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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
The first thought after learning that Purdue will be the opening opponent of UofL’s 2017 college football season was that this was Tom Jurich’s way of getting Indiana University’s attention.
Jurich has attempted to get Indiana on the football schedule for years but the Hoosiers have been reluctant to do so. Scheduling their arch rival sends a strong message to IU administrators.
The next question was about how the UofL-Purdue football game will affect negotiations for a basketball series with Indiana. Second hand reports indicate that a home, away and neutral site series has been in the works. Lots of anticipation, especially from Rick Pitino but the discussions have dragged on for a while.
A Louisville-Indiana basketball series (or football for that matter) would be lucrative for both schools. The Hoosiers may have needed more than a nudge.
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Louisville and Kentucky will meet up in baseball again for the second time in a week Wednesday in Lexington. Expect the game to go down to the wire again. It’s that kind of season for the Cardinals.
UofL will go with freshman right hander Kade McClure on the mound, with a 1-0 won-lost record and 3.09 earned run average. He’s an imposing presence, standing in at 6-foot-7, 234 pounds. Kentucky will counter with sophomore left hander Zach Logue, who is 2-2 with a 5.04 earned run average.
A UofL press release indicates the 6:30 p.m. game is on the SEC Network, but there’s some confusion because the network schedule doesn’t list the game. It also indicates the game is on WatchESPN.com. Cross your fingers.
A virtual red sea of University of Louisville fans descend upon South Bend on a cold drizzling day in November 2014. A cold drizzly day, gray skies, temperatures in the mid-forties, wet and slippery conditions for an historic football game. A school, a football program and a fan base ready to take the next step.
Momentum swinging back and forth during the game, moods bouncing wildly between helplessness, resignation to exultation, teams trading leads four times, teams going from defenseless to defensive, hot to cold and back again on offense, the final outcome in doubt with the clock ticking down to decision time with less than a minute on the clock.
Notre Dame is moving the ball again, quickly advancing the ball from its own 20 to Louisville’s 15-yard line. Quarterback Everett Golson finding his swagger again, ready to redeem himself, salvage the Notre Dame mystique. The Cardinals digging deep, somehow holding the Irish, forcing a field goal attempt. Visions of overtime with Louisville leading 31-28.
The holder is still positioning the ball as Kyle Brindza’s foot connects. The football veers wide right.
Louisville holds on, winning the historic first game in the series against the sport’s most revered program. Another one of those historic wins that just seem to keep coming for that ambitious, but humble and hungry school, the University of Louisville.
Quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, thrust squarely into the spotlight during his fourth freshman start, learning on the job, needing to grow up quickly. Responding with an aura of confidence, steady hands and quick feet, maintaining the poise to the end, leading his team to a monumental victory. Notre Dame may be down the past three games, but remaings highly competitive, underscoring the importance of Bonnafon’s performance.
For the day, Bonnafon would connect on eight of 21 passes for 180 yards and a 21-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker. He would rush for 35 yards on 15 carries, including touchdown runs of 12 and eight yards to give Louisville an early 14-3 lead.
No one ever knows which UofL running back will leave the most indelible mark. The first half belonged to Michael Dyer who would come through with 61 yards on 13 carries, setting up the Bonnafon touchdowns. His longest run was 21 yards before Notre Dame could get a handle on him, keeping him in toll after his initial surge.
Time for Brandon Radcliff to step up, and his derring do would come at just the right time, following two consecutive Notre Dame touchdowns, giving the Irish the lead again, threatening to demoralize UofL’s then sputtering offense. Ripping through Notre Dame’s shored up defense in that second half for 136 yards and a go-ahead touchdown. Averaging 8.1 yards per carry, a man on a mission, cherishing every carry, punishing and embarrassing many would-be tacklers.
DeVante Parker getting far too much attention from Notre Dame defenders, making only four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. He gets credit, too, for deflecting attention away from UofL’s running game, which accounted for 229 yards on the ground, compared to only 99 for the Irish. Kai De La Cruz, whose name hasn’t been mentioned much lately, was big on a 52-yard pass play, setting up Bonnafon’s first touchdown.
Every bit of drama that could be expected in a first game between Louisville and Notre Dame, the Cardinals emerging with another one of those memorable wins, emerging from the house that Knute Rockne built with still another memento in their growing trove of treasured victories.
Another barrier falls, another milestone achieved.
The University of Louisville football team facing the University of Notre Dame for the first time at South Bend, Ind.
There, but not enough just to get there. Winning the first game in the series has to be the goal.
Another opportunity for a school building on milestones, more recently BCS wins at the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl in football and a third NCAA championship in basketball. A proven contender in its first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Competitive in all sports, playing at the highest level. Humble and hungry.
Dreamlike but in real time, reaching out, touching the future, embracing reality, right now.