, '05) game 1 vs. Florida A&M, Orlando (18-3)
Matt Bransfield (Sr., LF, '06) game 1 vs. Indiana St., Millington, TN(3-0)
Ross Brezovsky (So., 2B, '06) game 2 vs. Air Force, Millington, TN (8-2)
Mike Dury (Jr., 1B, '06) game 4 vs. Oklahoma, Millington, TN (3-4)
Michael Wright (Fr., LF, '07) game 1 vs. Prairie View, San Antonio (15-8)
A.J. Pollock (Fr., 3B, '07) game 1vs. Prairie View, San Antonio (15-8)
Mike Dury (Sr., DH, '07) game 1 vs. Prairie View, San Antonio (15-8)
Brett Lilley (Sr., SS, '08) game 2 vs. Iowa, Clearwater (14-13)
PLENTY OF WAYS TO FOLLOW THE IRISH
Notre Dame baseball fans will have several options for tracking the 2008 season on a game-by-game basis, through live streaming video (Notre Dame home games only), live-audio broadcasts, GameTracker live stats, free Irish Alert text messages and the ND Sports Hotline:
- Live radio broadcasts are available in the South Bend area, primarily on ESPN 1490 AM, with some broadcasts on 1620 (ND baseball is part of a small percentage of programs in the nation with its entire season airing live on a commercial station) ... all games are streamed live on und.com, with the links posted on the lower left corner of the und.com main page ... the online broadcasts are free of charge, as part of a quick signup with Fighting Irish All-Access (which includes archives or all audio and video content) ... see All-Access signup link via the multimedia gold button at the top of each und.com page
- Irish ALERT free text-message updates (three per game) are available to your cell phone or other mobile devices ... see link on the right side blue sidebar on the baseball page at und.com.
- GameTracker live stats are provided for all home games and most road games (based on phone-line availability) ... when Notre Dame is on the road, the home team typically provides the live stats with bonus GameTracker stats also provided by the Notre Dame SID office for select road games.
- The ND Sports Hotline provides a recap of each game and often will include special in-game updates for postseason action (or for doubleheader days) ... to access the hotline, call 574-631-3000, choose option 4 (for baseball/softball) and then press "1" for the baseball recap.
- Complete coverage of each and every Irish home game through live streaming video.
PHELPS COPS TOP PRESEASON HONOR
Notre Dame junior right-handed pitcher David Phelps - one of two Irish pitchers ever to post 100-plus strikeouts and an ERA under 2.00 during the same season - has been named to the 2008 preseason watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award.
Phelps earned first team all-BIG EAST Conference honors in 2007, joining former All-Americans Aaron Heilman (in '99) and Chris Niesel (in '03) as the youngest Notre Dame pitchers ever named to the BIG EAST's top team (each earned the honor as sophomores). Heilman is the only other Notre Dame pitcher ever to reach 100 Ks while also having a sub-2.00 ERA in the same season (111 Ks, 1/74 ERA; as a senior in 2001).
Phelps finished the 2007 season as the league leader in overall ERA (1.87; good for 14th in the nation) and strikeouts (102; sixth in ND history) while ranking third among BIG EAST pitchers with 110.1 innings pitched, seventh in low opponent batting average (.236) and eighth in wins (8-5). He was one of only six pitchers in the nation who entered the 2007 postseason with an ERA under 2.00, eight or more wins and 90-plus strikeouts.
Phelps posted the 11th-best season ERA in the Notre Dame record book and eighth-best of the aluminum-bat era (since the early 1980s). He led the 2007 Irish staff in ERA, wins, strikeouts, innings, starts (15; sixth in the BIG EAST), Ks looking (42) and groundouts (119), also ranking third in low opp.
batting avg. He had 15 more innings pitched than hits allowed (96) and finished with the staff's second-best K-to-walk ratio (3.4; 102/30) - while his nine-inning averages included a team-best 7.1 innings per start, 8.3 Ks (2nd on the team) and 2.5 walks (3rd-lowest on the staff), plus 7.8 hits per 9 IP.
