Before this season, the Notre Dame baseball team was picked to finish dead last in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Whoever put those preseason rankings together was dead wrong.
With the series win over Georgia Tech last weekend, Notre Dame has now won six ACC series in 2021. The Irish are in the Top 10 in two prestigious college baseball polls - the Irish come in at No. 7 in Baseball America and No. 10 in the D1 Baseball rankings. The Domers are now getting the recognition and the praise they weren’t getting before the season. Even though the Irish are getting praise, Notre Dame manager Link Jarrett isn’t worried about it. He does not pay attention to the outside noise - good or bad - and wants to keep it that way.
NC State baseball heads to South Bend to play the Fighting Irish
Currently on a six-game winning streak, the NC State baseball team heads to South Bend to play the Fighting Irish in another ACC weekend series. Notre Dame (16-6, 14-6 ACC) has been practically unstoppable in ACC play this far, winning series against Wake Forest, Clemson, Duke, No. 17 Pitt and Georgia Tech. The Fighting Irish also swept No. 21 Virginia back in mid-March and took one of two against Louisville.
Senior outfielder Ryan Cole leads the team at a .373 batting average and has also recorded 12 RBIs in just 51 at-bats. In last Saturday’s matchup against the Yellow Jackets, he went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a walk. Senior infielder Niko Kavadas is an RBI machine, leading the team with 32 RBIs as well as an impressive .333 batting average with 12 home runs. Rounding out the three most notable names is junior infielder Carter Putz, who is currently slashing .337/.402/.506 with 15 RBIs.
Niko Kavadas named to midseason watch list
Speaking of Kavadas, he just got named to the midseason watch list for one of the most prestigious awards in college baseball. The Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List was announced by USA Baseball Wednesday afternoon. Kavadas is the first Irish player to make the midseason watch list since Eric Jagielo and Dan Slania were both named to the list during the 2013 season.
“Well deserved for Niko,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “He has worked very hard and has been one of the game’s elite hitters.This is a reflection of his intensity within the at-bat combined with a gift of elite skill.”
The Granger, Ind. native has been on a tear at the plate this season and is near the top of a number of power hitting categories. Kavadas ranks No. 2 in the nation in home runs per game (0.55), No. 3 in slugging percentage (.903) and No. 5 in home runs (12). Kavadas leads the ACC in home runs per game, slugging percentage along with runs batted in per game (1.45).
Kavadas currently has 36 career home runs which is sixth best in program history and he is one shy of being in a tie for third all-time. Kavadas is also just two home runs shy of earning 10th place in program history for the most home runs in a single season.
Niko began the season hitting home runs in each of his first two at-bats against Wake Forest to tie a career high. He hit another multi-home run game later in the season in the midweek win over Valpo.
Kavadas has garnered national attention so far as we are near the halfway point of the regular season. He was named a Midseason All-American by D1Baseball and was named a second team Midseason All-American by Perfect Game.
Kavadas and the seventh-ranked Irish will be back in action on Friday as they welcome NC State for a weekend series at Frank Eck Stadium.
Coming up this weekend
Back to this weekend, Notre Dame will likely send junior Aidan Tyrell, graduate student John Michael Bertrand and junior Will Mercer out on the mound. Of those names, Bertrand has been the most successful, posing a 3-0 record at a 3.07 ERA and 33 strikeouts. Tyrell’s ERA is just above at 3.63 with 11 strikeouts, and Mercer’s ERA is at 6.00, giving up 27 hits in just 21 innings pitched.
NC State (15-11, 8-10 ACC) is red hot at the moment after taking its last game against Clemson, sweeping Boston College and winning its midweek matchups against Appalachian State and North Carolina A&T.
With 12 hits and 10 runs in its most recent game against A&T, the Wolfpack has now recorded double-digit hits in four of its past six games and double-digit runs in three of its last five games. The team has also had multi-home run games 11 times this season.
The Pack has seemed to find a groove on the mound with recent impressive performances from junior Reid Johnston, freshman Sam Highfill and freshman Matt Willadsen. Should be a great series!
The series is set to begin on Friday at 5 p.m. with games following Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m., all aired on ACC Network Extra.