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Notre Dame Baseball

LHP Matt Lazzaro Goes In-Depth on Grad Transfer to Notre Dame

July 29, 2021

Notre Dame baseball has been aggressive in the Transfer Portal and it’s paid off. John Michael Bertrand and Tanner Kohlhepp are two recent examples of the Irish striking gold from the portal and Link Jarrett added another piece to the pitching rotation last week. 

LHP Matt Lazzaro announced last week he’ll head to Notre Dame to finish his career after a year at Houston. The 6-foot, 194-pounder started his career at Furman with Bertrand, but the Paladins cut the baseball program last year and both players had to find new homes. 

Notre Dame was always a school Lazzaro held in high regard as he had the Bertrand connection and one of his best friends is Irish second baseman Jared Miller, but academics made the decision even easier. 

“I wanted to put myself into an advantageous position to go to a prestigious graduate school, specifically a business school,” Lazzaro told ISD. "Notre Dame was always one of those schools I always had my eye on with Bertrand being there and Jared is one of my best buds. He's been there for four years now and he's always loved it. 

"With how the season went and how everything was going, it looked like the perfect spot." 

There was a lot to like on the surface as Lazzaro had the personal connections, academics and the Irish were fresh off a Super Regional appearance. Yet, when Lazzaro dug deeper, Notre Dame was a no-brainer. 

"I think with how successful Notre Dame is right now, it was definitely a huge part of it,” explained Lazzaro. “You can't overlook it. I've been in college baseball for four years and going through a couple different programs, I've seen a lot of stuff. I was ready to try to find a place where I felt the fit and culture was right. 

"Notre Dame really stood out to me watching them and hearing it from my buddies. People have so many great things to say about the coaching staff. I was almost looking for something I hadn't had yet in college." 

At Furman, Bertrand and Lazzaro weren’t only friends, but they also made each other better as they bounced ideas off each other and helped each other grow on the field.

Bertrand’s immediate success at Notre Dame caught Lazzaro's eye and he hopes to have a similar transition to ACC play. 

“Having played with Bertrand for 2.5 years, I saw the way he goes about things, his talents on the field, how he pitches and goes about the game,” said Lazzaro. “To see that translate so well at Notre Dame and under that staff, it really opened my eyes.

"It made me think because Bertrand and I do a lot of the same things. At Furman, we would talk about how we attack hitters and there were a lot of similarities. To see him make that transition so successfully at Notre Dame, I felt there was a reason why it worked out so well for him and made me think I could go down the same path." 

Jarrett and his staff didn’t need to make promises to Lazzaro as the Georgia native is ready to put in the work and carve out a role as he’s been a starter, reliever and closer over his collegiate career. 

"There was never a specific role laid out,” stated Lazzaro. “I know last year a lot of guys moved around to a lot of different places with what happened to (Tommy) Vail and (Tommy)Sheehan early in the season because it was the position they were in. 

"They got kind of comfortable using that strategy and moving guys around. Going into this season, I think everyone is going to have a chance to fight for a starting spot or a role. At the end of the day, they said it wouldn't be a surprise if a lot of guys were moving around like last year depending on matchups or who is hot."

In 2021, Lazzaro went 0-1 in 19.2 innings for the Cougars with 24 strikeouts and held an ERA of 3.66. 

Lazzaro’s changeup is his strength and it's worth noting he didn’t give up a home run in 2021. 

"I'm mainly a strike-thrower,” Lazzaro explained. “I have a really good changeup and that's my favorite pitch. I change speeds and I have a really good fastball command. I can move the ball in and out. 

"I'm really going to attack hitters with that changeup and get them off my fastball and then try to mow guys down like that. This past season, I added a cutter that was really successful for me and it's another pitch to get people off the fastball and changeup.”

Lazzaro also plans to work on adding one more pitch this fall. 

"This year I'm looking to add one more pitch,” said. Lazzaro. “Maybe just improve my breaking ball a little bit and be able to offer a solid four pitch mix. I'm ultra-competitive and I pound the zone. That's how I've always pitched and how I go about it. I'm looking to keep doing that at Notre Dame."

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LHP Matt Lazzaro Goes In-Depth on Grad Transfer to Notre Dame

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