IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame returns to action this weekend with its BIG EAST series opener in against Georgetown in Bethesda, Maryland. The schedule for the series at Shirley Povich Field is as follows: Thursday (3:00 p.m.), Friday (3:00 p.m.) and Saturday (12:00 p.m.). All three games can be heard on ESPN Radio 1490 AM (Thursday) or 1620 AM (Friday and Saturday) as well as UND.com.
GEORGETOWN INSIDER -- The Hoyas are coming off a 1-2 showing at home weekend against UConn, picking up a 12-7 victory in the series opener before dropping the final two games. Georgetown knocked off George Washington, 10-4, on Tuesday afternoon. Erick Fernandez leads the Hoyas at the plate with a .387 batting average. Sean Lamont leads the squad in both home runs (six) and RBI (17). Dan Capeless has smacked three home runs and driven in 14. Lamont has scored a team-high 17 runs. Kelly Muir has stolen eight bases in 10 attempts.
THE STARTING PITCHERS -- Notre Dame will start junior right-hander David Phelps (2-2, 4.01 ERA) in the series opener. The Hazelwood, Missouri native has made four starts for a total of 24.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 22 hits and nine walks while striking out 24. Phelps has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .239 against him. He struggled in the season-opening loss to Liberty on Feb. 22, but rebounded with a seven-inning shutout effort (with 10 strikeouts) against Mount St. Mary's on March 1 and another quality start (7 IP, 1 ER) against Buffalo on March 14. Phelps has gone at least 5.0 innings in 19 of his last 20 starts.
Senior southpaw Wade Korpi (2-1, 5.01 ERA) will take the mound in game two. Korpi has made four starts for a total of 23.1 innings pitched. The Santulucces, Florida native has allowed 26 hits and 15 walks with 17 strikeouts. He has allowed a team-high five home runs and opponents are batting .286 against him. Korpi, who went 7-2 in 2006 with a 2.00 earned run average, picked up his first victory since Feb. 17, 2007 (a span of 10 starts and 14 appearances) against South Alabama on March 8. He made it two straight victories after his outing against Southern Illinois on March 15 (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R).
The Irish will turn to sophomore righty Eric Maust (0-0, 2.93 ERA) for series finale. The Alpharetta, Georgia native has made five appearances (four out of the bullpen) for a total of 15.1 innings. Maust, who made three starts last year, has allowed 16 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts. He has allowed one home run and opponents are batting .276 against him. In Maust's first start of 2008 last weekend against Texas Pan-American, he tossed 6.0+ innings and allowed two earned runs on nine hits. Maust fanned five and walked none. He held the Broncos scoreless over the first six innings before allowing back-to-back doubles to open the seventh.
SERIES NOTES - Notre Dame holds a 29-5 series edge against Georgetown (13-2 at Shirley Povich Field), including 28-4 since joining the BIG EAST in 1996 (other games included 1908 and 1914). The Irish had won 24 straight in the series before dropping the first game of a 2005 doubleheader (9-8; game lasted 3:43 - 3rd-longest in Eck Stadium history). Seniors Tony Langford (3-for-6, 2 RBI, R) and Brett Lilley (2-for-6, R, HBP) combined for five hits in loss. Notre Dame then dropped the 2006 series opener in Bethesda (8-3) before winning the other two games (12-2, 6-3). Ryan Craft (4-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Warren Sizemore (7 IP, 3 R, 4 H, BB, 2 Ks) paced the win in the 7-inning opener in 2006 (Jeff Manship took the loss), but the Irish came back to win the second game of the doubleheader, behind Jeff Samardzija (7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 Ks), Cody Rizzo (3-for-4, 4 RBI, 3 R, HR), junior Jeremy Barnes (3-for-6 from leadoff spot, 3 RBI, 2 R, HR, 2B) and senior Ross Brezovsky (3 R, 2 2B). A pair of misplayed double-play balls in the ninth inning prevented Tom Thornton from picking up a shutout in the 2006 series finale (5 H, 2 BB, 8 Ks), with Greg Lopez pacing the ND offense in that game (3-for-6, 3 RBI). Those two wins over the Hoyas launched Notre Dame on its record-setting 23-game, month long win streak. The Irish took two of three from Georgetown at Frank Eck Stadium last year. Junior David Phelps struckout eight over 7.0 shutout innings and allowed just six hits as the Irish rolled past the Hoyas, 10-0. Michael Gaggioli, Georgetown's scheduled starter for Friday, did not allow an earned run over 8.0 innings of work as the Hoyas took the second game of the series, 6-1. Lilley and sophomore A.J. Pollock each had three hits to account for the entire Notre Dame attack. The Irish took the rubber game of the series, 11-2, thanks in large part to a seven-run third inning. Junior Kyle Weiland and sophomore Eric Maust combined to limit the Hoyas to just a pair of unearned runs, while striking out 10.
