CARDS ON A ROLL AGAIN
After losing three games in a row two weeks ago, the University of Louisville baseball team is back on track.
The Cardinals dropped the final two games at St. John’s and then a home game against No. 3 Vanderbilt on April 23. U of L coach Dan McDonnell said the Cardinals were playing “bad baseball.”
The Cardinals 37-10 and since the loss to Vandy have three-game sweeps against Georgetown and Villanova and a mid-week win over Western Kentucky.
”I challenged the team a couple of weeks ago we are going to find out what kind of leadership we have and what kind of toughness we have,” McDonnell said. “And to this point we have played good baseball.
”We have so many goals and so many expectations. The reason we got beat up there for a few games is that we just didn’t play good baseball. Anybody who watched us knew that was bad baseball.”
McDonnell said his team has been getting good starting pitching during the winning streak and the defense has been “much better.” Lead off hitter Adam Engel has also come out of his batting slump.
”It was maybe healthy they were put in that situation and together they rallied around each other,” McDonnell said. “I have said all along, I love coaching these guys. It’s a good group of kids.”
The Cardinals returned to the top 10 in at least one of the polls after being outside the top 10 for two weeks. U of L is ranked No. 10 in the Perfect Game, the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball newspaper polls, is No. 11 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ poll and No. 12 in the Baseball America poll.
FIVE GAMES IN SIX DAYS
U of L now starts a stretch of five games in six days on Tuesday with a 3 p.m. first pitch at Eastern Kentucky University (17-27).
Freshman Kyle Funkhouser (2-1, 2.05) will get the start against the Colonels in a game that is a makeup from a rain out in early March.
The Cardinals will then host No. 14 Indiana on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the final mid-week game at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Hoosiers beat U of L 2-0 in the opening game of the season in Dunedin, Fla., and then downed the Cardinals 6-2 in Bloomington, Ind., in March.
”It’s a huge week,” McDonnell said. “The fun part about the last month of the season is that it seems like everything is big. Every game is a big one.”
U of L will then play a doubleheader at Connecticut on Saturday and the third game of that series on Sunday.
CARDS STILL HAVE GOALS AHEAD
McDonnell was quick to point out even with the three-game losing streak, the Cardinals still have “all out goals in front of us.”
Among the Cardinals’ goals were to win 40 games in the regular-season, a Big East title, host an NCAA Regional, make it to a Super Regional and get to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
”There’s still a lot of baseball left,” McDonnell said. “But we still have all of our goals left out there and still within reach.”
McDonnell then added “we’re greedy by nature.”
”We always want more wins,” he said. “But a lot of people in the country who would take 37-10 and not a lot of people in the country that feel sorry for us.”
ENGEL BACK ON TRACK
Center fielder Adam Engel saw his average dip to .249 but seemingly broke out of his slump last weekend at Villanova.
Engel went 3-fot-5 on Sunday with a run scored and RBI and two stolen bases. He now has 37 stolen bases in 45 attempts this season.
”It was good to see Engel get on base,” McDonnell said.