Story Poster
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Baseball

Notre Dame set for 2022 home debut as nation's No. 1 team

March 14, 2022
2,542

Here’s the thing: Link Jarrett’s Notre Dame baseball team just doesn’t lose season-opening series in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

The Fighting Irish’s weekend-sweep of then-No. 25 North Carolina State vaulted them to 7-1 in conference-opening-competition in Jarrett’s three seasons at the helm, with the 2020 squad sweeping a trio of games at nationally ranked North Carolina and last year’s eventual ACC champion unit taking two out of three at then-No. 16 Wake Forest.

On Monday, it resulted in the Irish climbing to No. 1 in the well-regarded Baseball America poll, the program’s highest ranking in more than decades.

It also set the stage for Notre Dame on Tuesday to play its first home game of the 2022 season – and do so as the nation’s top team when nearby Valparaiso (5-6) comes to South Bend.

Notre Dame officials announced last fall that a new free-admission policy to a variety of sports programs for regular-season events had been enacted, and that policy was crafted to include Irish baseball.

First pitch at Frank Eck Stadium is 4 p.m., and the Beacons are sending out right-hander Zach Fricke as the starter. He’s been tagged with six earned runs in three innings across two appearances this season; it’s a second start against the Irish for Fricke, after allowing two runs in four innings in the two teams’ March 23, 2021 meeting.

IRISH OFFENSE EVOLVING

Notre Dame’s offense is still finding its optimal formula, and Jarrett is still exploring different lineup combinations.

But some consistent elements of the offensive attack are starting to further emerge through the team’s 11-1 start.

Carter Putz increasingly is coming up with decisive and timely at-bats for the Irish, amassing another four hits in the two-game sweep of the Pack and lifting his team-leading average to .372.

Catcher David LaManna continues to impress at the plate, with a .360 average through nine appearances, eight of them starts.

Freshman TJ Williams is finding his groove, with two big hits, two runs and a .353 average exiting the weekend. Brooks Coetzee III continues also to deliver in the clutch; his four homers and 12 RBIs both lead the team.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTY

Additionally, it’s never too early to start considering Jack Brannigan might be the best two-way player in college baseball. In spurring the Irish’s dramatic, 12-inning, come-from-behind win in the opener against NC State, Brannigan battered Pack pitching for three hits while scoring a run, driving in a run and also eliciting a walk.

On the bump, all Brannigan did was earn the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief in which he fanned four batters.

For the season, Brannigan has 12 hits – six of them for extra bases – to go along with 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored. He’s three-for-three on stolen bases.

As a relief pitcher, Brannigan – with Jarrett previously telling ISD that Brannigan is running up around triple digits on the radar gun – has eight strikeouts in fewer than four innings of work and has not allowed a run. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a hit and has walked just two batters – a target area of focus since last season.

Also, Notre Dame’s bullpen is really good. After an uncharacteristically shaky start Friday from Aidan Tyrell, the Irish pen combined to toss eight innings of three-hit, no-run, 11-strikeout ball.

The top nine arms in the ND pen are yet to allow an earned run in 35 combined innings. The group of hurlers, headlined by workhorse Ryan McLinskey, has 54 strikeouts and four unearned runs.

 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.