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Sports

Notre Dame baseball hosts Duke in first home series of 2021

| Friday, March 19, 2021

The Notre Dame men’s baseball team will defend their home field for the first time in the 2021 season when they host the Duke Blue Devils in a three-game series this weekend. The first pitch will be on Friday, March 19 at 4 p.m. Games two and three will be played on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Notre Dame (7-2) comes into the series riding a five-game winning streak which includes two wins over Clemson and a sweep of Virginia last weekend. The Cavaliers had been the No. 21 team in the country at the time. Notre Dame, now ranked 17, will look to sustain their winning ways against Duke (7-6). The Blue Devils have played just one game in the last 10 days. The Blue Devils had their March 12-14 series against North Carolina State postponed due to COVID-19 cases within the NC State program. Duke did beat North Carolina Central on Tuesday, March 16 by a score of 7-4.

Notre Dame has six players hitting over .250 so far this season, and their bats have been a big part of their success. The Irish have scored seven or more runs in six of their nine games. And while many of their games have been shootouts, Notre Dame also won some low-scoring, gritty games, such as their 3-1 and 3-2 victories over Clemson that started the winning streak.

Observer File Photo
Irish centerfielder David LaManna sizes up a pitch during Notre Dame’s 5-2 win over Virginia on Apr. 5, 2019 at Eck Stadium.

Duke can put offensive numbers as well, as they have eight rotation players hitting over .250 and have scored at six or more runs in eight of their 13 games. Erikson Nichols and RJ Schreck lead the team in hits, with 15 and 18, respectively. Schreck paces the Blue Devils with 15 RBIs and three home runs.

This weekend’s series against Notre Dame will be the first time that Duke has played away from home this season. It will be interesting to see how they will play in the colder Indiana temperatures. As of now, the forecast is projecting highs of 50s and 60s but potential lows in the 20s and 30s.

In 2019, the last full season of baseball, Duke made a run to the NCAA Nashville Super Regional before losing to Vanderbilt in a three-game series. Duke beat Notre Dame 10-6 in the ACC Tournament that season, which was the last meeting between the two teams. Notre Dame may have some revenge in mind heading into the weekend’s series.

The Irish will hope to continue their winning streak behind the aforementioned bats that were especially hot against Virginia. Infielder Jared Miller leads Notre Dame with a .462 batting average and 18 hits. Still, the team is quite balanced across the board. Four other players – Carter Putz, David LaManna, Jack Brannigan and Niko Kavadas – have double-digit hits. Kavadas has contributed in a big way with five home runs and 15 RBIs, both of which lead the team.

Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett, who joined the Irish before the 2019-20 season, got the team off to another fantastic start. Last year the Irish started the season 11-2 before the pandemic cut it short. Jarrett has the team playing great baseball once again. His Irish will look to complete their second straight sweep when they host the Blue Devils this weekend. Games can be viewed on ACC Network Extra.

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