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Notre Dame Baseball

Notre Dame in ACC command; Jarrett worries capacity for NCAAs

May 10, 2021
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A midweek game against a regional foe for a third time this season, nine days off and then very likely Notre Dame's baseball team will spend its final weekend of the 2021 regular season vying for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Pretty heady stuff for a program in its first full season under coach Link Jarrett, already experiencing unprecedented success in the rugged ACC and also entering this stretch, well, ticked off.

That's the result of losing a weekend series – this one to Florida State inside Eck Stadium – for the first time ever under Jarrett and the first time for the program since May 2019.

"They're still mad,” Jarrett said after Notre Dame dropped Games 1 and 3 against the 'Noles while getting a super effort from John Michael Bertrand in its Game 2 win. “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 (to Virginia Tech May 20-22) 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."

Notre Dame visits Valpo Tuesday at 5 p.m.

At 25-10 overall and 22-10 in league play, the Fighting Irish dipped three spots this week to No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. They're six games up in the win column on Louisville in the Atlantic Division standings and have an overall three-game lead against Georgia Tech, swept earlier by the Irish, for the overall best ACC league record.

Louisville has six ACC games remaining on its schedule; three this weekend at North Carolina and their final home series the following week against Miami.

Georgia Tech, which last weekend swept Clemson, has three games left at Miami and closes its season at home against North Carolina.

REGIONAL LIMBO

Jarrett said last month that Notre Dame had gone through the process of submitting a bid to be in consideration to at least host an NCAA Regional opening weekend series when the Road to Omaha gets underway.

On Monday, however, Jarrett said he's unsure if the Irish will receive full consideration – and not because of anything his team has yet to prove on the diamond.

“I've been in numerous (prior Regionals) and to be frank, I know on the field what can help you,” he said. “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.”

Jarrett said he didn't particularly voice aloud his belief the Irish could be a regional host back at the first of the year, but he said the goal was something on his mind.

"I'm so proud of our guys for being in this conversation,” Jarrett said. “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."

It's worth noting: No other team in the ACC, as well as no teams in the Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC have 20 or more league wins this season. In the Big Ten, Indiana, Nebraska and Michigan join Notre Dame as the only Power-5 programs with 22 or more conference wins.

Also worth noting: the Big Ten is playing an entirely conference-only schedule.

ACE RETURNING

Bertrand might have twirled his best game of the year in Saturday's win against FSU. The Furman transfer worked seven innings of scoreless baseball, scattering five hits, walking one and fanning nine Noles.

Jarrett revealed Bertrand, MLB Draft eligible, is returning for the 2022 season with Notre Dame.

"It has exceeded even what in my wildest dreams would be an A-plus teammate,” Jarrett said. “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."

 
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