Bad breaks couldn’t keep UofL’s Michael Bollmer down

Michael Bollmer was a two-way player, a power hitter and a shutdown pitcher, with a promising college baseball future when he committed in 2013 to play at the University of Louisville. Dreams of greatness were reasonable for someone blessed with his talent.

Fate would intervene, however, with a series of injuries forcing Bollmer to the sidelines.  Today, the UofL senior is finally healthy, pulling for his team, hoping his name will be called. He will be ready if and when Coach Dan McDonnell beckons.

Michael Bollmer decided to give up pitching and focus on first base after injuring his elbow before his freshman season.

Bollmer was catching the eyes of pro scouts at Lexington Bryan Station when he was recruited by McDonnell. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder batted .424 and posted a 4-2 won-lost record, with a 2.15 earned run average his senior season.

“When UofL was recruiting Michael, they were recruiting him as a pitcher and a first baseman,” recalls his father Bob Bollmer. “He was one of the top pitchers in Lexington coming out of high school. He was the Fayette County Player of the Year and he was first team All-State during his junior and senior years. We were really looking forward to watching him at Louisville.”

Two weeks before the beginning of the 2013 season, Michael would tear his UCL in his pitching arm. The injury would require Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss his entire freshman year.  After recovering from the arm surgery, he would hurt his back lifting weights, herniating a disc, requiring him to have two back surgeries the same year.

Bob Bollmer travels from Lexington to Louisville for almost every UofL home game.

“Michael tried to come back in 2014 but he really wasn’t ready,” said Bob. “I think he batted once that season. He really couldn’t work out much with the team because of his back.”

He played in nine games during in 2015 and, after injuring an ankle, appeared in only three games during his redshirt junior season in 2016. “That was another major setback,” said his dad. “He had been playing well in the fall.”

One month before the beginning of this season, Michael’s best friend (Cameron Hart) in high school, also a baseball player, was killed in an automobile accident in Lexington. Michael was a speaker at the funeral. “I dedicated this season to him, and he’s my ‘why’ for this season,” said the UofL reserve.

Michael has played in 14 games this season, with five hits in 17 at bats, including a three-run home run against Morehead State. He was actually going to get to start a game on Senior Night against Florida State but, as fate would have it, the game was rained out and cancelled.

“It has been one thing after another, but Michael has never questioned whether he went to the right school,” said his dad. “He loves his team and he loves the school.”

Michael, who’s brother Bob, Jr. is also attending UofL, received a Bachelor’s degree in sports administration and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in special education. He learned Spanish in early grade school and believes it will enable him to help more people. He intends to work with special education students and possibly become an athletic director.

Michael says he has no remorse about missing out on a professional baseball career. “Pro baseball was very much on my mind, but I think everything has worked out the way God wanted them,” he said.

He remains enthusiastic despite all the setbacks and confident that he can still contribute during his final weeks with the UofL baseball program. “That’s just how I was brought up, to finish what I started,” said Michael. “I have become brothers with my teammates and I want to do anything I can to help them get better.”

Despite his lack of playing time, Michael will be ready if McDonnell needs him during the post season tournaments. “I’m always ready, locked into the game, ready to going in and make a difference, no matter what,” he said. “I have all the confidence in the world. I will be ready.”

Deng Adel resists early out, chooses to get better at UofL

Deng Adel won’t be joining Donovan Mitchell in the NBA draft, at least not this year (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

He could have gone. Some around him probably think he should have. Second thoughts may be inevitable. 

But Deng Adel won’t be entering his name in the National Basketball Association draft this season. He will be showcasing his considerable skills with the University of Louisville next season.

Not succumbing to the seduction of some easy money, not taking the bait, not disappearing into obscurity like so many before him. Listening, heeding the advice of knowledgeable people who know he can do much better.

Go back to school, go play for Rick Pitino, go get better and, barring injury, move yourself into position to be a lottery pick, one of the top 14 players to be named, in the 2018 NBA draft.

Good for Deng Adel. Good for the University of Louisville.

Adel averaged 12.1 points and 4.5 rebounds last season, starting 30 games as a sophomore. He finished the campaign strong, the leading scorer in the final six games, averaging 16.3 points.

