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Notre Dame Baseball

No. 25 Notre Dame Sweeps Virginia, Wins Another Road Series

March 15, 2021
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So Notre Dame no longer is the Atlantic Coast Conference's road darlings.

Nah. The Fighting Irish arguably are America's home-away-from-home juggernauts.

This time? A dominant sweep of former top-10 and recent national champion Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which they outscored their hosts 30-12 in the three-game set.

Timely hitting. Remarkably effective bullpen pitching. Contributions throughout the roster.

This Notre Dame sweep – its second in its past four ACC series dating to last year – had a little bit of everything for the Fighting Irish (7-2, 7-2 ACC).

Now they finally get to come next weekend when the Irish welcome Duke to Frank Eck Baseball Stadium.

Notre Dame debuted in national rankings this past week; rest assured, the program is going to climb in the upcoming polls.

GAME 3

No. 25 Notre Dame 8, No. 21 Virginia 3

The Fighting Irish aren't going to be confused with Oakland's famed 'Bash Brothers' combo, but they absolutely made great use of the long ball this weekend in the sweep of the Cavaliers.

Pre-season All-America selection Niko Kavadas blasted a three-run dinger in the first inning and set the tone for the Notre Dame sweep.

Kavadas now has five home runs on the season and continues to climb the Irish record books with his long-ball work. He now has 15 RBIs through the Irish's first nine games.

While Notre Dame continues to fine-tune its pitching rotation and pecking order in the bullpen, the team's ability to strike first and set the tone remains a key component of the early-season success.

The Irish have struck in the opening inning in five of their nine games this season.

On the mound in this contest, Notre Dame utilized a trio of pitchers – with relievers AidanTyrell and Tanner Kohlhepp working a combined seven innings of one-run relief. Tyrell earned the win; Kohlhepp the save.

Jared Miller was stellar the plate with a four-hit barrage as part of Notre Dame's 16-hit outburst. Zack Prajzner homered and Brooks Coetzee rapped out three hits. Kavadas had four RBIs.

GAME 2

No. 25 ND 12, No. 21 Virginia 4

And in less than a month, John Michael Bertrand established himself as Notre Dame's staff ace.

At least, that's evident through the season's first month. The Furman transfer once again worked the pivotal middle game for the Irish and flat-out set the stage for the series sweep.

Bertrand now has three starts and 16 strikeouts in a touch more than 17 innings. He's got an ERA barely above 4.0 and also has emerged as crucial innings-eater in these mid-series games as Notre Dame sorts its best arsenal of arms.

“Proud of the execution and grit of the team,” Irish coach Link Jarrett said in a release. “Two good starting pitchers went toe-to-toe.

“I was pleased with how Bertrand settled in after a difficult fourth inning. He showed poise and was able to continue to collect outs after UVA had strung together several good at bats in a row.”

Cavs starter Griff McGarry was dominant in his first trip through the Irish lineup; he fanned six for the first six outs.

Notre Dame, with patience and persistence, adjusted at the plate to quickly chase McGarry in the fourth inning.

The Irish scored three runs combined in the third and fourth innings; they then watched Bertrand shake off a three-run frame to flat-out dominate the remainder of his outing.

Bertrand finished with a sub-1 WHIP in seven innings of work and fanned four.

Alex Rao worked the final two innings to secure the series win.

GAME 1

No. 25 Notre Dame 10, No. 21 Virginia 5

For the first time all season, the Fighting Irish staked claim to the first game of a series. It would set the table for a dominant weekend of historic proportions for Notre Dame.

The Irish took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, promptly gave it back in the bottom half of the frame and then methodically put away their hosts over the remainder of the contest.

Without Tommy Sheehan on the bump for unspecified reasons, Notre Dame turned to Will Mercer for the start. Mercer allowed three runs in two-and-one-third innings before the ever-strengthening Irish pun turned out the lights.

Liam Simon and Joe Sheridan worked six-and-two-thirds innings from the pen and didn't allow an earned run. The duo combined for 10 strikeouts and yielded just three hits.

At the plate, Miller, Kavadas and Coetzee all blasted home runs as part of Notre Dame's 14-hit attack. Virginia mustered just five hits against Irish pitchers while itself was forced to use five hurlers in the opener.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Duke Blue Devils represent Notre Dame's first chance for a home ACC series since 2019 when they are scheduled to visit South Bend, Indiana, Friday for a three-game set.

Duke (6-6, 3-3) saw its entire set of games scheduled against North Carolina State wiped out this weekend. The Devils last won on March 6 against Pittsburgh, and they also took an early-season series from Coastal Carolina.

They've belted 11 home runs but allowed 14 through the first third of the season. On the mound, Duke has used 16 pitchers to log a cumulative 4.74 ERA. Blue Devils pitchers have struck out 121 batters while allowing 91 hits and walking 55 batters.

First pitch Friday at Notre Dame is set for 4 p.m. (ACC Network Plus).

 
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