FRIEND OR FOE - Georgetown assistant coach J.J. Brock was a four-year monogram winner for the Irish from 1995-98 ... Brock was named All-BIG EAST during his senior season ... Hoyas' athletics director Bernard Muir recently was a senior associate AD at Notre Dame ... Georgetown men's soccer coach Brian Wiese is a recent Notre Dame assistant (2001-05).
BIG EAST BEGINNINGS - The Notre Dame baseball team (7-7) opens BIG EAST play on Thursday, March 20, with a 3:00 p.m. contest at Georgetown (6-9) ... junior RHP David Phelps, senior LHP Wade Korpi and sophomore RHP Eric Maust are slated to be the ND starting pitchers against the Hoyas ... the Irish will be starting their 13th season in the conference ... Notre Dame is 8-4 all-time in their BIG EAST season debuts (the Irish are 8-3-1 over their 12 BIG EAST series to open the year). Notre Dame has faced Georgetown three times previously to open the league slate (1998, 2005, 2006) and the Irish are 6-2 in those meetings.
IRISH NOTES FROM IRISH CLASSIC --
Notre Dame took two of three games this past weekend in San Antonio (marked the first time this year the Irish took two of three over a weekend).
The Irish got three consecutive quality starts from David Phelps, Wade Korpi and Eric Maust. The trio tossed 19.0 innings and allowed just three earned runs (good for 1.42 ERA).
While the starters pitched extremely well, the Notre Dame bullpen did not perform as it had to this point of the season in the 10-8 loss to UTPA (blowing a 7-0 lead in the seventh inning). The Irish bullpen entered the contest with the Broncos sporting a 4.53 earned run average and 3-0 record. Opponents were hitting just .257 against the group and they had fanned 53 and walked 18 in 49.2 innings of work, UTPA tagged the Notre Dame relievers (Brett Graffy, Steven Mazur, Cole Johnson and Kyle Weiland) for eight earned runs on nine hits. Johnson took the loss -- the first for the Notre Dame relief corp this season.
Phelps limited Buffalo to just one earned run on four hits. The right-handed hurler struckout four and walked just one. Phelps allowed only one base-runner into scoring position the entire afternoon. He now has eight career starts in which he has gone at least 7.0 innings and surrendered an earned run or less. He dropped his season earned-run average to 4.01.
DOUBLE TAKE -- Notre Dame freshman RHP Ryan Sharpley and junior 3B Evan Sharpley became the first set of brothers to start the same game (vs. Lehigh) since at least 1968. Frank and Bill Orga each earned monograms during the `68 season, but archives can't confirm whether or not they started in the same game. The Irish have had 13 sets of brothers who both have earned monograms with ND baseball. Of those, only four earned monograms for the same season:
1968 - OF/1B Frank Orga and OF Bill Orga (Pittsburgh natives)
1939 - OF Roy Pinelli and SS Ray Pinelli (San Francisco)
1913 - SS Samuel Newning and 3B Harry Newning (Houston)
1908-09 - LHP Francis Scanlan and C Ray Scanlan (Syracuse)
There have been only two sets of monogram-winning baseball brothers at Notre Dame since the early 1980s and all four were drafted (Scott and Steve Sollmann/Ryan and Tim Kalita). Scott's career started three years after Steve's final season at Notre Dame and Ryan narrowly missed pitching on the same staff as Tim (who signed in '99, Ryan was a freshman that following fall).
