Irish Blank Hokies, Face UVA for Semifinal Berth

Irish Blank Hokies, Face UVA for Semifinal Berth

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( – After living up to its billing as the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship’s top-seeded team on Wednesday, Notre Dame turned its attention to Friday and its quest to reach the semifinals.

Starter Will Mercer and two relievers combined on a four-hitter, and Jared Miller drove in two runs with a pair of extra-base hits as the Fighting Irish blanked 12th-seeded Virginia Tech 8-0 in Wednesday afternoon’s Pool A game at Truist Field.

Next up for Notre Dame (30-10) is Friday’s 11 a.m. game against No. 8 Virginia (28-22), with the winner advancing to Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal versus the Pool D winner (Duke or Miami).

The Fighting Irish hit the 30-win mark for the first time since the 2015 squad finished 37-23 en route to an NCAA regional bid. Notre Dame also claimed its first victory in the ACC Baseball Championship since that 2015 season.

Mercer (3-2) yielded all three Virginia Tech base hits but walked no batters and struck out three before giving way to right-hander Alex Rao after five innings. Rao worked three innings of hitless relief before Liam Simon finished up in the ninth.

Wednesday’s game was a scoreless duel until the top of the fifth, when Zack Prajzner raced home from third on a wild pitch to put the Irish in front 1-0.

Miller led off the sixth with his fourth home run of the season, triggering a three-run inning for Notre Dame. The Marietta, Georgia, native followed with an RBI triple in the top of the seventh, and then scored on Brooks Coetzee’s single for a 6-0 Notre Dame lead.

The Fighting Irish tacked on their final two runs in the top of the ninth on Coetzee’s sacrifice fly and Prajzner’s RBI single.

Jaison Heard (3-4), the second of eight Virginia Tech pitchers, took the loss despite yielding only the first Notre Dame run in his 3 1/3 innings of work. The Hokies (27-25) concluded play in the 2021 ACC Baseball Championship with Wednesday’s game.