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Good pitching, steady offense lead Notre Dame to another midweek victory at home

| Thursday, April 21, 2022

It was a comfortable 12-2 midweek victory over in-state opponents Purdue Fort Wayne as No. 18 Notre Dame put together a steady performance at the plate from start to finish. On the mound, the pitching staff put together another stellar effort, giving up two runs on just four hits and striking out fifteen Mastodon batters.

Junior Liam Simon got his second start of the year and quickly allowed a first-inning homer to Purdue Fort Wayne’s Jack Lang, the second hitter he faced. However, he settled into the game and proceeded to work four strong innings, giving up just two hits and striking out eight.

“We’ve seen flashes of this. It may be a hitter here or there, but [Simon] strung it together today,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “And if he can continue to evolve, that’s an elite arm, that’s capable of doing that way more often than we’ve seen him do it. So, that’s really good.”

After that first inning homer, it was all Notre Dame, who slowly added runs to their lead throughout the game. It was a patient day at the plate for Notre Dame as they walked eight times, including four walks in the first inning.

“The patience was good. It allowed us to generate [offense] early in the game without really driving balls all over the place like we did later, so that was good to see.” said Jarrett.

Senior Jack Zyska opened the scoring with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first, one of his two RBIs on the day. The second came in the third inning as he clobbered a solo home run to left field that gave Notre Dame a lead they would never relinquish.

Jarrett praised the offensive effort despite the slower-than-wanted start.

“There were some good at-bats. Zyska had another good game. Dave LaManna hammered a ball in the left field corner, in the right field corner and through the middle. So, that’s a really good sign when you’re hitting balls like that to all parts of the field,” he said.

In the fifth inning, freshman left-hander Jack Findlay entered the game in relief of Simon, making his seventh appearance of the season. He shined on the mound, continuing a brilliant debut season by throwing three perfect innings, striking out four batters. The sparkling performance brought his ERA down to an unbelievable 0.53.

“The freshmen are out of their comfort zone,” Jarrett said. “No freshman, really, is a relief pitcher. So, Findlay has done a nice job of being a little more consistent. These games give those guys more of a feel of what it’s like to come in and throw in those little spurts.”

On offense, the Irish continued adding runs until a big five-run seventh inning essentially ended it. It started with a walk and a single, followed by a double for LaManna who drove in his second run of the afternoon. Then second baseman Jared Miller singled to score LaManna before Ryan Cole effectively sealed it with a two-run home run that made it a nine-run lead for Notre Dame.

“Overall, the consistency of the quality of the at-bats isn’t what it was maybe a month ago. We’re trying to work on it to get it there,” Jarrett said. “But today was a good game. We had good at-bats and today was a good one.”

Purdue Fort Wayne was able to push another run across in the eighth inning before Notre Dame scored two more in the bottom half to make it 12-2. Graduate student Matt Lazzaro came in to pitch the ninth and close out another midweek victory for Notre Dame, who remain undefeated in such games under Jarrett.

The Irish host ACC opponents Wake Forest for a three-game series going Friday through Sunday. They look to rebound in conference play following a disappointing sweep against Duke last weekend that dropped them to fifth in their division. Probable starters for this weekend are ace lefty John Michael Bertrand, as well as Austin Temple and Will Mercer.

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