What are you waiting for? Go get your tickets!
Press release from the University of Louisville Athletic Department:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville baseball team received its third 2018 preseason ranking on Tuesday as the Cardinals were tabbed at No. 15 in the D1Baseball Top 25.
After a very exciting and successful 2017 season, we finally get our first look at UofL baseball’s 2018 campaign. The Road (back) to Omaha will start on February 16th in Charleston, South Carolina with the first game at Jim Patterson happening February 21st. You can see the entire schedule below, and purchase your season tickets using the link provided with the schedule.
Although U of L came up short being eliminated by TCU last Thursday, the Cardinals finished with a 53-12 record. The team set a school-record for wins, while also earning their fourth College World Series trip. Here are some pictures from my trip to Omaha. I hope you enjoy!
(Click more for gallery)
Another year, another brutal way for the Cardinal Nine’s season to end. After trailing 4-0 early, the Cardinals rally ended one run short, as TCU eliminated the Cardinals 4-3 on Thursday night in Omaha.
The loss eliminates Louisville (53-12) from the College World Series, matching their highest finish in the College World Series (5th/6th, 2007). TCU (49-17) will advance to face Florida tomorrow night, needing two wins against the Gators to advance to the Finals next week.
It was a game marred with a lot of controversy, with Louisville losing nearly every 50/50 call at the plate. The first came in a four-run second inning, where Stowers’ throw to home was not on time, allowing TCU to stay-alive with two outs and ultimately deliver the deciding runs.
The second thwarted U of L’s rally in the eighth inning. When Colby Fitch delivered a lead-off single in the inning, Ryan Summers came on to pinch-run. He was ruled out attempting to steal second base, but the replay almost seemingly confirmed he was safe. The call resulted in Brendan McKay striking out and ending the inning.
Head coach Dan McDonnell took exception to the call and was ejected for the first time since 2010. Despite the heated exchange, McDonnell was adamant that he won’t blame the umpires for the disputed calls.
“I fought for my guy,” McDonnell said. “Knowing the point in the game and how valuable that base was. But I’m never gonna stand behind the camera and blame an umpire. That’s not the reason we lost. I don’t know if I should have been thrown out, but that’s not my call to make … A lot of times you just read the body language of your guys, and you want to stick up for them.”
McDonnell’s sentiments were echoed through the players, as well. “Yeah, it’s obviously tough,” Brendan McKay said. “It’s the competitor in every athlete, you see a play that’s bang-bang and you obviously want it in your favor. I mean, there’s no robotic strike zone or sensors for the baseball and the glove and foot for touching the base or anything like that … you can’t fault anybody for that.”
Controversy aside, TCU rode a four-run second inning to victory. Nick Bennett, who earned his first start since the Regional round, had a perfect first inning and then got the first two batters out in the second.
After that, Bennett fell behind the count with two outs and never recovered. An RBI double from Connor Wanhanen gave TCU an early run, followed by a Ryan Merrill two-RBI double to push the lead to 3-0. Wanhanen narrowly made it home to beat the tag, but the subsequent review was unable to overturn the call. Austen Wade added an RBI single, but was tagged out trying to reach second to end the inning.
Wanhanen was the only TCU batter with multiple hits, while Ryan Merrill had the two-RBI that provided the deciding runs for the Horned Frogs. Austen Wade, Zach Humphreys, Cam Warner, Elliott Barzilli and Merrill were the only other TCU batters with hits.
Nick Lodolo, who made an appearance as a reliever in Sunday’s loss to Florida, got the nod as their starter. Lodolo finished with three earned runs on five hits, two of which came on lead-off home runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Sean Wymer was credited with the win, only allowing two hits while striking out five in the final 4.1 innings.
On Louisville’s end, Bennett’s day was over before the second inning ended. His loss marked the first in his brief career, allowing all four of TCU’s runs on three hits and two strikeouts. Despite the early deficit, Wolf, Sam Bordner and Lincoln Henzman combined for 6.1 shutout innings and only allowed four hits with two walks.
“I thought they (Wolf, Bordner, Henzman) were outstanding,” pitching coach Roger Williams said. “Those guys probably don’t get enough credit at times. And I guess we as coaches really appreciate that group’s probably been the backbone of a lot of success we’ve had this year.”
