Despite Major League Baseball announcing the cancellation of Spring Training games and no hope in sight for the end of their lockout, baseball diamonds in the sunshine state are starting to see action as the weather warms up.
The no. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish headed down to Deland, Florida to open up their season in the Hatter Classic this past Friday through Sunday. The Irish took on the Manhattan Jaspers on Friday, Stetson Hatters on Saturday, and Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens on Sunday. After taking two of three over the weekend, the Irish rose two spots to number two in the Baseball America poll.
Game 1: Notre Dame 17 (1-0) - Manhattan 2 (0-1)
Win: Tyrell Aidan, ND (1-0)
Loss: Tyler Fagler, Manhattan (0-1)
The opener was all Irish from the start. Jared Miller, who had 24 runs batted in in 38 games last year, drove in Spencer Myers on a sacrifice fly. Later that inning, a DM Jefferson single drove in Carter Putz to make it 2-0. Two home runs by Brooks Coetzee III and another by Jack Zyska contributed to 17 Notre Dame runs on the evening.
Starter Aidan Tyrell was given the ball for the opener. The senior captain went four innings, allowing no earned runs while striking out six. After his exit, Liam Simon tossed three innings of no-hit ball while striking out five.
Game 2: Notre Dame 5 (2-0) - Stetson 3 (1-1)
Win: John Michael Bertrand, ND (1-0)
Loss: Jonathan Gonzalez, Stetson (0-1)
Save: Ryan McLinskey, ND (1)
Saturday’s matchup proved to be more of a challenge than the opener for Link Jarrett’s squad. The Hatters opened the scoring in the first. The unearned run would be the only given up by starter John Michael Bertrand, who went six innings while striking out eight. The Irish tied it in the third with a textbook sacrifice bunt by Myers to drive in Zack Prajzner.
In what would be a huge fourth innings for the Irish, Coetzee broke the tie thanks to a throwing error. With two runners in scoring position, David LaManna belted a two-RBI single to make it 4-1. LaManna was then driven in thanks to a Ryan Cole single. After the Hatters made it 5-3, Ryan McLinskey shut the door with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning.
Game 3: Notre Dame 4 (2-1) - Delaware 5 (1-2)
Win: Zach Klapak, Delaware (1-0)
Loss: Caden Aoki, ND (0-1)
Early on, it appeared the Irish would completed their tournament sweep on Sunday morning, against a Delaware squad that was still in search of their first victory. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, Notre Dame had a 3-0 lead thanks to a Jack Brannigan double in the second, and sacrifice RBI’s from Putz and Danny Neri in the fourth and fifth, respectively.
However, the Blue Hens responded with two runs of their own in the fifth. While Irish got one back in the next half inning, Delaware scored two more to tie the game up after starter Austin Temple was pulled.
After freshman Roman Kimball was pulled, Jarrett went to another freshman in Caden Aoki. Aoki found his way out of the jam in the sixth, then retired the Blue Hens in order in the seventh and eighth before surrendering a walk-off solo home run to Aidan Kane.
The Irish will travel to Greenville, SC four four games against the Marist Red Foxes and Monmouth Hawks, beginning on Friday, February 25. The games can be streamed on the Greenville Drive YouTube Channel.