LILLEY LITTERED THROUGHOUT IRISH RECORD BOOKS - Notre Dame senior SS Brett Lilley is all over the Irish career record book. Lilley ranks tied for second all-time in career on-base percentage (.484), seventh in sacrifice bunts (29) and tied for sixth in total sacrifices (36). 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.
ON-BASE REGULAR - Senior 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 190 games in which he has played over his career (would move into the top 10 of most career starts with 17 more starts) while owning a .346 career batting average and the second-best career on-base percentage (.484) in the Irish baseball record book. A large chunk of his times on base have come via the hit-by-pitch (85), placing him second in NCAA history and seven back of the record (his former ND teammate Cody Rizzo is third 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.
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.
MR. DURABLE -- Senior SS Brett Lilley takes the term "everyday player" to another level. Lilley has started 190 consecutive games (every game in which he has played over his career). He has started 70 consecutive games at shortstop.
DOUBLE DUTY -- The Irish baseball team has historically featured a number of student-athletes that also competed in football. The 2008 season is no different. Junior 3B/DH Evan Sharpley (QB), sophomore RHP Eric Maust (P) and freshman OF Golden Tate (WR/KR) will each make major contributions this spring.
A handful of Notre Dame baseball varsity monogram winners also have been starting quarterbacks with the Irish football team. Sharpley became only the second Notre Dame baseball player since the early 1940s to quarterback the Irish football team.
Sharpley is first Notre Dame student-athlete since Paul Failla (1993-94) to throw a TD pass and hit a home run in same academic year. Failla had one TD pass in fall of '93 (vs. USC) and then had one HR the following spring ('94). He also hit five HR in '93 and one in '92.
Tate was drafted by Arizona Diamondbacks scout and former Notre Dame player Matt Haas (who picked him in the 42nd round of the '07 MLB draft).
The most recent Notre Dame baseball player to start at quarterback for the Irish was Paul Failla, in the 1993 win over USC (31-13, at Notre Dame Stadium; Irish were ranked #2, USC was unranked). It was Notre Dame's 11th straight win over USC.
Prior to Failla, one has to go way back to the World War II era to find a Notre Dame starting quarterback who also was a monogram winner with the Irish baseball team. That era featured two such multiple-sport talents who were Notre Dame's first Heisman Trophy winners - Anglo Bertelli (1943 Heisman) and Johnny Lujack (1947 Heisman).
Bertelli earned a varsity monogram with the Notre Dame baseball team in the spring of 1943, as a catcher and first baseman. He also was known at the time for being one of the best hockey players on the Notre Dame campus.
Lujack was a baseball monogram winner in 1944, as an outfielder. He also earned varsity monograms in basketball and track-and-field (as a high jumper) during his time at Notre Dame.
Also of note, three Notre Dame quarterbacks have been selected in the Major League Baseball draft, despite never earning a varsity monogram with the Irish baseball team. Those players include Joe Theismann (Minnesota Twins; 1971; 39th round), Tony Rice (California Angels; 1990; 50th round) and Carlyle Holiday (Cincinnati Reds; 2003; 44th round). Each of those players ultimately pursued a professional football career and never played pro baseball.
For more information on Irish multi-sport athletes, check out page 10 of 2008 Notre Dame baseball media guide.
FIRST TIME A CHARM, LITERALLY -- Junior 3B/DH Evan Sharpley could not have picked a better time to drill his first career home run. Sharpley's solo, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning capped off a come-from-behind 11-10 victory over Maine on March 4.