The fifth different Notre Dame pitcher ever to reach 100 strikeouts in a season, Phelps reached double-digit strikeouts three times during the 2007 regular season and then had a 9-K game in the BIG EAST Tournament versus Villanova. He totaled five complete games in the 2007 season and is is one of only three Notre Dame pitchers to post four or more nine-inning complete games in a season. The only Notre Dame pitchers to total more strikeouts in a season than Phelps are Heilman (118 in '99 and '00; 111 in '01), Jeff Manship (111 in '06) and Tamayo (106 in '01).
In addition to his impressive accomplishments on the field as a three-time all-BIG EAST performer, senior SS Brett Lilley has reached near-perfection in the classroom during his first three years at Notre Dame. The College Sports Information Directors of America recognized Lilley's excellence as a student-athlete by naming him a first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, in recognition of his 3.81 cumulative grade-point average as an accounting major. Lilley whose older sister Tricia was an Academic All-America shortstop on the 2006 Purdue softball team quickly returned to campus following the end of Notre Dame's 2007 season, in order to begin taking the first of three summer-school courses that will allow him to graduate one semester early (following the 2007 fall semester). He then intends to enroll in the intensive one-year master's in accountancy program at Notre Dame, with the plan being to start those classes in the 2008 spring semester before concluding sometime later that calendar year (pending a possible stint in pro baseball during the summer of '08).
Lilley has compiled a 3.95 GPA over his past three semesters at Notre Dame, despite taking an overworked load of 21 classes and 60 credit hours in that three-semester span. His stellar run in the classroom began in-season during the 2006 spring semester, as Lilley posted a 4.0 GPA despite taking an 18-credit load. The following fall, he ramped up to 21 credits but still managed to post a 3.95 (with six A grades and a B-plus) before adding a 3.95 in the recently-completed 2007 spring term (again with 21 credits, with all As except for a B-plus in a 1.5-credit course). Lilley's 21 grades over the span of those three semesters includes 19 As and the pair of B-plus marks while his 36 total classes at Notre Dame now have included 25 As, five A-minuses, four B-plus grades, a B and a B-minus. He is the 18th different Notre Dame baseball player to be named an Academic All-American (10th to be on the first team) and in 2008 could become the seventh ever to repeat that honor. Notre Dame baseball players now have combined to earn Academic All-America honors 11 times in the current decade. Lilley was among the youngest players among the 13 who were named to the elite 2007 first team Academic All-America squad that included eight seniors and five juniors, meaning that he could be a leading candidate for Academic All-American of the Year candidates in 2008. Phelps who took a 3.36 cumulative GPA into the 2007 spring semester (as a double major in psychology and computer applications) earlier had joined Lilley in earning first team Academic All-District honors and thus advanced to the Academic All-America ballot, which produced only three sophomores among the 39 final Academic All-Americans.
Despite playing a minimal role as a freshman on the 2006 Notre Dame squad, junior RHP David Phelps returned for a sophomore surge in 2007 that saw him emerge as the unquestioned leader of the Irish pitching staff. As college baseball headed into NCAA Tournament play, Phelps held the rare distinction of being one of six pitchers in the nation with an earned-run average under 2.00 (1.88; 10th-best in the nation), eight or more victories (8-5) and 100-plus strikeouts (102). He ended up leading the BIG EAST in ERA and strikeouts while ranking second with 110.1 innings pitched, sixth in wins and seventh in low opponent batting average (.236). Phelps picked up three of Notre Dame's top wins of the 2007 season versus #12 TCU, #7 Nebraska and at BIG EAST leader Rutgers (in the series opener) but he easily could have totaled 12 or more victories, if not for poor run support (the Irish averaged just 5.4 runs in his 15 starts) and untimely defensive breakdowns that saw 12 of the runs charged to him be unearned (three of his losses were due to unearned runs). His 1.88 ERA ranks eighth-best among Irish pitchers during the aluminum-bat era (since the early 1980s) while his 102 strikeouts rank sixth on the Notre Dame season record book. Phelps allowed 0-2 earned runs in 11 of his 15 starts during the 2007 season and only once yielded more than three earned runs in a game (4, vs. Pittsburgh). His nine-inning averages included a team-best 7.1 innings per start while he totaled nearly a 3.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio (102/30; 3.4), had 15 more innings pitched than hits allowed (96), averaged nearly a strikeout per inning (8.6 Ks per 9 IP) and became one of just four Irish pitchers in the past 12 seasons to post four or more nine-inning complete games in a season (4, plus one in which he pitched 8.0 innings). He joined the elite company of former All-Americans Aaron Heilman ('in '99) and Chris Niesel ('03) as the only Notre Dame sophomore pitchers ever named first team all-BIG EAST (no Notre Dame freshman pitchers ever have been first-teamers).