As Adel goes, so will go Louisville basketball during the 2017-18 season. He should be highly motivated, ready to take his game to another level. A decision that could reap enormous benefits for his future livelihood.

 

McDonnell honored for 500th win before 200th loss

University of Louisville Baseball Coach Dan McDonnell is congratulated by Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich for his 500th win before Friday night’s game against Florida State. McDonnell won his 500th, 501st and 502nd wins last weekend at Clemson.

He was on a three-game losing streak after the 8-2 loss to the Seminoles on Friday, having lost to Indiana mid-week and in the first two weekend games against Florida State at Jim Patterson Stadium. Current won-lost record in his 11th season is 502-200.

Hopefully getting the garbage out of the system before the post-season arrives.

Photos courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton.

Few takers for fireworks, Florida State chases McKay

Not one of Brendan McKay’s better nights on the mound in his final regular season appearance for the University of Louisville baseball team (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

They had a nice fireworks show Thursday night at Jim Patterson Stadium to celebrate the University of Louisville baseball team winning its third consecutive Atlantic Division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Not many people on hand for the post-game celebration, however.

Most in the crowd of 3,487 had hit the exits in the eighth inning when it became apparent that a happy ending was not in the Cards. A long, long game, almost four hours, UofL giving up 14 hits in a 12-9 loss to Florida State.

Another night of struggle for Brendan McKay, who some analysts describe as one of the best to ever play in college baseball. That’s based largely on the fact that he has been a first team All-American for three seasons and a two-time winner of the John Olerud Award for the best two-way player.

McKay has struggled on the mound in some recent games, lacking consistency, searching for the strike zone. Still another shaky outing in his latest appearance, chased from the game after giving up four runs in the fifth inning — seven runs, five hits and four walks for the game. His record going into post-season play is 8-3.

Not much help from the bullpen this night. Jake Sparger, in relief, shouldering his first loss in five decisions, coughing up four more runs over two-and-a-third innings. 

UofL highlights were provided by Josh Stowers and Drew Ellis, each contributing three-run home runs.

Josh Stowers is welcomed at home plate by his teammates after hitting a three-run home run, his fifth round tripper of the season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Completion of Cardinal Stadium in 2018 will be loud, symbolic

One of the first impressions one had while checking out the expansion of the University of Louisville’s Cardinal Stadium on Tuesday was that Athletic Director Tom Jurich was wise to get the project going a year earlier than anticipated.

By the time the stadium expansion is completed in 2018, much of the controversy surrounding the school administration will have been resolved, with a new President and Board of Trustees firmly committed to returning to the university’s upward trajectory.

The closing in of the football stadium at that time could well symbolize a university that has come full circle overcoming major challenges while pursuing new objectives and milestones.

One got the feeling Tuesday that the closing end of the North end of the stadium is going to enhance the home field advantage (i.e., significantly raising the noise level). It’s going to be very compact, folks, with the new seating capacity of 65,000 fans.

Michael Ortman has the fun job of managing the stadium during another major expansion.

All kinds of activity going on Tuesday at Cardinal Stadium. Even though the spring semester has ended, the parking lots adjacent to the stadium seem to be near capacity. On the south end of the stadium, numerous UofL athletes headed for the Thornton’s Academic Center for Excellence. Some for study (maybe), many for socialization and recreation, and others for the snack bars.

On the third floor of the Brown & Williamson Club, a local organization is setting up for a get-together.  On the fifth floor, Stadium Manager Michael Ortman is meeting with his staff to discuss the challenges of managing the stadium with all the construction occurring during the 2017 football season.

Stadium capacity will have increased by 10,000 seats by the beginning of the 2018 season — to include 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes and 12 exclusive field-level suites. Premium seats will access two upscale gathering areas, including Pepsi Club, offering an elevated view of the field, and a lower-level club that will put fans close to the action.

The Schnellenberger Complex will have doubled in size for expanded weight room and conditioning facilities, as well as an enhanced training space with hydrotherapy.

Completion of the project in 2018 could not come at a better time, hopefully with much of the conflict at the university in the past. The stadium expansion reflecting strong support not only for the football program but for a university that serves as the heart and soul of the community.