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.
The University of Louisville basketball team will get a shot at Michigan State early during the 2015-16 season but this time should have a lot more firing power.
The Cardinals, remember, made only six shots during the final 25 minutes of the NCAA Regional this past season, losing 76-70 to the Spartans in overtime. Five of 15 shots in the second half, one of seven in overtime.
Rick Pitino will be returning with some shooters this time around, having picked up Trey Lewis with a 16.3 scoring average from Cleveland State and Damion Lee with a 16.5 scoring clip from Drexel. Expect freshman Donovan Mitchell, from New Hampshire, to become an immediate scoring threat as well.
Hopefully Pitino will also have a deeper bench, developing it sooner, with more playing time for everybody, something that never happened last season.
The UofL-Michigan State game is part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge. The schedule:
Monday, Nov. 30
• Clemson at Minnesota
• Wake Forest at Rutgers
Tuesday, Dec. 1
• Maryland at North Carolina
• Virginia at Ohio State
• Michigan at NC State
• Purdue at Pittsburgh
• Northwestern at Virginia Tech
• Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska
Wednesday, Dec. 2
• Indiana at Duke
• Louisville at Michigan State
• Notre Dame at Illinois
• Wisconsin at Syracuse
• Florida State at Iowa
• Penn State at Boston College
The good news is that Devin Hairston has broken out of his hitting slump. Hadn’t had a hit since April 24 since he incurred a concussion in a game at Cincinnati.
Hairston drove a ball between the third base and shortstop Tuesday in the sixth inning against Vanderbilt. He later scored the second run of the inning on a single by Sutton Whiting.
Unfortunately that was all the scoring Louisville could muster in a 5-2 loss to the Commodores.
The UofL freshman shortstop also turned in a couple of super defensive plays, a good day for in a loss to a good team, boosting his confidence heading into the stretch.
Great crowd at 5,042 in the final regular season home game. UofL travels to North Carolina State for a three-game series this weekend.
Just another exhilarating heart-racing season of baseball for the University of Louisville. Where it stops nobody knows, nor will they be shocked or surprised by any of the never-ending accomplishments.
Dan McDonnell just keeps doing what he does best, developing University of Louisville baseball players and winning games. In nine seasons, his teams have won 399 of them.
Three trips to the College World Series, starting with year one at UofL, and back-to-back trips the past two seasons. Best record in the Atlantic Coast Conference in his very first season, earning a top seed in the upcoming ACC baseball tournament.
McDonnell will be eyeing his 400th win when his team goes against Vanderbilt on Tuesday at Jim Patterson Stadium at 6 p.m. Louisville is No. 2 in most college baseball polls while Vandy comes in at No. 10.
Freshman righthander Kade McClure (1-0, 3.08 earned run average) will face Vandy freshman lefty Ryan Johnson (4-0, 1.94 ERA) on the mound.
The game will be streamed by ESPN3.com.
Drama seemingly hanging on every single pitch over the weekend.
The University of Louisville is No. 2 in the Perfect Game and the D1Baseball polls this week after a monumental weekend for Dan McDonnell’s program. From the valley of despair to absolute exhilaration in three days.
Louisville is behind only LSU in two of the most respected collegiate baseball polls, followed by the likes of UCLA, TCU, Illinois, Florida, Texas A&M, Miami and Vanderbilt. Florida State also remains among the top 10 after the series.
Freshman catcher Will Smith would hit his first collegiate home run in the eighth inning to give the Cardinals a 6-5 win and their 10th consecutive series of the season. A comeback propelled by a three-run home run by Nick Solak, tying the score at 5-5 in the seventh.
Quite a turnaround from the opening game when the Seminoles jumped on UofL’s Kyle Funkhouser for six runs in the first two innings en route to a 13-4 thrashing of the Cardinals in front of a crowd of 6,138. One miserable night despite the record crowd.
Freshman Brendan McKay turning the tide, pitching a masterpiece on Saturday, throwing a no-hitter through six and a third innings. Reliever Lincoln Henzman allowing only hit in three innings in a 7-0 win, giving UofL its first regular season championship in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The University of Louisville baseball team had a night to think about the crushing loss to Florida State on Friday, after some serious deliberation finally deciding that FSU might be human after all, coming out ready to play on Saturday.
With Brendan McKay throwing no-hit baseball for six and a third innings, Louisville would shut the Seminoles down 7-0. The win gives UofL the conference championship in the ACC’s Atlantic Division and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament. Florida State had won the division eight straight years.
McKay, a candidate for the college baseball’s Golden Spikes Award, bringing the calming presence that was sorely needed at Jim Patterson Stadium, allowing only four base runners. No drama in his game, very much under control when he was lifted after walking a batter in the seventh inning.
So close to making history, a no-hitter very much a possiblity. Coach Dan McDonnell pulling him, knowing there could be much bigger games ahead.
Freshman reliever Lincoln Henzman the right person to preserve McKay’s masterpiece. Striking out three and allowing one hit in 2.2 innings scoreless relief. Carving a special place for himself in the future rotation, proving himself against a good-hitting FSU team. No sweat calling him in from the bullpen.
The Cardinals established control of Saturday’s game early with a four-run second inning. Danny Rosenbaum started things for Louisville with a RBI single to left to score senior Zach Lucas. Colby Fitch followed by sending an 0-1 offering down the left field line for a run-scoring double plating senior Mike White and Rosenbaum. Fitch scored the final run of the inning on a RBI sacrifice fly to right by freshman Devin Hairston.
Coach Dan McDonnell would award the game shirt to Rosenbaum for two hits, including a sixth inning home run and two runs batted in. Rosenbaum would also deprive an FSU batter of a double after informing the first base umpire that the runner had not touched first base.
Such a sweet win for the Cardinals and a crowd of 3,054 diehards who showed up at Jim Patterson Stadium the morning after an embarrassing meltdown, expecting a better showing from their team. They would be rewarded for their faithfulness by witnessing a milestone, Louisville claiming first place in its first year of Atlantic Coast Conference baseball.
All the talk about Florida State’s past successes apparently getting to some members of the University of Louisville baseball team, tripping over their shoe laces in a 13-4 loss to FSU before a record crowd of 6,138 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Even the best teams have bad losses. But this was one that could haunt the Cardinals as the season winds down, needing to prove themselves worthy of a national seed in NCAA tournament play.
Fears that Kyle Funkhouser would continue to struggle in the early innings were confirmed quickly, the UofL junior walking three batters and giving up three runs in the first inning. He would give up three more in the second.
Funkhouser throwing over 40 pitches in the first inning, still not finding his form. Taking too long to get comfortable in recent games. Finally settling down in the third, he would shut down the next eight hitters. By then the tenor of the game had been firmly established.
The pre-season All-American is losing confidence and control at the wrong time, prompting some serious concern about the all-important pitching rotation in the immediate future. The inability of once-starter Anthony Kidston, who was 14-1 in his first three seasons, to find the plate this year further complicates matters.