Groan: Louisville baseball relegated to scrimmage action

A dull, lifeless performance in a game starting at 11 a.m. and attended by less than 300 people at the Durham Bulls stadium. The kind of game to avoided by any means possible.

Just a miserable outing, beginning to end.

NIck Bennett struggling despite three scoreless innings, and Louisville is eliminated from ACC baseball contention.

The University of Louisville baseball team managing only two hits against left-hander Dan Metzdorf in a 5-1 loss. The only run unearned, resulting from Boston College errors. Metzdorf, a senior, turning in a rare complete game for a college pitcher, his first during his four-year career.  

Louisville’s Nick Bennett, meanwhile, struggling again. Entering the game, he had given up 15 runs in his last 11 innings while losing two of three games. Despite holding Boston College scoreless in the first three innings, he was giving up three hits, two walks and losing the battle with the strike zone.

The Atlantic Coast Conference tournament has yet to provide a positive experience for the University of Louisville baseball team, having won only three games in their first five seasons in the tournament. Stunk even when the event was held in Louisville a couple of years ago.

The Cardinals will play Clemson on Thursday but they have already been eliminated, with Boston College winning two games in Pool A. The Eagles move to the semi-finals.

Bennett has 6-3 won-lost record this season but his best days may be behind him, especially when UofL is not putting up the runs. He needs to prove the observer wrong if Louisville is to have a shot in NCAA tournament action.

Louisville baseball rips UK in Game 500 at Jim Patterson

A new perspective, watching a University of Louisville baseball game from the left field berm. A sunny day, about 60 degrees at the first pitch, Jim Patterson Stadium filling up late for a rivalry game against Kentucky.

The 500th game  at Jim Patterson Stadium since the red ribbon was cut in 2005, the Cardinals entering the game with a 362-103 won-lost record in the facility.

The first really warm day this year, not a cloud in the sky, no chance of rain for a change. So much wet weather lately, the crowd sensing perhaps that maybe, just maybe, that warmer days are ahead. 

The berm area is popular with many UofL students, and a family atmosphere prevails, lots of children. Nearby, kids are rolling up and down the hill beyond the center field fence. Many of the people on hand primarily to socialize and see a little baseball. Fraternities, sororities, athletes, parents, brothers and sisters of athletes, and a smattering of blue fans trying to blend into the field of red clad partisans.

A different crowd from the one in the stands behind home plate. The decibel level at a high level, people soaking in the sun, enjoying non-stop chatter. Pausing momentarily when there’s game action, a couple of fans harassing the UK left fielder, the crowd roaring loudly when Louisville sends runners across the plate.

As nightfall approaches, the temperature dips into the forties again, the Cardinals have doubled the score on the Wildcats, and the crowd dissipates. Attendance announced as 4,278, although it seemed as large or larger than some record crowds at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Some of us, including the Observer, will have moved to the chair backs for the conclusion of the game, largely to escape the non-ceasing wind into the left field area. Louisville will win the game by a score of 8-3, the eighth straight win over UK at home and the 10th in the last 12 games of the rivalry.

Baseball as it should be, UofL winning, defeating UK, on a magical spring day.

Louisville baseball resumes title chase

Editor’s Note: The college baseball season has arrived, believe it or or not, with the University of Louisville opening against UConn in the first of a three-game series at Lakeland, Fla. The series begins on Friday evening at 6 p.m. with game two set for Saturday at 3 p.m. and the finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.

By Ed Peak

Logan Wyatt couldn’t help but bring up the painful past during the University of Louisville baseball media day recently.  Specifically, his team’s loss in the Texas Tech Regional. One game away from another College World Series, the Cardinals were unceremoniously dumped 11-6 by the home-standing Red Raiders in a game that was never really that close. 

Louisville teammates Tyler Fitzgerald and Logan Wyatt discussed prospects for the 2019 season (Photos by Ed Peak).

“The ending of our season as we all know was kind of rough,” said Wyatt, one of several returning starters from the team that finished 45-19. “Following the fall season and scrimmages right now everybody’s intensity and focus seems to be heightened right now (because of last year).”

Infielder Tyler Fitzgerald echoed Wyatt’s feelings. “It’s with us a lot,” said Fitzgerald. “We talk about it every week. It was no secret we were a young team last year. We’ve got guys that will step up.

“One of our goals is we host a Regional and a Super Regional. I think that will make it a little easier on us. That was not the ending we wanted last year. It has definitely helped prepare us for the upcoming year. We know what to expect now,” said Fitzgerald.

All three games against UConn this weekend are scheduled for coverage on 93.9 The Ville.

Louisville returns a bulk of that team from last year, according to coach Dan McDonnell, and added a freshman class that could help this team get to Omaha and the College World Series for the fifth time in program history.

