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Notre Dame Baseball

At last ... at home: No. 15 Notre Dame baseball making home debut

March 18, 2021
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Presidential elections were more than 15 months away.

Pandemic had not been a particularly mainstream term in a decade or more; certainly not part of everyday life.

Muffet McGraw was still Notre Dame's women's basketball coach, fresh off a remarkable run, and Mike Brey had only missed consecutive NCAA Tournaments instead of the current four-year drought.

So 616 days was a vastly different time in the world, in collegiate athletics and specifically at Notre Dame.

It's also when Link Jarrett was hired to resuscitate Fighting Irish baseball; July 12, 2019.

Today, Jarrett finally gets to coach his first home game as Notre Dame skipper.

He'll do so with a squad that's roared out to an Atlantic Coast Conference-leading 7-2 mark, all league games, all away from home, and surged inside the top 20 in the national baseball rankings.

No. 15 Notre Dame hosts Duke (7-6, 3-3 ACC) this afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium in the first of a three-game set and in the team's first home game since May 12, 2019 – an extra-innings win against Canisius.

The Fighting Irish are winners of four ACC series in a row, dating to last season's early sweep at North Carolina before COVID-19 paused all sports, and including last week's sweep of then-No. 21 Virginia.

Probable Pitchers:

GAME 1 FRIDAY: D RHP Cooper Stinson (2-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. ND LHP Will Mercer (0-0, 8.59 ERA) 4 p.m., ACC NETWORK EXTRA

GAME 2 SATURDAY: D RHP Henry Williams (2-0, 3.31 ERA) vs. John Michael Bertrand (2-0, 4.08 ERA) 2 p.m., ACC NETWORK EXTRA

GAME 3 SUNDAY: TBD vs. TBD, 2 p.m., ACC NETWORK EXTRA

STILL ABSENT

As again indicated by Notre Dame's release of its projected starting rotation this weekend, the Fighting Irish are unlikely to have the services of veteran staff ace Tommy Sheehan, who's said to have elbow soreness with an indefinite timeline. Even without appearing last weekend, Sheehan is tied on the team with eight innings pitched.

Notre Dame has utilized 12 arms through its first nine games, with only Bertrand in double-digits with 17 2/3 total innings in three Saturday starts through the season's opening road stretch.

Collectively, the Irish hurlers have struck out 81 batters, allowed 68 hits and walked 42. Liam Simon has been dynamic out of the pen, where he’s compiled a scant 1.0 ERA and 14 strikeouts in nine innings of relief.

CLUTCH WHEN IT MATTERS

Notre Dame's had little problem putting men on the base paths through its trips to Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia. In addition to scoring 66 runs – an average of more than 7 per game – the Irish also have stranded 78 men on base.

Still, they've shown a bit of the clutch gene in the early going with a trio of batters already with double-digit RBI totals. Niko Kavadas leads with 15 RBIs; Brooks Coetzee has 12 and Jared Miller has 10.

What Miller's doing is especially impressive. He's amassed 31 total bases, hit at a .462 clip and paced the team with 15 runs scored.

The Irish have 93 total hits, 30 of them for extra bases.

MULTI-MASHERS

Courtesy the trio mentioned above, Notre Dame has three players with multi-home run totals as part of the team's 12 overall blasts.

Kavadas has belted five in nine games after he smashed seven through the first 13 games of the ill-fated 2020 campaign.

Miller has three and Coetzee two.

LOOKING AT DUKE

The Blue Devils are venturing outside of the Carolinas for the first time all season. They opened with a solid road-series victory at Coastal Carolina and then split six league games at home against Boston College and Pittsburgh.

Duke overall has a 4.68 ERA as a staff with 129 strikeouts in 115 1/3 innings. Opponents own 14 home runs and 36 extra-base hits against Devils hurlers.

At the plate, Duke has been paced by Erikson Nichols and R.J. Schreck, who have hit .429 and .419, respectively, and combined for 33 hits, 24 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

Quite simply, Notre Dame's ability to control Nichols and Shreck at the dish will chart the course for the Irish's first home ACC series since being swept by Louisville May 3-5, 2019.

 
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