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Notre Dame Baseball

Notre Dame moving on from disappointment, vows 'relentless' approach

June 2, 2022
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Notre Dame, head coach and players alike, have expressed their disappointment in not being selected as one of 16 host programs for this weekend’s opening round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament’s Road to Omaha.

But the Fighting Irish (35-14) are instead the No. 2 seed in the Statesboro Regional hosted by top-seeded Georgia Southern. They’ll attempt to make a second-straight Super Regional appearance beginning with Friday’s tourney opener against No. 3 seed Texas Tech (37-20).

“These guys are tough, and I noticed that last year when we went through grind of essentially playing an entire schedule of ACC teams with skipping just one team; we didn’t play Miami,” said Link Jarrett, who notched his 80th career win at Notre Dame as the Irish advanced to the semifinals of last weekend’s ACC Tournament. “The demands on these guys, you’ve seen our travel, we’re usually on road the five to six weeks straight to start the season. I didn’t see any concern with where we were going.

“You’re disappointed, everybody not hosting is disappointed that thinks they deserve it because it’s a reward you feel like they have earned through their play of the long haul. Obviously the metrics didn’t play out in our favor. It is what it is. … We have the opportunity to continue to play. That’s what matters most to them. These guys are fine. All that stuff, I don’t think it has anything to do with what happens in this tournament.”

Added Irish star catcher David LaManna, “Like Coach said, we were disappointed we were not able to host in South Bend, but that’s really out of our control. We’re excited to get down here and compete. I think we’ll be relentless and we’re confident coming into this.”

A year after winning the program’s first-ever ACC regular-season title in baseball and a week after advancing into the league’s semifinals for the first time, the Irish are largely healthy, according to Jarrett, and preparing to open their NCAA postseason with ace and recently minted All-America pitcher John Michael Bertrand on the mound Friday against the Red Raiders. First pitch is slated for 2 p.m., and the game will be televised on the ACC Network.

“John Michael Bertrand is going to have to go out there and pitch,” Jarrett said. “He is going to have to have his pitches all working and in play.

“Now he’s got to go duplicate one of his better performances to hold this Texas Tech team in check.”

That’s no small task against the Red Raiders, who saw sluggers Jace Jung and Kurt Wilson combine for 28 home runs and 119 RBIs as the duo started each of the team’s 57 games.

But the Irish have shown considerable pitching depth beyond their ace; Austin Temple has grown increasingly comfortable in his No. 2 starter role, Aiden Tyrell’s versatility is a staple from last year and this season’s run, plus Liam Simon is throwing his best since Jarrett’s arrival. There are freshmen and other role players available as well.

“Pitching depth and the variety that you have in the depth of the pitching is one of the biggest ingredients to a successful team,” Jarrett said. “The ability to punch people out might be the biggest metric.

“I think the athleticism of our defense has been something that has stood out to me all year. We’ve got pretty good range; now, we haven’t been perfect. But some balls that may get into the gap (but instead get cut off by the Irish defense), those things can snuff out the momentum of the other team and almost gets you in a mindset like you scored in the field.”

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