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Notre Dame Baseball

Link Jarrett Notebook | 5.10

May 10, 2021

Notre Dame baseball coach Link Jarrett spoke on Monday following the Irish losing its first series during his tenure in the blue and gold. 

On the team's reaction to losing a series:
"They were miserable. That series was Super Regional No. 11. 11 times you're going up against a team that is a College World Series caliber team. Every one of these series is different and challenging. The fascinating part of it is when you settle in on Friday, the stakes of every pitch starting at 6:00 pm on Friday could have the balance of the series on it. And it did. 

"Messick is tough and that's why he has a two-ERA. He was a self-contained relief pitcher in the confines of his start. We had a chance in the first inning to bust that thing open and I think we scored one run in the first inning. The third inning, we re-loaded again and I don't think we scored. 

"The way that game played out, you're chance to win that series presented itself early and Messick was able to make some really good pitches and that's why he's throwing Friday night for a team that's very good. We didn't adapt well to how he was throwing - a lot of good secondary pitches. Probably more than we had seen this year. 

"You go back to that and that's where I think the frustration started. They beat us that day. The ball from (Tanner) Kohlhepp - there was no shot of if it was fair or foul, but it was a ball that was hit well in the 9th." 

On game two: 
"I was proud of the way regrouped. When you go into the doubleheader day, for our team, that's not ideal because the strength of our team is in the bullpen. When you condense it into 18 innings in one day - their team is built different. They had three established starters and they mix and match with their bullpen guys. We probably have to extend our bullpen pieces than they do. 

"Thank goodness (John Michael) Bertrand did his thing. A phenomenal performance. I think what Messick did on Friday and what Bertrand did was really, really impressive. I can't say enough about the way he handles himself—just an upbeat, positive influence on our team. In one year, he's made a big impact on the field and the way he carries himself. 

"(Jack) Brannigan's home run off their sidearm reliever was huge. It was a tough pitch. That ball was almost off the plate away and he drove it out and then actually closed the game. That was fun to see Brannigan come in and close it. We haven't gotten him the ball as much as we probably have needed to, but he was big there."

On game three:
"Grady for them - he really pitched well. All three of their starting pitchers were very unique in their own regard.  We made some mistakes on the mound. 

"After the game, the frustration was immense. It's not comfortable losing and that's a good thing. I'm not comfortable with it. I was disgusted on Saturday night. It's a long, difficult day. I wanted this to be three separate days and when we had to go to the doubleheader, it's a tricky day for everybody, but knowing how our team is constructed, it was tough. It was the right thing to do to get the games in, but it was tough. 

"At the end of it all, you're really upset and you feel you had some moments to win the series. They kind of out-pitched you and we couldn't really mount enough in game three." 

On dealing with a 9-day layoff and exams before Virginia Tech:
"I've never been through this at Notre Dame. I know exams anywhere are tough. Most schools have been done with school or are in the process of being done. Our academics at Notre Dame are extremely difficult and for that to run all the way basically until the moment you get on the plane to go play the last series of the year - it's challenging. 

"We're trying to figure out a way to almost have some sort of light workout and then maybe a day off where they can study. There are exams Saturday night at 7:30 pm. It's hard to find little windows where they can get out here and practice. 

"I think the guys are looking forward to a little breather because it's been challenging - the classes, the way we've had to do the COVID stuff since January 15th. I think maybe a little rest - get some of the arms refreshed a little bit. I think it'll be a good thing. 

"We have to stay sharp and you never know how you're going to come out of it not seeing live game pitching. I think it's well worth it at this point." 

On the ACC Tournament: 
"I haven't coached in this type of format before, but your games are set. The schedule is set so you know exactly when you play. You have two set games and then the winners of each pod advance to a semifinal and then two teams come out of that and go to the championship game. 

"The reason people in the ACC have liked this format is because - for example in the SEC and in the SOCON - the pitching and when you're playing and who you're playing - I think we played 6-7 games in some of these tournaments. The ACC wanted to have a little bit more of a structured setting that also lines you up for the next weekend without burning yourself down. 

"I don't know that we can change a  lot of what we do. We have to go into it whether we decide to throw Mercer and let Kohlhepp and navigate it that way and get to Bertrand - I haven't dug that deep into it. I don't think we can change drastically what we've done. You have to win four games to win it." 

On 3B Jack Brannigan coming in to close for the first time since Louisville:
"We've had him on the verge of it, but we haven't gotten him in there. We dump him in there with the game on the line. We're not running him out there when you're up 12. 

"The other day, there was a game we were up a lot and we talked about giving him an inning, but we decided against it. He threw a really good bullpen on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. Probably his best bullpen. 

"Now, these aren't lengthy sessions. He's touching and feeling. The secondary stuff is what he needs to work on the most down there. He's very confident. 

"A scout called me one day and said the most impressive thing he saw the entire fall was the third baseman that came in and was throwing 96-100mph. I said it was the most impressive thing you'll see. 

"It's a matter of how we use him to help us. It hasn't been spot on. In all of the outings we've seen in our scrimmages and whatnot, it hasn't been always like on the screws, but he gets in that game and he smells it. I think our team feels it and he attacks. The stuff is good enough where he can beat up the bats a little bit." 

