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Notre Dame Baseball

Series secured: No. 15 Notre Dame wins 5th-straight ACC set

March 21, 2021
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Another weekend, another series victory.

This Notre Dame baseball season is off to heretofore unseen successes, with the Fighting Irish now winners in their opening four series of the 2021 campaign and victors in five-straight Atlantic Coast Conference sets.

Irish Sports Daily was there Friday for the duration of Notre Dame's 13-inning, walk-off win – the first home game of the Link Jarrett era.

Worth noting: Jarrett's among the fastest to 20 wins in Notre Dame baseball history; he started 20-4 atop the Irish program prior to Sunday's series finale.

So now we dive into the weekend set, where Notre Dame (9-3, 9-3 ACC) took the opening two contests before being shut out in Sunday's series finale.

Game 1

Notre Dame 6, Duke 4, 13 innings

The win was nice, and it cannot be stated enough the value of Niko Kavadas at the dish for the Irish.

But most important? It's Notre Dame's ability to keep clawing, keep scratching and – in this case, win – to continue setting the foundation of Jarrett's program.

The Irish led early, fell behind for several innings, got Kavadas' sixth dinger of the year to tie things up and then walked off the Blue Devils on an improbable homer via Ryan Cole.

It's a win far more valuable than just a Friday night home-opener.

“It's ultimately what you want to see out of the group of guys,” Jarrett said. “You want to see, obviously, a competitive mindset. We have to do a better job offensively. I'm not extremely proud of the offensive consistency right now, but the competitive toughness, the defensive execution, Brooks Coetzee's play when he backhands the play and throws, the quality of managing the defensive plays today was very, very good. Some of it probably looks easier than it is to all of us, but I'm really proud about that. I want that to be a signature in our program.

“The whole day was exciting. Most exciting.”

Coetzee charged into the gap in between center and right field, came up firing and easily gunned down the Blue Devils base runner at second. It was a key moment in a game full of micro-moments – the kind of affair that has a dozen instants that make the final picture.

Kavadas then worked a brilliant at-bat, staying alive before hammering a double into the right-field corner.

The rest? Well, that's history. The first-ever Notre Dame coach to make his home debut in a league game with a walk-off, extra-inning win.

Game 2

No. 15 ND 6, Duke 2

A single run in the fourth and five in the sixth secured the Irish's fourth-straight ACC series win of the 2021 campaign and fifth overall in league play.

John Michael Bertrand continued his work as the Irish's newly discovered ace; he went the distance, allowed just five hits and fanned six in a rare complete-game effort. Bertrand used 111 pitches as he stymied the Duke offense.

Kavadas blasted his second homer of the weekend, his seventh overall, and Cole made it consecutive days with yard-call shots after he had yet to homer in his Irish career.

Remarkable stat: Through the first 22 innings of this series, Notre Dame pitchers kept the Devils at bay in 20 frames.

Game 3

Duke 2, No. 15 ND 0

Despite the loss, Notre Dame's bullpen continues to rise to the occasion.

Aidan Tyrell wasn't bad in his start – he allowed the two earned runs in three innings – but Alex Rao and Tanner Kohlhepp continued their strong relief work to keep the Irish in contention.

Unfortunately for the hosts, Notre Dame managed just one hit – Cole's safety – in the quiet afternoon.

UP NEXT

The Irish get a chance for their first non-conference game Tuesday, when they host nearby foe Valporaiso in a midweek affair before entertaining national power Louisville, ranked No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, in a three-game set next weekend.

 
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