Notre Dame featured one of the top hitting duos in the BIG EAST during the 2007 season, as sophomore OF/3B A.J. Pollock (.372) and senior SS Brett Lilley (.371) were one of only two pairs of BIG EAST teammates to each hit above .370. The Irish duo actually had the same number of hits (73) but Pollock had one fewer at-bat to narrowly finish atop the team batting charts. The BIG EAST recognized 41 total players with all-conference honors in 2007 and Notre Dame with Lilley and Pollock was the only team in the conference that featured both of its leftside infielders on the all-BIG EAST teams.
After narrowly edging Lilley atop the 2007 team batting charts, Pollock became just the fourth freshman ever to lead the Notre Dame baseball team in season batting average (he and Lilley are the only ones to do so since the early 1990s). Pollock's impressive all-around season which earned him Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball magazine saw him finish with the third-best season batting average ever by a Notre Dame freshman (best since 1994), with that .372 mark ranking fourth best among all of the BIG EAST players in 2007 (behind two senior sluggers and Todd Frazier of Rutgers, the BIG EAST player of the year). Pollock was one of two players in the entire BIG EAST to total 70-plus hits (73), 30-plus walks (32), double-digit stolen bases (11) and 10 or more sacrifice bunts (10) while also finishing first (6) or second (4) on the Irish team in 10 primary statistical categories, including those listed above plus 39 runs scored and 26 multiple-hit games. The right-handed-hitting Pollock also hit a team-best .406 with runners in scoring position and feasted on left-handed pitching in the 2007 season (.509 batting avg.).
Senior SS Brett Lilley entered his final season in 2008 with the chance to etch his name throughout the Notre Dame record book. The feisty infielder has started all 179 games in which he has played over his career (would move into the top 10 of most career starts with 28 more starts) while owning a .351 career batting average and the second-best career on-base percentage (.490) in the Irish baseball record book. A large chunk of his times on base have come via the hit-by-pitch (81), placing him in a tie for third in NCAA history and 11 back of the record (his former ND teammate Cody Rizzo is second all-time, with 84). Lilley became the seventh Notre Dame baseball player ever to be named all-BIG EAST three or more times, earning third team honors in 2007 while leading the Irish in 11 categories and ranking second in five others. His BIG EAST-leading .512 on-base percentage in 2007 ranked 11th in the nation and is seventh in Notre Dame history (second-best since the early 1990s) while his 27 HBPs ended up being fourth-most among the nation's players in 2007. Lilley also ended up with the sixth-best batting average among BIG EAST players (.371), also ranking ninth in runs (55) and 11th in walks (31), and he reached base in all but three of the 56 games in 2007 including a stretch to end the season that saw him reach in each of the final 20 games.
BIG CROWDS RETURN
One season after setting numerous attendance records at Eck Stadium, the Notre Dame baseball team again played in front of a steady stream of fans that featured an average of nearly 2,000 per game (1,958). The late-April series with West Virginia attracted a total of 9,011 fans to Eck Stadium, representing the second-highest attendance for a three-game series in the facility's 14-year history. The 3,927 who were on hand for the Saturday afternoon game versus the Mountaineers (on April 21) broke the previous Eck Stadium single-game record set one year earlier, to the day (3,507 saw the Friday-night game versus Rutgers on April 21, 2006).
