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Notre Dame Baseball

Link Jarrett Notebook | 4.22

April 22, 2021

No. 12 Notre Dame will head to Boston College this weekend for another big ACC series. Link Jarrett spoke on Thursday afternoon before the Irish hit the road. 

On this weekend: 
"Headed into play another talented, experienced, good ACC team. You really don't ever come up for air. This is a good team, balanced all offense, talented, athletic, good defensively, can run. If you look at the strength of their team, it probably has been on the offensive side to this point, but (Mason) Pelio going into this was one of the best arms in the league. 

"They're going to be tough, tough top to bottom. So it'll be a good match up. No doubt. Grinder. I have not been to Boston College before. They have a really nice new facility, so we're going to go strap it on and hopefully, the weather cooperates with us."

On Notre Dame leading the country in defensive fielding percentage:
"No, it's been a focal point and I told you guys from day one, we had to get better at that. If you look back, that had been a weakness and we needed to flip that and turn it into a strength. 

"Being hard to score on is a characteristic of an elite team. We have to figure out the offensive piece. We still haven't been great. We've been better at times, but if you can contain the people you're playing and make it hard for them to score, you're in good shape. 

"Defense, the fielding percentage is one measurement. There's also things that don't show up in fielding percentage, like the three outs in the first inning the other day, when I think (Jack) Brannigan jumped and fielded the ball at third. Had to throw that to second, not a double-play ball, but got an out. 

"Aiden Tyrell runs to the foul line, picks the bunt up. Devontae Brown bunted, spins, throws him out by a step - a very difficult play. Then the catch in center field by (Spencer) Myers up against the wall with the bases loaded. 

"Those all just go down as outs, but the magnitude and the athleticism of those three plays, that's what still doesn't show up in the fielding percentage because really it's just an out, it's not an error. It's the way some of these outs have been recorded has been really effective and kind of keeps the momentum on our side. It's been good." 

On Boston College:
"Our guys know that they are players and know how good they are in (Sal) Frelick and some of their other bats are as good. The top half of the order as good as any top half of the order in the country.

"The pitching is where they haven't quite sorted it out, but you saw that was the case with NC State. Then they kind of started the lineup and their starting pitchers and you see their team become much more effective. 

"So at any moment in this thing, once people kind of get it in order and the guys feel comfortable in their roles, this thing can turn on a dime. Our players know how talented this team is. The margin of error in the league is zero. Boston College was probably picked by some publications to go to the college world series, so that's how good they are.

"Our guys know that. We'll break the scouting report down tomorrow. We don't get until about 10:30 tonight, which is obviously tricky, but they know the magnitude of every one of these games. 

"You just have to go play your style and get acclimated to the field and the surroundings and you're playing an elite opponent. You can take the records and throw them all out. It doesn't really matter like somebody is going to win and lose, so the records result, it's there, but it's not necessarily like an indicator of who's talented and who's not and who's good. It's a fine line and once people sort things out and get things rolling a little bit, anybody can get hot." 

On keeping the team focused and what they're working on during the week: 
"We just try to keep working on the things that have come up in the games that we maybe haven't done well. Then there's things that come up that may happen to the other team and you see how this moment in the game, maybe the other team did something that gave us a chance to win. 

"It makes you as a coach reflect on, have I covered that because the kids are very aware of what happened so fine-tuning and continuing to push to try to improve because you can still go around the horn. You can go on the mound guy by guy. You can definitely offensively go through things that everybody can work on. So if you just keep grinding away at that and you hope you continue to get better and you avoid any lapse, so that's what we do.

"Everybody's got individual things they need to work on and as a team, they are still team concepts that we have to get better at. This week we focused a little bit more on our bunting game because you saw we could have opened that Sunday game up. But it's just an example of it was we didn't execute some of the bunting stuff. 

"So you just keep the gas pedal down and you're not trying to beat them up with long four-hour practices, but it's crisp, short with a purpose and I think that keeps everybody on their toes." 

On LHP John Michael Bertrand:
"(Will) Mercer will go Friday. Bertrand will go Saturday. He wasn't good. It wasn't sharp. I think when he went out there and I mean, he really hadn't thrown in 12 or 13 days, not competitively. So you miss that start, the weeks roll on and he wasn't sharp, but he felt OK. 

