Brendan McKay is so methodical and so businesslike in his approach to baseball that he doesn’t attract much notice when he’s having a great day at the plate. So much is expected of him.
On the other hand, McKay probably gets more than his share of attention in games when he’s popping up or not getting the ball out of the infield. Or when he’s not driving in the lion’s share of his team’s runs.
Such is the life of a college super star, never quite able to live up to expectations. Baseball is like that, with even the best players having their share of challenging games. Two hits in eight at-bats making for a long weekend against a tough Wake Forest team.
McKay found his hitting eye again Tuesday, leading the second-ranked University of Louisville baseball team to a 13-2 win over visiting Purdue before a crowd estimated at 1,569 at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Making his presence felt early in this one, following a walk to Colby Fitch and an error putting Devin Hairston on base in the first inning. McKay would drive a 2-and-1 pitch 340 feet over the right centerfield wall, his sixth home run of the season putting his team up 3-0.
McKay would follow that up with another drive to right centerfield in the third inning, sending Logan Taylor and Hairston across the plate. Louisville was up 8-0, and on its way to its 28th win in 32 games this season.
Nothing flashy, just two extra base hits, scoring twice and batting in five runs in two trips to the plate. Going about his business, getting the job done again.
Have to be a little more confident about the future for the University of Louisville basketball team with the bench playing an integral role in UofL’s 71-64 win over Purdue. That’s a luxury UofL hasn’t enjoyed in recent seasons.
— Sophomore Ray Spalding leading the reinforcements, playing with newfound confidence and efficiency. Having the game of his UofL career after relieving Jaylen Johnson. He would set the tone in the first half, making all five of his field goal attempts and pull down nine rebounds. He would win up with 11 points in the game.
— Anas Mahmoud, a junior already, stepping in for Mangok Mathiang, still perfecting that move to the basket, making all four of his field goal attempts and winding up with nine points. He would also be credited with two assists, a block and a steal.
— Redshirt freshman Ryan McMahon coming through when the Cardinals needed him most, light out on his two 3-point attempts and two free throws. If Coach Rick Pitino needed to have more confidence in McMahon, he should have been convinced in his performance against Purdue.
— Senior Mangok Mathiang with perhaps his best start ever. Every basket he makes is a bonus, some of them unbelievable in this game. Splitting defenders, making hook shots, jumpers, even a scoop shot, he would make five of 11 field goal attempts, winding up with 11 points. He would also pull down eight rebounds and be credited with an assist and a steal.
Not a great night for freshman V. J. King, who missed all three of his field goal attempts. But nobody doubts his time is coming, and that could happen any game now. That will make the bench even stronger.
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.
In case you missed it, another University of Louisville basketball team is moving forward in NCAA tournament action. Next stop is Baylor in the Sweet 16 Sunday at Oklahoma City.
Sara Hammond, displaying a new level of toughness, was the battering ram in a decisive 76-63 win over a Purdue, a game in which the Lady Cards led from the opening tip to the closing horn. Heeding Jeff Walz call for her to get physical, Hammond muscled her way through a smothering Purdue defense, collecting a game-leading 21 points, including eight of 14 field goal attempts and a three-pointer, while leading her team with 10 rebounds.
Antonita Slaughter would finally find her range again, sinking three three-pointers on her way to 16 points. Shoni Schimmel was good for three more and a total of 14 points.
Bria Smith is doing quite well, thank you, after twice getting clobbered, knocked to the floor, lying there several minutes but somehow managing to return to action. Don’t let anyone tell you the women’s game isn’t physical.
The Lady Cards out-shot and out-rebounded Purdue, turning their 38-32 edge on the boards into 24 second-chance points. They got 33 points off Purdue’s 22 turnovers while improving their record to 26-8.
Rick Schimmel and Ce Ce Moses, the parents of Shoni and Jude Schimmel, witnessed one of the most impressive performances by the Lady Cards this season before 9,236 fans at the KFC Yum! Center.