College-World-Series
Louisville Bows Out of College World Series against Oregon State 11-4

The University of Louisville’s 2nd trip in school history to Omaha ended the same way as the 1st trip to the College World Series.  With double elimination in two games.  This time the Cards were snake bit with a myriad of uncharacteristic plays in the field in the 3rd & 4th innings that collectively allowed 10 runs against the #3 Oregon State Beavers.

Louisville ACE and Big East Pitcher of the Year Jeff Thompson started strong, though he wasn’t his best Monday for the Cards.  Still Thompson’s effort should have been good enough to avert major damage.  In the 3rd Orgeon State’s Max Gordon stuck his elbow out and granted himself first base, and Tyler Smith sent a rocket ship down the left field line for a double which scored Gordon.  Smith’s double was misplayed by Cardinal left-fielder CoCo Johnson, allowing Gordon to score.  A SAC bunt turned single by Andy Peterson was well placed and instead of having a runner on 3rd with ONE OUT, the Cards found themselves with runners on the corners and none gone.  Throw in a misplayed foul ball by catcher Kyle Gibson to miss another chance for an out against Beaver slugger Michael Conforto, followed by a walk of Conforto to load the bases and it’s actually surprising that the Cards gave up just 3 runs in the 3rd. But it didn’t stop there…….the Cards actually could have gotten out with less damage if not for an ill-advised double play try by Zach Lucas’ who backhanded the ball past shortstop Sutton Whiting allowing a bases loaded groundout with just one run scoring, to turn into a no out two-run score.

The 4th inning, however, was the real stinker. With no other way to describe the 7-run 4th inning the Cards actually allowed 7 runs WITH TWO OUTS!!!!  However, an errant umpire call extended the inning when the Cards could have gotten out of the inning allowing zero runs.  Dylan Davis singled to Jeff Thompson, whose throw to Wasserman clearly beat the runner on replay, extending the inning and scoring two runs in the process while the Cards gasped at the abhorrent call.  Still, rather than collecting themselves following the human error element of baseball the Cards had a mental implosion and didn’t look like the Cards we had seen all season.

With Cody Ege replacing Thompson, Ege walked his 1st batter, loading the bases again.  On a routine groundball to shortstop Sutton Whiting, Whiting sailed the ball over 6’6″ Zak Wasserman scoring an additional two runs.  After Cody Ege hit the next batter, he was replaced by Kyle Funkhouser.  Funkhouser did his part to contribute to this epic inning for the Beavers by walking the 1st batter with the bases loaded, scoring another.  Mercifully the inning ended with a flyout to center, but not before Max Gordon could single for 2 RBIs growing the 4th inning total to 7 innings.

Above, that account of the events of the 3rd & 4th inning………that’s not Cardinal Baseball.  That’s not what Dan McDonnell teaches, that’s not what this team has been about all season.  The Cardinal Baseball team I saw all year BATTLED.  They were fundamentally sound, they played precise baseball.  Cardinal baseball was Nick Ratajczak going to the plate in the 8th despite an injury, Cardinal baseball is Matt Helms REFUSING to be the final out of the season.  It is unfortunate that this team ended their season this way……..but there are lessons to be learned.

First, this Louisville team and program took a MAJOR step forward in 2013.  Last year, while losing to Arizona the Wildcats might as well have been the New York Yankees.  It didn’t seem like the Cards had what it took to crack the eventual National Champions.  However, in 2013 Louisville Baseball took on and BEAT Vanderbilt on their home field in sweeping fashion to earn their trip to Omaha.  That Vanderbilt team was #2 in the country and considered by many to be the best team in College Baseball.  Not to mention the game against Oregon State, despite the score, was winnable if the Cards had their usual fielding performance (Beavers scored 7 runs after what should have been 3rd out…..Cards lost by 7).

Second, playoff baseball is regular baseball.  Big East Tournament aside the Cards looked good in the NCAA Tournament.  When UofL played loose good things happened, the Cards didn’t face elimination in the tournament until Monday running through the Regional & Super Regional.  Coaches may use different rotations in the post-season but baseball is baseball.  Just play focus on your job and don’t press.

Third, let one play be one play. Against Oregon State the Cards began playing as if one mistake was going to cost them an opportunity to win and advance.  So one mistake became two, two mistakes became three and then the Cards saw 10 runs in two innings.  You can’t win a baseball game with one play in the field and you can’t lose one either….especially in the 3rd & 4th innings.  Trust your teammates to do their jobs and play fundamental baseball in inning #1 to inning #9.

