In seven years as the head coach, University of Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell has guided the Cardinals to six NCAA Tournament appearances, three Super Regionals and two trips to the College World Series.
Now, McDonnell said it’s time for the next step.
After going 0-2 in the College World Series earlier this week, McDonnell vowed his team would be back to Omaha, Neb., and win a national title.
”We will win a national championship at Louisville, we just have to believe,” McDonnell said. “You have to get kids to believe. The administration, fans, players, you have to get everyone to believe. Everyone has to believe.
”In basketball everybody believes we can win a national championship and we are getting there in baseball.. It’s a process. It doesn’t happen over night.”
The Cardinals finished the season with a school-record 51 wins and Baseball America called the Cardinals “a team that will be back,” to Omaha soon.
U of L lost 2-0 to Indiana and then 11-4 to Oregon State this season.
”We’re going to be back next year,” reliever Nick Burdi said. “I was telling the guys after the game. We are coming back here and we are going to dog pile in Omaha, that’s going to be the goal.”
McDonnell said after making the NCAA for the second straight year and winning a fourth Big East title that he’s “pleased” at where the program stands.
The Cardinals graduate three seniors, including first baseman Zak Wasserman and second baseman Nick Ratajczak, and had seven players drafted. Those players will make a decision to turn pro or return to school in the coming weeks.
”I feel good about where our baseball program is at,” McDonnell said.
“We will continue to educate our fans and educate our players and the whole Cardinal Nation. Just stay behind us. You can get mad, you can get upset when we don’t play well but in the end just stay behind us because we’re going to do everything in our power to get back here and to win a national championship.
”I believe it more now as the coach than I did in ’07. I have to dream very big and have to do everything I can to make that dream a reality. It has to start with me and with Tom Jurich and I know Tom wants to. I believe we can do it.”
Junior right fielder Cole Sturgeon called Omaha the “coolest place ever,” and noted the CWS is “something we’re going to strive for every year.”
“Just getting a taste of this place is enough to make you want to work hard,” junior Jeff Gardner said. “All you ever hear about is Omaha, Omaha, Omaha and how great it is to be here and I will look you in the eye and tell anyone it is a special place. It truly is. You hate to see it end the way it did. But we plan on coming back.”
Added junior Adam Engel: “Yes, we plan on behind back here next year. But the difference is, we plan on winning it.”