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Notre Dame Baseball

Back on track: Notre Dame wins again, sets up Wake showdown

April 20, 2022
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More than halfway through his third year at Notre Dame, Link Jarrett finally got to see his Fighting Irish baseball team play back-to-back non-conference games.

Jarrett didn’t get every answer he needed – his Irish offense remains inconsistent – but he saw his team improve to 23-8 with Wednesday’s 12-1 win inside Eck Stadium against visiting Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Four Notre Dame hurlers combined to fan 17 Mastodons (10-24) and allowed just four hits; Liam Simon started and got the win with four innings of one-run, eight-strikeout work.

“We see flashes of it and it may be a hitter here or there; he strung it together today,” Jarrett said of Simon. “The command of the fastball was above average, I’m not going to say it was great. But the slider, the shape and the consistency of the slider, it had good shape, it had good velocity and he could repeat it. I haven’t seen him do that until today.
“He and Chuck (Ristano, pitching coach) looked at some video, some things that we were trying to fine-tune with that actual slider itself. We talked about maybe almost trying to throw more of a hard cutter, kind of like (Tanner) Kohlhepp threw (last season).”

The No. 14 Irish now turn to Wake Forest (28-9, 10-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), which visits South Bend, Indiana, this weekend for a three-game set.

The Demon Deacons have a trio of sluggers – Brendan Tinsman, Nick Kurtz and Brock Wilken – each with double-digit home runs while sophomore hurler Rhett Lowder has emerged as Wake’s ace. Lowder (7-1, 1.96 ERA) faced the Irish last season as Notre Dame charged to the ACC Championship, and Lowder lasted less than three innings, yielding six runs and being saddled with the loss.

“I haven’t gotten too far into it. The numbers sometimes, with different teams and their home parks, Wake plays in one of the smallest parks in the country, so I hope that this may neutralize some of their juice,” Jarrett said. “But they’ve played really well. All year they’ve played well. So we’ll have our hands full.

“I was trying to get through all the stuff we’re dealing with with our guys and getting through our (midweek) games. They are potent, they’ve got some left-handed bats; they’ve got good balance and they can hit and they always seem to have arms and arm depth. It will be a Super Regional like these weekends we’re learning they are. It’s a Super Regional caliber opponent every time.”

Ryan Cole and Jack Zyska each belted his fifth home run of the season; David LaManna had two doubles in his three-hit outing, Spencer Myers reached base three times and scored two runs while Zack Prajzner added two hits. 

FRESHMAN ARMS IMPRESS

Jarrett was complimentary of three young arms for their work in the midweek wins against Valpo and Purdue-Fort Wayne.

Jack Findlay worked three hitless, scoreless innings Wednesday and fanned four; Radek Birkholz allowed a couple of hits and run, but he struck out the side.

In Tuesday’s win, Roman Kimball worked four innings of one-run ball and struck out five Valpo batters.

“I would say Roman and Radek giving you back-to-back good outings and even within those outings a little more repeatability,” Jarrett said. “You saw a snapshot today, Radek looked like this was going to be really good and then all of a sudden, it’s kind of … erratic if you will. Those freshmen, doing it once a week like they’re all used to, they’re outside of their comfort zone as much as anybody because all they’ve ever done is go out there and start games. Well, they’re not doing that here right now. Learning how to pitch and throw 35 pitches, throw 20 pitches in a couple days’ span, is tricky and no freshman really is a relief pitcher.

“Findlay’s done a nice job of kind of being a little bit more consistent, but these games give those guys more of a feel of what it’s like to come in and throw in little spurts.”

MCCLINSKEY UPDATE

Jarrett reiterated that the Irish haven’t yet learned the full extent of Ryan McLinskey’s injury, which he’s described as being an elbow injury and forearm strain. McLinskey is definitely out through this weekend after experiencing discomfort last weekend at Duke.

“We don’t have an answer yet. The forearm strain stuff takes a little time,” Jarrett said. “We’ll figure that out. I hope he’s OK.”

ROTATION AHEAD

Jarrett said the Irish will go with ace John Michael Bertrand, followed by Austin Temple and was leaning toward slotting in Will Mercer for Sunday’s finale against Wake.

 
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