CAPE COD COMPANY
Six Notre Dame players competed in the nation's premier wood-bat summer league in 2007, as junior 2B Jeremy Barnes and senior RHP Tony Langford headed off to join the Cape Cod League's Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox while four Irish pitchers junior RHP David Phelps, junior RHP Kyle Weiland, junior LHP Sam Elam and junior RHP Brett Graffy were prepping for a summer together as members of the CCL's Falmouth Commodores. Notre Dame consistently has produced multiple players each summer who compete in "The Cape," including a 2005 summer that saw Gaston earn Cape Cod League All-Star honors as a member of the Cotuit Kettleers.
IRISH TO FACE SEVERAL TOP OPPOSING PLAYERS
Seven pitchers from Notre Dame's 2008 opponents are on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list, including the Arizona duo of LHP Daniel Schlereth and Jason Stoffel, Southern Illinois RHP Bryant George, Connecticut LHP Matt Karl, Georgetown RHP Dan Kennedy, St. John's RHP Colin Lynch and South Florida RHP Shawn Sanford ... Notre Dame's 2008 opponents also include 23 players who are on the Wallace Award watch list, among them are eight players from the BIG EAST: Cincinnati OF Tony Campana, Connecticut INF Matt Karl, Louisville DH Chris Dominguez, RHP Justin Marks, RHP Zack Pitts, South Florida RHP Shawn Sanford, St. John's OF Brian Kemp and RHP Colin Lynch ... others include the Arizona duo of P Preston Guilmet and OF Jon Gaston, Boston College's trio of 3B Eric Campbell, P Terry Doyle and C Tony Sanchez, Central Michigan C Tyler Stovall, IPFW OF Jared Davis, Michigan's duo of P/1B Zach Putnam and OF Derek VanBuskirk, Purdue's P Matt Bischoff and OF Ryne White, Southern Illinois' trio of P Cody Adams, P Bryant George and C Mark Kelly and Western Michigan P Ethan Hollingsworth ... six players from ND opponents also were named 2008 preseason All-Americans by either Baseball America or the National Collegiate Baseball Writers, including Putnam, Arizona's quartet of Ryan Perry, T.J. Steeler, Guilmet and C.J. Ziegler, as well as Zack Pitts of Louisville.
WEILAND QUICK NOTES
Junior RHP Kyle Weiland returns to the back end of the bullpen in 2008. Due to injuries and lack of depth last year, Weiland was forced to move into the starting rotation. He went 5-3 with a 5.66 ERA over 13 appearances and six starts. As a closer in 2006, Weiland ranked among the nation's elite freshmen, receiving top Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America (one of 14 on the first team), Collegiate Baseball and the The Rosenblatt Report/Rivals.com while also being invited to the annual USA Baseball National Team trials. A second team all-BIG EAST selection that year, the lanky 6-foot-4 righthander finished third nationally with a school-record 16 saves and compiled a 2.37 ERA that ranked fourth-best on the Irish staff. His 30 appearances were one shy of the Irish freshman record (31) set by current big-leaguer Aaron Heilman in 1998 (when he led the nation with a 1.61 ERA). In addition to posting nearly a 2.5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk average (48/20) in 2006, Weiland logged 11 more innings (49.1) than hits allowed (39, with only one home run) and limited opponents to a .224 opponent batting average that ranked third-best ever by a Notre Dame freshman behind Heilman's .198 in '98 and the .201 allowed by Larry Mohs in '94. Weiland converted all but one of his save opportunities en route to nearly doubling Heilman's freshman save record (9) while his 16 saves were three better than the previous overall Irish record (13), set by J.P. Gagne in 2003.
