A timely break for the University of Louisville baseball team, possibly just what it needs.
UofL is assured of hosting one of the 16 NCAA baseball regionals this week. Each regional will feature four teams in a double-elimination tournament that’s scheduled to start Friday and could last until June 1.
The 16 regional hosts will be announced starting at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on the NCAA Baseball social channels — @NCAACWS and https://www.facebook.com/NCAACWS. The regional hosts will also be shown on the BottomLine of the ESPN Networks starting at 9 p.m.
The announcement of the regional pairings will be televised at Noon on Monday. An ESPNU crew will be on hand to get the players’ reaction and to interview Coach Dan McDonnell.
If UofL wins the regional, it would advance to the super regionals June 5-8, with each super-regional involving two teams that play a three-game series.
The winners of the super regionals advance to the College World Series, scheduled to be played June 13-24 in Omaha.
Baseball is a slow sport, always has been, with long, drawn out games.
The baseball park is a good place to relax without an interest in the outcome of the game. Like going to a Louisville Bats game, I couldn’t care less about who wins or loses at Slugger Field. Those games are simply an escape from the frantic pace of life. Great food, good people watching. The outcome of the game usually meaningless.
It’s a totally different atmosphere at Jim Patterson Field, however. The home team is wearing University of Louisville uniforms, adding a sense of urgency at every game. We identify closely with the players and the familiar faces in the crowd. Almost every game is at least three hours long, others much longer.
The slow pace of the games only adds to the tension, with lots of drama seemingly hanging on so many Louisville at-bats and opposing hitters. If UofL wins, every minute was worth it. Lose and it’s a downer, wasted investment in effort, emotion and drama.
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A month ago Kyle Funkhouser was cruising along with a 6-2 won-lost record. He has won only one game in May, however, and now stands at 7-5. The 6-foot-3 junior, eligible for the Major League Baseball draft in three weeks, has seen his earned run average almost double from 1.94 last season to 3.29 through his last game. He has a 6.67 ERA in his last five starts vs. ACC teams, three of which were UofL losses.
It has become painful, irritating and frustrating to witness the rapid decline in effectiveness, with Funkhouser struggling to find the strike zone in the early innings, giving up too many runs against good teams. He gets better as the game goes on, but by then it is too late for UofL to recover.
Despite Funkhouser’s problems, Coach Dan McDonnell has shown no inclination toward changing his starting pitcher rotation. Difficult situation for the coach with a player who had won 18 games against four losses coming into the season. The best outcome would be to see McDonnell rewarded for his loyalty. The other outcome not so pleasant.
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Sebastian Stiefelmeyer’s bid to become the top male tennis player came to an end Friday when he lost to Columbia University’s Winston Lin, 7-5 and 6-4 in the NCAA’s Sweet 16 in Waco, Texas.
Stiefelmeyer was 43-7 in singles competition overall and 10-2 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.
Silly question but if the University of Louisville and North Carolina meet only once this season, does that mean UofL just won another series?
Of course not, but it begged to be asked. Louisville won all 10 series against ACC teams during the regular season, you know.
Off to a good start in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball championship. UofL with a come from behind 7-4 win over the Tar Heels, spotting UNC with a 4-0 deficit after three innings.
Freshman Lincoln Henzman would relieve starter Sean Leland and throw six innings of three hits and scoreless baseball while his teammates were climbing all over the North Carolina pitching staff for seven runs, two in the fourth, one in the fifth, and four in the sixth. Henzman is now 5-1 on the season.
Brendan McKay showing the way with four hits, including a home run, a double and two singles while driving in two runs and scoring two runs himself.
Zach Burdi, in relief, wrapping his ninth save while disposing of all three North Carolina batters he faced in the ninth, averaging 97 miles per hour on his fast balls.
UofL will face Clemson Thursday at 3 p.m., with Kyle Funkhouser on the mound.
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UofL’s Sebastian Stiefelmeyer defeated California’s Andre Goransson 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championship Wednesday at Baylor University.
The fifth-ranked Stiefelmeyer improves his overall singles record to 41-6 on the season. He advances to the second round to face Georgia’s No. 30 Austin Smith who upended South Florida’s 21st ranked Roberto Cid in his first round match.
Hard to imagine not playing North Carolina during an ACC baseball season. The University of Louisville and UNC will finally get together in the first round of the ACC championship event Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Durham, NC.
The teams last met during the 2007 College World Series. The Tar Heels won that game 3-1 in the quarterfinals, giving UNC a 3-0 edge in the all-time series.
The game will be televised by the Russell Sports Network, which can be found on Fox Sport South in Louisville. The channels are 70 and 930 on Time Warner Cable.
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Everything’s quiet from the Athletic Department on the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. However, the UofL Trustees’ Finance Committee recently released a $2.2 billion six-year capital plan.
The plan included $55 million for expansion in the north end of PJCS, indicating that the University is giving it a high priority in some quarters.
