Report: Cardinal Stadium cabooses safe for now

Halfway through another one of those long hot summers and, thus far, UofL has managed to avoid any of those mid-summer controversies that seemed to plague UofL over the last decade. One of those boring long hot summers, thank goodness.

Six weeks to go, however, keeping the fingers crossed.

College athletics being what they, disruption of the status quo is a constant threat, often lingering beneath the surface, capable of surfacing at any time. No word from the NCAA about the after effects of the FBI probe and how Louisville basketball will be impacted.

The University of Louisville baseball team kept the excitement going until late June, reaching the College World Series for the fifth time in 13 seasons. This time making to college baseball’s final four before losing to Vanderbilt, the eventual national champion.

Not much else for UofL fans to get excited about unless one closely follows  the recruitment on unpredictable teenage athletes. The most significant news has been the announcement from Athletic Director Vince Tyra that approximately 42,000 seats are being painted at Cardinal Stadium this summer.

Apparently the threat of Cardinal Stadium losing the cabooses that emerged in mid-March has gone away. The UofL Athletic Association was threatening not to renew the leases of the 14 cabooses, making only about $15,000 annually in that prime space.

The word from a source close to the situation told Card Game this week that “Maury (Buchart, who owns the cabooses) is keeping them, the U has kinda let it go. too many big donors complained, status quo for a while.”

So that’s good news, at least on the game day atmosphere front. Maybe not so great from the revenue raising side.

Stay tuned. Dog days of summer straight ahead.

Hadwin oh so close with fourth-place finish in 3M Open

Calloway screen shot

So close but yet so far, a couple inches here, a tiny more aggressive there. What could have been during the 3M Open’s final day on Sunday.

Adam Hadwin just three strokes behind the leaders.

The re-emergence of a local golfer on the circuit may have given University of Louisville fans a renewed enthusiasm for PGA competition during the summer months.

Adam Hadwin, a former UofL golfer, has actually been on the PGA circuit since he went professional in 2009. He’s 31 years old and a native of Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan, Canada. His father Gerry is a golf club professional who joined the Canadian PGA in 1979.

Hadwin raised his game to a new level over the weekend, finishing fourth with in the 3M Open at Blaine, Minn. He was 18-under-par for the tournament, finishing three strokes behind Michael Wolff at -21 and Bryan DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa, who tied for second at -20.

He was among the leaders all four days, starting off with a seven-under-par 67 in the opening round. For the tournament, he had 26 birdies and eight bogies. Hadwin won a total of $307,000 for his fourth place finish, according to UofL stats guru Kelly Dickey.

He has participated in 25 PGA events this year, including the PGA Open at Harding Park at San Francisco in May. He was in a five-way tie for 29th in that one, finishing with a 5-over-par. He also has competed twice in the Masters and twice in the U.S. Open.

His previous best finish was a 14-under-par win in 2017 in the Valspar Championship, a PGA event at the Innisbrook Resort near Tampa in 2017. He took home $1,134,000 that day.

 

McKay still looking for first hit after start as designated hitter

Brendan McKay following his final home game and a win for the University of Louisville over Kentucky in the 2016 Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium (Charlie Springer photo).

Brendan McKay, fresh off a remarkable first pitching start in Major League Baseball over the weekend, made another debut on Monday with Tampa Bay. This time at the plate for the Rays against the Baltimore Orioles.

This one, not quit as impressive, with the former University of Louisville baseball star going 0-for-4 as the designated hitter, batting eighth in the lineup in a 6-3 win over the visiting Orioles.

“I felt like I had some good at-bats,” he said after the game. “Obviously not the results you want. Now it’s just time to find holes in the defense and get your first hit out of the way.”

Two of his at-bats were against Tom Eshelman, a former pitcher at Cal State Fullerton, who threw against UofL in the 2015 Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.  McKay grounded out to first with the bases loaded and two outs to end the first inning and a fourth-inning grounder against Eshelman who was making his major league debut.

McKay got picked off second base in the sixth after reaching on the fielder’s choice.

“To see him on the other side, it was kind of funny,” Eshelman said. “I knew what not to throw him because he hit a homer off me in that game. Yeah, congrats to him. To be able to do it two ways in the big leagues is pretty awesome. So, it was definitely a weird feeling facing him in a big league uniform, but it was fun.”

