Dan McDonnell earns 500th, intense one over Clemson

Dan McDonnell earns his 500th win and a share of the ACC’s Atlantic Division title (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Lots of base runners for Clemson, but 16 of them left in waiting on the base paths.

One of those long, long games, this one three hours and forty-nine minutes, with the outcome always in doubt. The kind of game that ages college baseball coaches prematurely.

Happy ending, however, with still another milestone for Dan McDonnell. His University of Louisville baseball team chalking up an important 4-2 win at Clemson in the first game of a three-day series. No. 500 for McDonnell, coming in the 50th game of his 11th season at UofL.

He is, of course, the winningest coach in the program’s history, averaging 45.6 wins per season. He entered the season ranked fifth among active coaches in winning percentage. The win improves UofL’s record to 44-6 with six games remaining in the regular season.

Few of those wins more challenging than the one the one on Thursday, not with left hander Brendan McKay loading the bases in the first and second innings. His pitch count was well over 50 by the end of the third, but he still managed to hold Clemson scoreless through five innings. He’s now 8-3 on the season.

Clemson would tap Louisville reliever Sam Bordner for three hits and a couple of walks in the sixth, sending two runs across the plate. With the Cardinals clinging to a two-run lead, junior Lincoln Henzman toss two shutout innings of relief to earn his 15th save of the season.

Colby Fitch, moving back to second in batting lineup, got things off to a positive start with a home run over the right field wall in the first inning. Drew Ellis was 3-for-4 with his 17th double while raising his batting average to .392. Josh Stowers chipped in with a single, one walk and one run scored.

The win earned at least a tie for first place for Louisville in the ACC’s Atlantic Coast Division. The Cardinals need one more conference win to clinch their third division title since joining the conference three years ago.

Gender inclusive college athletic programs may be inevitable

Many of us won’t be around 20 years from now when NCAA member institutions combine all of the men’s and women’s teams into gender neutral programs. Something we would not mind missing out on.

restroomsUnfortunately, with the way most college presidents seem to think these days, the elimination of “duplicative” or “redundant” programs could occur even sooner. So concerned about “inclusivity” they are.

The NCAA took the first steps in that direction Monday when it pulled  seven championships from North Carolina this year, including men’s basketball tournament games, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s lacrosse and women’s golf tournaments.

All because the state legislature passed a law this year that prevents cities from passing laws allowing individuals claiming to be transgender to use the restroom of their choice. Supporters of the state law were concerned that sexual deviants would take advantage of unlimited access.

On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference piled on, further punishing the state by removing eight ACC championship events, including the conference football title game, which was to be played at Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 3.

“The ACC Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount,” said John Swofford, conference commissioner.

Kami Mueller, a spokesman for groups reacting to the NCAA action, said, “I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers and hotel rooms.”

She was roundly attacked by the progressive media, of course, arguing that the NCAA has “no intention of getting rid of women’s locker rooms or abolishing women’s sports.”

Not yet, maybe. Think of how much money the universities could save by combining the programs. And how big a political statement the college presidents could make by doing away with gender specific programs.

Rightly or wrongly, they may have already started down that road.

Louisville baseball claims ACC record 25th win

Another four hours hanging on every pitch, the University of Louisville pitchers making just enough of them to hang on to an 8-5 win over the North Carolina State baseball team.ACC baseball

A North Carolina State team, by the way, that is going to create problems for some teams in Atlantic Coast Conference tournament next week. Like Florida State and Clemson, loaded with good hitters throughout the lineup.

The win would be the 25th for UofL during the ACC’s regular season, an all-time conference record. Equally impressive, the Cardinals won all 10 of the series against ACC teams. A season in which they were 42-14 overall and 25-5 in conference play.

The strong finish to the regular season all but guarantees that Louisville will be a top five seed in the NCAA tournament. There will be more baseball this season at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Louisville would need Nick Burdi again to finally shut them down after NC State tied the game 5-5 going into the ninth. UofL’s closer would be tapped for two hits and a walk in the bottom on the inning. But he also would strike out Logan Ratledge, Andrew Knizner and Ryne Willard, three of the Wolfpack’s best hitters along the way.

Zach Lucas with a perfect bunt in the top of the ninth to score Corey Ray who had doubled. Lucas didn’t get credit for an RBI but he made it possible. Logan Taylor’s single pushed Ryan Summers (running for Brendan McKay who had reached base on an error) and Lucas across the plate.

Dan McDonnell notches 400th, Louisville baseball ends NC State streak

Screenshot 2015-05-14 22.48.36(3)

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.

Football keeps Jameis Winston out of baseball

Jameis Winston not available.  (Seminoles.com photo)
Jameis Winston not available for Seminoles in baseball. (Seminoles.com photo)

If anyone was expecting Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback and pitcher, to take part in this weekend’s series against the University of Louisville baseball team, they’re in for a disappointment.

Winston is not listed on the Florida State roster, dropping the sport after signing an NFL contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forbidding him from playing professional baseball. The contract made no mention of college baseball but Winston got the message.

As a right-handed pitcher, he appeared in 41 games during his freshman and sophomore seasons at FSU, chalking up nine saves, an earned run average of 1.94, with 52 strikeout in 60.1 innings. He had a batting average of 209 in 158 at-bats.

As much as he loves baseball, the unpredictable Winston could still show up as a spectator, however.

*    *    *

If the Seminoles stick with their usual pitching rotation, UofL will see Boomer Biegalski, a 6-foot-2 righthander on the mound in the first game. Described by Baseball America as “not overpowering, Biegalski dots the corners with a low 90s fastball, mixing in a slider and change-up.” He has a 4-3 won-lost record this season and has 88 strikeouts in 76.1 innings. That compares with 82 K’s for UofL’s Brendon McKay in 64.2 innings.

*    *   *

FSU is led in hitting by left fielder D. J. Stewart, a 6-foot, 230-pound junior, who was the ACC Player of the Year in 2014 with a 350 hitting average. Stewart is currently batting 333 and has 12 home runs, seven doubles, a triple, and 45 runs batted in.

*    *   *

Florida State, with a 16-8 ACC mark and 36-14 overall, has scored in double figures 14 times this season, including a 24-1 win over South Florida at Tallahassee.