NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Duke right-handed pitcher Jack Carey shut down Notre Dame’s offense on Sunday.
Carey and reliever Marcus Johnson held the No. 15-ranked Irish, who were trying for the series sweep, to just one hit and two baserunners in Duke’s 2-0 victory at Frank Eck Stadium in Indiana.
The loss snaps the Irish’s seven-game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Irish are the only ACC team to not drop a series so far this season.
“Obviously, a tough ending to a good weekend,” Notre Dame coach Link Jarrett said. “It would have been a great weekend had we been able to finish this thing off today.
“Carey pitched well. We had no answer. We had some good at-bats and struck out far less than we have. But the sporadic good at-bats is not going to allow you to do anything. We did not threaten in any way.”
Duke (8-8, 4-5 ACC) scored quickly in the first inning against the Irish (9-3, 9-3).
Leadoff hitter Ethan Murray drove the game’s first pitch into the left-center field gap for a double. After center fielder Joey Loperfido laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Murray to third base, catcher Michael Rothenberg delivered a sac fly to center field to drive in Murray.
“A first pitch of the game mistake,” Jarrett said. “It usually doesn’t come back to bite you. But in a day like this, it did. They were able to score that run. That is a good team.”
In the second inning, Duke tacked on an additional run against Notre Dame lefty Aidan Tyrell.
Tyrell left a pitch over the middle of the plate and left fielder RJ Schreck capitalized on the mistake, sending the ball over the right-field wall for a home run.
The two-run lead was enough for the Blue Devils.
Carey allowed one hit and walked one batter while striking out four hitters in six innings. Johnson threw three scoreless innings to pick up the save.
Up next, the Irish will continue their homestand when they face Valparaiso on Tuesday night. They will then host nationally-ranked Louisville (14-5, 7-2) in a three-game series starting Friday night.
MLB Draft Notebook
Below is a look at some of the 2021 draft prospects who performed well on Sunday.
Niko Kavadas, 1B, Notre Dame
Kavadas is off to a strong start offensively this season. The left-handed hitter has a .302 average with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 12 games. He also has displayed solid plate discipline.
On Sunday, Kavadas was held hitless for just the second time this season. In his first at-bat, he didn’t barrel up the pitch but managed to drive the ball into left field where it was caught a few steps in front of the warning track. He struck out looking on a pitch middle-in and then flew out to left field in his final two at-bats.
Kavadas, who is 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, displayed simple mechanics and a selective approach against the Duke pitchers.
Kavadas excelled defensively in the series finale against Duke. He looked athletic and picked a ball in the dirt on a throw from third baseman Jack Brannigan. Kavadas, who mostly played third base as an underclassman, did not look out of place at first base and should stick at that position long-term.
Jarrett believes Kavadas, a senior, has made strides defensively over the last two years.
“We have gotten better at first base,” Jarrett said. “And that is very important to him. … Niko and I have talked about this a lot with his ability to make progress to become an above-average first baseman.
“If you just watch today compared to what was going on last year for him defensively, the needle has moved. Does that surprise me? Not really. It’s not as easy to just move from the other side of the diamond and learn how to do all the bag work and handle everything that comes up at first base. It is still a new position, and you are learning it at a very high level.”
Kavadas is a potential early-round pick in July’s draft. Read a detailed profile on him at Baseball Prospect Journal.
Ethan Murray, SS, Duke
Murray started the game by squaring up a mistake pitch and sending a line drive into the left-center field gap. However, that was his only hit as he grounded out twice and struck out looking in his final at-bat. The right-handed hitter displayed an aggressive approach and wasn’t afraid to swing on the first pitch.
Defensively, Murray performed well. He displayed a strong and accurate arm.
Murray made a play where he had to move toward third base to field the ball. He cleanly picked the ball, set his feet and then fired a line drive to first base to record the out. Later in the game, Murray fielded a ball up the middle and flipped the ball with his glove to Duke’s second baseman to start a double play.
Murray is hitting just .242. He is a balanced player who doesn’t have one standout tool. If he can show better results offensively this season, Murray could be a top-five-round pick.
Michael Rothenberg, C, Duke
Rothenberg is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound switch-hitting catcher. On Sunday, he drew two walks. He also drove in one run on a sacrifice fly.
Behind the plate, Rothenberg showed tools scouts seek in a pro catcher. His pre-inning throws to second base were inconsistent, sometimes taking one bounce to get to second base. But he had a few throws that displayed accuracy and plenty of arm strength.
Rothenberg framed multiple pitches to earn strike calls, including one that resulted in a strike-three call on Jack Brannigan. Despite his size, he also showed some athleticism, moving well behind the plate and jumping up quickly to field ground balls in front of him.
Rothenberg is a potential top-10-round pick in this year’s draft.
Jack Carey, RHP, Duke
Carey looked much better on Sunday than his first four appearances this season. Before Sunday, he allowed 10 runs and 11 walks in 8 1/3 innings.
The 6-foot, 205-pound righty wasn’t overpowering but mixed his pitches well and had solid control and command against Notre Dame.
Carey attached the Notre Dame hitters low in the zone. He showed confidence in his fastball, throwing it in all the strike zone quadrants while locating it well. He incorporated his slider and had an effective changeup.
In six innings, Carey allowed one hit and walked one batter while striking out four hitters. He is a potential top-10-round pick.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.