Louisville’s usually stout bullpen was one of the main reasons for their success. The bullpen finished 23-1 on the season, and closer Lincoln Henzman never blew a save in 2017.
McDonnell made dramatic changes in the batting lineup, moving Taylor from the 1-hole all the way to the eight spot and Mann from third to seventh. Josh Stowers, who started as the leadoff hitter for the first time since April 23rd, made the most of his opportunity. He landed a soft RBI single to left field in the third to get the Cardinals on the board.
Louisville’s next two innings would feature back-to-back leadoff home runs. McKay would lead off the fourth with his 18th home run of the season to right-center, while Logan Taylor blasted one to left field in the fifth. U of L was fired up after seeing the speedy senior launch his first home run of the season, but cooled off after Sean Wymer entered the game.
Wymer shut out the Cardinals in the final 4.1 innings, but U of L had opportunities to get the runs they desperately needed. Summers was ruled out in the eighth inning attempting to steal second, with the momentum parlaying into McKay’s strikeout that ended the inning. Devin Mann scored a two-out single in the ninth, but was for naught when Taylor grounded out to end the game.
Stowers lead all Cardinals with two hits, including a one-out double in the fifth. Devin Mann also had two hits on the day, while McKay and Taylor had U of L’s only two home runs.
For Louisville, it was a third straight season with an agonizing end to it. 2015 saw the Cardinals lose the series on a controversial home-run against Cal State Fullerton, while 2016 saw U of L lose the series on a walk-off grand slam.
“You try not to evaluate every pitch or play that happens, and you wanna recollect on the season and all the success and the joy these guys brought us,” McDonnell said. “I’ve had so much fun with this group, and I’m really proud of them.”
2017 may have been the latest brutal end to a successful season. But Dan McDonnell believes it was still a great season. After all, Louisville made their fourth trip to Omaha, earned their first number one ranking and won more games than any team in school history.
“We lost a few years (ago) on a controversial home run, and I never lost sleep blaming an umpire for that,” McDonnell said. “I still remember opportunities we missed that night like it was last night. So tonight, you just live with a couple of things you could have done better … I’m big on being accountable, and it starts with me. And if anything, it just motivates me to want to be a better coach, to work harder, and get ready for next year.”
What started as a pitcher’s duel ended up with Louisville blinking first. Singer delivered seven quality innings while striking out nine, as the Gators defeated Louisville 5-1.
Singer, who is listed as the top sophomore prospect on Perfect Game and Baseball America’s listings, showed his worth at the mound. The 6’5″ standout delivered a gem with seven innings, striking out nine and allowing one run on six hits. Louisville batters faced problems with Singer’s command all game long.
“Really, he’s got a tough angle,” Brendan McKay said. “And combined with the early shadows that we had … what I saw in the second inning was right when he released the ball that’s when the ball disappeared.”
“When you don’t have much to go off of, it’s tough no matter what,” McKay said.” “But he’s (Singer) got a funky little angle to him. He can spot up — obviously when you combine that with velocity and good offspeed pitches, as you see in any level, it’s tough to hit.”
Prior to tomorrow’s matchup against the #3 Florida Gators, the #7 Louisville Cardinals took to the practice field, where Defensive Player of the Year Devin Hairston was mic’d up.
Couldn’t make the trip up to Omaha? Check out this short video with the sights and sounds of Louisville’s thrilling 8-4 victory over Texas A&M, as well as some of the pageantry surrounding the College World Series.
Following their 8-4 victory over Texas A&M in game 1 of the College World Series, the Louisville Baseball team speaks to the media.
A big day for Colby Fitch, batting 2-for-4 with four RBI, was the difference as the slugger powered Louisville to an 8-4 victory over Texas A&M.
The win marks only the second in school history, their previous victory a 12-4 decision over Mississippi State in 2007. It is also McDonnell’s first win when opening pool play in the College World Series.
Even though the Cards don’t play their first game in the College World Series until tomorrow, play in Omaha began today, with Oregon State coming from behind to defeat Cal State Fullerton. Florida State and LSU will face off tonight in the Saturday nightcap.
However, the CWS can be confusing. Many look at the teams and think:
“Who plays who?”
“Who does UofL play?”
“This team lost, are they still in?”
