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Notre Dame Baseball

Sunday service set table for Notre Dame baseball bounce-back win

March 29, 2022

His team still had to execute, still had to do the things he had seen it do, indoors of course, Sunday morning.

But Link Jarrett, by the time Notre Dame got to its Tuesday late-afternoon tilt against visiting Northern Illinois at Eck Stadium, seemed to suspect which Fighting Irish team would show up against the Huskies.

After all, their disappointment – and subsequent response – Sunday morning during unseasonably cold weather that forced the cancellation of two games against Virginia Tech after a bitter, late-inning collapse, had left Jarrett enlightened.

“These guys show up to play the game, and that’s what I love about them the most,” Jarrett said. “They work so hard in all phases of their career here as a student-athlete. You know you’re going to get their best efforts. It’s not flawless.

“We had to go down and practice in Loftis (the indoor facility the Irish baseball team shares with a bevy of other Notre Dame squads) all weekend. At 10 o’clock in the morning on Sunday, to watch those guys practice, the way they practiced, I told my wife (Jennifer) this was amazing how well we just did after not playing really well; the Louisville series was not good. We could have won all 3 of the games, didn’t win any. Should have won the game Friday (at home against Virginia Tech). These guys show up, you’d never know it.

“I just continue to marvel at their determination to be good at this. It doesn’t mean you’re going to play flawless baseball, but the intent was spectacular.”

The execution Tuesday was similarly sublime; the No. 14 Irish throttled the visiting Huskies, 11-2. They had five pitchers combine to allow just three hits, and freshman Roman Kimball notched his first collegiate victory when he entered in the third and proceeded to sit down the first seven batters he faced.

Liam Simon started for Notre Dame, and he worked 2.2 innings of one-hit, one-walk and two-run ball. It was a glimpse into what Jarrett had seen from Simon during that Sunday practice, when Simon pushed a fastball near triple-digits.

“We watched Liam do some things in training that’s pretty exceptional,” Jarrett said. “And we haven’t found the right role for him yet.

“(We said) Let’s just start him and see if he can go dial it up. It was 98 (Sunday) morning.”

Simon’s effective start, Kimball’s shut-down work and an early no-doubt clout from Jared Miller all set the tone for the Irish (13-5, 2-4 ACC), who visit perennial national powerhouse and Jarrett alma mater Florida State this weekend.

So was it leadership or intensity that defined that Sunday practice that established the tone against the Huskies, who have four wins against MAC foes and 18 losses against the remainder of their schedule?

“Yes, yes,” Jarrett said. “The execution of some of the stuff we do, like our team defense. Bunt defense didn’t come up tonight. Watching them go through some of this stuff, it’s impressive. But again, it doesn’t come up every game. They just go at it and execution was good and Liam was the first pitcher (Sunday). When he went out there and threw 10 to 11 pitches and every fastball was 95 to 99 mph and it was on the screws, that’s when we decided let’s let him go see if he can do that. Let him roll out there against hitters, whether it’s Northern Illinois or our hitters.

“Because you could do that against the Atlanta Braves and function. But if you’re not in the (strike) zone, that’s the essence of what we were doing this weekend.”

Kimball, Jack Findlay, Radek Birkholz and Jackson Dennies combined for 6.1 innings of scoreless relief for Notre Dame, which saw its five pitchers whiff 13 NIU batters.

TJ Williams and Ryan Cole both rapped out two hits and scored two runs for the Irish, who snapped a four-game losing skid in the win.

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