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Notre Dame Baseball

Series look-ahead: Father vs. Son, home power vs. road dominance

April 15, 2021
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The last time Notre Dame baseball achieved such lofty heights – its current players were in elementary school.

Notre Dame is ranked inside the top 10 in some college baseball polls and tied for the No. 12 spot in the peer-led USA Today Baseball Coaches Poll.

Ditto that elementary school factoid for J.T. Jarrett – the son of second-year Fighting Irish coach Link Jarrett and a key contributor in the opposite dugout this weekend for visiting North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack are receiving votes in the poll and a plenty capable foe to disrupt Notre Dame's seven-game home stand, which thus far has seen the Fighting Irish (16-6, 14-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) log a 3-1 mark through four games. Next week's schedule home tilt against Butler has been cancelled, and Notre Dame visits Boston College for its penultimate road series of the season.

PROBABLE PITCHERS

GAME 1 FRIDAY: NCSU RHP REID JOHNSTON (3-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. ND LHP Will Mercer (1-0, 6.00 ERA) 5 p.m., ACC NETWORK EXTRA

GAME 2 SATURDAY: NCSU RHP SAM HIGHFILL (2-2, 4.65 ERA) vs. TBD, 2 p.m., ACC NETWORK EXTRA

GAME 3 SUNDAY: TBD vs. TBD, 1 p.m., ACC NETWORK EXTRA

FAMILY AFFAIR

Link Jarrett wasn't asked about his son, J.T., during his Thursday Zoom with reporters, but the elder Jarrett shared the news near the conclusion of the video session.

“This is an interesting one for me, too, because my son, No. 15, he's played about 150 games for N.C. State,” Jarrett said. “You sit there sometimes, man, this guy's been on the Dean's List three years. He's been in a couple Regionals.

“So my wife (Jennifer) and I, this is a unique one for us. Great head coach; Elliott (Avent) is a great head coach. A tremendous head coach. From afar, I've learned a lot from how Elliott handles his program.”

J.T. Jarrett has started all 26 games this season for the Pack (15-11, 8-10 ACC); he's posted a .258 average with one home run, scored 17 runs and batted in 13.

“I'm proud of the kid,” Jarrett said. “Doesn't mean you don't want to beat him, but as a parent, it's a pretty neat moment for Jen and myself.”

STICKS UP

The Fighting Irish now have four everyday players with batting averages of .333 or higher in their lineup, remarkable depth for a team that entering the season wondered a bit about where its production might come from aside from slugger Niko Kavadas.

He, of course, is one of those ND batters battering the ball; Kavadas is hitting .333 with 12 homers in 72 trips to the plate. He's the team leader in runs (20), RBIs (32), total bases (65) and extra-base hits (17).

But Ryan Cole has saved his best baseball for his final season and discovered a power stroke in the process. Cole's .373 average leads the team, and he's belted four home runs as part of his team-leading 30-hit outburst.

Six Irish hurlers have recorded at least 18 strikeouts on the season; John Michael Bertrand, still battling arm soreness, is the leader with 33 Ks. Liam Simon is the most efficient with 22 strikeouts in just 16 innings.

SCOUTING THE PACK

N.C. State has five members of its pitching staff with three or more starts, including seven starts in seven appearances for Highfill. Evan Justice has been the Pack's most effective strikeout pitcher, with 28 Ks in just 22 innings, but Justice also has been tuned up to nearly a 6.8 ERA.

They also have utilized a closer by committee approach, rather than leaning on a singularly dominant arm to finish out games.

At the dish, the Pack are led by Austin Murr and his .351 batting average. He's also the team's leader in runs scored with 31; no other player has more than 25.

Elsewhere in the lineup, Luca Tresh is the team-leader in home runs with eight and also owns a .302 average. Tyler McDonough (.324) and Johnny Butler (.317) round out the Pack's top four hitters.

After losing eight of its first nine ACC games, N.C. State since then has won 7-of-9 – including sweeping then-No. 11 North Carolina on the road.

The Pack also are a surprising 8-0 on the road thus far this season.

 
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