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Opponent Preview: Notre Dame

Meet the Fighting Irish... Probably as good a team as State will see all year

Notre Dame v North Carolina Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Notre Dame

Mascot: Fighting Irish | School Location: South Bend, IN | Conference: ACC

2022 Record: 9-1 (0-0, T-1st) | 2022 RPI Rank: 31

2021 Record: 34-13 (25-10, 1st) | 2021 RPI Rank: 5

2020 Record: 11-2 (0-0, T-1st) | 2020 RPI Rank: 31


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)

Game Time(s): Fri, Mar 11 @ 6:00pm | Sat, Mar 12 @ 2:00pm | Sun, Mar 13 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACC Network (Friday) | ACCNX (Saturday | Sunday)

Radio: GoPack.com (Friday | Saturday | Sunday) / WKNC 88.1

Live Stats: Sidearm Sports


Tell me about this team

Link Jarrett’s reputation as a coach was as an offensive genius. The former standout Florida State player has proven that ever since he started his coaching career as an assistant at Flagler, then moving on to his alma mater, with multi-year stops each at Mercer, East Carolina, and Auburn before he got his first head coaching opportunity at UNC-Greensboro. His Spartans teams crushed the ball on the way to winning the school its first conference championship since 1998 and their first NCAA Regional appearance since 1997.

At each of those above stops, Jarrett took those teams and instantly made them offensive juggernauts with quick turnarounds. At Notre Dame, though, it’s the been the pitching that’s been the most impressive turnaround Jarrett and his staff have made.

Don’t get me wrong, Jarrett’s Notre Dame squads have hit and hit plenty (currently slashing .311/.385/.489 as a team), but the Irish pitching staff has gone from a 5.01 unit in the season before Jarrett’s arrival to a 3.81 staff last year and the 2022 version currently sports an absurd 1.41 ERA. Couple that with Jarrett’s improvement on the defensive side (the Irish have improved their team fielding percentage every year since his arrival), and you have a team that doesn’t give opponents much of a chance.

So, yeah, the pitching plus the defense plus the offense makes this the ACC’s front-runner in 2022.

This year’s Notre Dame squad is experienced - they returned 8-of-9 starters from the lineup and technically all three weekend rotation arms, although one has moved to the bullpen. Seemingly every player who touches the bat or ball is a junior, senior, or graduate student.

The starting pitching has just been absurd (look at the Key Players section below to get a better feel for that), and of the ten Notre Dame relief pitchers who have pitched more than an inning this year, only two have an ERA.

No, I didn’t forget to finish that sentence; only two of those ten pitchers have allowed an earned run to cross the plate. And in case you were thinking, “oh, he said earned runs, so they must have allowed a lot of unearned ones then”, you’d be wrong. This team leads the country with a .992 fielding percentage, committing just three errors in 373 chances over ten games.

Could NC State have had a more formidable opponent for their ACC opener?


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Friday: LHP Aidan Tyrell (SR)

Saturday: LHP John Michael Bertrand (SR)

Sunday: RHP Austin Temple (SR)


Key Players:

Offense

RF Brooks Coetzee (SR) - .361/.400/.778, 3 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 9 R, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K, 0 HBP, 0-1 SB. Having a breakout year, tapping into greater power at the dish and cutting down significantly on his strikeouts. Is a solid outfielder, so if he keeps this up, he’ll start popping up on draft radars.

1B Carter Putz (SR) - .353/.425/.588, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 12 R, 10 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K, 0 HBP, 1-1 SB. Has always been a good hitter and appears to be taking it up a notch this year. Getting an opportunity in the field now with Kavadas off in pro ball.

LF Ryan Cole (SR) - .294/.415/.412, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 10 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K, 5 HBP, 5-5 SB. Breakout performer and maybe the biggest beneficiary of Link Jarrett’s hire. Was a career sub-.200 hitter prior to Jarrett arriving. A .319 hitter since. Great blend of power and speed, with good defensive chops in the outfield.

3B Jack Brannigan (JR) - .229/.282/.486, 4 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 9 R, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP, 3-3 SB. Pretty well-regarded MLB Draft prospect for this year following an excellent 2021 campaign and a nice summer on the Cape. Has the arm to stay at 3B at the next level, but the biggest hold in his game is too many swings-and-misses. Also a relief pitcher for the Irish with a line of 2.0 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K. He can pump mid-to-upper 90’s heat off the mound.

Pitching

LHP Aidan Tyrell (SR) - 3-0, 0.56 ERA, 16.0 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 15 K. Slender built lefty . Had an atrocious freshman year in 2019, then looking better as a reliever in the abbreviated 2020 season before showing out last year. His control and stuff have both ticked up a notch this season. Pitches from a low 34 slot and falls off hard to the third base side after his delivery, so should be susceptible to bunts down the first base line.

LHP John Michael Bertrand (SR) - 3-0, 0.90 ERA, 20.0 IP, 14 H, 2 BB, 23 K. Former transfer from the now dead Furman baseball program. Is a workhorse and strike-pounder on the mound. Doesn’t have over-powering stuff, but is consistent every time out and can locate all three pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) with great command.

RHP Austin Temple (SR) - 2-0, 1.59 ERA, 17.0 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 23 K. Transfer from Jacksonville is having an absolutely breakout year. In his last start, he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning versus Minnesota. Has a low-90’s fastball with a great curve.

RHP Ryan McLinskey (SR) - 0-0, 2 SV, 0.00 ERA, 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 14 K. Transfer from Seton Hall where he was a two-year member of the Pirates’ weekend rotation. The move the bullpen has served him well where he can put some extra velo behind his pitches in short bursts. Not afraid to challenge hitters inside.

RHP Alex Rao (SR) - 0-0, 0 SV, 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K. Big 6’4, 230 lbs righty has good stuff, but also questionable command. Sits in the low-90’s with a great changeup.

RHP Liam Simon (JR) - 0-0, 0 SV, 0.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 5 K. Huge kid, huge arm, questionable control. This kid can hit 100 mph with his fastball when he wants and his slider could be a plus pitch, too. Surely is the guy that the Irish coaching staff would love as the closer, but he has to harness the stuff first. He’ll get drafted this year on potential alone.

LHP Will Mercer (SR) - 0-0, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 3 K. Top lefty relief arm for the Irish. Was a starter for Notre Dame his first two years on campus, but has stepped back into a bullpen role this year. So far so good.


Quick! Fun Facts!

Yes, we all know that NC State’s J.T. Jarrett is the son of Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett, but here’s a really good article about their bond and time spent together since the end of last season.

NC State leads the all-time series between the two schools, 13-10, and owns a 7-2 record against the Irish in Raleigh.

Notre Dame has won seven straight ACC road series.

Notre Dame has the third best winning percentage (.768) in the country since Link Jarrett (53-26) started there with the 2020 season.

The Irish have had at least one player drafted in every MLB Draft since 1985.


Prediction

Had the Wolfpack not had the weekend they did last time out I would feel a lot better about this one. State is every bit as - and maybe even a bit more - talented than Notre Dame, but the Irish have the experience factor in their corner and they’re a team that has chemistry already formed.

Outcome: State drops a second-straight series as the Irish take two of three.