Well I will break it down for you. The College World Series consists of two 4 team double-elimination brackets, with the winner of each bracket facing off in a best-of-three series to determine the champion. Basically, each bracket acts like how the Regionals round works, and the CWS Final acts like how the Super Regional round works.
Oregon State vs. Cal St. Fullerton
Florida State vs. LSU
Louisville vs. Texas A&M
TCU vs. Florida
I’ll use bracket 1 for example. At the time of this post, Oregon State defeated Cal St. Fullerton and LSU defeated. Oregon State will go on to face LSU, and Cal St. Fullerton will face FSU. Since the loser of the Cal St. Fullerton vs FSU game will have two losses, that team will be eliminated. It is a de facto elimination game.
The winner of the elimantion game will then face the loser of the Oregon State vs. LSU game, in yet another elimination game. Once that game has concluded, there will only be two teams left in the bracket, with one team having one loss and the other having none. Those two teams play either one or two games until one of the teams is eliminated.
If that sounds too confusing, essentially, the teams in each bracket play until 3 of the 4 teams have two losses. Once a team reaches 2 losses, they are done in Omaha and will play no more baseball.
Once there has been winner declared in both brackets, those two teams will face off in a best-of-three series in the College World Series Championship.
Prior to their game against Texas A&M tomorrow in the College World Series, UofL closing pitcher Lincoln Henzman was awarded the Stopper Of The Year award by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association this afternoon. Henzman is the second Cardinal to win the award (Nick Burdi, 2014), and his 16 saves rank #2 in all of Division I baseball.
Add another award for Louisville superstar Brendan McKay, as the junior takes home the Dick Howser Award.
The award, first given out in 1987, honors the best player in college baseball,voted on by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). McKay adds this award after winning the John Olerud Award to become the first three-time winner, and was also selected fourth overall by Tampa Bay in Monday’s MLB Draft. Recent notable winners include Buster Posey (2008), Stephen Strasburg (2009) and Kris Bryant (2013).
The College World Series is set to begin, with eight teams vying for a coveted national championship.
For those that are attending in Omaha, or planning to watch the events unfold for the next ten days, here’s a primer for all eight teams remaining.
GamblersPalace.com has released their odds per the Courier-Journal. ( Read more about the Card in the Tweet below)
Louisville +260 (2.6 to 1)
Oregon State +330 (3.3 to 1)
LSU +330 (3.3 to 1)
Florida +525 (5.25 to 1)
Florida State +675 (6.75 to 1)
TCU +740 (7.4 to 1)
Cal State Fullerton +1150 (11.5 to 1)
Texas A&M +1500 (15 to 1)
After winning their Super Regional on Saturday, Dan McDonnell had infielder Drew Ellis read the Lion Chaser’s Manifesto to the media audience.
The excerpt, pulled from Mark Batterson’s book Chasing the Lion, is the anthem that U of L baseball has lived by this season. The motto “Run Towards the Roar” is printed on the back of every t-shirt this year, with each passing victory. McDonnell uses similar excerpts of inspiration to convey a unifying message; that their journey will have a destination — paradise, even — if everyone comes together towards a common goal
Logan Taylor, Brendan McKay, Drew Ellis and coach Dan McDonnell speak to the media following their Super Regional victory against Kentucky.
Logan Taylor (2-4, RBI) talks about prior experience in Omaha during his freshman year, Brendan McKay (6.2 IP, 8H, 2ER, 9K) talks about his Louisville career as well as the upcoming MLB Draft, and Drew Ellis (3-4, 2 HR) talks about his amazing performance in the Super Regional following his postseason slump.
With a record crowd for the second straight day in a row and a trip to the College World Series on the line, the Cardinal Nine handled the pressure with ease and defeated archrival Kentucky for the Super Regional sweep, 6-2 and punched their ticket to Omaha.
After finally breaking out of his postseason slump in game 1 of the Louisville Super Regional, Drew Ellis got back to his All-American form in game 2. He hit his 19th and 20th home runs of the season for his 60th and 61st RBIs of the season, one of which was a no-doubter to deep left-center field that bounced off the light post. Colby Fitch also broke out of his postseason slump, batting 3-5 after going 1-16 (.063) in NCAA Championship play. Following Ellis and Fitch’s footsteps, shortstop Devin Hairston would also collect three hits on the day, batting 3-4.