"My biggest concern was the next day because at Pitt he threw great, but he didn't feel good the next day. That's when this got him a little bit. So he felt fine and he felt fine all week. I would hope we see a little bit more of the crispness and the command that we were accustomed to seeing. 

"I would just guess that having not been out there in a couple of weeks, that's tough on anybody. He's a very diligent worker. I would expect and hope that he's back to what we saw for the majority of those starts."

On pitching and defensive playing hand in hand:
"I guess the pitching and the defense kind of goes hand in hand. The biggest thing is throwing effective strikes and pitching with some attack mentality, but also allowing your defense to help you out a little bit. I think that's what we've seen. The pitching and defense always work in harmony and you need to be good at both to be elite and that goes to the starting pitchers and the relievers.

"Some of our relievers have been very effective and we're going to continue to use them like we've used them.  We haven't gotten a lot of length out of the starters, to be quite honest with you. Bertrand has been our only true - like hopefully, you get six, seven innings out of him, but there's no secret formula. 

"We just preach multiple pitches for strikes. We try to move the fastball around. We really try to control the running game just to throttle the other team down where that's not a weapon that they can use against us. I think we've done a pretty good job of that. A lot of that relies on the guys on the mound more than the catcher. 

"Then we just kind of manage the bullpen guys and then try to keep them fresh, but go to them when we need to. And there's been some good weapons down there with (Tanner) Kohlhepp and (Joe) Sheridan. Those guys have been difference-makers for us. Again, you go back to recruiting and some of this revolves around who you can attract and get in your program and bringing those three in has obviously helped."

On 3B Jack Brannigan improving at the plate in recent weeks:
"He's such an athletic kid. His thing sometimes is it gets a little bit lifty. We've tried to make sure that bat is in the zone, as long as we can keep it in the zone to give him a little more margin of error, but he's just, he's so athletic and he's a competitive kid.

"That's the kid that's never played third base and we asked him to go play third base and he goes over there and plays it as hard as he can and plays it pretty well. It's been the same thing at the plate. 

"I think in some sense, coming in, if you ask him pitching, might've been where the bulk of his work would come. He's still is an effective arm, but it's just the maturity. He's cleaned up his wing a little bit. 

"He's using the field better. H hit the ball over the scoreboard the other day to left field. You don't see him pull a lot of balls, but he's starting to open up that left center field and left field part of the equation, which is important because as people figure out your style and they also start to pitch you a little bit differently. It's good to see him pull some balls every once in a while. 

"He's one of our fastest guys, probably our fastest guy. He was one of the ones this week that was trying to iron out that short game because that can be a weapon every once in a while for him too. He's been in the bottom half of the lineup bulk of the year. When you get those guys in the bottom starting to roll a little bit, it just lengthens out and makes your one, two, three, four guys more potent because they're getting opportunities with runners on base and Brannigan has been a big part of that." 

On making sure the team is up to play as the stakes increase each week: 
"NC State had really good starting pitchers and the lefty out of the bullpen is throwing 96mph. So they beat us on Saturday. We did not play a good clean game and our guys knew it after the game. They were really upset. I don't think it was a lack of readiness to play. You ran into a team that top to bottom NC State offensively is as good as anybody. Period. They're tough. It was a good game. We did not play well. They beat us and Justice out of the bullpen, that's a lefty that's 94-96. You pop on the Yankees-Braves last night, you see that kind of velocity and stuff. They beat us. 

"The response on Sunday was impressive. NC State the starting pitchers, I know they're younger, but those guys know what they're doing. You're getting three pitches at any time in the count with a little velocity - a good changeup and a good breaking ball. It's not easy to always come out on top on that stuff, especially when you had a reliever like Justice on Saturday that kind of put them to bed. They're a good team. 

"I do think our guys were ready to go. All we try to do is go 1-0. We just try to go Friday and go 1-0. Win one game on Friday and that's all you can do. Don't look to Saturday's starter or who is left in the bullpen for them. We just try to approach it as one single game and then one single inning at a time. 

"We have to score in the first inning on Friday and go out there and try to stop them and manage the first inning of Friday's game. That's how you get them up. You just try to prepare them for one thing at a time and keep the hammer down a little bit. That's what we do." 

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Link Jarrett Notebook | 4.22

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