Jun. 11—STARKVILLE — Notre Dame got a near-perfect weekend from its starting pitchers last weekend, and now the three left-handed starters will hope to do the same this weekend at Dudy Noble Field.
No. 10 seed Notre Dame will take the field against No. 7 Mississippi State today at 1 p.m. to start the best-of-three super regional series, and the Fighting Irish will start left-handed senior John Michael Bertrand when they do.
Bertrand, who enters with a 8-2 record and a 2.92 ERA, has won five of his last six starts and pitched a complete-game shutout with six strikeouts last weekend against Central Michigan.
Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett said he has not decided on who will start Game 2 on Sunday at 5 p.m., but it will be between left-handers Aidan Tyrell (4-1, 2.91) and Will Mercer (4-2, 4.53). Those two allowed a combined four runs in 15 innings last weekend.
"My concern this weekend is that Mississippi State handles left-handed pitching pretty good," Jarrett said on Friday. "And our guys pitch to contact. It is part of the game and this is just the way the ball bounces. (Bertrand) has to be better. He's faced teams that are competitive that handle lefties well, and he's going to have to adapt."
Mississippi State's usual lineup features a handful of left-handed hitters. Leadoff hitter Rowdey Jordan is a switch hitter, while SEC Player of the Year Tanner Allen is a left-handed hitter behind him.
Luke Hancock, Scotty Dubrule and Kellum Clark are also left-handed starters, while Brayland Skinner also comes off the bench as a lefty.
Notre Dame has four other left-handed pitchers that come out of the bullpen, but its top reliever is right-hander Tanner Kohlhepp, a sophomore transfer from Tennessee. Kohlhepp leads the team with 22 appearances and has a 7-1 record with a 2.83 ERA.
He is aware of the heavy left-handed lineup, and is prepared to face them when his name is called out of the bullpen.
"I like to go with cutters in on the hands and change ups away," Kohlhepp said of facing lefties. "That's what I'll be looking to attack and I'm looking forward to the battles I'm about to have with some of these good hitters."