McKay is the fourth player since 1913 to begin his career with a start as a pitcher and a non-pitcher within his first two games, according to the Associated Press.

During his big league debut on Saturday, McKay entered the sixth inning with a perfect game against the Texas Rangers. He left the game after allowing only one hit in sixth innings.

The left-handed McKay is scheduled to pitch again Friday night against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.

 

 

UofL’s Luke Smith owned Vanderbilt before the distractions

Luke Smith, a Louisville junior, dominating Vanderbilt for eight innings, allowing only one run and three hits before the fatal ninth inning (UofL photo by Jeff Reinking).

Not sure what all the yelling was all about between the University of Louisville and Vanderbilt University baseball players. What is certain, however, is that the verbal sparring in the eighth inning left an ugly taste after what would have been one of college baseball’s best games of the season.

Some players in the Vandy dugout apparently frustrated with Luke Smith’s total dominance on the mound. One or more of them reportedly hurling gay taunts at the Louisville pitcher who had made quick work of the Vandy batters. Julian Infante the third batter, striking out, specifically mouthing something in Smith’s direction.

Luke Smith, with the most impressive pitching performance of the season up to that point, putting UofL in a position to win. In total control up to that point, ready to lead his team into a third game against Vandy and possible in the finals against Michigan.

Moments later, the network camera going to closeup mode, showing Smith mouthing the most common of profanities between bitter antagonists. The umpires taking charge, warning Smith, demanding that Vanderbilt players stay in the dugout.

The magic evaporating quickly for UofL, just one inning after scoring two runs to finally get the lead. A lead that likely would have held without the theatrics. Three measly popups for UofL batters in the bottom of the eighth.

Smith had lost his command and his focus after returning to the mound the ninth. Forced to finally leave the game after facing three batters in the ninth, giving up a walk, a double and the tying run.  The momentum back to Vanderbilt.

No closer in the vicinity. Reliever Michael McAvene loading the bases,  allowing the winning run. The magic gone, along with all the optimism and the possibilities.  Louisville losing 3-2, and eliminated from the 2019 College World Series.

Louisville waves goodbye to Mississippi State, advances in CWS

Photos by Jeff Reinking, UofL Sports

 Another one of those potential nightmares against Mississippi State, the program few University of Louisville fans pay any attention to for the most part. When their paths do cross, Cardinal fans are on full alert, having lost to the Bulldogs three last three times — in the Taxslayer football bowl 2017, an NIT basketball game and a Final Four women’s basketball game in 2018.

Drew Campbell would collect three hits while driving in two runs, including the walkout in the ninth inning (Jeff Reinking, UofL Sport photos)

Understandable that loud collective groan when Mississippi State is the opponent.  Rarely on purpose because they don’t schedule each other. The losses have followed a familiar pattern, ending UofL’s respective seasons.

The last team any Louisville fan wanted to see Thursday night was Mississippi State. Not even close.

Seemed inevitable that the UofL baseball team was going down again, batters struggling again, runners getting caught out of position, and pitchers searching for the strike zone. Meekly going though the motions, seemingly powerless at times.

Still hard to believe that Louisville emerged with a 4-3 win over Mississippi State. The Cardinals had nine hits, none of them for extra bases, managing six singles with their backs against the wall in the final three innings. 

Right fielder Drew Campbell would play a pivotal role in this one, playing in a little too close in the fourth inning. Helplessly watching the baseball fly over his head, opening the gate for two Mississippi State runs.  Another one of those College World Series pitching duels, every run a monumental challenge.

Campbell would emerge the hero in this game, however, with the best hit of the night, a solid hit to right, sending Danny Oriente home from second base with the winning run. Jake Snider had scored earlier on a base hit by Oriente.

It was also Drew Campbell who had given his team some hope, with his single to left field scoring Tyler Fitzgerald with UofL’s first run. Alex Binelas  would score on a fielder’s choice off of Justin Lavey’s bat.

An understandably sweet victory, ending an intolerable drought against Mississippi State. A second straight win over a Southeastern Conference, the Cardinals having eliminated both Mississippi State and Auburn on successive days.

Louisville down to the final four, needing two wins over Vanderbilt advance to the finals of the College World Series next week. Nice to get that Mississippi State monkey off the back, but aiming for unprecedented success on college baseball’s highest plateau.