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Notre Dame Baseball

The Good, Bad and the Ugly from Sunday Night in Omaha

June 20, 2022

Notre Dame baseball has lost 16 times since the season started on February 18th. That’s five months of winning baseball, but Sunday night in Omaha felt similar to the games the Irish dropped over the course of the year. 

At the plate, Notre Dame struck out 14 times and Oklahoma pitcher Cade Horton recorded 11 of them. Now, you give credit to Horton as his stuff was flat-out nasty, but the Irish batters never quite adjusted to what they were seeing at the plate. 

Over the course of the year, it’s been common to see the Irish struggle the first time through the lineup against a starter and then attack. That never happened against Horton as he was able to keep the Irish off balance with his secondary pitches while maintaining his velocity through six innings. 

Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett was a little frustrated with the high amount of strikeouts as his team couldn’t get the ball in play to give themselves a chance, which has happened in past losses this season. 

“That ability they had to finish us didn't give us enough opportunities to truly threaten them,” stated Jarrett following the game. “When you punch out 14 times, you're forcing them to record 13 outs in the field. If it's not in play, there's no chance that that little thing falls in or that ground ball works through there.” 

And yes, it’s baseball. There will be nights where the other team is better and Horton was a significant part of that as he kept the Irish uncomfortable all night.

“Pretty much the same thing, kept all of us all off-balance with the curveball and slider,” said first baseman Carter Putz. “Trying to pick up the different pitches was a little challenging for us today. Tip the cap to him.” 

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Tip the cap to Horton, but the ugly was the top of the Notre Dame lineup. Putz went 4-for-4 and scored a run, but he was the only player in the first four of the order to record a hit. 

Ryan Cole: 0-for-5 - 2 strikeouts
Jared Miller: 0-for-4 - 4 strikeouts 
Jack Zyska: 0-for-4 - 3 strikeouts 

Notre Dame will need to be better at the top of the order, especially given the lack of power across the lineup. 

The Irish will need to get Cole and Zyska going as both have combined to go 0-for-18 at the plate with seven strikeouts in two games in Omaha. Cole did get hit by a pitch by Texas and scored a run, but Notre Dame needs more from its leadoff and clean-up spot and that starts on Tuesday against Texas A&M as the Aggies have shown they can score in the College World Series. 

On the flip side, Austin Temple picked a bad night not to be able to locate from the mound. The graduate transfer did get good movement on his curveball, but Temple just couldn’t find the strike zone - and a large strike zone at that. Temple threw just 13 strikes on 31 pitches, which led to three walks in just 1.1 innings of work. 

The good news for Notre Dame is Temple does have the flexibility to be used in a variety of scenarios if the Irish win on Tuesday given his low pitch count on Sunday. 

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Notre Dame is a team that has proven it was claw and fight for every inch and they did on Sunday. It’s a good trait and one that translates to Omaha. The Irish were extremely lucky to be down just 2-0 after four innings and then made the ninth inning interesting. 

In fact, it was likely somewhat of a baseball miracle the Irish were only down two at that point. It wasn’t Aidan Tyrell’s best performance and was somewhat a summarization of his season. Tyrell flashed his experience by getting two quick outs to get out of a jam in the second, but then proceeded to give up eight hits and five runs over his next 2.2 innings. 

That said, the bullpen while a little shakey, managed to only let the Sooners score once over the final three innings while also preserving innings for the top arms. 

It was also a good learning experience for the bullpen as Notre Dame will rely on those arms if they make a run. The moments will only get more pressure-packed and getting Matt Bedford, Roman Kimball, Radek Birkholz, Matt Lazzaro and Jackson Dennies on the mound could prove to be beneficial. 

The other piece of good news is the Irish haven’t lost back-to-back games since April. Notre Dame dropped a game to Michigan State 6-2 and then lost three days later 7-4 to Boston College. They know how to bounce back and maybe more importantly, not get too frustrated with a loss. 

We’ll see what happens on Tuesday against a hot Texas A&M team, but it’d be surprising to see Notre Dame roll over at this point in the year. 

“We just have to go out there and play our game,” said Notre Dame catcher David LaManna. “And execute all three phases of the game better than we did today.” 

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