On Brannigan's positional versatility: 
"Brannigan will do anything he can to help win. The guy has stolen home twice. The play at third base goes a little bit underappreciated because he makes it look easy and it's not easy. That position is one of the harder ones in college, probably because most players that come to college were shortstops and end up moving to third base. 

"It's not like guys in the major leagues who have been playing third base for eight years. These are players that play shortstop and usually move to another spot. He makes it look easy. 

"To see what he's doing at the plate against essentially only ACC arms - what did he have last year? 50 at-bats?  

"We're like in the freshman year for this guy still. To do what he's doing without a lot of experience defensively and at the plate, it's impressive. It's really impressive and on the mound, we're just going to have to keep finding him little moments where he can help us. He's answered that phone as well." 

On LHP John Michael Bertrand's leadership:
"It's huge. He is just a remarkable kid. His head coach at Furman was in league with me and he said, this is the most special guy I've ever coached and you'll see it. I trust (Brett) Harker. I've known him for a long time. 

"It has exceeded even what in my wildest dreams would be an A+ teammate. It's beyond that. Just a remarkable kid. He's going to come back for another year. He got his master's, but he didn't play his first year at Furman, so he has another year. Thank goodness. 

"He's just such a dynamic personality, worker and leader - so fortunate to have him." 

On the process of submitting a bid to host a regional:
"I don't know the ins and outs of the attendance. I don't know what goes into this. I've hosted regionals as a coach at Auburn,  East Carolina and Florida State. I've been in numerous others and to be frank, I know on the field what can help you. I don't think you can ask our guys to have done any more than they've done to position themselves to host a regional. You can't. It's hard to do. 

"I don't know what metrics they're using. I hope we can check the boxes for the NCAA in terms of what they need in attendance criteria to host. I know we've submitted it with the idea we can adjust this based on the county or state or whoever gives us the guidelines on what we can do. 

"I'm so proud of our guys for being in this conversation. If we had this discussion in January - I may have thought it, but I don't know if the bulk of people thought we would be in this situation. It's simply a tribute to the consistency and toughness of our players. That's it. They've done their bit. Where the chips fall, I can't answer that in terms of how the NCAA goes down their list of what it takes to be awarded that. We just have to keep playing as well as we can and it's really out of our hands after that." 

On bunting game:
"We work really hard on different dimensions of our offense. You have to find ways you can create situations that allow you to score. 

"After game one, we weren't in a position with some of the guys at the plate to use our short game. In game two, we were and you saw it. We tried the squeeze. It's a very unique thing. We've talked about it and worked on it. It's a fun play.

"The pitcher was in the windup, which we knew. Our runner at third left a little bit too early and that alerted the pitcher and he threw the ball up a little bit. (Ryan) Cole knows. Cole said he could've gotten the bat on it. It was up a little bit and he didn't bunt at it. It created a log jam where our runner at second should have simply stayed at third. You have a run down and you have two outs with Cole up. 

"(Zach) Prajzner bunted one right back to the pitcher. That's not acceptable. It was kind of a sacrifice bunt. We're not a finished product. Some of the things we're doing, it might be still the first time some of these guys have experienced it in a Notre Dame uniform in a game against an outside team. There's a lot we learned from some of the short game stuff, positive and negative when you just look at this weekend. 

"It's helped us this year, but overall, I can't grade it out any better than a C with how we've handled the bunting game. You can marvel at it when it's done properly against the right personnel, it can open things up. We just haven't quite gotten to the point where we've mastered it in-game yet." 

On playing Valpo on Tuesday: 
"They're scrappy. You've got to go execute when you play anybody. These teams are good. Everybody we've played - Central Michigan is good. Valpo is good. The teams in the ACC are obviously very good. 

"When you go into a long break, you want to go into it feeling good about it. When you can tally one more in the win column, it always feels nice. 

"It may be neat to go on the road and jump on the bus to have an afternoon of going somewhere new and playing. I'm looking forward to it. They're good guys and a good program. I've never been there, so I'm excited. 

"When you go into that layoff, to feel good about how you played and shut it down for a little while on a position would be very nice." 

On break allowing team to still be angry for the final ACC series:
"Yes. I try to focus on win, lose or draw - there's going to be things you can pull out of every competition you have. It might be something we did. It might be something the other team did that presents a teaching moment and something you can bear down on the time you're together. 

"We'll be ready. They're still mad. They're going to be mad today. They're going to be mad tomorrow. They're going to be hungry and ready. 

"We might be able to go down there and have a chance to win an ACC title with that series. I haven't looked at the standings. We have to be in pretty good shape and in contention for this thing. You don't get these opportunities very often. They're going to be excited and mad because you had a chance to run the table and maybe you could have won every conference series on your schedule. 

"We didn't. I hope the anger carries over as long as you're better when you're a little upset." 

On watching the ACC standings this weekend while not playing:
"I haven't looked at it. If you clinch it, I'm going to know if we get to the point where we won it or have to do something. I'm not there right now. I want to try to fix what I know we didn't have an answer for this past weekend. 

"I've been in that situation before where you've won it and you start to line your pitching up a little bit done the road or if someone needs a break. 

"I can't even go there right now. There's just so much ahead of us that's unknown and that's as far as I'm going with it. I saw some things we didn't do offensively and I've got it all on paper and want to do it at practice. I just want to leave here feeling better today than I did on Saturday night." 

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Link Jarrett Notebook | 5.10

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