Irish sweep Clemson, earn eighth straight victory
Liam Coolican | Monday, April 11, 2022
Thanks to multiple strong pitching performances and timely hitting throughout the weekend, Notre Dame (20-5, 8-4 ACC) swept Clemson (19-12, 2-9 ACC) in a three-game set. The Irish dominated the Tigers, 4-2, 8-1 and 9-3, en route to their second consecutive ACC series sweep and eighth straight victory.
“Proud of the way we played, in all phases of the game,” head coach Link Jarrett said after Sunday’s victory. “I’m just very proud of the focus and the way they went about it.”
Bertrand dazzles Friday night
In the series opener Friday night, staff ace John Michael Bertrand dazzled. He allowed just four hits and one unearned run while pitching into the ninth, striking out eight batters in the process. With the victory, he lowered his ERA to a conference-leading 1.53.
The Irish loaded the bases in the first inning and couldn’t score, but they were able to push two runs across in the second after graduate student outfielder Spencer Myers scored senior outfielder Brooks Coetzee with a bunt single, and junior third baseman Jack Brannigan drove in graduate student catcher David LaManna with an RBI single in the next at bat.
“They’re confident,” Jarrett said of the team’s offense. “No moment that we’ve been in seems to be too much for the guys.”
Clemson got one back in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a throwing error and a dropped third strike, but Bertrand shut the Tigers down for the remainder of the contest — he didn’t allow another hit until the ninth inning.
“Bertrand was exceptional,” Jarrett said.
The Irish added an insurance run in the fifth, after Brannigan doubled, advanced to third and scored on a passed ball. They tacked on their fourth and final run of the contest in the eighth inning, when Nick Juaire plated Carter Putz on a sacrifice fly.
Bertrand came back out for the ninth inning to try for the complete game, but after striking out the first batter he faced, allowed a walk and a single. Graduate student reliever Ryan McLinsnkey came on for the Irish and induced a game-ending double play from the first batter he faced to seal the victory for Notre Dame.
Temple delivers on mound as offense mashes four home runs Saturday
Putz led the way for the Irish in the second game of the series Saturday night, going 3-5 at the plate while driving in 5 runs. He now leads the Irish with 36 hits and 24 RBIs.
“He’s a smart hitter,” Jarrett said of Putz. “The game planning, and what he’s trying to do when he goes up there, his vision, his ability to pick up the ball on the spin, that’s what makes him a hitter.”
Notre Dame got another great start, this time from graduate transfer Austin Temple, who tied a career high with 9 strikeouts over 5.1 innings. McLinskey delivered 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, and sophomore Jackson Dennies and freshman Radek Birkholz combined to close the game out for the Irish.
Jarrett credited Temple’s curveball for his success Saturday.
“The game has almost gone away from the true curve,” Jarrett said. “It’s a power, over the top curveball, so it’s good. When he can land that, and that fastball is in the low to mid-90s, it’s an awkward game plan as a hitter to deal with that.”
Juaire got Notre Dame started offensively with a solo home run in the bottom of the second, and in the third, Putz extended the lead with a two-run single. Coetzee homered in the sixth, before Putz blew the game open with a three-run homer in the seventh. Danny Neri added the Irish’s fourth home run in the contest to make the score 8-0 in the eighth inning.
Clemson avoided a shutout with a sacrifice fly in the final inning, but it was too little too late for the Tigers as the Irish sealed the series win.
Bullpen arms, timely hitting lead Irish to sweep
Senior left-hander Will Mercer got the call for the Irish to conclude the series Sunday afternoon, and pitched three scoreless frames, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out two. Mercer typically comes out of the bullpen, but the Irish have struggled to find a consistent third starter behind Bertrand and Temple.
“When you’re trying to look at, alright we’ve got to get through one game, and these are the arms we have, then just start the guy that benefits from the warm up that a starting pitcher benefits from,” Jarrett said.
Putz put the Irish ahead in the second inning, scoring graduate student second baseman Jared Miller with a single to right field. They loaded the bases in the third but couldn’t add to the lead. Brannigan worked a great at bat, fouling off numerous pitches, but struck out looking on the eighth pitch he saw to end the frame.
Freshman Roman Kimball came on to replace Mercer in the fourth inning, and immediately gave up a long home run which tied the contest at one but escaped the inning without further damage after stranding a runner at third.
In the fourth, the Irish retook the lead and then some. Pinch-hitter Jack Zyska drove in Coetzee with an RBI double, two batters later, Brannigan showed off his speed, beating out a fielders’ choice to drive Zyska in. Putz capped the inning off with a two-run double.
Notre Dame looked poised to extend the lead even further as they loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth but were only able to push one run across on a sacrifice fly from Myers.
Clemson chipped into the lead in the sixth inning, thanks to back-to-back home runs — including the second of the game from third baseman Max Wagner. Kimball was pulled for senior Alex Rao, who induced a double play to get out of the inning.
“The pitching plays off the defense, and some of the stuff that happened out there defensively was absolutely phenomenal today,” Jarrett said.
Myers added another in the seventh for Notre Dame as he singled, driving in Neri, and the Irish bats stayed hot in the eighth. Miller and graduate student outfielder Ryan Cole both homered, extending the lead to 9-3. Rao tossed 3.1 innings without allowing a hit to close the game out for the Irish and earn the save.
Next up for the Irish is a midweek battle with Michigan, before returning to the road for a three-game set with Duke.