Finally, learn from experience.  Next year when the Cards go to Omaha (I feel strongly that they will have this chance again) I hope the Cards can focus more on their game, the scouting report, their job, it’s just baseball.  Sure it is Omaha, but you’ve been there now.  You’ve seen key pieces of the puzzle get injured, you’ve seen your team win despite your best hitter slumping, you’ve seen what can happen when you compound errors, and you know what can happen when you just play the game.

Louisville Baseball moving forward is in fantastic position.  They have the right man, the right kids, great facilities, outstanding recruiting and now a little more seasoning. The program who hadn’t been to the College World Series EVER now has been twice since 2007………and it has us wanting more.

Louisville Falls in Opening Game of College World Series 2-0 to Indiana

Indiana’s Joey DeNato pitched a 4-hit complete game against the Louisville Cardinals at TD Ameritrade Park.  DeNato went the distance despite a high pitch count, and continually frustrated Louisville batters.  Still a few base running gaffes cost the Cards opportunities to score.  Chad Green struggled to find his spots and allowed 2 early runs that would be the difference.  Cody Ege came in for relief and shut down the Hoosiers, but the Cardinal bats couldn’t touch DeNato, thanks to chasing a lot of balls out of the zone and the Hoosiers advanced in the winner’s bracket.

UofL will now have to face #3 Oregon State who fell to Mississippi St.  The Beavers and Cards will play Monday at 3:00 EST on ESPN2 in an elimination game.  All games will be elimination unless the Cards can find themselves in the championship series which begins a week from Monday.

POST-GAME VIDEOS

 

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Louisville Gets Their NCAA Championship Rings

This image comes from Luke Hancock’s Instagram account.  The NCAA produces rings for all of their champions, and each school can create a custom ring for their student-athletes but NCAA rules mandate that a ring may not exceed a value of $415.  If I’m UofL, I’m giving these rings out for now and when all of the players have exhausted their eligibility I’m making something championship worthy.

NCAA Rule 16.1.4.2 (if you want to read the actual rule) 

 

OmahaBirds
LOUISVILLE ADVANCES TO COLLEGE WORLD SERIES!!!!

The University of Louisville Men’s Baseball program advanced to the College World Series for the 2nd time in school history on Sunday.  The Cardinals SWEPT a highly regarded Vanderbilt group on their home field, a program that has been a constant thorn  in the side of UofL baseball.  Louisville won a 2-1 decision on the shoulder’s of Ace pitcher Jeff Thompson, Thompson was a WARRIOR on the mound for the Cards throwing 124 pitches in 7.0 innings, allowing just 3 hits, and 1 run (homerun) to the Commodores.

The Cards got both of their runs in the 2nd inning against Vandy ACE Tyler Beede, who only survived 2.2 innings.  Beede was unusually wild Sunday, and actually hit CoCo Johnson in his helmet in the 2nd inning, and then walked Designated Hitter Jeff Gardner.  Zak Wasserman continued his hot play with an RBI single that scored Gardner. Later in the inning an unnecessarily hard “punch tag” by Vanderbilt Shortstop Vince Conde on Louisville helped spark a Sutton Whiting single that would score Gibson and give the Cards a 2-0 lead.  A questionable call at 3rd Base where Xavier Turner appeared to lose the ball ended the inning when Zak Wasserman was called out.

Still, the damage was done and Thompson was almost untouchable on the day against one of the most professional ready collegiate ball clubs in the country.  Thompson was drafted in this week’s Major League Baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers in the 3rd Round with the 94th pick. Thompson was replaced at the start of the 8th by Sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno, who retired two batters but also allowed two base runners (HBP & BB) before leaving with an apparent injury.  Filomeno has fought back from elbow surgery and was nasty against Oklahoma State to win last week’s Louisville regional and was emotional while leaving the mound.  Filomeno had some animated words of encouragement for Kyle Funkhouser and was greeted in the dugout by almost every teammate before finding himself in a very emotional embrace with Jeff Thompson.

When Kyle Funkhouser got the Cards out of the jam with a Vince Conde groundout, Filomeno exploded with emotion.  That scene in the 8th inning is what college athletics is all about. TEAM.  LOVE. Baseball. In the end, Nick Burdi and Cody Ege would combine to close out the game for the Cards and send the program to Omaha for the 2nd time in school history.

The Cards will now face the Indiana Hoosiers in a Best of 3 Game Format.  The times are not yet set, but the CWS begins on Saturday, June 15th at 2:00 p.m. UofL & IU met 3 times during the season with the Hoosiers winning the first two match-ups (neutral & away) before the Cards won the 3rd and final meeting of the regular season (home).

