The overall winning streak and seven-game losing streak in the Atlantic Coast Conference may have made Boston College a near victim on Friday night for No. 12 Notre Dame.
Irish sparring coach Link Jarrett was not in that mindset.
Neither did the Eagles, who hit a pair of home runs and handed ND ace John Michael Bertrand his first loss of the season in a 7-4 victory at British Columbia.
“They’re good, they’re a talented team,” Jarrett said. “Everyone they’ve played says they’re good.
“Not surprised at all. Not one. Bertrand had too many pitches in the middle of the plate, we had no secondary pitching presence, not one, until Radek (Birkholz) in the sixth inning. It was the first time we launched.”
Although Bertrand was perfect in three innings, the Eagles (17-26, 4-18) threatened early but were robbed by Irish third baseman Jack Brannigan. In the fourth, they broke through when Barry Walsh and Cameron Leary hit solo home runs and three-runs, respectively.
Jarrett and the Irish (26-10, 11-8) could have found a long-running reliever and eventual starter, however, following Bertrand’s shortest outing of the season. Birkholz threw four perfectly clean innings, striking out seven without allowing hits or walks.
“Radek did (have a secondary pitch) and it was a really good outing for him,” Jarrett said.
Getting more outings like this from Birkholz and being able to pair them cohesively with similar efforts from Roman Kimball could go a long way in charting ND’s pitching journey beyond Bertrand and Saturday starter Austin Temple at the course of the season.
“They’re just gaining valuable experience and sometimes it’s tough,” Jarrett said. “The margin for error is so slim, and you just hope they continue to mature a bit and figure out what it takes, consistency becomes more prevalent. We’ve seen flashes of both types. It’s a tough training task because you practice and try to refine what they’re doing.
“It’s part of the ebb and flow of freshmen working their way through the first season as a varsity relief pitcher.
“It’s very encouraging, but it can also be very frustrating because you put them in leverage-type roles as you go. For those guys, you can look around the ACC, there’s “There aren’t many freshmen who regularly pitch at an extremely high level. It’s just part of the learning curve that you see when they migrate to that level of baseball.
Right-hander Ryan McLinskey, who became the Irish long-sleeve goalscorer after moving to the Seton Hall scheme, is out for the season with an arm injury, according to Jarrett.
Spencer Myers continues to rehabilitate his strained oblique.
“Spencer it’s weird, it’s an oblique in his left side; throwing right-handed is kind of a weird little thing,” Jarrett said. “He’s better, he’s better. But when you start getting back into the spinning hitting part, that’s the hardest part for him. I think he could run with it now. It gets there.
The Irish nearly cut their deficit to a single run in the bottom of the sixth after a bang-bang play at first base that initially saw Jared Miller deemed safe and an errant shot that allowed the Irish to deliver two runs.
BC challenged the play, arguing that Miller had illegally run inside the base path to first base, and the umpires after lengthy review ruled out Miller and credited a double play.
“Well, they changed that rule to protect the first baseman, basically,” Jarrett said. “They said after the 45-foot line you have to be in the 45-foot lane, the box, and they said he wasn’t. At the last step you can get out of line as the base is inside the lane you will have to be there at some point but they felt like it was never really in the lane race. They don’t really have a choice, it’s a way out.
“Just the momentum of that. It obviously doesn’t help when you take races off the board, there’s momentum involved in that.
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