Notre Dame's 2008 opening-day lineup included three seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen. It marked the second straight season the Irish featured at least two freshman in the starting nine. Notre Dame had three freshman in the starting lineup in last year's season opener (just the third time in the past 13 seasons that Notre Dame featured three or more freshman starters:
Notre Dame Freshman Starters
'95 no freshman starters
'96 Jeff Wagner (C), Paul Turco (SS)
'97 Brant Ust (2B), Jeff Felker (1B), Jeff Perconte (RF platoon)
'98 Alec Porzel (LF)
'99 Steve Stanley (CF), Paul O'Toole (C), Andrew Bushey (3B) '00 Brian Stavisky (RF)
'01 Steve Sollmann (2B)
'02 Matt Macri (SS, injured)
'03 Craig Cooper (LF), Cody Rizzo (RF), Greg Lopez (3B), Steve Andres (DH)
'04 none (Danny Dressman later started 28 games)
'05 Brett Lilley (2B/3B), Ross Brezovsky (3B/2B)
'06 none (Jeremy Barnes later had 55 GS)
'07 Billy Boockford (RF), A.J. Pollock (3B), Michael Wright (LF)
'08 David Casey (DH), Mick Doyle (3B)
Notre Dame's baseball tradition spans nearly 120 seasons but the shortstop role was not well-represented by elite players, until an impressive run of talent at the position during the past 20 years. Early 1900s player Bobby Lynch and heavy-hitting 1964 All-American Rich Gonski were possibly the most noteworthy shortstops in the first 85 years of the program, followed in the late 1970s by Rick Pullano before an impressive 20-year span that has produced the likes of Tommy Shields, Pat Pesavento, Craig Counsell, Paul Failla, Brant Ust, Alec Porzel, Matt Macri and Greg Lopez at the shortstop position. Senior Brett Lilley has carried the torch each of the last two seasons. Lilley has started 179 games over his career, including 59 straight over the last two seasons at shortstop. He is a career .351 hitter with 154 runs scored, 219 hits and 79 RBI. Lilley has a remarkable .490 career on-base percentage over his career.
Over his years as a head coach, Notre Dame skipper Dave Schrage has utilized a formula to measure how many free bases a team allows during a given year. The formula adds walks allowed, errors, stolen bases allowed, hit batters, wild pitches, passed balls, and balks and divides that total by the number of games played. In 2007, the Irish allowed nearly 8.7 "freebies" per game. By comparison, Notre Dame's 2006 team allowed just 6.2 per game en route to totaling 45 wins. The Irish did not open the season very well in the department, allowing 10.7 per game.
Freebies ND 2008 ND 2007 ND 2006 Walks Allowed 18 191 170 Errors 2 83 68 SB Allowed 4 73 65 Hit Batters 5 61 50 Wild Pitches 3 45 23 Passed Balls 0 27 6 Balks 0 5 7 TOTAL 32 (10.7/gm) 485 (8.7/gm) 389 (6.2/gm)
LILLEY LITTERED THROUGHOUT IRISH RECORD BOOKS
Notre Dame senior SS Brett Lilley is all over the Irish career record book. Lilley ranks second all-time in career on-base percentage (.490), seventh in sacrifice bunts (28) and eighth in total sacrifices (34). He is also on pace to finish his career among the top time all-time in the following categories: games played, games started, consecutive games started, at-bats, hits, runs scored, walks and assists.
Senior SS Brett Lilley takes the term "everyday player" to another level. Lilley has started 179 consecutive games (every game in which he has played over his career). He has started 59 consecutive games at shortstop.
As is usually the case, the Notre Dame baseball roster is made up from players across the United States. This year, however, it's even more apparent as 39 of the 43 players on the roster are from outside the state of Indiana. In fact, 18 different states, including Indiana, are represented. The only Indiana natives on the team are Ty Adams (Indianapolis/Brebeuf Jesuit H.S.), Sean Gaston (Brownsburg/Brownsburg H.S.), Justin Gingerich (Goshen/Northridge H.S.) and Andrew Wiand (South Bend/Riley H.S.).
IRISH PICKED FIFTH BY BIG EAST COACHES
The University of Notre Dame baseball team was picked to finish fifth in the 2008 BIG EAST preseason baseball poll as determined by a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams. The Irish received a total of 80 points.
