The formula was simple for Notre Dame on Saturday. Win their final game against West Virginia and they would make the post season. If they didn't win, they'd have to wait to find out their fate. The Irish chose the first route and took care of business.
Sophomore Jeff Samardzija (7-1) cruised on the mound until a shaky fourth inning where he allowed the only Mountaineer runs. But Samardzija settled down and was able to throw seven solid innings while giving up just three runs.
Closer Ryan Doherty came in and gave the Irish two scoreless, hitless innings to close out West Virginia.
The big bats also showed up on Saturday as the Irish also added 14 hits and five doubles to secure the 7-3 win over the Mountaineers.
The Irish were led by red hot Craig Cooper at the plate. Cooper finished 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI on the day. Matt Edwards (4-for-4, R, RBI), Alex Nettey (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI) and Cody Rizzo (2-for-3, R) also had hot bats at the plate.
Irish coach Paul Mainieri was thrilled and relieved to capture a spot in the Big East Tournament.
"I told them that I hope Rutgers sweeps Seton Hall, and I hope that Pittsburgh sweeps Georgetown. I want us to have to win all three games," said Mainieri about what he told his team before this weekend.
"I think we've now accomplished something special that you can be proud of," he continued. "Now that we've done it, I think we're going to go to the Big East Tournament with a lot of confidence and momentum and feel like we can beat anybody."
Notre Dame (33-22-1) is seeded third in the tournament and will face second-seeded Boston College (36-18) in Thursday's second game of the tournament begin at 7 PM EDT.
Mainieri said he's uncertain which pitcher will start for Notre Dame in Thursday's matchup.
"I haven't thought about anything about the tournament. I haven't even made flight reservations," said Mainieri with a laugh when asked who might start for Notre Dame. "I've never done it until we've clinched a spot, and this year we didn't clinch a spot until the last day of the season so I haven't even thought about a starting pitcher for game one."