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Notre Dame Baseball

Road Warriors: Notre Dame baseball takes Clemson series

March 7, 2021
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How soon is too soon to label Notre Dame's 2021 baseball squad 'Road Warriors'?

Two consecutive series wins away from home against highly regarded Atlantic Coast Conference competition just might warrant the designation.

After taking two of three games last weekend at then-No. 16 Wake Forest, Notre Dame again took two of three this weekend at historic baseball power Clemson.

Just as last weekend, the Fighting Irish (4-2, 4-2 ACC) dropped a narrow decision in the opener and then showed their mettle in winning the weekend battles.

For those counting, that's three ACC series wins in a row; the Irish swept North Carolina last season just before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sports world to a screeching halt in early-March.

It's early, but second-year Irish coach Link Jarrett has yet to lose an ACC series. Heady stuff.

Here's a look at how Notre Dame won its second league series in as many tries. With another weekend on the road scheduled next week at powerhouse, eighth-ranked Virginia, the Irish are scheduled to make their home debut hosting Duke the weekend of March 19.

GAME 3

Notre Dame 3, Clemson 2

The Irish struck for three runs in the fifth and sixth innings to erase a 1-0 deficit, saw their bullpen work a combined 7 1/3 innings of one-run, four-hit relief and secured another pivotal early-season ACC series win with their work Sunday afternoon.

Christian Scafidi opened the game on the hill for Notre Dame but lasted just 1 2/3 innings when he struggled to find the strike zone.

UCF graduate-transfer Joe Sheridan got the initial not from the bullpen, and he teamed with Liam Simon to keep Notre Dame in position for the series win with their seven innings of work.

“Can’t say enough about the grit of our guys; Sheridan pitched a great three innings to hold the game in check,” Jarrett said, per ND's release. “I was very proud of the way we defended. Dave (LaManna) made a huge block with runners on second and third, (Brooks) Coetzee played the ball in the corner well, and our infield defense was sound.”

Simon has now fanned 12 batters in 7 1/3 innings of work on the year; he's allowed just one run and four hits.

"Liam (Simon) was outstanding,” Jarrett said “and was a nice compliment after Sheridan in an extended performance, and Liam had many key strikeouts,. (Jack) Brannigan helped end the game with the pop up to short. I told our team base-running would be a huge factor and I was proud of some, but not all, of our reads. (Jared) Miller stealing third forcing the infield in was a key momentum swing, and Dave was a tough out all day. (Carter) Putz had a huge two-strike at-bat, double that pushed us ahead to stay.”

Putz and LaManna combined to drive in all three of Notre Dame's runs.

The Fighting Irish unsuccessfully tried a suicide-squeeze bunt in the late innings that did not work out, but it once again sent the message that under Jarrett, Notre Dame is going to tax opponents with an aggressive approach on the base paths and play-to-win attitude.

GAME 2

ND 3, CLEMSON 1

The Irish scored in the first inning for the fourth time in their first five games of the '21 campaign, with Niko Kavadas belting a two-run blast – his third of the season and the 27th of the career for the Irish All-American.

That blast put Notre Dame ahead for the duration, and it added a critical insurance run in the fifth when Putz drove in a runner.

John Michael Bertrand made the Irish's timely offense hold up with his brilliance on the mound. Bertrand fanned eight in seven innings of one-run ball. He's now fanned 12 batters in 10 2/3 innings to start his Irish career.

Will Mercer worked two innings of one-hit ball for the save.

GAME 1

CLEMSON 13, ND 7

Tommy Sheehan had worked through four innings with a veteran approach on the mound, holding Clemson to just two runs.

It was a tie game, 2-all, when Notre Dame closed its work at the plate in the top of the fifth frame.

It fell apart for Irish in the bottom half of the inning, when the Tigers scored seven runs off Sheehan and the first two of the Irish's four relievers in the contest.

Still, scrappy Notre Dame battled back with four more runs in the sixth to trail just 9-6 with three at-bats left.

Clemson put the game out of reach with four runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a touchdown lead on its guests, 13-6.

LOOKING AHEAD

Virginia, Baseball America's No. 8 team in the nation entering this past week of play, dropped two of three in its ACC-opening series last weekend against North Carolina and again yielded two of three this weekend against Florida State.

The Cavaliers (6-5, 2-4 ACC) are 4-1 at home and host Richmond Tuesday night in a tune-up before welcoming in the Irish next weekend.

 
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