Team Points (First Place Votes) 2007 Record 1. St. John's 117 (7) 41-19, 20-7 2. Louisville 113 (5) 47-24, 19-8 3. USF 92 34-26, 13-14 4. Rutgers 91 42-21, 20-7 5. Notre Dame 80 28-28, 11-15 6. Connecticut 66 34-27, 10-14 7. Pittsburgh 59 27-27, 15-11 8. Villanova 51 29-25, 12-15 9. Cincinnati 41 28-28, 10-16 10. West Virginia 39 29-22, 10-16 11. Seton Hall 31 25-25, 9-15 12. Georgetown 12 21-34, 8-19
#35 - Junior RHP - David Phelps - 6-3 - 190
Hazelwood, Missouri (Hazelwood H.S.)
Victory: 5.4.07 vs. Seton Hall (3-1)... number of starts since then
4 Complete Game: 5.23.07 vs. Villanova (L, 2-3) Shutout: Combined with two others for shutout on 4.13.07 against Georgetown Fanning 3 Batters In Inning: last time 5.4.07 vs. Seton Hall (7th) Fanning 2 Batters In Inning: last time 5.23.07 vs. Villanova (4th)
Low-Hit Complete Game: three-hitter, vs. South Florida on 4.23.07 Most Strikeouts: 11, on two different occasions Longest Winning Streak: 4 games, 4.06.07 to 5.4.07
DATE OPP RESULT IP H R ER BB SO 2.22 Liberty L 4.2 8 6 6 3 2
2008 INNING-BY-INNING ERA... ERA H R ER BB SO AB BF B/Avg 2B 3B HR HB WP BK GDP 1st 0.00 0 0 0 0 1 3 3 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2nd 0.00 1 0 0 0 0 4 4 .250 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3rd 0.00 1 0 0 0 1 4 5 .250 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 4th 36.00 3 4 4 2 0 6 9 .500 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5th 27.00 3 2 2 1 0 4 5 .750 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2008 game-by-game... IP H R-ER BB-SO 2B 3B HR WP BK HBP IBB W-L SV ERA *Liberty 4.2 8 6-6 3-2 3 0 0 0 0 1 0 0-1 0 11.57 * Started
VS. MOUNT ST. MARY'S...
Year ERA W-L G-GS CG SHO IP H R-ER BB-SO 2006 7.09 2-0 12-3 0 0/1 26.2 30 24-21 10-23 2007 1.88 8-5 15-15 5 1/1 110.1 96 35-23 30-102 2008 11.57 0-1 1-1 0 0/0 4.2 8 6-6 3-2 TOTAL 2.89 10-5 27-18 5 1/2 137.0 126 59-44 40-125
#6 - Freshman - RHP - Brian Dupra 6-3 - 200 -Rochester, New York (Greece Athena H.S.)
Complete Game: --
Fanning 3 Batters In Inning: --
Fanning 2 Batters In Inning: --
Low-Hit Complete Game: --
Most Strikeouts: 1, vs. Albany on Feb. 24, 2008 Longest Winning Streak: --
DATE OPP RESULT IP H R ER BB SO 2.24 Albany L 3.0 9 8 7 3 1
2008 INNING-BY-INNING ERA...
ERA H R ER BB SO AB BF B/Avg 2B 3B HR HB WP BK GDP 1st 0.00 1 1 0 1 0 4 5 .250 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2nd 45.00 5 5 5 2 0 8 10 .625 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 3rd 0.00 1 0 0 0 1 4 4 .250 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4th 99.00 2 2 2 0 0 2 2 1.000 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
IP H R-ER BB-SO 2B 3B HR WP BK HBP IBB W-L SV ERA *Albany 3.0 9 8-7 3-1 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0-1 0 21.00 * Started
VS. ST. BONAVENTURE...
Year ERA W-L G-GS CG SHO IP H R-ER BB-SO 2008 21.00 0-1 1-1 0 0/0 3.0 9 8-7 3-1
#13 - Senior LHP - Wade Korpi - 5-10 - 190 - Lake Worth, Florida (Santaluces H.S.)
