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Notre Dame Baseball

'Pissed off' Notre Dame leashes Bulldogs; 1 win from World Series

June 13, 2021
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Link Jarrett wanted to use a slightly different term.

Starting pitcher Aidan Tyrell already had.

And Notre Dame – angry, mad, “pissed off” – Notre Dame was all the better for it Sunday evening in a win-or-go-home Game 2 at the Starkville Super Regional.

Tyrell worked into the eighth inning, allowing just one earned run and striking out six, while Jack Brannigan and David LaManna both homered as the No. 10-seeded Fighting Irish routed host Mississippi State, 9-1, at Dudy Noble Field.

Notre Dame (34-12) now has played 59 games under Link Jarrett; it still has not lost back-to-back contests.

“It was talked about a little bit; I mean, we were definitely pretty pissed off (Saturday) after we lost,” said Tyrell, a lithe, 6-foot, 165-pound southpaw. “We felt like we had them and kind of let them off the hook, so it was really no different.

“Today, were just trying to win one game at a time. That's what we've been trying to do all year. So the mentality wasn't too much different, but we were definitely a little mad after yesterday's game, for sure.”

Added Jarrett, “You can learn from the mistakes, and you can be mad. Come out and be mad. Everybody's mad. I was mad. It was a miserable day. We had a chance to win the game (Saturday). Be mad. Come play mad and angry and you're not going to shake that off. Learn from it, process it and let that frustration try to focus you, because it was going to be another dogfight, which it was. I know we separated a little bit, but 8-1 or 9-1 does not feel safe against this team.”

The Fighting Irish will face the Bulldogs Monday night (7, ESPN2/ESPNU) for the program's first College World Series berth since 2002 and what would be just its third all-time.

Seeded seventh and having never lost an NCAA Tournament home game under coach Chris Lemonis, the Bulldogs (44-16) opened the contest with a lead-off triple from Rowdey Jordan, who scored on a sacrifice fly.

The hosts never scored again – and rarely ever threatened in a contest where Tyrell kept the Bulldogs' sluggers consistently off-balance and Notre Dame's stalwart defense returned to form after a four-error day in the 9-8, Game 1 loss.

“We felt like we let them off the hook, just like Aiden said,” LaManna said. “We were coming in to today pretty confident. We thought we were the better team, and we thought we could pull out a victory.”

Jared Miller leaped to snare a line-drive that could have brought life to the Bulldogs midway through the game, and Tyrell got enough of his glove on a blasted ball up the middle to help the Irish get an out.

Notre Dame's offense responded in the first frame with a pair of runs on an infield and scored in four of the team's eight trips to the plate.

It was Brooks Coetzee's infield-single between pitcher and first base that brought a charging Ryan Cole and Miller in to score for a lead the Irish would never relinquish.

With the fifth home run of his senior season and just the sixth of his career, LaManna provided separation with his no-doubt dinger in the bottom of the fourth to cap the four-run frame.

The 5-10, 176-pounder from New Jersey prep power Bergen Catholic punctuated the home run with an emphatic bat-toss.

“Once I hit it, and saw that it was up in the air, I knew I got it pretty well,” LaManna said. “So, I knew it was out of there. But my teammates were excited about it.

“It was just an exciting moment, a great atmosphere. Lot of fun.”

Brannigan's similarly crushed two-run blast to left further created distance from the Bulldogs in the sixth and Carter Putz had an RBI-groundout to score Ryan Cole in the seventh.

Like the players, Jarrett also wasn't particularly surprised with the Irish response.

“I don't know when you dig that deep into it; I don't know if it's the taste of seeing things go well and as soon as something's not right, it's frustrating,” Jarrett said of his team's composure and ability to play with an angry disposition. “I guess if I had to bet a hundred dollars on it, that's what it would be on. I just think they like to see success and the game played the right way. I think part of the reason that our defense has been the way it was today is that they value and grind through to not let balls through the infield. And not let fly balls land and line drives.

“It's just the way they are. They've tasted success, and unsuccessful looking baseball makes them upset. And they seem to harness that and move forward and apply some of that focus to the task they have.”

Jarrett's immediate focus understandably waned ever-so-slightly in the late innings, when the video board at the Bulldogs' home flashed a score update between No. 1-seeded Arkansas and North Carolina State for the 13,971 in attendance.

It then showed a 2-all ballgame; the Wolfpack rallied to win, 3-2, and punched their ticket to the College World Series – ensuring Jarrett's son, N.C. State junior infielder J.T. Jarrett, would make at least one family representative in next week's CWS.

“I can't tell you. My wife's up there in the top row, section 209, crying,” Jarrett said. “He was on second base at one point and they flashed the game on the scoreboard, and I think it was a 2-2 game. That's the first time in my career I actually looked at the scoreboard to see what was happening [during his own game].

“We were up 8-1, that's a moment … to think that you're playing and coaching a game of this magnitude and your son was involved in the winner-take-all game. You cannot draw this up, it's fairytale-like stuff. (Jarrett's wife, Jennifer) said, 'I'm coming to your game, because if they win, I'm going to Omaha and if they lose, I don't want to be there anyway.' She was here. That was her decision.

“All the days of baseball and helping J.T. in the offseasons and he's in a great program. Those guys at N.C. State really coach the kids well and hard and develop the complete game. I'm proud of their program. To think that I sat here in this stadium, with that many people kind of fighting and what was going through my mind, it was unlike anything I ever imagined could be on my mind in one of these games. I'm very proud of J.T. and I'm very proud of (the Wolfpack coaches).”

The Bulldogs used three pitchers in the game, and starter Christian MacLeod lasted just five innings as he was handed the loss. He allowed seven runs, six earned, but did strike out seven Irish batters.

Neither coach fully committed to a starting pitcher for Monday's Super Regional finale, but Jarrett said he expected to open the game with Will Mercer.

Mercer has made 10 starts in 17 appearances with a 4.52 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 55.2 innings.

 
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