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Notre Dame Baseball

Link Jarrett Notebook | Game Three Super Regional Loss

June 14, 2021
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Notre Dame baseball coach Link Jarrett spoke following the 11-7 loss to Mississippi State in the Starkville Super Regional.

On the loss:
"You learn a lot from this environment. You also learn beneficial to be at home for this event. I thought we had a chance to do that. We probably ended up in the most passionate fanbase baseball program in the country. There's a few that are in this conversation, but we learned a lot. 

"I felt our team learned how to win and play as a team. We were not good enough today. We couldn't get out of our own way on the mound early in the game.....

"I thought we battled throughout the entire game. That's a good baseball team. They're athletic and they have arms one after another that are very good. They're well-coached. They were better tonight." 


On pitching:
"There were some guys that went out there today on the mound that felt this stage for the first time. We had minimal experience on the pitching staff. Those guys got their feet wet and it didn't go the way we had planned." 


On pitcher John Michael Bertrand:
"(John Michael) Bertrand probably pitched better today than when he started on Saturday. We did not know how that was going to go for him. He hadn't done that before. I didn't want to put anyone in a position of not feeling comfortable with that type of assignment or even request to see if he was available. 

"He thought he could give us an inning - maybe two. Once he got into it, he felt really good." 


On coming so close to Omaha:
"It really stings. We knew this was a very tough draw. They're an elite team. It's just unfortunate that you feel like you have a team that's capable and belongs in Omaha - and you run into this group in their stadium and I tip my hat to their team and crowd. 

"I do feel like our guys learned a lot. I felt they competed and battled. There were moments in it where we really played our style of baseball. There were other moments we didn't pitch or defend at the level we did this year. This is not a forgiving stadium. It's a tough pill to swallow to know you were nine innings away. The second inning was just too much to overcome with the arms they have." 


On the entire season:
"I guess we've played 60 games with me here, so we really have one season under our belt. Watching them learn and adapt to what we're trying to do has been remarkable. As a head coach or assistant coach and I've never had a group adapt to a system the way these guys did. 

"They're intelligent kids and in tune with what they're doing. They work. I just can't say enough about the progress these individuals made. When individuals make those strides and commitments, you can see the team play at a very high level. I think we saw that throughout the entire season. 

"I don't think in those 60 games we lost two in a row. This one is all it takes in this setting. They were better today." 


On 2022 team:
"We'll probably lose (Tanner) Kohlhepp in the draft. We'll lose (Niko) Kavadas. Then you have some of the seniors that have to No. 1 get into grad school to have a chance, but we don't lose much. We just don't lose much.

"Now, Kavadas is a huge part of your team. Kohlhepp was very effective. You would hope some of the recruiting we've been able to do - this group coming in, the majority of them are our recruits, not all. We picked up a transfer last week on the mound that will help us. 

"We have to get better on the mound. In this setting, the ability to strike people out, we went 22 batters before we struck one out tonight. That's very difficult. We have the capability to do it and got in position to strike some people out and didn't make pitches to put people away. We have to learn and get a little bit better in some of those facets on the mound and hopefully, we just continue to mature offensively and learn our positions defensively. 

"No one in the infield has ever played these positions until now. We're still learning, but it looks very bright if you want to look at next year right now." 


On why he feels they didn't get to host a regional:
"It's tricky to win these on the road. We have a very good team - a National Championship caliber team. I felt we were in that conversation. When you win the conference by five games outright - I was frustrated you weren't a national seed. As a coach, I asked what more could a team do when you have to play that many conference games and you're the only team that separated itself from the field. Our league was very good. 

"It's designed for you to have an easier path when you're at home—no doubt about it. The field, the fans, the dimensions you're accustomed to is the advantage. When you have the largest crowd in the history of a three-game college series here, you know that factors in. I don't think it overwhelmed our team by any stretch, but it does give the home team that little bit of edge of energy and the timing of the energy helps. 

"I don't know why we weren't. I'll find out. I don't know.”


On if facilities were why Notre Dame didn't get to host:
"I don't know. Our facility doesn't accommodate this number of fans. I don't know if that's a factor when they go down the list. I don't know. I need to find out. I'll do my best.”


On moving forward:
"Learning how to play in these games - the experience is irreplaceable. We can talk about this. We can pretend that we've been in these settings as a team, but we had not. These guys haven't played a postseason game. Joe Sheridan and Alex Brait that were transfers that might have played in a postseason game. 

"The essence of each pitch being so critical and the margin of error being slim - and the winner take all game, but until you get in one and experience in this setting, it's unique. You can now file this away as a team experience and the individuals can reflect on what this felt like. 

"You see a team dogpile on the mound and you want to experience that yourself. You know the chinks that we endured throughout these games in game one and game three that kept us from having the dogpile. You'll never forget the mistakes and you'll never forget the big positive moments you had. You lump all that together and there's no way to substitute for that experience. It's very valuable and it will help." 


On who will return for an extra year given for COVID or graduate year:
"I'm not prepared to get into those conversations right now. We have discussed it." 


On 1B Niko Kavadas: 
"Niko Kavadas is an intense, very productive, first-class player. First-class person. Team captain. Delivered for us and helped our team evolve into a championship team. These guys were a championship team. It doesn't feel like it right now, but they won two championships and that's not easy to do. 

"He was right there in the middle of it. Watching him mature as a hitter, learn how to play first base and when he gets going, he can carry any team at any level. He's remarkable. Very talented and he's not played his last game by any stretch. He'll be just as good with the wood bat.

"I can't say enough about him and him helping guide us through the transition, which as a coach is always difficult. Guys bought in and he was a big part of that."  


On the senior class:
"Leadership starts by on-field performance and work. Those guys put in the work in all areas. Don't think the effort in the classroom goes unnoticed at Notre Dame when you have a 3.2 GPA as a team. 

"Remarkable guys. You need your older players to set the tone and lead. You get in this moment and you see them do that. That's what good older players do. They did it defensively, offensively. It's a great group.

"If you don't have the older players buy-in, trying to turn something around, you're set back years. There's no doubt those guys led the way in our transition of redoing every facet of the program. They were the leaders of that charge and it paid off." 


On the 2nd inning:
"I don't know. (Will) Mercer - the first couple pitches weren't even close to what his normal velocity is. I thought the scoreboard was spot on the whole time. I was concerned after three pitches. He started to settle down, but it just wasn't in the cards. 

"We thought (Alex) Rao having been out there in that the night before and having pitched OK - and he's a lot different than Mercer. We thought it might be a good matchup. His changeup when it's working has gotten him some punchouts. Didn't today. Liam (Simon) had no feel for the zone whatsoever.

"Knowing what I know now about how Bertrand actually felt once we tried to get him going - that would have been a move that probably you inject him in there in the middle of that. We thought we only had an inning with him. 

"Joe (Sheridan) was OK, but the ball was up. We weren't effective with the first four guys that ran out there. They'll make you pay. They're physical, balanced, athletic and when you're up in the zone in the middle of the plate, they're going to throttle it. And they did. They laid off some tough pitches and drew some walks. The wheels started to roll. 

"Really tough second inning. Tough to absorb and strategize through. Tough to shake off and process. Those three guys are going to learn. They had never experienced this and unfortunately, the experience right now was bad. That's part of the deal. We have to grow up a little bit and be better.”

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Link Jarrett Notebook | Game Three Super Regional Loss

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