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Notre Dame Baseball

Jarrett's diamond blueprint beneath a Golden Dome

June 9, 2022

The blueprint is a slideshow, really.

An amalgamation of 20 years’ experiences.

Augie Garrido’s timeless University of Texas teams.

George Horton and Cal-State Fullerton.

South Carolina’s transcendent teams under Ray Tanner, not to mention John Savage’s work at UCLA.

Even 2021’s Atlantic Coast Champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

There’s a piece of each team, coach, myriad players in Link Jarrett’s present Notre Dame iteration, which is in the unprecedented program position of a second-straight NCAA Super Regional as it battles NCAA Baseball Tournament No. 1 overall seed Tennessee this weekend on Rocky Top.

“As you evolve in coaching, there’s moments – good and bad – in this case, some of them were tough, where you got beat by a really good team,” Jarrett said. “There were times when I was coaching in those moments, I always tried to evaluate and process, what, if it was my team, I had a pretty good feel for what we were good at. If it was the other team, I tried to really calibrate what I saw them do well, how their team was constructed and how they played.

“In those moments, and this will be one, Texas Tech and Georgia Southern were two really good teams [in last weekend’s Statesboro Regional], there are plenty of teams you face that really do things at a very high level. I tried to piece that together for 20 years. Then you try to build that together within the confines of your own team. So that’s how we’ve gotten to the point where we’re in discussion for the things we’re talking about.”

Talk is superfluous; reality is this weekend’s winner punches a College World Series ticket; either the suffocating Vols’ second in a row – or the Irish’s first in two decades.

First pitch for Game 1 between Notre Dame (38-14) and top-ranked Tennessee (56-7) inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium is today at 6 p.m.

“One thing Coach does really, really well is he demands a lot of us,” said graduate-level pitcher John Michael Bertrand, the former Furman walk-on turned Irish All-American who will start Saturday’s Game 2. “He has a high attention-level, demands execution, studies the finest detail. He doesn’t ever yell or get angry or visibly upset. It’s a very mentor-teacher-coach relationship.

“I think he’s one of the best coaches in the nation, easily. It’s amazing just to see the impact he has on all of us.”

This series is all about two of college baseball’s inarguable stars, the Irish’s Jarrett – again eliciting strong interest from outside programs – and the Vols’ Tony Vitello, the cocksure, swagger-infused leader of the sport’s proud band of “villains.”

No two teams have won a greater percentage of their games since 2020 than Notre Dame and Tennessee; no two coaches have done more rebuilding, like post-Sherman through Atlanta, than Jarrett and Vitello in that timeframe.

“Since he stepped on the foot, Day 1, he kind of told us that that was his goal and that’s what our goal should be, to go win championships, whether that’s the ACC, a regional, super regional, Omaha, whatever that might be,” Notre Dame All-ACC outfielder Ryan Cole said. “And you do that by going out there and playing a good game of baseball.

“The strides that (Jarrett) has made, just attention to detail, focusing on the small things, really honing in on the things that we know are going to happen in a game, dialing them in and then trusting each other out there on the field, knowing that we’re just as good as any team we’re playing and we’re very capable of winning every single game.”

Jarrett remembers when it wasn’t always the case. In fact, he points to quite literally his debut weekend as Notre Dame skipper – Feb. 14-16, 2020, at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Notre Dame won its debut game under Jarrett, 4-2, against the Blazers and then was summarily dismissed, 10-7, in the middle tilt.

The rubber match was but the season’s third game; a doomed year, unbeknownst to no one, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Except Jarrett never viewed that weekend as a waste.

“I remember my first trip with this team, and we went to UAV and we won and then lost,” said Jarrett, still a Florida State record-holder from his All-American playing days as well as a former Auburn assistant and UNC-Greensboro head coach. “And when I walked in Sunday [before Game 3] to kind of prep, and we were going to meet, I had to reset them little bit on (the mindset), ‘Guys, this is make or break. If you don’t have that mindset, you’re not preparing yourself for the reality of what these things are about.”

The Irish absorbed Jarrett’s message that day; current-lineup stalwarts Brooks Coetzee III, Jack Brannigan, Spencer Myers, Jared Miller, Carter Putz and Zack Prajzner combined for 10 hits in an eventual 9-3 win.

Notre Dame won that series; it since has gone 19-5 in three-game series under Jarrett, the 2018 Southern Conference Coach of the Year.

It needs one more series win for the program’s first College World Series appearance in 20 years. In its path is another SEC foe; eventual national champion Mississippi State a year ago, potential national champion Tennessee right now.

“To get them to Omaha, to have built this thing,” Jarrett said, “and my assistant coaches are the best, Brad (Vanderglas) has been with us for a year, and Rich (Wallace) and Chuck (Ristano), they’re phenomenal as coaches and people and preparers of their units. All of that has to come together to have an opportunity to be in the final 16 in any college sport.

“But trying to process that in those elite, elite games and what it felt like and what it looked like and what those teams did really well, that’s what I tried to blueprint and draw up so that when I had an opportunity to run something the way I wanted to do it, I had my ingredients.”

The recipe?

“You have to have the mindset,” Jarrett said, “of winning a three-game series.”

The Irish have said mindset; it’s been a part of Jarrett’s blueprint for three years.

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