One of the pieces missing during the University of Louisville baseball team’s run to the NCAA Super Regional this season was the slugging prowess of Stewart Ijames. The hard hitting outfielder was forced to miss the season with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, affecting his batting and throwing arm.
As a freshman, Ijames batted .351 with eight homers and 39 RBIs. He also recorded 11 doubles, two triples and 98 total bases. His .583 slugging percentage and a .401 on-base percentage speaks loudly about his value to the team.
He was named third team All-Big East and was picked as a freshman All-American by Ping Baseball.
The really good news for coach Dan McDonnell is that Ijames is back on the field this summer, playing in the Coast Plain League for the Thomasville, NC team. He leads the league in home runs with nine in 40 games.
The Owensboro native, who was selected to play in the league’s all-star game, recently pounded out a double and a home run while driving in five runs to lead his team to a 12-6 win over Gastonia.
Through his first week as a member of the USA Baseball National Team, University of Louisville right-handed pitcher Tony Zych has not allowed an earned run in his two appearances on the mound and has seven total strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work overall.
Zych, who was named to the 2009 USA Baseball National Team on June 24, most recently pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of relief in Team USA’s 15-1 win over Guatemala on July 1 in Kannapolis, N.C., did not allow a hit and finished with five strikeouts in his second appearance for Team USA. Zych made his first appearance in the Team USA uniform on June 26 in the team’s 8-1 win over Canada in Durham, N.C., as he allowed one unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts in 1.1 innings of relief.
The USA National Team is 7-0 so far this summer with five wins over Canada and two wins over Guatemala, including a 10-0 win on Thursday night. Overall, the USA Baseball National Team (Collegiate) has won 31 consecutive games dating back to last summer.
Good hitters, great base runners, exceptional pitching.
A team that closely resembles the 2007 version of University of Louisville baseball, brought an end to one of the best seasons in Louisville history with Cal State Fullerton’s 11-2 win over U of L Saturday in a two-game sweep at the Fullerton Super Regional.
The major difference is that Cal State Fullerton has long been a baseball factory, having been to the College World Series 12 times, winning it in 2004. CSF exposed some weaknesses in the Cardinal program. And you can bet Louisville coach Dan McDonnell was taking copious notes.
While U of L’s 47-18 won-lost record is impressive — the best in the school’s history — the saving grace in the disappointing showing at Fullerton in the long run may be the lessons learned. This program has advanced so far so fast but so much more to be done.
McDonnell will bring this Louisville baseball program back unless, God forbid, another one lures him away.
Amazingly, reserved seats, including chairbacks and bleachers, are still available for the Louisville NCAA Baseball Regional Tournament, as of Thursday Noon. Berm seating is also available. Call 852-5151.
This is probably the only seating chart available on the World Wide Web for the reserved seatingÂ areas at Jim Patterson Stadium. If you have tickets and your section isn’t listed, your seats are in newly installed bleachers — two on the left field side, one on the right field side — or in the berm area.