Before the College World Series berth, the University of Louisville athletics season has been nothing short of incredible.  Headed to Omaha, I have to think that this Cardinal team is not satisfied just arriving at the College World Series.  With the way this year has been, and the team Dan McDonnell has they may just win the whole thing.  Buckle up.

(PHOTO BY @UofLBirdsNest, VIDEOS via Jody Demling & Howie Lindsey)

 

PowerPoint Presentation
adidas Unveils New Louisville Baseball Uniforms

Cardinals will wear retro-inspired uniforms in game two of Nashville Super Regional on Sunday

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - adidas unveiled on Saturday afternoon the new CLIMALITE Sweet Spot uniforms the eighth-ranked Louisville baseball team will debut during this weekend’s NCAA Super Regional at Vanderbilt.

The Cardinals (49-12) will wear the uniforms in game two of the Nashville Super Regional on Sunday at 4 p.m., ET in a nationally televised matchup on ESPN. A retro-inspired uniform similar to a design worn by Louisville in the 1970’s, the 2013 design features the latest adidas uniform technologies to make the Cardinals faster, lighter and cooler on the diamond.

 

The jersey and pants include CLIMALITE material coupled with dye-sub technology, creating a superior lightweight uniform system with unrivaled moisture transport and durability.

For more info and images of Louisville’s new adidas baseball uniforms, check out www.Facebook.com/adidasBaseball and follow the conversation on Twitter via @adidasUS and #teamadidas

Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.

 

Patterson-Stadium-Bats
Cardinal Baseball Wins Game Two of Regional 6-4 over Miami

The Louisville Cardinal Baseball emerged unscathed in the NCAA Regional it is hosting at Jim Patterson Stadium following a pitcher’s duel turned offensive in the late innings.  The Cards won 6-4 over the Miami Hurricanes who are playing without their head coach Jim Morris who is recovering from an illness.

The game went 5 innings without a run as Louisville ace Jeff Thompson & Miami #1 Bryan Radziewski allowed few base runners as they marched through the line ups.  Both teams were successful in creating some long at-bats which raised the pitch counts and helped in getting both hurlers off the mound and the teams into their bullpen.  Radziewski did his work with a nasty breaking ball, and Thomspon almost entirely with his fastball.  Both were effective.

UofL’s Jeff Thompson was the first to come off after a single & a hit batter set up Miami’s clean-up man for an RBI single.  It looked like Jeff might survive to finish the 7th inning, but a first batter walk moved Coach Dan McDonnell out of the dugout and to Cody Ege.  After a sacrifice bunt, Ege was pulled for normal #4 starter Kyle Funkhouser who would finish the inning.

The 7th inning though, is when the Cards went to work.  Radziewski’s pitch count was also rising, and CoCo Johson found himself on first base after (surprise!) being hit by a pitch.  Jeff Garnder then lined to first base and a fortunate bounce off the glove in Vandy’s favor prevented extra bases for CoCo and possibly Jeff.  The next batter Radziewski loaded the bases after Cole Sturgeon was given 1st base after a controversial hit by pitch.  In person it appeared that the ball hit Sturgeon’s hand, on TV it looks as it if grazed his helmet, cheek and then hand.  The umpire initially ruled Sturgeon out as strike 3 while attempting to bunt and the call was changed and he was awarded first base.

After a Kyle Gibson fielder’s choice out, Zak Wasserman was walked allowing Jeff Gardner to score giving the Cards their first run of the game.  Coach McDonnell then rolled the dice with Cole Sturgeon on 3rd base and Sutton Whiting at the plate with a sacrfice bases loaded bunt scoring Sturgeon.

At that point Radziewski was removed in favor Javi Salas who walked first batter Adam Engel, scoring Kyle Gibson with the bases loaded.  Then 2nd baseman Nick Ratajczak hit a bases clearing double scoring Engel, Whiting, and Wasserman. From there the damage was done and the Cards led 6-1 headed into the 8th.  Kyle Funkhouser walked Tyler Palmer and then had a strike out negated by catcher inference, followed by another walk to load the bases before Dan McDonnell elected to go with fire-baller Nick Burdi.  Burdi allowed a run scoring sacrifice, and then a Brad Fieger single to clear the bases, but the 3 Hurricane runs would be all that Miami could muster against the Cardinal closer.

Louisville plays the Winner of the Elimination Game Oklahoma State vs. Miami (noon) at 4:00 Sunday at Jim Patterson Stadium.  Tickets can be purchased through this link, by calling 502-852-5151, or at the ticket office for either session.