It’s tough to take a Fighting Irish out of Brian O’Connor.
The Virginia conduct manager was a former pitching manager during Notre Dame for 9 years underneath Paul Mainieri, and during a time he deliberate it a dream job. To him, Notre Dame was most deeper than a place of employment. You have to strech all a approach behind to his grade-school days to know his adore for a Golden Domers.
Despite flourishing adult in Council Bluffs, Iowa, opposite a Missouri stream from college baseball’s mecca in Omaha, Nebraska, O’Connor’s father would container him and his hermit in a family truckster and make a eight-hour expostulate easterly to South Bend, Indiana, to see Notre Dame football games.
“I desired Notre Dame,” O’Connor said. “Being an Irish Catholic, my father engrained a adore for Notre Dame from when we was a kid. We finished adult going to a integrate of games in South Bend. It was a enchanting place for me.”
After a ball career that enclosed pitching for Creighton in a College World Series, removing drafted by a Phillies and spending a year in a minors, O’Connor knew he wanted to get into coaching. Then-Creighton manager Jack Dahm hired O’Connor to be his pitching manager in 1993. A year later, like magic, he got a call from Mainieri to come to Notre Dame.
It was as if he had found a four-leaf clover in his pocket: O’Connor couldn’t trust his luck.
“Coach Mainieri unequivocally took a possibility on me,” he said. “When he called me to come there and be his assistant, we was only consumed with operative as tough as possible. we was 23 years aged and had to learn only about everything, from how to conduct a diversion to how to conduct people to training all about recruiting.”
While in South Bend, he helped a module strech rare heights, including a No. 1 ranking in 2001 and a College World Series coming in 2002. During his 9 years, a Irish went 399-160-1 and done 6 trips to a NCAA tournament.
The offense was another enlivening sign. Going into a array with an malnutritioned .260 group average, a Cavaliers’ sticks raked for a .307 normal and also culled 15 walks in a 3 games in wintry temperatures.
Leadoff male Adam Haseley was a firestarter, heating adult a 7-for-13 opening with 3 walks. Another splendid mark was saying catcher Robbie Coman lapse to movement after sitting out a prior 4 weeks with an injury. He played initial bottom in a 3 games and went 4-for-11 during a plate.
“Having Robbie come behind was huge,” O’Connor said. “You know, we mislaid a tip dual returning hitters from final year in Joe McCarthy and John La Prise, so we have been starting during slightest 4 freshman, infrequently even 5 or six, and it’s tough to be unchanging when we have that most youth. Getting Coman behind will be unequivocally large for us.”
Still, O’Connor knows where a predestine of this group lives — on a mound, where Kirby (4-1, 1.01 warranted run average), Connor Jones (4-1, 2.88) and Brandon Waddelll (2-1, 3.47) have all stayed on indicate this season.
“For us, it all starts with starting pitching,” O’Connor said. “When we’ve scuffled, it’s been since of craziness on a pile within a bullpen. But we also need to do a improved pursuit with a infield defense. Our left side hasn’t been as solid as we were final year, and it’s harm us.”
With weekends opposite Louisville, Georgia Tech and Miami adult next, O’Connor knows he can gaunt on a knowledge of his past for inspiration.
“I talked to Coach Mainieri on Monday after a Notre Dame series,” he said. “I schooled my substructure of coaching from him. He taught me all about a diversion of ball and how to conduct it, so he knew it was good for us to go adult to South Bend and win that series. It’s going to assistance a confidence.”
Did Mainieri get on O’Connor for violence his aged group in 3 straight?
“No,” O’Connor said, laughing. “He knows who is signing my paychecks now.”