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Irish score 42 runs, erase six-run deficit on Sunday to sweep Demon Deacons

| Monday, April 25, 2022

Notre Dame baseball earned another conference sweep, this time dispatching Wake Forest. The three victories improved their record in South Bend to 12-1. The series had a little bit of everything. It saw another great pitching performance from graduate student ace John Michael Bertrand on Friday, a record-setting offensive performance on Saturday, and a come from behind victory in the series finale. The offense was impressive throughout the series, combining for 42 runs across the three games. 

“Every team in the league is capable of … getting to a Super Regional and beyond, it’s the deepest I think the ACC’s ever been,” assistant coach Chuck Ristano said after Sunday’s win. “To show that kind of grit on a Sunday is a really big deal.” 

Pitching, offense, get off to hot start in series opener

The Irish got off to a hot start in the opening game of the series Friday night, adding a pair of runs in the second inning and adding two more in the fourth. Wake Forest cut the deficit in half, taking advantage of an Irish error to score twice in the seventh. But, in the bottom half of the inning, Notre Dame blew the game open. Sophomore catcher Nick Juaire tripled in a run, senior right fielder Brooks Coetzee brought him in with a sacrifice fly. Senior left fielder Jack Zyska added an RBI single. 

Zyska had a phenomenal series, going 3-4 in Friday’s opener and adding two home runs that keyed the comeback win on Sunday. He leads the team with a 0.367 batting average this year. 

In the eighth, senior first baseman Carter Putz brought home another run when he walked with the bases loaded. Wake Forest added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to make the final score 8-3, but sophomore reliever Jackson Dennies was able to close the game out. 

It was another strong start for Bertrand, who tossed six innings, allowing two runs while striking out four. Senior right-hander Alex Rao came on for 2.1 innings in relief.

Irish bats set program record in Game 2 

The Irish brought the offensive fireworks in the second game of the series, setting a program record for most runs in an ACC contest with 21. The Irish didn’t waste any time, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first capped off with a three-run home run from graduate student catcher David LaManna. 

The Irish scored again in the second, before junior third baseman Jack Brannigan added another three-run blast in the third. In the fourth, the Irish tacked on four more runs courtesy of RBIs from LaManna, graduate student second baseman Jared Miller, and graduate student outfielder Ryan Cole. Senior shortstop Zack Prajzner homered in the sixth, followed by the first career home run from sophomore outfielder Brady Gumpf. Zsyka doubled in Putz to make the score 17-3. 

The Irish tacked on four more runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make the score look more like a football score than a baseball score on the afternoon of the Blue and Gold game. 

On the pitching side, graduate student Austin Temple tossed 4.1 innings of two-run ball, while freshman southpaw Jack Findlay earned the win with 3.1 innings of relief, allowing just one unearned run. 

Irish erase 6-run deficit, walk off Demon Deacons in wild finale 

The series finale was a wild, back-and-forth contest which saw a combined 25 runs and 11 pitchers used between the two teams. The Irish overcame an early 8-2 deficit and head coach Link Jarrett’s seventh inning ejection to stun the Demon Deacons 13-12 on Putz’s walk-off single. 

Wake Forest jumped out to a 2-0 lead right away in the top of the first, and added another in the third, before freshman third baseman Jack Penny got the Irish on the board with a 2-run triple. 

The Deacons responded immediately, scoring five runs in the fifth, but the Irish were able to match that with five of their own in the bottom half of the frame. The inning lasted more than an hour and the teams combined to use six pitchers. 

“Today, we didn’t have a guy who came in and took control, but we kept it just steady enough to allow our offense to get it rolling,” Ristano said of the pitching staff Sunday. 

In the sixth, Wake Forest hit a three-run home run which extended the lead to four runs, but Zyska drove a deep home run to left field in the bottom half of the frame. 

“The guys did a good job staying focused and finding ways to score, and they knew they can do that,” assistant coach Rich Wallace said of the comeback. 

Jarrett was ejected after a prolonged argument with the home plate umpire while the Irish changed pitchers. Notre Dame’s staff combined to walk 9 batters in the contest, including twice with the bases loaded. 

In the seventh, after Putz drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, Zyska unloaded again to left field, this time a three-run homer which tied the game. The game appeared as if it could be headed to extra innings, but after Coetzee singled and advanced to second on an error, Putz drove him in with a single up the middle to walk it off for the Irish. His teammates spilled out of the dugout and mobbed Putz in shallow centerfield. 

Senior left-hander Aidan Tyrell got the victory for the Irish, tossing the last three innings of the contest without allowing a run, after the first six Irish pitchers had all struggled throughout the day. “We wanted to have a guy who, quite frankly, had done it before,” Ristano said. “It was nice to see somebody give you for the first time in six or seven innings, the idea that ‘Hey I’m in control and this one’s in my hands.’” 

Next up for the Irish is a Tuesday trip to face Michigan State at Detroit’s Comerica Park, before returning to South Bend for a three-game set with Boston College.

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