OMAHA — Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett has said multiple times throughout his team’s postseason run that his group’s calling card is a combination of pitching and defense.

On Tuesday afternoon against Texas A&M, a mix of costly mental errors in the field and inconsistent pitching on the mound ultimately helped end Notre Dame’s magical season at the College World Series, falling to the Aggies, 5-1, during an elimination game in Omaha, Nebraska.

“That wasn’t indicative of how our team plays,” Jarrett said. “But we just gave (Texas A&M) so many opportunities to capitalize. And they did. We tried to pride ourselves on the pitch execution and the defense. And (Tuesday), those things got us a little bit.

“I’ve been in this position as a player. You’re trying so hard to keep this thing from getting away that I think you almost, you’re trying to do a little bit too much. When you’re in an elimination game, I think that sometimes is a hard mechanism to step back from and just kind of settle and play. I didn’t feel like we ever got into any real rhythm.”

A big reason the Fighting Irish weren’t able to establish a rhythm Tuesday was Texas A&M sophomore Nathan Dettmer.

After a horrendous outing against Oklahoma in Omaha last Friday — seven earned runs on four hits during 1.2 innings pitched — the righty threw a gem against Notre Dame with his team facing elimination.

The sophomore pitched seven innings, allowing no runs and three hits while striking out six.

“I thought Dettmer did a fantastic job,” Jarrett said. “He had four pitches in play. His fastball had good movement. We never could square it up. We tried some adjustments in the box, but clearly not enough to figure it out.”

“He mixed (his pitches) well,” added Notre Dame senior Brooks Coetzee of Dettmer. “His pitches had depth. He had the sinker going. He had the fastball’s run going. Had the change-up going. Like nothing was going straight, and he was pitching everybody differently. He didn’t fall into tendencies. My first at-bat was different than my second at-bat. You just tip the cap to him.”

For the Irish on the mound, junior Liam Simon got the nod to start the game and was effective early.

Simon struck out the side in the first before preceding to fight out of a jam that featured multiple A&M runners on base in the second, using a pair of strikeouts to end the frame.

The top of the third is when things started to unravel for the Irish.

The half inning began with a four-pitch walk to Aggies junior Jordan Thompson. He’d then advance to second due to a called balk on Simon while he was facing graduate senior Kole Kaler.

Kaler would eventually reach base on a single that Notre Dame senior Jared Miller couldn’t reach in shallow center from his spot at second base.

With runners on second and third with no outs, Simon was pulled after walking sophomore Trevor Werner to load the bases.

Notre Dame’s top reliever during the postseason in freshman Jack Findlay was called on to limit the damage, and he got off to a fantastic start by striking out the first batter he’d face in sophomore Jack Moss.

However, that momentum wouldn’t last much longer after graduate senior Dylan Rock hit a sharp ground ball to junior Jack Brannigan at third base during the next at-bat.

Brannigan tried to make the play to first, but senior Carter Putz couldn’t handle the one-hopper. The ball ricocheted off the heel of Putz’s glove and toward the wall in foul territory.

The bad defense allowed both Thompson and Kaler to score, giving the Aggies a 2-0 advantage. Sophomore Ryan Targac later added to the inning with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Werner, putting A&M up by three runs after two and-a-half innings.

In the batter’s box, things didn’t get much better for the Irish as the game went on.

Notre Dame didn’t register a hit until the bottom of the fourth when graduate senior David LaManna singled up the middle with one out. The Irish would get their second hit of the game on a lead-off double by Miller, but three-straight outs ended any threat of Notre Dame cutting into a deficit that had grown to five at that point.

Some success was seen later in the contest during the bottom of the eighth after Dettmer was pulled for freshman Brad Rudis. Coetzee put Notre Dame on the board with a solo home run to left as the first batter Rudis faced.

Rudis would then hit graduate senior Ryan Cole with a pitch before walking graduate senior Spencer Myers to put runners on first and second with nobody out in the frame.

The Aggies quickly made a change on the mound, replacing Rudis with junior Joseph Menefee. The southpaw’s presence made the difference for A&M, as he’d strike out Putz before forcing LaManna into an inning-ending double play.

Down to their final three outs in the bottom of the ninth, Notre Dame got the lead-off batter on base with a Brannigan walk. Unfortunately, he’d be picked off between first and second soon after, adding to the list of mistakes that cost the Irish Tuesday.

From there, sophomore Nick Juaire struck out and senior Zack Prajzner popped out to end both the game and the season for the Irish.

Notre Dame’s 2022 campaign ends sourly, but a 41-17 record and the team’s first trip to Omaha in 20 years will make it one not many in the South Bend community will forget for quite some time.

“We emptied the tank,” Coetzee said. “It was not for lack of effort, and not for a lack of wanting to be here. It just didn’t fall our way (Tuesday).

“The future for Notre Dame baseball is bright. We’re one of the best teams in its history, our group. And it didn’t reflect that (Tuesday). Not the outcome we were looking for, but the stuff we were able to do, the group of guys we had, everything was special.”

Trending Video