MOST RECENT IRISH WALK-OFF BOMBS --
Apr. 17, 1997: ND 8, Indiana Tech 7 (10) ... fr. 1B Jeff Felker (LH hitter) with 1-out, to RF, vs. fr. RHP Jason Bullinger
Apr. 2, 1998: ND 6, Bowling Green 4 (11) ... so. 2B Brant Ust (RH) with 2-out, 2-1 count, scores Jeff Wagner, down RF line, vs. so. RHP Ryan Streb
May 3, 1998: ND 5, West Virginia 3 (15) ... fr. LF Alec Porzel (RH) with 2-out, 2-1 count, scores Ust, to LF, vs. jr. David Kloes
April 11, 1999: ND 9, Pittsburgh 8 ... so. 2B Porzel (RH), 0 outs, 1st pitch, to LF, vs. jr. RHP Steve Vickroy
April 30, 2000: ND 9, St. John's 8 ... sr. 1B Jeff Felker (LH), 1 outs, 1st pitch, to deep CF, vs. fr. RHP Tom Klemm
May 6, 2000: ND 11, Pittsburgh 8 ... jr. SS Porzel (RH), 2-out, 1st pitch, scores Kris Billmaier and Ken Meyer, to LF, vs. jr. RHP Lou Kammermeier
May 13, 2000: ND 4, Rutgers 3 ... fr. RF Brian Stavisky (LH), 0 outs, 0-1 count, scores Billmaier, to deep RC, vs. jr. LHP Buddy Gallagher
April 19, 2001: ND 6, Central Michigan 4 ... jr. DH Meyer (RH), 2-out, 0-2 count, scores Billmaier, Paul O'Toole and Andrew Bushey, to LF, vs. jr. LHP J.D. Wheeler
March 15, 2002: ND 7, Arkansas-Little Rock 5 ... so. 1B Joe Thaman (LH), 1-out, full-count, scores Bushey, to RF, vs. so. RHP Brad Cherry
June 17, 2002: ND 5, Rice 3 ... jr. LF Stavisky (LH), 1-out, 1-2 count, scores Steve Sollmann, to RF, vs. sr. LHP Justin Crowder
April 20, 2005: ND 9, Purdue 7 ... jr. RF Craig Cooper (RH), 1 out, 2-2 count, scores Brett Lilley, to RF, vs. so. RHP Andrew Groves
April 15, 2006: ND 9, St. John's 5 ... sr. CF Alex Nettey (RH), 0 out, 0-0 count, scores Ross Brezovsky, to LF, vs. fr. RHP Rich Armento
March 4, 2008: ND 11, Maine 10 ... jr. 3B Evan Sharpley (RH), 0 out, 1-1 count, to LF, vs. jr. RHP Will Carroll
IRISH DONE IN BY LONG BALL -- Notre Dame has already surrendered 16 home runs on its first 14 games (on pace to give up nearly 64 long balls). The Irish have allowed a home run in eight of their 14 games. In fact, Notre Dame has yielded multi-home runs on six different occasions. The Irish allowed just 20 and 18 home runs, respectively, during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The most home runs ever allowed by a Notre Dame squad is 55 set during the 1999 season. Ironically, the Irish went 43-18, captured the BIG EAST regular season title and reached the NCAA Regionals.
AROUND THE HORN -
RBI BY COMMITTEE: Notre Dame has no player with more than 12 RBI, but have six in the order with at least eight RBI.
LOTS-O-LINEUPS: Notre Dame's first 14 games featured 12 different batting orders.
FREQUENT FLYERS - Notre Dame has already done its fair share of travelling over its first 14 games of the season. The Irish, who recently finished off an eight-game, nine day swing of games in Florida and Texas, return to the Longhorn State for three more games last weekend. Notre Dame is about to embark on a stretch of eight more games in nine days (including six on the road. The Irish have logged more than 10,939 miles (not including this weekend's trip) of total team travel this season (listings indicate round trip miles):
Tampa, Fla. 2,346 (238)
Palm Beach, Fla. 2,630 (244)
Corpus Christi, Texas 2,709 (96)
San Antonio, Texas 2,484 (192)
Washington, D.C. 1,406 (192)
Total Round Trip Miles 12,345 (962)
Who's Hot -- Senior Brett Lilley enters this weekend with a eight-game hitting streak ... Lilley actually has a hit in 13 of Notre Dame's 14 games this season (hitless against Boston College on March 2) ... 11 of the 14 games Lilley has just a single hit (including his last seven outings) ... Sophomore A.J. Pollock is hitting .400 (8-for-20) over his last five games ... Pollock has recorded two multi-hit games of his last three outings, four of six and five of eight ... Freshman Greg Sherry has registered a hit in five of the seven games he has started (three games with two or more hits) ... Sophomore Billy Boockford has registered an RBI in three consecutive games (had just one RBI over the first 11 games of the season) ... Junior Kyle Weiland has fanned 12 batters this season over just 7.2 innings ... Weiland has actually struck out eight of the last 15 batters he has faced.
