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Notre Dame Baseball

Path plotted, Notre Dame set for ACC Tournament

May 25, 2021
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Link Jarrett got to pick the days and times.

Ultimately, his Notre Dame squad also effectively dictated its opposition this week in Pool A play of the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament with its tour de force through the regular season.

The Fighting Irish (29-10, 25-10), who closed the regular season ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, won the ACC title and enter the league gathering as the No. 1 seed, open their tournament run Wednesday against No. 12-seed Virginia Tech (27-23, 16-20).

Win or lose, they will face Virginia, seeded No. 8, Friday in the finale of the Irish's pool play.

All games are being hosted at Truist Park, home of the Charlotte Knights Minor League Baseball team.

With a win against the victor of Tuesday’s Virginia-Virginia Tech opening-round game, Notre Dame is guaranteed to advance to Saturday's semifinals at 1 p.m.; a semifinals victory vaults the Irish into Sunday's ACC Tournament title game.

Jarrett, newly minted ACC Coach of the Year for this unprecedented season, isn't yet ready to announce his starting pitchers this week.

“Has not been announced and we don't know,” Jarrett said Tuesday during a Zoom. “We just want to see how this game plays out today (between Virginia and Virginia Tech). We'll sort it out after we know what we have to do to advance.

“We've got (John Michael) Bertrand ready and to be honest, I would think everybody is in play (Wednesday) and looking at what we have to do to advance to Saturday's games.”

Bertrand has been the Irish ace and workhorse on the mound this season; the first-team All-ACC selection compiled a 7-1 ledger through eight starts.

The Furman transfer, whom Jarrett previously stated will exercise his option for another year at Notre Dame in 2022, also just dominated the Hokies last Thursday in the opener of Notre Dame's final series of the regular season. He allowed one earned run in a complete-game, eight-strikeout performance in which Bertrand didn't walk a batter and scattered nine hits.

“He's a very savvy guy, and I would think with him he would feel much ore knowledgeable with them after having just thrown 95 pitches against them,” Jarrett said.

If Bertrand does not start Wednesday, Jarrett said the Irish could go multiple routes and utilize something of a bullpen approach.

Jarrett also reiterated he expects the Irish to be operating at full capacity this week in the tournament, with no real lingering injury concerns.

“I think we're good,” he said. “I've watched (Jared) Miller, we played I don't know how many weekends without Miller and then trying to play with Miller batting right-handed.

“Him becoming more of the Jared Miller that you saw out of the gate, one of the best players in the country out of the gate, you're talking about a player of the year candidate the way he was playing [to start the season]. He can take some B.P. left-handed. Had a huge base hit for us that probably won us a game at Virginia Tech, bases-loaded triple.”

While Notre Dame utilized consistently strong pitching and excellent defense in a dominant season at home inside Frank Eck Stadium, Truist Park is a much more hitter-friendly environment. Louisville toppled Clemson Tuesday, 15-10, in a contest that featured 11 home runs and 29 hits between the two teams.

“It's a very tight surface. It's hard, fast, firm,” Jarrett said. “The ball is absolutely flying out of this place. It's one of the most run-producing stadiums in minor league baseball. It's going to be quicker, they play smaller. I think sometimes the warmth speeds things up and allows that ball to carry.

“This is not a big park. It would fit inside of ours.”

JARRETT PRAISES ALL-ACC IRISH

In addition to Bertrand's first-team All-ACC selection, Niko Kavadas also garnered first-team honors. Tanner Kohlhepp and Carter Putz were both selected second-team All-ACC.

Jarrett pointed to that quartet, as well as the rest of the Notre Dame roster and coaching staff, as the impetus for his third career conference coach of the year award; he was twice honored as the Southern Conference's top coach during his run at UNC-Greensboro.

“Those four guys were instrumental in what we've done. I'm very proud of them,” Jarrett said. “I thought there were some other players that might have had a chance. My award is just a reflection of the team's performance. I would like to think I had a part in doing it but without the guys doing it between the lines, they have performed consistently all year under really demanding conditions and travel and protocols in place.

“I think about the night at Boston College, had to come back from down 9; Georgia Tech, down 7. I don't really think of my award as something I did. It directly goes to the kids and the coaching staff. I just feel like it's an accumulation of a lot but nothing is more important than their performance on the field.”

HOPING TO HOST

Jarrett again said he doesn't know “all the boxes” that the NCAA selection committee is seeking to determine its regional and super-regional host teams.

It also remains unclear if potential capacity restrictions could hinder Notre Dame's bid to host; the Irish have not played a home game all year in front of the general public.

On the field, however, Jarrett is confident in his team's merit.

“I don't know other than the fact that when you have won the league, you're in the driver's seat and you get to make these decisions,” Jarrett said in regards to his approach this team at the ACC Tournament and bigger goals in play. “Our guys have earned the right to have the flexibility that we possess right now. I think our pitching does line up because of how we handled Virginia Tech. …

“They're now talking about seeding and hosting and super regional hosting. Every time you can win a game this time of year, it changes your resume.”

 
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