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Photo by Steven Branscombe | USA Today Sports

End of the road in Omaha: Aggies stop Notre Dame run

June 21, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. – After superb defense and pitching carried Notre Dame throughout this enthralling postseason run, those elements lowered the Fighting Irish’s historic season into an unceremonious grave beneath Omaha’s baking midday sun.

A four-pitch walk, a balk and a bloop-single in the top of the third inning rather hastily sent Notre Dame’s historic 2022 season careening toward its end Tuesday afternoon in the College World Series.

The Fighting Irish never recovered. 

“Well, if there’s a place you want to end it, it’s obviously here,” said Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett, named during this CWS as college baseball’s coach of the year. “How we ended it was tough.

“That wasn’t indicative of how our team plays. … We try to pride ourselves on defense and pitch-execution, and those things today kind of got us.”

Liam Simon, who fanned five batters in the first two frames, also walked three of the first 10 batters he faced, balked eventual first-run scorer Jordan Thompson – Texas A&M’s No. 8 hitter – to second and finally supplied Fighting Irish Freshman All-America selection Jack Findlay quicksand from which he could not escape.

The Aggies punched first and eventually used this 5-1 win to eliminate Notre Dame, which saw its offense completely evaporate after its Game 1 CWS win against Texas. Nathan Dettmer, who suffered the loss for A&M in its CWS opener, bottled up the Irish to earn the win. 

“Thought it was a great ballgame, Nathan (Dettmer) was outstanding in every sense of the word,” said TAMU coach Jim Schlossnagle. “Got enough timely hits.

“We’ll take it. Congratulations to Notre Dame on just an unbelievable season. Link Jarrett, can’t say enough about the job he and his Notre Dame staff have done.”

Brooks Coetzee’s 403-foot solo blast to start the bottom of the eighth, Coetzee’s 12th this year, kept Notre Dame from being shut out for the first time all season.

Just as one primary inning ushered the Irish (41-17) into the loser’s bracket of the CWS, it was the third frame that hastened their exit from Charles Schwab Stadium, where a crowd of 23,618 took in this matinee affair.

Simon’s final walk left a bases-loaded, no-out quagmire for Findlay, who struck out the first batter and got a sharply hit grounder to Jack Brannigan at third for what should have been an out traded for a run.

Instead Brannigan’s second error – the plus-fielding third baseman had just two errors all season -- in the first three innings allowed Kole Kaler to score behind Thompson. Ryan Targac’s sacrifice-fly capped the three-run frame for the Aggies (44-19), the tournament’s No. 5 national seed.

The Aggies added Trevor Werner’s solo blast and Dylan Rock’s RBI-single in the fifth as they continued to pressure the Irish.

Jarrett and pitching coach Chuck Ristano cobbled together enough arms out of the bullpen to keep the Irish within striking distance in the game’s late innings – A&M didn’t score in its final four at-bats, but aside from Coetzee’s blast Notre Dame sustained no traffic on the bases.

After Ryan Cole reached out an error to open Notre Dame’s first at-bat and advanced to second on Spencer Myers’ sacrifice-bunt, the Irish had just two runners the remainder of the game – Jared Miller with his fifth-inning double and Cole after he was hit by a pitch for the second time – even reach second base.

Coetzee’s solo blast preceded Cole and Myers reaching base to open the 8th, but the Irish saw Carter Putz strike out and David LaManna bounce into a double play to squelch that mini-threat.

The Irish had 11 hits in Friday’s opening win against Texas; they combined for just 11 hits and struck out 22 times in their losses to Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

Now, an offseason of uncertainty awaits. Jarrett is a coveted commodity, and the Irish’s roster – this year among the oldest anywhere in college baseball – is set for a dramatic reshaping.  The Irish have approximately 15 seniors and draft-eligibile juniors who could be gone from the program long before February, when the 2023 season unfolds. 

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