The Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team opened NCAA Tournament play today with their first game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Despite being a top 16 team in the rankings, they weren’t chosen to host a Regional and thus had to travel to the Statesboro Regional to get the postseason started. While Notre Dame still has a good chance to come out of their Regional, the home field advantage would have been a big deal, as the Irish are 17-3 at home this year and only 10-8 on the road.
Notre Dame 3 - Texas Tech 2
Win: Will Mercer, ND (2-1)
Loss: Chase Hampton, TTU (5-4)
Save: Aidan Tyrell, ND (2)
Recently named Third Team All-American John Michael Bertrand started the game for Notre Dame and found himself in trouble early, loading the bases in the top half of the first inning. He managed to strikeout two with the bases loaded though and found his way out of the jam without allowing a run. In the bottom half of the first inning Notre Dame capitalized on their opportunity when David LaManna doubled home two runs for the early Irish lead. The early lead was followed immediately by a weather delay though with the game stopping for lightning in the area while the Irish were still threatening.
After a delay of about six hours that started with lightning and turned into rain, the game finally resumed without the game’s starting pitchers. Liam Simon came into pitch for Notre Dame and was strong, striking out 8 batters over 3 innings. The strikeouts were needed though, as Simon and Alex Rao, who followed him, worked into and out of trouble for most of the next six innings. Notre Dame did the same on offense though, putting runners on base without being able to bring anybody home.
The two teams traded threats back and forth until the eighth inning, when Texas Tech finally broke through to tie the game. After being shut down with runners in scoring position all game, Easton Murrell finally cashed in, driving in two runners with a single back up the middle. Will Mercer managed to end the rally though and keep the score tied.
David LaManna led off the bottom of the eighth inning for Notre Dame and reached base on catcher’s interference. Jared Miller pinch ran for LaManna and stole his way to third base. After Jack Penney was retired Jack Brannigan came up for Notre Dame. He wasn’t needed though, as a wild pitch allowed Miller to score from third. Will Mercer, Jackson Dennies, and Aidan Tyrell each retired a batter in the top of the ninth inning to hold onto the win for Notre Dame and move them into the winner’s bracket.
The weather delay wiped out the second game of the day, so Georgia Southern and UNC Greensboro will start off a Saturday triple header for the Statesboro Regional. Notre Dame will face the winner of that matchup in the winner’s bracket tomorrow, with the time of the game still to be determined.