It may take a couple of days to learn what Josh Rogers said to the third base coach after shutting down the Cal State Fullerton batters in 1-2-3 order in the seventh inning. Whatever it was it changed the atmosphere at Jim Patterson Stadium on Monday.
Here was Josh Rogers sailing along, having given up three hits, only two since the first inning off the home run off the bat of the CSF batter with the hyphenated name (David Oldmeda-Barrera). University of Louisville fans could sense something special was about to happen.
The spell was broken, the “humble and hungry” spirit disrupted. Things had changed. Rogers was visibly emotional returning to the dugout. He would return to the mound in the eighth inning. Two pitches. Both balls. One sailing high over the catcher into the backstop. He was done.
While what followed wasn’t exactly what had happened in the loss in the first game but it closely resembled some recent late game breakdowns. Reliever Drew Harrington unable to find his stuff, Lincoln Henzman pitching himself into trouble, and ace closer Zack Burdi looking all too human, pegged with his second loss in three days.
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ESPN could learn some technology lessons from the golf channels on finding a baseball on a clearly lit field. No less than five viewings of the replay off the bat of the guy with two last names could confirm what the hit over the left fence was fair or foul. We may never know for sure. There was little choice except to go with the call on the field. [I’m told the decision was made elsewhere by someone using “enhanced video” but that doesn’t quite cut it for the viewing audience. Golf has it right.]
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Dan McDonnell was visibly emotional in the post game press conference, tearing up, breaking up, need to pause. Here’s the quote you’ll never read in the Courier-Journal: “These are the times you’re glad you’re a Christian. These are the times you’re glad you have a spiritual faith. You hear me quote the Bible when we win. I’m not perfect … (pause) … I’m a sinner … (pause) … but I love God and I know he loves me. And he’s blessed this program … (pause) … and we’ll be back.”
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And they will be back next season with the vast majority of players who posted a 47-17 record this year, losing only three starting seniors in Sutton Whiting, Zach Lucas and Mike White, along with Kyle Funkhouser who was the 35th pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Major League Draft.
This team exceeded expectations all season long. UofL baseball will be back in big way in 2016.