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Baseball

Irish break out the brooms, sweep Seminoles

| Monday, April 4, 2022

In a huge bounce-back performance, No. 13 Notre Dame Baseball came to Tallahassee and waltzed out with a three-game sweep of the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles. The Irish took the opener in 12 innings, rallied in the ninth on Saturday and completed a sweep on Sunday. Notre Dame improved to 5-4 in ACC play and 16-5 overall. 

Game 1: Irish outlast Seminoles in pitcher’s duel

The bats didn’t show up for either team in the opener, as both pitchers were on point. Florida State’s Parker Messick dazzled, spinning an eight-inning gem. He surrendered two hits and no runs. However, Irish head coach Link Jarrett had his own ace up his sleeve. He sent graduate student John Michael Bertrand to the bump. The former transfer matched Messick pitch for pitch, twirling 7.2 innings of shutout ball. He struck out 12 and gave up just four hits, lowering his ERA to 1.81.

Cole spoke on Bertrand’s effort. “He’s the backbone of the pitching staff. He just battles until the last pitch out there.”

All that meant was an incredibly fast first eight innings with no runs scored. The game slowed as the drama increased. Both teams went to their bullpens in an effort to keep the game scoreless. For the Irish, this effort started with graduate student Ryan McKlinskey. He recorded five outs, three by the way of punch out, exiting with one out in the tenth inning. Senior Aidan Tyrell, who started Friday nights for the first two ACC series, entered in relief and finished off that frame. Tyrell got one out in the eleventh before Jarrett summoned senior Alex Rao. Rao dropped his ERA to 2.31 with a hitless, 1.2-inning shutout performance. 

Meanwhile, Florida State used just three pitchers. Messick exited after 108 pitches and gave the ball to Davis Johnson. Johnson walked two but also struck out two. Jonah Scolaro entered for Florida State and got through the eleventh inning unharmed. However, in the top of the twelfth, Cole thrashed Scolaro’s 2-2 offering well over the fence in left field. 

“He was throwing a lively fastball and two good offspeed pitches,” Cole said. “I was just trying to be as simple as possible, get the barrel on the ball. Got the fastball in, and I just kind of reacted.” 

The two-run shot gave Rao the cushion he needed to close out the victory.

“Bats weren’t alive most of the game, but you keep fighting,” Cole said. “Pitchers kept us in it, and we came out on top.” 

Game 2: Ninth-inning rally boosts Notre Dame

This followed a different script. Each team scratched across a run in the second inning. Putz blasted his first long ball of the series in the fourth for a 2-1 lead, which the Irish held through six innings. Junior reliever Will Mercer pitched three shutout innings of relief to keep the Seminoles at bay. However, Florida State knocked three runs across in the seventh inning taking a 4-2 lead. 

Notre Dame halved the deficit in the eighth inning. Putz again sparked the rally. The senior sliced a shot off the right field wall for an RBI double. In the ninth, senior second baseman Jared Miller answered the bell. With runners on second and third and two outs, Miller chopped one towards right field. The ball was cut off, but Miller easily beat it out to allow the tying run to score. That wasn’t all, as freshman pinch-runner Jack Penney didn’t stop motoring. The speedster flew around third and beat a slightly off-target throw. That gave the Irish a 5-4 lead, and freshman Roman Kimball closed the door. 

Game 3: Notre Dame completes the sweep

Notre Dame led almost start to finish in this one, but the game was not without drama. Cole blasted a first-inning three-run home run. Florida State matched the output with three runs of their own in the first. Putz put the Irish back in front with a two-run blast in the third inning. Florida State cut the lead to one but the Irish scored four straight to expand the lead to 9-4. 

A throwing error and sacrifice fly allowed two runs to score in the sixth. Two more insurance runs in the eight proved pivotal. After graduate student catcher David LaManna doubled in the ninth run, Florida State mounted a comeback. Jarrett used three pitchers to get through the inning but gave up three runs. Junior two-way player Jack Brannigan induced a fly-out to end the frame. 

The ninth inning was much less adventurous. Brannigan set down the Seminoles in order and gave Notre Dame the sweep. For the Irish, it’s their first series sweep over a top-10 team since 2015. They return to action on Tuesday against Butler before welcoming Clemson for a home series next weekend. 

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About Aidan Thomas

A junior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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