The temperature on the artificial turf is at least 98 degrees Wednesday as Dan McDonnell prepares his University of Louisville baseball team for the opening game against Indiana in the College World Series on Saturday.
Only the guys sticking cameras and microphones in his face are perspiring, however. He seems to be enjoying the oppressive heat. “These are perfect baseball conditions,” he laughs. “I’m glad we got a taste of it before heading off to Omaha.”
The UofL coach has a better idea of what to expect as he takes his second team there in six years, indicating that his team has been focused in practice the past two days. “You want to stay balanced this time of year,” he says. “We’re still pushing them pretty hard but we also want to stay focused, have some fun and enjoy the experience.”
Junior righthander Chad Green (10-3) will pitch the opening game, a spot in which he is very comfortable. Green, in fact, was on the mound when UofL and IU played in the first game this season. Green went seven innings in that one, giving up seven hits and two runs in a 2-0 loss.
“My job is to go out there and set the tone for the weekend,” says Green. “I want to pitch six or seven innings and get us off to a good start and take some the pressure off the other pitchers. We’ve played IU three times this year so we kind of know what to expect.
Green says the weekend series against Vanderbilt was almost as big a test as playing in Omaha. “We were playing against the No. 2 team in the country on their home field. There was a lot of pressure and we beat them twice. We’re just going to have to play good baseball and get off to a good start.”
McDonnell says that the playing status of senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak and reliever Joe Filomno remain day-to-day decisions. “They are important to this baseball team in many different ways. We have a real family atmosphere, and we’re going to be very supportive of each other.”