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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cards Take Game 1, Awards Abound -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

McClure Stumbles, Louisville Prevails

NCAA baseball regional play opened yesterday. Teams all across the country began their bid for Omaha. Kentucky survived a scare from Ohio in the first game of the Lexington Regional. Florida State and North Carolina both saw their paths to Nebraska get a lot tougher as they dropped their opening games. Louisville was looking to game the system against the fourth seeded Radford, getting a win out of the number two starter on Friday so that their ace, Brendan McKay, would be available to start Saturday's winners' bracket game. Kade McClure looked hot to start the game, but he ran into quite a bit of trouble (at the hands of a single player) before exiting the game in the sixth with the go ahead runner on third and a no decision in his pocket. 

Both pitchers made it through the opposing team's lineup the first time with little issue. Louisville put together a couple of hits, but ultimately had nothing really going when the designated hitter in the 9 hole, Jake Snider, grounded out to end the second inning. Kade McClure was carving up the Radford batters, allowing only a walk in the second, which was erased by a double play. He had four strikeouts through three after striking out the side in the third inning. Entering the bottom of the third, every batter on both teams had now seen the opposing starting pitcher. That is important for what was about to happen. 

Louisville opened the inning with a four pitch walk to leadoff hitter Logan Taylor. He scooted to second on passed ball, and to third when a smoked ground ball by Colby Fitch was just gloved by the first baseman. Runner on third, 1 out. The following sequence came next. Single, single, steal (two advance on error), lineout sac fly, walk, single, steal, double, pitching change, single, lineout. Logan Taylor batted twice in the inning and the Cards put up 6 runs, leaving only one runner on base and chasing the Radford starter. It looked like the Cards were set to cruise through the rest of the game and go into today sitting pretty.

Radford, however, having seen everything from Kade McClure, wasn't quite ready to go along with
the script. McClure had been effective early, but he wasn't pitching at his best. That showed when Radford got ahold of him in the fourth inning. McClure opened the inning with a leadoff double followed by a walk. He got a pop out to make it look more manageable, but promptly plunked the cleanup man to load the bases for the heart of the order with 1 out. A flyout to left field should have scored a run, but Josh Stowers came up firing to the plate. Unfortunately for the Cards, Radford hadn't sent the runner. No play at the plate, and the bases were still jacked for the number six hitter, Adam Whitacre. Whitacre quickly unjacked the bases with a fly ball to right field that just got over the fence. It was his third home run of the season, and it was a grand slam. Kade struck out the next batter to end the inning.

With their lead cut to two, the Cards fell a bit flat. They went six up, six down over the next two innings. In the sixth, Kade McClure seemed to have rebounded, putting Radford down in order in the fifth. Radford opened the sixth with a single, but McClure got two outs quickly and seemed like he'd strand the runner. An infield single kept the inning alive for none other than Adam Whitacre to step back up to the plate. Whitacre dumped a triple down the right field line to tie the game and knock McClure off the mound. Sam Bordner came in with the go ahead runner on third and got a strikeout to end the inning.

Louisville apparently needed only a reminder that Radford hadn't gone away to get back into gear. They put three runs up in the bottom half of the sixth and two more in the seventh. Bordner went on to pitch 3.1 innings of no hit baseball with six Ks and 2 HBPs. He was backed up by a marvelous Louisville defense and the Cards got out of their Friday game with an 11-6 win. McKay will (presumably) be on the hill tonight at seven when the Cards take on the Sooners from Oklahoma in the winners' bracket game. Tickets are available for a modest price if you feel like heading out. The loser of tonight's game would need three more wins to advance to the Super Regional, while the winner would need only one. 

Cards being Honored

During his freshman season, a writer once said that Brendan McKay could go down as the most decorated player in the history of college baseball. McKay was a freshman All-American that year as well as the John Olerud two-way player of the year. He compiled more accolades during his sophomore season, and he is wrapping up his junior year (and career at UofL) with even more hardware. McKay was recently announced as the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Player of the Year. They probably won't be the only publication to give him that honor, and he's already won the ACC Player of the Year. McKay is a first team All-American, he's nearly a lock for the Olerud award for the third straight year (he'd be the first ever to do that), and he's a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award (college baseball's Heisman Trophy). Did I mention he's the consensus first or second pick in the draft and no one can decide whether he'd be a better pro as a pitcher or hitter? He's good, but he's not the only Cardinal being honored. 

Baseball teammate Devin Hairston is also shortlisted for the Golden Spikes award. Closer Lincoln Henzman and corner infield Drew Ellis are also first team All-Americans. All of these guys want to finish their seasons with the biggest trophy of them all, a dogpile in Omaha.

Also being honored are Cardinals in different sports. Nicole Woods, of the field hockey team, was recently selected to the USA roster for the FIH World League Semifinals. This is a qualifying event for the Field Hockey World Cup. Woods joins a long list of Cardinals who have been called up to their national team in a variety of sports.

A future Cardinal is the last player I'll mention on this list. You've likely heard of the Wendy's High School Heisman, given to one male and one female high school athlete nationally. The Tewaaraton Native American Scholarship is very similar, for students of Haudenosaunee/Iroquois heritage. Future Louisville lacrosse player, Shayla Scanlon, was selected as this year's female recipient on Thursday. It's a great honor recognizing character, leadership, academics, and play. Coach Kellie Young says she's excited for the Louisville community to be introduced to Scanlon.

Congratulations to all of these Cardinals for their hard work.

Guess who's back...

I'll finally make my triumphant return to the studio today after nearly a month off. JC Sullivan will join Paulie and me in the studio in Worldwide Jeff McAdams' absence. We'll chat about the offseason, baseball, and the cancellation of the women's clinic. Tune into 10.0.9FM or the WCHQ app at 11AM. You can also listen live on the crazy internet. 

Until next time, Go Cards!

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