Five-time Louisville back to the College World Series

Bobby Miller and Glenn Albanese celebrate Louisville’s fourth trip to Omaha in the past seven seasons and fifth overall (Photo by Charlie Springer).
Dan McDonnell is getting to be a familiar face in Omaha (Photo by Charlie Springer).

Bobby Miller may have been denied a no hitter, but he will always remember his performance against East Carolina as one of his most rewarding victories. His seventh win of the season securing a trip to Omaha and the College World Series for the University of Louisville baseball team.

Miller giving up only one hit in a 12-0 win.  A game in which UofL was never threatened by one of the best-hitting teams in college baseball. Allowing only three players to reach base while striking out six batters and giving up two bases on balls. The UofL sophomore faced the minimum through six innings, allowing just a walk in the third that was erased by a double play.

Miller’s no-hit bid coming to an end in the ninth inning on a single to right by pinch hitter Thomas Francisco. Miller exiting to a standing ovation before returning for a curtain call from the nearly 4,500 in attendance at Jim Patterson Stadium.  

Bobby Miller closing the door on East Carolina holding the Pirates hitless for eight innings (Photos by Charlie Springer).

The 2019 Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium will largely be remembered as one of total dominance for the University of Louisville baseball team over East Carolina. From beginning to end, starting with a 14-1 win over the Pirates in the Friday opener.

At the plate, Louisville scored its 26 runs off of 32 hits, none of which were home runs. On the mound, it got two strong outings from starters Reid Detmers and Miller. The pitching staff should be well rested for the College World Series, which gets under way on Friday.

This will be Coach Dan McDonnell’s fifth trip to Omaha in 13 seasons at Louisville, including four times in the past seven season. He’s not making any proclamations or making any comparisons, having won only two games  in eight CWS games.

“It’s a whole new tournament. It’s a crazy game,” McDonnell said. “That’s what you have to love about baseball. It’s not the bigger, stronger, faster team that wins. It’s not necessarily the most talented team or the team with the most draft picks, it’s who plays the best.” 

Photos by Cindy Rice Shelton

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UofL batters unload on East Carolina in Super Regional opener

Louisville left-hander Reid Detmers gets plenty of support while posting his 12th win of the season at Jim Patterson Stadium (Photos by Cindy Rice Shelton).

Ten University of Louisville batters up, 10 UofL batters down after the first three innings. Been there, done that a couple of weeks ago. Not a good way to get started in a Super Regional. 

Attendance for Super Regional opener was 2,955 (Cindy Rice Shelton photos)

Not for long, not with Logan Wyatt ending the pitching dreams of East Carolina’s Jake Agnos. Second batter up in the fourth Wyatt would launch a double to right center field.

Tyler Fitzgerald would follow with another two-bagger, scoring Wyatt from second. The beating was about to begin.

When the inning was over, UofL had scored four runs on five hits, including another double by Danny Oriente and singles by Jake Snider and Drew Campbell. The Cardinals would follow up with five more runs in the fifth inning, three in the sixth and two in the seventh, burying East Carolina 14-1 in the opening game.

Left hander Reid Detmers, who has gone begging for support in more than a few games this season, was the beneficiary of the slugfest. He would be credited with his 12th win against four losses, allowing only five hits while striking out six batters.

UofL had 18 hits in the game, led by Fitzgerald with the first four-hit game of his career, along with four runs scored and two runs batted in. Dunn, Wyatt, Lucas, Alex Binelas, Snider, Oriente and Drew Campbell each had multi-hit games as well. 

The win ended a 10-game losing streak to East Carolina. Couldn’t have come at a better time.

Gallery by Cindy Rice Shelton

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Ignore the snoot, welcome Tulane, East Carolina

The observer really doesn’t get all the snarky comments being aimed at the Big East with the addition of the universities of Tulane and East Carolina to the conference Tuesday.

Just more evidence of the snootiness that was prevalent in collegiate sports long before the current rounds of conference realignment were launched. Unfortunately, it exists among UofL fans as well.

Tulane and East Carolina are perfectly acceptable, and the Big East is fortunate to get them, each with desirable qualities. Tulane has long been considered a good medical school and is located in New Orleans, a good media market. East Carolina has a good football tradition and has great attendance in a 50,000-plus seat stadium.

If East Carolina plays at Papa John’s, the visitors section will always be packed. Same can’t be said for Tulane but the trips to New Orleans will be fantastic.

If the University of Louisville were forced to remain in the Big East Conference for a while, Tulane and East Carolina would be good partners.

East Carolina snubbed again by Big East

The Big East, at long last, is getting serious about conference expansion, having extended invitations to six schools.

Boise State, Air Force, Navy for football-only.

Houston, UCF and SMU for all sports.

Not a bad list from a football perspective, basketball not so great. Missing from the mix, however, is East Carolina, which  doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break.

The powers that be have apparently decided that ECU’s rabid fan base, impressive attendance (50,000 or more per game) and winning tradition aren’t worth much. All efforts to include ECU have been rebuked at every turn.

East Carolina wants in as a football-member only and would be a definite improvement over UCF.  Too bad Central Florida is in Orlando and East Carolina is in Greenville. 

The TV networks are obviously meddling again.

Big East conference expansion merry-go-round

Big East Conference athletic directors are in Newport for the football media events but don’t expect any decisions on conference expansion. They defer to the college presidents on such matters.

That doesn’t prevent people from rehashing the complexities of expansion and the pros and cons of expansion candidates, primarily the University of Central Florida and East Carolina University.

Jim Weber, over at Lost Letterman, goes on the record in favor of UCF, citing as one factor the presence of George O’Leary as head coach:

“He’s literally built the UCF program from the ground up and, between the fact he’s about to turn 65 and the stigma still attached to his name from lying on his resume, this is almost certainly his final head coaching job. While he might not be on the UCF sidelines a decade from now, I do believe he will have built the program to a point it can land another quality coach when he retires.”

Weber also suggests that the school’s location in Orlando, Fla., a hotbed for college football fanaticism, as a major reason UCF is the logical choice, suggesting that the leftover recruits from Florida, Florida State and Miami (no mention of South Florida) would be enough to ensure that UCF would be competitive in the Big East.

Weber’s arguments are not convincing.

O’Leary does not quite fit the image of a coach destined to lead any football program to greatness. Having been turned away from Notre Dame in 2001 after padding his resume, O’Leary wound up at UCF in 2004. He’s currently in the midst of a wrongful death lawsuit and his recruitment of Damarcus Smith from Louisville was highly controversial. And let’s face it, at the age of 65, his career as a college football coach may be limited. Howard Schnellenberger he is not.

Plus, if the best argument for UCF is that it’s the fourth or fifth best college football program in Florida, that’s not much of a recommendation. UCF is already having problems filling its 45,000-seat stadium and Florida fans aren’t going to be switching their allegiances anytime soon.

On the other hand, East Carolina is filling its 50,000-seat stadium on a regular basis and could easily fill a 60,000-seat stadium with a Big East affiliation. Apparently this area of North Carolina is almost more fanatical about football than the rest of the state is about basketball.

The argument against ECU is that it’s all about the size of the TV market. That and the lack of a metropolitan market and other big time attractions are the only things that are keeping the Big East from embracing East Carolina. The conference is afraid to take the risk, and that’s unfortunate for ECU and the Big East.

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