In a hard-fought ACC battle against No. 15 Georgia Tech (15-12, 12-9 ACC) over the weekend, Notre Dame (15-6, 14-5) won the first two games of the series with a 10-9 comeback victory on Friday and a dominant 7-0 triumph on Saturday.
The Irish, however, lost 4-2 in the series finale on Sunday, recording just seven hits and leaving six runners on base.
After the loss on Sunday, head coach Link Jarrett noticed how frustrated his players were despite winning a series over a top-15 conference opponent. Jarrett welcomed such a reaction, especially since Notre Dame failed to post a record above .500 in the four seasons prior to his arrival.
“These guys, they take care of the little things,” Jarrett said. “They know when there’s something that hasn’t gone right. It bothers them, and some of them need to be able to quickly assess it, try to learn from it and then — it’s not easy — but then put it away and get back to business.
“I enjoy sitting out there and getting the sense that they feel how I feel — that you had a chance to win three games in a row against a really good team, and you didn’t. They’re really down about it. Not sad, but mad and hungry to have it not feel that way. So if that’s a shift in culture, which I would assume it is, it’s great.”
Notre Dame has yet to drop an ACC series since Jarrett took over prior to the 2020 season. This includes a sweep of North Carolina last spring just before the COVID-19 pandemic cut Jarrett’s inaugural season short at 13 games.
“To win a weekend series in this league is not easy,” Jarrett said. “I do appreciate what we’ve been able to accomplish and see some of the growth in some of the players. When you see growth in the players and they go out and play as a team, you should be a better team.”
National college baseball pundits agree with Jarrett’s assessment and see Notre Dame as a much-improved program. Two rankings vaulted the Irish into the top 10 after defeating the Yellow Jackets twice this past weekend.
Notre Dame’s Ranking In Various College Baseball Polls
Notre Dame last cracked Baseball America’s top-10 midway through the 2006 season. It was Paul Mainieri’s last year as the program’s head coach.
Their highest finish in the poll came in 2002, when the Irish went to the College World Series and ended the season ranked No. 6 by Baseball America.
How Notre Dame Cracked the Top 10
Three weeks ago, Notre Dame was 10-3 and considered an early-season surprise in College Baseball. Picked to finish dead last in the ACC Atlantic prior to the season, the Irish were firmly in the top-25, but questions about the team’s long-term viability remained.
Could the Irish contend with the top teams in the ACC? How would they fare once they could no longer sneak up on teams?
It was clear the upcoming slate of back-to-back-to-back ACC series against Louisville, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech — three teams in the top 20 at the time — would serve as an opportunity for Notre Dame to prove they were for real.
Over that stretch, Notre Dame went 5-3 and has yet to lose a three-game weekend series. The Irish split the first two games with Louisville before game three was postponed indefinitely due to inclement weather.
The Irish then handled business the following two weekends, taking two out three games from the Panthers and Yellow Jackets.
With a 14-6 conference record, Notre Dame is barely behind currently ranked No. 2 Louisville (20-10, 12-5) for the best team winning percentage in the ACC.
“I didn’t know we had [one of] the best records in the ACC, and I don’t really care,” Jarrett said. “I just want to continue to see us play good baseball and move forward and keep developing these guys. Then when the dust settles, you are what you are, and it hasn’t settled yet.
“For me, I try to look at the next day, like what can we work on and how do we get a little bit better? There are things already on my mind for this week.”
Notre Dame returns to action on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET in a home game against a strong Central Michigan team (17-9, 9-3 MAC).
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