Future Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet helps his high school team to state baseball title

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

On June 19, Cole Kmet’s future as a tight end for the Notre Dame football team begins to come into focus.

On Saturday, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound soon-to-be Irish freshman reinforced why doubling up in baseball at Notre Dame isn’t such far-fetched idea.

A day after pitching his Arlington Heights St. Viator baseball team into the Illinois Class 3-A state title, Kmet played center field and helped slug the Lions to their first state championship in the sport.

St. Viator (25-15) beat Chicago Heights Marian, 10-8, at Joliet, Ill., in the title game, avenging two regular-season losses to Marian and completing a dominant seven-game run through the state playoffs that started with the Lions barely over the .500 mark.

Their closest margin of victory along the way until Saturday was five runs. On Saturday, St. Viator blew an 8-1 lead, but scored two runs in the top of the seven to break the 8-8 tie. Kmet, who batted better than .435 this season, was 1-of-2 with an RBI. His hit was a double.

Kmet was the winning pitcher in both the 13-4 quarterfinal victory over Benet Academy on Monday and the 11-1 six-inning, mercy-rule waxing of Aurora Marmion Academy in Friday’s semifinals.

In that game, Kmet (8-3) allowed six hits and a walk, while striking out nine. At the plate, he was 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.

“He’s a once in a lifetime player,” St. Viator coach Mike Manno told the Tribune earlier in the tourney. “And I’m not talking about just being an athlete. He’s such a unique kid. He’s well beyond his years. Tremendous leadership qualities, has a great sense of selflessness with other people.

“It’s all about team first. With all the accolades he gets, it’s always been about the team. It’s never been about him.”

Kmet, the son of former Purdue standout defensive lineman Frank Kmet, hopes to add baseball to his full plate at Notre Dame at some point.

For now, he’ll start classes on June 19 and beginning summer football conditioning with the rest of the Irish. Notre Dame opens the 2017 season at home against Temple.

A year ago at this time tight end Cole Kmet was making catches at Notre Dame's Irish Invasion camp. In about a week. he's embarking on what looks like it will be a two-sport career at ND. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)