Victory: 2.17.07 vs. P. View A&M (15-8)... number of starts since then - 9
Complete Game: 3.29.06 vs. Western Michigan (W, 2-0)
Shutout: 3.29.06 against Western Michigan
Fanning 3 Batters In Inning: last time 2.17.07 vs. Prairie View A&M (3rd)
Fanning 2 Batters In Inning: last time 2.23.08 vs. Iowa (4th)
Low-Hit Complete Game: three-hitter, vs. Western Michigan on 3.29.06 Most Strikeouts: 11, on three different occasions Longest Winning Streak: 4 games, 3.29.06 to 5.16.06
DATE OPP RESULT IP H R ER BB SO 2.23.08 Iowa ND 5.1 5 7 6 5 4
2008 INNING-BY-INNING ERA...
ERA H R ER BB SO AB BF B/Avg 2B 3B HR HB WP BK GDP 1st 18.00 3 2 2 0 0 6 6 .500 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2nd 0.00 0 0 0 0 2 3 3 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3rd 0.00 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4th 9.00 1 1 1 1 2 4 5 .250 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5th 81.00 1 4 3 3 0 2 5 .500 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
IP H R-ER BB-SO 2B 3B HR WP BK HBP IBB W-L SV ERA *Iowa 5.1 5 7-6 5-4 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 10.12 * Started
VS. BOSTON COLLEGE...
Year ERA W-L G-GS CG SHO IP H R-ER BB-SO 2005 5.47 4-3 18-9 0 0/0 54.1 73 44-33 33-32 2006 2.00 7-2 14-12 1 1/1 76.1 55 20-17 27-94 2007 4.02 1-5 13-10 0 0/0 53.2 53 38-24 27-43 2008 10.12 0-0 1-1 0 0/0 5.1 5 7-6 5-4 TOTAL 3.80 12-10 46-32 1 1/1 189.2 186 109-80 92-173
#22 - Freshman - RHP - Evan Danieli - 6-7 - 230 - East Hanover, New Jersey (Seton Hall Prep)
Complete Game: --
Fanning 3 Batters In Inning: --
Fanning 2 Batters In Inning: last time 2.24.08 vs. Albany (5th)
Low-Hit Complete Game: --
Most Strikeouts: 3, vs. Albany on Feb. 24, 2008
Longest Winning Streak: --
DATE OPP RESULT IP H R ER BB SO -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2008 INNING-BY-INNING ERA...
ERA H R ER BB SO AB BF B/Avg 2B 3B HR HB WP BK GDP 4th 0.00 1 0 0 1 0 2 3 .500 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5th 0.00 0 0 0 0 2 3 3 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6th 0.00 1 0 0 1 1 4 5 .250 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 7th 81.00 1 3 3 1 0 1 4 1.000 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
IP H R-ER BB-SO 2B 3B HR WP BK HBP IBB W-L SV ERA Albany 3.1 3 3-3 3-3 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0-0 0 8.10 * Started
Year ERA W-L G-GS CG SHO IP H R-ER BB-SO 2008 8.10 0-0 1-0 0 0/0 3.1 3 3-3 3-3
#34 - Freshman - RHP - Ryan Sharpley - 6-4 - 210 - Marshall, Michigan (Marshall)
Complete Game: --
Fanning 3 Batters In Inning: --
Fanning 2 Batters In Inning: last time 2.24.08 vs. Albany (8TH)
Low-Hit Complete Game: --
Most Strikeouts: 3, vs. Albany on Feb. 24, 2008 Longest Winning Streak: --
DATE OPP RESULT IP H R ER BB SO -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2008 INNING-BY-INNING ERA...
ERA H R ER BB SO AB BF B/Avg 2B 3B HR HB WP BK GDP 8th 0.00 0 0 0 0 2 3 3 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 9th 0.00 1 0 0 0 1 3 3 .333 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
IP H R-ER BB-SO 2B 3B HR WP BK HBP IBB W-L SV ERA Albany 2.0 1 0-0 0-3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0 0 0.00 * Started
Year ERA W-L G-GS CG SHO IP H R-ER BB-SO 2008 0.00 0-0 1-0 0 0/0 2.0 1 0-0 0-3