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Notre Dame Baseball

No. 6 Notre Dame ready for center stage at the Eck

June 3, 2021
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It rarely has happened this season for Notre Dame's baseball team.

A poor performance to leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Fighting Irish.

Yet it did last Friday – with a semifinals berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship on the line. The Irish were throttled by Virginia.

Now, No. 6 Notre Dame (30-11) begins a new postseason trek today when it hosts Central Michigan at 1 p.m. inside Eck Stadium in the South Bend Regional.

The Regional is sold-out after City of South Bend and Notre Dame officials worked together to open up the Eck for full capacity for the first time since 2019.

Reigning ACC Coach of the Year Link Jarrett expects the proper response from his team.

"You don't like to go out on the field and perform less than you're capable of,” Jarrett said. “And it sticks with you. When you're not used to that, that's when that feeling resonates even deeper.

"The guys were upset. It wasn't like we played poorly defensively. It was just a matchup that went their way. The first time around, it went our way and the last game just wasn't in the cards and they beat us.”

Jarrett said the Irish took a couple days off, readjusted to being back at home – they had closed the regular season on the road at Virginia Tech, then traveled south to Charlotte, N.C., for the ACC's postseason gathering – and got back to work on the practice field.

"We've had several practices and the guys are ready to play,” Jarrett said. “At this point in the season, you need to fine-tune, but the desire to go compete and play is what is evident right now. They're excited and ready. They're chomping at the bit.”

It helps that this Notre Dame team's historic run also is affording it an opportunity for at minimum two more games at home, where it has a 14-6 ledger this season.

The Irish are hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time in more than 15 years – or when most of their current roster was in the early stages of elementary school.

“That adrenaline and that feeling probably hasn't been in the air in this stadium in this part of the season in a long time,” Jarrett said. “They're excited to bring postseason baseball back and they've been good at practice.

"I feel like we're healthy and it's time to go compete."

JMB FOR THE GAME 1 NOD

Notre Dame staff ace John Michael Bertrand, a first-team All-ACC selection in his first season with the Irish after transferring from Furman's disbanded baseball program, is again Jarrett's opener for the weekend.

Bertrand was uncharacteristically poor last Friday against the Cavaliers. After a mere 13-pitch first inning in which he cruised, Bertrand never got out of the second inning and was saddled with the loss.

“The blessing in disguise is when you don't have a good outing; we got him out of there,” Jarret said. “It wasn't going his way and we didn't want to overdo it because he's thrown a lot of innings.

“It's a lot of high-pressure innings and we were able to get him out of there after 30-35 pitches.”

Jarrett is confident Bertrand, 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA, is in the right mindset for a bounce-back performance.

"He's rested and he needed it; he's fine,” Jarrett said. “He learned some things from that outing. He's an upbeat kid and he enjoys the work and everything that goes into being a competitive pitcher at this level.

“He embraces all of it.”

The Chippewas are opening with their own ace; right-hander Andrew Taylor (11-3, 1.21 ERA).

Taylor is second nationally in ERA; he's tied for second in wins and tied for 11th nationally with 120 strikeouts in 89.1 innings.

As for the remainder of the Irish roster? The group also is healthy and no absences from the Notre Dame core are expected.

“I feel like we're healthy,” Jarrett said, “and it's time to go compete."

 

 

 
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