The plan also includes a new $71.7 instructional facility and a $198.8 million at the Health Sciences Center and a $102 research and academic center in the research park adjacent to PJCS.
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UofL’s Sebastian Stiefelmeyer was scheduled to face California’s Andre Goransson in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Singles Championship Wednesday at Waco, Texas.
Stiefelmeyer, a senior from Vienna, Austria, is the tournament’s fifth-seeded player after posting a 40-6 overall singles mark and going 22-3 in dual matches as Louisville’s No. 1 player. The 2015 first team all-ACC selection won the prestigious ITA All-American Championship in September 2014, becoming the first player in program history to win the title.
He was recently named the Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award winner.
The University of Louisville baseball team dropped a spot in the D1 Baseball’s national rankings following a week in which the Cardinals won two games and lost two.
UofL is currently ranked third, behind UCLA, which won all four of its games last week, and just ahead of Texas Christian University which also won all four of its games. LSU remains No. 1.
If there’s a good thing about dropping a spot, it’s less pressure on UofL. The Cards needed any kind of a break after seven games in nine days.
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Louisville will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference event this week. Not a tournament format until Sunday, when the two teams with the week’s best records in the four-team pods line up against each other. Here’s the schedule:
2015 ACC Baseball Championship Schedule
Tuesday, May 19
#7 Virginia vs. #10 Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#8 North Carolina vs. #9 Virginia Tech, 3 p.m. (RSN)
Wednesday, May 20
#4 Florida State vs. #5 Clemson, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#2 Miami vs. #7 Virginia/ #10 Georgia Tech, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#1 Louisville vs. #8 North Carolina/#9 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Thursday, May 21
#3 Notre Dame vs. #6 NC State, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#5 Clemson vs. #1 Louisville, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#4 Florida State vs. #8 North Carolina/#9 Virginia Tech, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Friday, May 22
#3 Notre Dame vs. #7 Virginia/ #10 Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#5 Clemson vs. #8 North Carolina/#9 Virginia Tech, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#2 Miami vs. #6 NC State, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Saturday, May 23
#1 Louisville vs. #4 Florida State, 11 a.m. (RSN)
#2 Miami vs. #3 Notre Dame, 3 p.m. (RSN)
#6 NC State vs. #7 Virginia/ #10 Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (RSN)
Sunday, May 24
ACC Championship, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
A North Carolina State team, by the way, that is going to create problems for some teams in Atlantic Coast Conference tournament next week. Like Florida State and Clemson, loaded with good hitters throughout the lineup.
The win would be the 25th for UofL during the ACC’s regular season, an all-time conference record. Equally impressive, the Cardinals won all 10 of the series against ACC teams. A season in which they were 42-14 overall and 25-5 in conference play.
The strong finish to the regular season all but guarantees that Louisville will be a top five seed in the NCAA tournament. There will be more baseball this season at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Louisville would need Nick Burdi again to finally shut them down after NC State tied the game 5-5 going into the ninth. UofL’s closer would be tapped for two hits and a walk in the bottom on the inning. But he also would strike out Logan Ratledge, Andrew Knizner and Ryne Willard, three of the Wolfpack’s best hitters along the way.
Zach Lucas with a perfect bunt in the top of the ninth to score Corey Ray who had doubled. Lucas didn’t get credit for an RBI but he made it possible. Logan Taylor’s single pushed Ryan Summers (running for Brendan McKay who had reached base on an error) and Lucas across the plate.
Seems like wins should come easier for the No. 2 team in the country. But each game appears to be equally challenging for the University of Louisville baseball team, the Cardinals hanging on for a 4-3 win Thursday over North Carolina State.
That’s obviously not going to be the case. Teams are bringing their A-games against UofL.
Another tension-packed, three-and-a-half hours, the normal life expectancy of most UofL games over the past two weeks. Made possible by six or seven pitching changes, lots of bases on balls, hits and base runners, prolonging the drama, often until the very last pitch.
The numbers keep adding up for UofL. 41 wins, 13 losses, 24-4 in conference play. One win away from establishing an all-time ACC record. The win ended a nine-game winning streak for NC State.
While it was the last thing on his mind, Dan McDonnell claimed his 400 win since taking over the helm at Louisville in 2007, taking the program on an incredible journey that continues today.
UofL has won 125 straight games when it has the lead going into the ninth inning. Zach Burdi would keep the streak alive, striking out three batters while allowing only one hit. Keeping up the family tradition started by his brother Nick, chalking up his ninth save of the season.
Kyle Funkhouser badly needed to improve after last week’s showing against Florida State. He was better, notching his seventh win against four losses, but NC State was putting a lot of runners on base, with seven hits and four bases on balls.
Logan Taylor delivered the winning run, with a double to left field that sent Zach Lucas home from third base. Lucas had walked, advanced to second base on a passed ball, and made it to their on a grounder by Will Smith.
Set aside up to four hours Friday for more of the same in the second game at 6:30 p.m.