Proof of life, Louisville shows heart in win over Florida State

Discouraging, demoralizing, terrible start. Proof of life needed.

Florida State jumping out to a 9-0 lead, widening the margin to 17 points,  near the end of the first half. Visions of the University of Louisville basketball program spiraling into oblivion.

But wait. Five minutes into the second half. Some vital signs emerging, the patient stirring, still breathing, coming out of the coma. Deng Adel scoring six straight points to cut the deficit to eight points. Does one dare imagine a comeback with this team?

Never was there a win so unexpected or so welcome for a team needing something good to happen.

A layup by Ray Spalding, down to six. Then back up to eight. Ryan McMahon with a 3-pointer, down to five. Did the switch turn on? Are we seeing things? Are these guys serious? Are they teasing us? Too good to be true, surely an aberration. Are these our guys making a comeback?

Florida State will extend the lead to eight again but the Cardinals are not done. A 3-pointer by Quinten Snider, two free throws by Spalding, and a three by Adel will tie the game up at 55-55. This is really happening.

UofL will finally get its first lead (64-62) on a 3-pointer by Ryan McMahon at the 4:55 mark. He will strike again, with another 3-pointer with 55 second to put UofL up by five. And he will nail the door shut with two free throws at the 1.5 mark to seal a 73-69 win for Louisville.

Never has a University of Louisville needed a win at this point in the season more badly than this one, facing an outlook with which few UofL could come to grips.

Showing some signs of life, emerging from the shadows, clawing their way out of the depths of despair. Never was there a win so unexpected or so welcome for a team needing something good to happen.

No one coming to their rescue, they have to make it happen. And they will. Proof of life, indeed.

Hell week ends for Louisville with win over Florida State

Plenty of accolades to go around following the University of Louisville football team’s 31-28 win over Florida State Saturday at Tallahassee:

— Kicker Blanton Creque for that 34-yard field goal with five seconds left on the clock. First game winner ever for him in the closing seconds. More than making up for a dud at the end of the first half.

— Running back Dae Williams finally making it into the backfield after recovering from an injury that kept him on the bench for most of the season. The freshman scoring his first touchdown on a 25-yard dash in the third quarter. The long wait for him finally over.

— Running back Reggie Bonnafon in one of his better offensive performances, 74 yards rushing and a two-yard touchdown. Never flashy but never to be counted out.

— Cornerback Trumaine Washington intercepting two Florida State passes, including that one he returned 22 yards in the second quarter leading to a UofL touchdown in the second quarter. Finally making an opposing quarterback pay, twice even.

— Quarterback Lamar Jackson, of course, rushing for 178 yards and a touchdown while passing for an additional 156 yards and another touchdown. The exceptional becoming the expected.

— Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon for a noticeable improvement in his defensive unit’s tackling, holding Florida State’s offense to 155 yards rushing. Earning a reprieve from the boo birds for at least six days.

— Junior linebacker Isaac Stewart in on nine tackles, including five solo tackles. Emerging from the pack, providing much needed leadership. Goodbye obscurity.

— Coach Bobby Petrino winning his second game in four tries against Florida State. First win in Tallahassee for the Cardinals since Johnny U in 1952. His offense at times more closely resembling Bobby 1.0 this day.

Down goes Florida State again, ending the week from hell for Louisville fans. Needed that one.

Another early exit from ACC tourney for Louisville baseball

With no momentum going into NCAA play, Dan McDonnell faces a major challenge next week.

Not a good day for University of Louisville baseball.

Three hours, twenty-two minutes of slow, agonizing, drawn out drama. The Cardinals managing only four hits in a 6-2 loss to Florida State, exiting the ACC Championship tournament early for the third consecutive season.

Making FSU’s Tyler Holton look like a world beater, striking out 10 Cardinal batters while allowing only five runners to reach base in eight innings. His only mistake giving up a 420-foot home run to Brendan McKay in the sixth inning.

The third consecutive loss to FSU and the fourth loss in the last five games. The latest loss confirming that the team ranked second nationally for most of the season has some serious challenges to overcome as the NCAA tournament approaches.

The only good news following the latest loss is, thanks to an impressive regular season record, Louisville is assured of hosting a regional tournament at Jim Patterson next week.

A crowd of 8,843 mostly University of Louisville baseball fans had little to cheer about at Louisville Slugger Field.

McDonnell honored for 500th win before 200th loss

University of Louisville Baseball Coach Dan McDonnell is congratulated by Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich for his 500th win before Friday night’s game against Florida State. McDonnell won his 500th, 501st and 502nd wins last weekend at Clemson.

He was on a three-game losing streak after the 8-2 loss to the Seminoles on Friday, having lost to Indiana mid-week and in the first two weekend games against Florida State at Jim Patterson Stadium. Current won-lost record in his 11th season is 502-200.

Hopefully getting the garbage out of the system before the post-season arrives.

Photos courtesy of Cindy Rice Shelton.

Few takers for fireworks, Florida State chases McKay

Not one of Brendan McKay’s better nights on the mound in his final regular season appearance for the University of Louisville baseball team (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

They had a nice fireworks show Thursday night at Jim Patterson Stadium to celebrate the University of Louisville baseball team winning its third consecutive Atlantic Division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Not many people on hand for the post-game celebration, however.

Most in the crowd of 3,487 had hit the exits in the eighth inning when it became apparent that a happy ending was not in the Cards. A long, long game, almost four hours, UofL giving up 14 hits in a 12-9 loss to Florida State.

Another night of struggle for Brendan McKay, who some analysts describe as one of the best to ever play in college baseball. That’s based largely on the fact that he has been a first team All-American for three seasons and a two-time winner of the John Olerud Award for the best two-way player.

McKay has struggled on the mound in some recent games, lacking consistency, searching for the strike zone. Still another shaky outing in his latest appearance, chased from the game after giving up four runs in the fifth inning — seven runs, five hits and four walks for the game. His record going into post-season play is 8-3.

Not much help from the bullpen this night. Jake Sparger, in relief, shouldering his first loss in five decisions, coughing up four more runs over two-and-a-third innings. 

UofL highlights were provided by Josh Stowers and Drew Ellis, each contributing three-run home runs.

Josh Stowers is welcomed at home plate by his teammates after hitting a three-run home run, his fifth round tripper of the season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).