“When I try to put the measurables in place, what am I looking for it starts with our commitment to academics in the class room. We’re coming off a good summer. We’ve obviously got a lot of talented players returning.”

The Cardinals were ranked ninth by Street & Smith’s preseason publication. Oregon State the defending champions were ranked No 1 followed by Louisiana State, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Auburn, North Carolina, Stanford, Arkansas and Florida.

“We’ve got a bunch of leaders this year that can step up and if we keep the leaders going in the right direction we’ll be all right,” said Wyatt a junior from North Bulllitt High.

Wyatt has received some preseason accolades after batting .339 and leading the team with 69 runs batted in. His six home runs were second on the team. Danny Oriente, Drew Campbell and Jake Snider also hit 300 or higher last season. The pitching staff includes some familiar names, including Reid Detmers,  Austin Conway, Bobby Miller and Shay Smitty.  

The Cardinals are ranked in most preseason polls somewhere in the top 10. Last week Atlantic Coast Conference coaches voted UofL as the top team in the conference edging perennial power Florida State. 

“I think there’s power in saying we’re going to win a national championship,” said McDonnell. “So today’s the day to do that. Today’s the day to let the world know that’s the goal of our program. That’s what we believe in. That’s what we see happening. That’s why we work our players so hard.”

As one coach said a couple of years ago, “Louisville is the new elite program in the Midwest.”

No doubt about that.

Free admission for Louisville baseball’s first nine home games … and more

Did someone say free?

Yes, free admission is back, at least for most non-conference game at Jim Patterson Stadium for the 2019 season. The first nine games will be non-conference games for the University of Louisville baseball team.

The 2019 season gets under way on Feb. 15 with a three-game series against UConn in Lakeland, Fla. The home schedule opens with an opening game against Eastern Kentucky University on Feb. 20, followed by three games against Brown University Feb. 22-24, a game against Xavier on Feb. 26, three games against James Madison March 2-4, and Morehead State on March 6.

The schedule also includes free non-conference games against Mississippi, Alabama A&M, Western Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky.

Of course, all of UofL’s 15 Atlantic Coast Conference home games will require paid admission, as well as two non-conference games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

The 2019 reserved chairback ticket packages are priced at $110 for adults, $90 for senior adults/youths and $90 for families of four or more. Season tickets for the left field berm are $50 per ticket.

Season tickets can be purchased by calling 502-GO-CARDS or by visiting the UofL ticket office at Cardinal Stadium.

McDonnell, Tyra share high expectations for Louisville baseball

No last minute pitches unnecessary when one of the game’s traditional powers came calling. Dan McDonnell and Vince Tyra have been discussing the future of University of Louisville baseball for quite a while now. 

“I’ve enjoyed our conversations about the program and a relationship we’ve developed going back to when Dan first arrived in Louisville, and certainly over the last eight months,” said Tyra at a joint press conference Thursday.

Dan McDonnell reflects on past season, looks to future with Louisville baseball (Charlie Springer photos).

“That relationship has made the last few days it very comfortable for us to talk openly about what we would like to see for the Louisville program.”

McDonnell told fans Wednesday that he had talked with John Cohen at Mississippi State about the job but he wanted to remain at Louisville. 

A grateful Tyra said UofL wants to provide a great atmosphere for players, as much as facilities and more seats. “We’re exactly on the same page … We want to make sure we’re together with Dan for a long time, and that this is where he is going to stay. I’m going to do every thing in my power to keep him here and keep producing the kind of kids and winning teams we’ve had.”

He added that he has kept new UofL President Neeli Bendapudi informed about discussions. “She has been terrific,” he said. “Neeli has been hand in hand with both of us, and she has been supportive of someone who represents what we want this program and this university to be.”

When we get to Omaha, I want them to say, 'There's Louisville again.'  There's the bird with teeth, and there's their fans ...

McDonnell has received Tyra’s support for a new pro locker room addition to Jim Patterson Stadium to accommodate former UofL players now in professional baseball. There are approximately 30 of them now, many returning during the off season to study and to hone their athletic skills.

“Louisville is like a second home to them,” said McDonnell. “We want to provide a comfortable environment for them. We enjoy having them around in the locker room but it’s getting a little crowded with so many professional players now. They need to have their own facility.”

Tyra said he hoped a Request for Proposals could be submitted within the next 60 days, and indicated that the project could funded by a combination of private donations, athletic funds and the Dugout Club, a fan support group.

McDonnell said expectations for UofL baseball are at an all-time high. “The fans expect it, the media expects it, and I want college baseball to expect it. I want them to expect Louisville to be in a regional, hosting a regional, in a super regional. When we get to Omaha, I want them to say, ‘There’s Louisville again.’  There’s the bird with teeth, and there’s their fans and they’re a regular. We want to be knocking on the door to Omaha every year.”

Pretty obvious that Tyra and McDonnell have much in common with their aspirations for the program.