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Notre Dame Baseball

The Sweep Life: No. 9 ND brooms UNC in key ACC series

May 2, 2021
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It has been almost 21 months – 660 days from hiring to Sunday, to be precise – since Link Jarrett grabbed the mantle of Notre Dame baseball.

More than 21 months, a global pandemic and countless other obstacles later, Jarrett owns his first home sweep – against the very first Atlantic Coast Conference foe he both faced and swept as Fighting Irish skipper a year ago.

No. 9 Notre Dame battered visiting North Carolina Sunday and in the process completed a three-game sweep at home of an ACC foe for the first time since April 7-9 2017, when it ushered out the brooms against visiting Georgia Tech.

The Fighting Irish outscored the Tar Heels 36-17 in the three-game set; they never were threatened after the opening frames in two of the three contests and led by a huge margin in the middle set before UNC (20-21, 14-16 ACC)

More impressive, the Fighting Irish now are 9-0-1 in ACC series this season and extended their series unblemished streak under Jarrett to 12-0-1 since 2020.

They're in sole possession of first place in the ACC at 21-8 in league play, 24-8 overall.

“I think No. 1, it's pretty resilient,” Jarrett said of his team's weekend approach at Eck Stadium. “They keep pounding the zone and I know we did a good job of that today. And then our defense. Making plays all over the place. That helps. And again, the conditions the last couple days, you have to be tough enough to handle it. And you have to be realistic enough to know there's going to be some things that happen where some balls get over the outfielders' heads or over the fence or fall in because the outfielders are having to play so deep because the wind is blowing out.

 

“I just like the focus of the guys, pitch by pitch and defensive awareness on the field.”

GAME 1, NO. 9 ND 4-0

Will Mercer and Tanner Kohlhepp combined to twirl a six-hit shutout as Notre Dame established a dominant tone to start the weekend.

Mercer started and worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits and walking four.

With Mercer at 77 pitches and not through the fifth, Jarrett went to Kohlhepp.

He responded with a ruthlessly efficient final four-plus innings. Kohlhepp needed just 44 pitches to record the game's final 13 outs and improved to 6-1 in the process.

At the plate, Jack Brannigan's fourth home run of the year started the scoring for the Irish in the fourth inning. Kyle Hess' RBI-single that scored Brooks Coetzee that inning doubled the lead, and Notre Dame put the game away with a two unearned runs in the eighth.

Brannigan and Carter Putz each scored after a Tar Heels dropped popup and throwing error.

 

GAME 2, NO. 9 ND 13-12

Through six innings, anyway, it was another dominant pitching performance from the Irish coupled with a lineup that mauled UNC's hurlers early.

John Michael Bertrand worked six innings of two-run ball before the Heels began to mount a rally in the seventh. Bertrand worked 6 2/3 innings and though he gave up 11 hits and five runs, only two runs were earned.

Bertrand improved to 5-1 with the outing while Aidan Tyrell nabbed his second save with a one-run ninth inning.

UNC continued to chip away at what was a 12-2 deficit through six frames; the Heels getting as close as 13-12 in the ninth after scoring 10 runs in their final three trips to the plate.

Brannigan roped a pair of doubles while Putz and Jared Miller had one apiece as part of the Irish's 15-hit attack. Notre Dame also swiped four bases in pressuring the UNC defense and keeping the Heels off-balance.

Ryan Cole was 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs; he closed the game with a robust .352 batting average.

Brannigan and Coetzee combined for six hits and scored four runs.

 

GAME 3, NO. 9 ND 19-5

The Tar Heels had the audacity to briefly tie things at 5-all, after their hosts had erupted for a five-spot in the bottom of the first inning.

No matter. This unrelenting ND squad went immediately back to work. The Irish scored eight runs in its third, fourth- and fifth-inning at-bats; they raced across six more runs in the bottom of the eighth to chase the Heels completely out of town.

Notre Dame got seven innings of scoreless relief, with Kohlhepp inching his ledger to 7-1 on the year with his two innings of scoreless work.

Tyrell also twirled four innings of two-hit, shut-out ball that featured six strikeouts.

Catcher David LaManna erupted with a 4-for-5, four-run, three-RBI day at the dish; Miller and Coetzee combined for three hits, three runs and three RBIs alongside each other in the lineup. Myers had two hits, two runs and reached base four times.

Coetzee, LaManna and Putz all blasted home runs in the 14-run victory.

“They're baseball players, and they have a lot of different ways they can help your team,” Jarrett said of the Coetzee-Miller tandem. “Talented at the plate, good defensively and both of them are very good baserunners. There's a lot of ways that they have helped us.

“Coetzee, we talked the other day, there was a weekend where I didn't' start him a couple games. It bothered him. He said, 'Coach, I'm going to figure it out.' I said, 'You're going to be back in there.' … The mentality sometimes is where you need to line it up. He's hit balls to all fields. He's a good player, a good baseball player. Miller is one of the smartest baseball players that I have coached.”

Now, Notre Dame prepares for its final home series of the season when it hosts Florida State next weekend at Eck Stadium. Game times Friday through Sunday are 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and noon, respectively.

The Seminoles are 23-16 overall, 15-11 in ACC play. They took two of three this weekend in non-ACC action against Troy.

 

 
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