Brendan McKay delivers early, Louisville buries Purdue

Brendan McKay with that home run swing of his (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Brendan McKay is so methodical and so businesslike in his approach to baseball that he doesn’t attract much notice when he’s having a great day at the plate. So much is expected of him.

On the other hand, McKay probably gets more than his share of attention in games when he’s popping up or not getting the ball out of the infield. Or when he’s not driving in the lion’s share of his team’s runs.

Such is the life of a college super star, never quite able to live up to expectations. Baseball is like that, with even the best players having their share of challenging games. Two hits in eight at-bats making for a long weekend against a tough Wake Forest team. 

McKay found his hitting eye again Tuesday, leading the second-ranked University of Louisville baseball team to a 13-2 win over visiting Purdue before a crowd estimated at 1,569 at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Making his presence felt early in this one, following a walk to Colby Fitch and an error putting Devin Hairston on base in the first inning. McKay would drive a 2-and-1 pitch 340 feet over the right centerfield wall, his sixth home run of the season putting his team up 3-0.

McKay would follow that up with another drive to right centerfield in the third inning, sending Logan Taylor and Hairston across the plate. Louisville was up 8-0, and on its way to its 28th win in 32 games this season.

Nothing flashy, just two extra base hits, scoring twice and batting in five runs in two trips to the plate. Going about his business, getting the job done again.

Devin Hairston just keeps on delivering for UofL Baseball

Devin Hairston is the man you want at the plate with UofL runners on base (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“When the lights are on, Devin Hairston’s the guy you want at the plate.”

The word coming from Dan McDonnell, coach of the University of Louisville baseball team following a 7-5 win in a game that clinched two out of three in a series against Wake Forest over the weekend.

That’s saying something when your team has players like Brendan McKay, with a hefty .388 batting average, and Drew Ellis, currently hitting .364. They get the attention of the professional scouts. Hairston gets the job done with runners on base.

Hairston is leading the team in runs batted in with 36 of them through 31 games. He is followed by Colby Fitch with 27, Ellis with 25, McKay with 22, Devin Mann and Logan Taylor with 21, and Colin Lyman with 16.

“Devin is just very even keel,” said McDonnell. “He just very confident in his ability as he should be. He’s just competing, he’s grinding out, he’s very consistent. When the lights are on, he has those very good at-bats.”

Hairston, who is currently batting .325, had three hits and drove in four runs, including a game-clinching two-run double in the eighth inning before a crowd of 4,056 at Jim Patterson Stadium. It was UofL’s 31st consecutive series win at home, including 13 straight against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.

“I’m really happy for him, and I’m happy for our guys,” said McDonnell. “We showed a lot of toughness today.”

The Cardinals are now 27-4 overall and 12-3 in the ACC. Clemson, meanwhile, moved into first place in the Atlantic Division with a 13-2 mark following a weekend sweep of Virginia Tech.

Rosenbaum leads UofL eruption past Ohio State

The sight of Blake Tiberi greeting Danny Rosenbaum at home plate is a welcome one for University of Louisville baseball fans, occurring twice on Saturday in UofL’s 15-3 romp over Ohio State.

Fun day for Brendan McKay on the mound and at the plate.
Fun day for Brendan McKay on the mound and at the plate.

Rosenbaum had homered and homered again, driving Tiberi across the plate in the third and one more time in the fourth inning.

The Louisville senior would come that close — within about three feet of the left field fence — of doing it still again in the fifth inning.

Batting seventh in the lineup, Rosenbaum is hitting at a .289 clip.  More than a third of his 55 hits this season have been for extra bases.  He now has 10 home runs, 12 doubles and a triple.

Louisville would bat around in third inning, burning Ohio State pitchers for eight hits and eight runs, taking a 10-0 lead in the third, increasing it to 14-0 through the fifth.

Brendan McKay shaking some recent doldrums, putting his pitching and hitting dips behind him, earning his 12th win against three losses.

Brendan set the offensive tone early with a towering two-run home run over the center field fence in the first inning.  Two hits on the day, driving in three runs. On the mound, he was denying the Buckeyes any glimpse of home plate and giving up only only three hits through his five and two-third innings.

Logan Taylor, batting ninth in the lineup, had three hits, including a double, and three runs batted in. Top of the order, bottom of the order, no place to relax for opposing pitchers on Saturday.

Photos and gallery courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton:

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Louisville baseball returns to the friendly confines of Jim Patterson

Life is so different on the road.

Drew Harrington is human, unfortunately, giving up six hits and seven runs in one inning. Yes, that Drew Harrington, the Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year.

Coach Dan McDonnell leaving him on the mound, trusting Harrington to regain control, finally lifting him only after Virginia had batted around and scored seven runs … with no end in sight. Harrington shellshocked, escaping the mound for the safety of the dugout.

A pitcher’s worst nightmare, even worse than Brendan McKay’s experience from the day before. The team’s two most dependable pitchers burnt toast — one unable to get the ball over the plate, the other providing batting practice for the opposition.

Louisville will go on to lose a 7-2 decision to Virginia, probably dropping down three or four seed spots in the NCAA tournament after finishing the season ranked No. 1 in the RPI ratings.

More proof that University of Louisville baseball fans can never relax, never take anything for granted. One loss, bad. Two in a row, whoa.

This UofL team is exceptionally good at Jim Patterson Stadium, winning 33 or 34 games at home this season. Take these players on the road, however, and it’s a different story,  struggling at the plate and on the mound.

Understandable if the Cardinals are in a hurry get back to Louisville. Exactly what they need in the NCAA tournament, hosting a Regional and possibly a Super Regional at JPS. They will be highly motivated after being embarrassed in the ACC tournament.

This was a team talking about winning a national championship when the season began. Playing well at home just may help get them to Omaha. But just getting there won’t be any fun if they are road weary.

ACC baseball tournament title only important to winner

Drew Harrington
Drew Harrington

Just when it seemed the University of Louisville baseball team was damn near invincible, the bats went wimpy in a 5-3 loss to Clemson, putting an Atlantic Coast Conference championship in doubt.

Brendan McKay hitting the wall on Friday, having trouble finding the strike zone. When he did find it, his pitches looked like beach balls to Clemson, good for four home runs. Reed Rohlman, who entered the game without a home run in his first 57 games of the season, had two of them.

Better for that winning streak to end this week than next week. The good thing about winning an Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament championship is that it’s only important to the team that wins it.

Drew Harrison, the ACC pitcher of the year, will be on the mound for the University of Louisville against Virginia. The odds of winning the tourney are long for UofL at this point, but Harrington (11-1) usually takes care of business.