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Notre Dame Baseball

Elite 8: Notre Dame sweeps Clemson, pushes win streak to 8

April 10, 2022
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Jared Miller and Danny Neri each rapped three hits, Spencer Myers, Carter Putz and Jack Zyska added two hits apiece and three Notre Dame pitchers combined to strike out seven Sunday afternoon as the Fighting Irish swept past Atlantic Coast Conference foe Clemson.

The trio of home wins – Sunday’s 9-3 triumph capped No. 6 Notre Dame’s first full weekend slate of games inside Frank Eck Stadium – pushed the Irish to 20-5 on the season, 8-4 in ACC play and winners of eight games in a row. Notre Dame nudged within a half-game of Atlantic Division leader Louisville with the sweep.

“Just proud of the way we played, in all phases of the game,” said third-year Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett. “It starts on the mound; I felt like every guy that ran out there had a role and was competitive.  …

“Our defense stood out to me, the way those guys were running around and catching fly balls. … The timeliness of Putz, Neri had the best weekend of his career.

“I’m proud of the way they played; Clemson’s a talented team, they’re good. There are ebbs and flows, they’ve been through it, the talent of that team is exceptional. We played well.”

Notre Dame stormed through the three-game sweep, outscoring the Tigers (19-12, 2-9) 21-5 and never trailing in the process; in winning its last six league games, Notre Dame’s pitching staff has allowed just 16 total runs.

Will Mercer opened for the Irish and worked three innings of scoreless ball in the finale; freshman Roman Kimball earned the win, though he allowed a trio of runs all on solo blasts to left field. Alex Rao notched the save with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief.

At the plate, Notre Dame scored in five of its eight innings and set an early tone when Miller walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Putz’s two-out hit in the first.

The Irish’s patience at the plate – they recorded an out on their first pitch and then forced Nick Clayton to throw 70 more pitches to get the next eight outs – continued to tax the Clemson bullpen. The Tigers used a total of 12 pitchers in the three-game set and saw two of their hurlers knocked out of the game Sunday after Irish batters had base hits ricochet off Geoffrey Gilbert and Jackson Lindley.

“He started to throw 60% changeups, which in my years of coaching I don’t know that I’ve seen that drastic of a ratio of what was a good secondary pitch,” Jarrett said of Clemson’s starter, Clayton. “Putz’s base hit there was a key one, to plate that run. I think they felt like our guys were starting to get on their fastballs. And it didn’t matter which arm they were using for the fastball, our guys were on it. When you can make them go to Plan B, that’s good. And we adjusted fairly well. Pleased overall with their competitiveness.”

Neri and Putz both punished the Clemson pitching staff for six hits apiece while Myers, the Irish senior outfielder who previously had struggled to regain the form he showcased during last season’s Super Regional run, bounced back with a five-for-10 weekend.

“Well he’s so good on the bases,” Jarrett said of Myers’ insertion back into the starting lineup. “We worked on the swing and there’s a lot of data on him, he’s a confident kid, but you can only look at the batting average go so low before you lose a little bit of the fire and confidence in what you’re doing.

“He’s a gamer. It seems like the bigger moment for him, in his time with me, he’s kind of raised the bar a little bit. If we can get him back going like this weekend, it can change the whole thing.”

Up next for Notre Dame is a Tuesday visit from rival Michigan, with first pitch at the Eck set for 5:30 p.m. The Irish travel to Durham, N.C., for a three-game series with Duke that runs Thursday through Saturday.

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