Lavey blast powers Louisville past Xavier, Cards are 8-0

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Pat Rumoro is welcomed home by his teammates after scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, thanks to a two-run home run by Justin Lavey. The blow gave the University of Louisville baseball team a 6-4 win over Xavier before 2,163 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Louisville also benefitted from a solo home run by outfielder Ethan Stringer in the second inning. Lavey and Stringer each have two home runs and a total of 13 runs batted in between them.

Right handed junior Bryan Hoeing was chased from the mound in the fifth inning after giving up four runs on seven hits. The win went to righty Bobby Miller, a freshman who allowed only hit, improving his record to 2-0. Sam Bordner would come to the rescue in the eighth inning with the bases loaded, shut the Musketeers down, and earn his third save.

Justin Lavey comes through in the seventh inning with his second home run to improve UofL’s record to 8-0 (Photos by Cindy Rice Shelton)

Louisville baseball is back, lighting up a dark day

Josh Stowers is greeted by his teammates after scoring the third of UofL four runs in the second inning (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A dark day in the University of Louisville sports history, but a beautiful day for baseball. Coach Dan McDonnell ushering in the 2018 home season, reason to cheer again, reminding fans only one sport was affected by NCAA bungling.

Brian Hoeing gets off to a rocky start but hangs on for first win (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

A crowd of 2,535 showing up for game against Eastern Kentucky, the first game under the paid admissions structure. Temperatures reaching the 80’s, 300 more people on hand than attended last year’s opener free in equally nice weather.

Right hander Brian Hoeing, getting the mid-week start, notching his first win of the season despite giving up four bases on balls and three hits in four-and-a-half innings.  Sam Bordner would shut down the Colonels one-two-three on strikeouts in the ninth to get his second save of the season.

The firepower was provided by junior Devin Mann with two singles for the game, one of them driving in the two deciding runs in the second inning. Sophomore Ethan Stringer doubled to open the inning and scored on a single by classmate Drew Campbell.

The long wait is over, and UofL is 4-0 after the first week of the season. More of an attraction than a distraction for UofL fans, lots of new faces in the lineup and much to look forward to if the past is any predictor of the future. 

Bordner cuffs Texas A&M batters, Louisville advances in CWS

One will not find Sam Bordner in any listings of 2017 All-America baseball teams. Nor on any All-Atlantic Coast Conference teams either. Not even honorable mention in either of those groupings.

Sam Bordner has given up no runs and one hit in 11 innings of relief in his last four appearances (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

But Dan McDonnell knows where to locate Bordner when one of his starting pitchers is tiring. He will find the 6-foot-6, 240-pound sophomore in the University of Louisville bullpen, cool, calm, collected, ready to go.

As in UofL’s opening game in the College World Series on Sunday. Starter Brendan McKay had given up three straight hits, Texas A&M cutting Louisville’s lead to 5-4 in the sixth inning. Bordner will do what he usually does, shutting down the next three Aggie batters 1-2-3.

Over the next two innings he will hold A&M hitless, not allowing anyone on base. Handing the ball off to Lincoln Henzman in the ninth inning. Louisville will win its opening game 8-4, ending a five-game losing streak in the CWS.

“I think Sam’s been the X factor, a little under the radar,” McDonnell said after the game. “When you’re in that first out-of-the-bullpen or middle relief role, it’s just not as sexy, and you don’t get as much attention. But clearly Sam’s been hot all year.”

The Cardinals (53-10) had used six singles and a walk to build a 5-0 lead in the second inning, with Devin Hairston, Collin Lyman and Colby Fitch contributing run-scoring singles. Fitch winding up with two hits, a walk and four runs batted in. 

 

Brendan McKay joins Lamar Jackson among nation’s elite athletes

The awards keep coming for Brendan McKay, the undisputed player of the year in college baseball.

The University of Louisville is the first school ever to have student athletes to win both of the top individual awards in college football and baseball. 

Brendan McKay on Friday became the 31st recipient of the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player.  He joins Lamar Jackson in some very select company, Jackson having been awarded the Heisman Trophy for the country’s best football player.

The Dick Howser Trophy was awarded Friday by the Howser Trophy committee and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association during ceremonies at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, home of the College World Series.

The latest honor is the fifth national player of the year  for McKay, who received the same honor from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball newspaper, D1Baseball and Perfect Game. He also earned his third straight John Olerud Two-Way National Player of the Year Award and became the highest MLB Draft selection in school history going fourth overall to the Tampa Bay Rays.

He is also a leading candidate for the The Golden Spikes Award award, created by USA Baseball and sponsored by the Major League Baseball Players Association for best player honors.

McKay has a 10-3 record with a 2.34 ERA and a school record 140 strikeouts in 104.0 innings on the mound this season. During his three-year collegiate career, McKay has accumulated a 31-10 record with a 2.15 ERA and 385 strikeouts, the most ever for a Louisville pitcher.

At the plate, the 2017 ACC Player of the Year has a .343 batting average, 17 home runs, 13 doubles, 56 RBIs and a .464 on-base percentage in 60 starts as a hitter this season. In 179 career starts and 186 total appearances as a hitter, McKay has a .328 career batting average with 27 home runs, 46 doubles and 131 RBIs.

Those stats could be even more impressive with a good run in the College World Series.

Record 6,235 see Louisville advance in Super Regional

Kade McClure looking like his old self, holding Kentucky to only four hits. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

The scary thing about playing the Kentucky baseball team is that five UK players are hitting .326 and better. The leadoff batter Tristan Pompey at 364, followed by Evan White at 370 and Zach Reks at 354.

Intimidating on paper and in person. One wonders how have they could have lost 22 games.

If the University of Louisville pitcher gets off to a shaky start, the Cardinals would face an uphill battle. Kade McClude, for example, who has more than his share of struggles the past couple of weeks, giving up 17 runs in four games.

Fortunately for UofL, the Kade McClure on the mound Friday closely resembled the Kade McClure who had a 12-0 record and was an All-American last season. Playing with a newfound confidence, he would allow the Wildcats only four hits but no runs.

Setting UofL up for a 5-2 win before a record crowd of 6,235 in the first game of the Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium. Improving his record to 8-3 while Louisville was tying its all-time high of 51 wins, against 10 losses.

Reassuring that Drew Ellis would finally shake off the doldrums, finally collecting his 18th home run, finally shaking the post-season slump. He would slap a 3-2 pitch at least 430 feet in the fifth inning, clearing the left field bleachers, driving in three huge runs.

Leadoff hitter Logan Taylor, who seems to depend more on bases on balls and being hit to reach base, getting UofL off to a good start with a two-bagger in the first inning.  Stealing second and scoring on a single by Devin Mann, getting Louisville off on the right foot.

Taylor would also collect a walk in the fifth inning and score on that Drew Ellis blast.

Louisville managing only four hits in the win, needing to pick up the pace on Saturday, needing to provide some hitting support for Brendan McKay in what will be his last home game on the mound at UofL.

Attendance of 6,235 for the first game of the Super Regional is an all-time record.