PHELPS Named To Clemens Award Watch List -- Junior RHP David Phelps has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2008 Roger Clemens Award, given annually to the top pitcher in collegiate baseball. The watch list will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists in mid-May and then to three finalists in early June. The 2008 winner will be announced in early summer.
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 eight career bombs and three are three-run taters. Interestingly, five of Notre Dame's seven home runs are solo shots this season.
HITTING STREAKS -- Heading into this weekend's opening BIG EAST series with Georgetown, three Notre Dame players carry hitting streaks of three games or more.
Notre Dame's offense continued to struggle over its three games in Corpus Christi. The Irish managed just two runs in each of their two losses (2-5 vs. Texas A&M CC, 0-16 vs. #1 Arizona). Notre Dame batted just .224 (22-for-98) and 10 of those hits came in the 10-4 victory over South Alabama.
Arizona knocked around the Irish staff for 16 runs on 20 hits in the victory on March 9. The Wildcats scored in each of their eight at-bats.
The Irish bats did break out in the eight-run fourth inning against South Alabama. Notre Dame sent 12 batters to the plate and scored the eight runs on eight hits. The Irish managed just 14 hits the remaining 25.0 innings.
Notre Dame had more hits in that fourth inning than they did in the 4-2 defeat against Lehigh on March 6 (and nearly topped the total of nine against Texas A&M CC on March 7).
u The eight-run inning was the largest outburst in an inning since the Irish plated eight in the fourth inning against Central Michigan on March 21 of last season.
u Senior LHP Wade Korpi tossed 5.1 innings and allowed three earned runs on nine hits. The southpaw struckout four and walked four. Korpi recorded his first victory since Feb. 17 of last season (a 15-7 win over Prairie View A&M).
Freshman 3B Greg Sherry provided the final damage in the 10-4 rout with his first career home run - a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Notre Dame was hurt by their inability to come through with hits with runners in scoring position against Texas A&M CC on March 7. The Irish went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners on the night.
IRISH NOTES FROM PALM BEACH CHALLENGE --
After walking 18 batters in 28.0 innings over their first weekend, the Notre Dame pitching staff walked just 10 over 46.0 innings in the five games at the Palm Beach Challenge. The Irish also struck out 48.
Irish freshman RHPs Todd Miller (Boston College) and Cole Johnson (Maine) each fell victim to the long ball in consecutive games. Ironically, each rookie served up a home run on their first career pitch in a Irish uniform.
Notre Dame stranded 14 base runners against Maine on March 4, including three in the fourth and then two in each of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. In fact, Notre Dame had the first two batters reach base in every inning from the sixth through the ninth, but ironically did not in the 10th before Sharpley's gamewinning solo blast.
The Notre Dame pitching staff struck out 14 against the Mountaineers. The 14 strikeouts were the most for the Irish since they fanned 14 against USF on May 23, 2006.
Junior RHP David Phelps tossed 7.0 scoreless innings in the 5-0 victory over Mount St. Mary's on March 1. He struck 10 and walked just one. He now has whiffed 10 or more on four different occasions over his career. Phelps has recorded four separate outings over his career in which he worked at least 7.0 scoreless innings.
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.
ON DECK -- After the three-game BIG EAST series with Georgetown this weekend, Notre Dame will will play Ball State (March 25) and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (March 26) before opening the conference home schedule with Cincinnati (March 28-30).
RANKINGS -- Notre Dame is unranked in each of the four polls. Georgetown is also unranked.
FREEBIES UPDATE - 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 over their first three games, but have since lowered the average to 7.4.
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).
SCHOLARLY STANDOUT - 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.
ACE PRODUCTION - 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).
ONE-TWO PUNCH - 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.
ROOKIE REWARDS - 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.).
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.
FRESHMAN FORCE - 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:
SUPER SHORTSTOPS - 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 190 games over his career, including 70 straight over the last two seasons at shortstop. He is a career .346 hitter with 165 runs scored, 230 hits and 86 RBI. Lilley has a remarkable .484 career on-base percentage over his career.
NATIONAL FLAVOR -- 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.