The University of Louisville returned to the diamond on their day off at the College World Series. The Cardinals used the field at Millard West High School to get some work in and focus in on Texas.
"We do a pretty good job of turning the page," head coach Dan McDonnell said after working his team out for nearly two hours on Sunday afternoon. "It's tough. Losing hurts. We want to come out here and play good baseball. You want to win to advance. We started a little slow, a little sluggish at first, but as soon as we got into the flow of practice I was pleased."
Twelve hours earlier the team was rather somber after falling 5-3 in their opening round game to Vanderbilt.
"Everybody was pretty down last night," said senior captain Jeff Gardner. "It's going to happen, but at the same our motto all year after a bad game has been to just flush it. Turn the page and forget about it, so that's we try to do."
Following the team practice, coaches and players were given free time to spend with their family and friends that are attending the games in Omaha. Many of the players have been joined by their father's and will celebrating Father's Day. The key is to have a relaxing day in preparation for Monday's game against the Longhorns.
"I want the kids to enjoy the time with their dads that are here," McDonnell said. "Relax, take in the afternoon and get ready to play good baseball tomorrow."
McDonnell will spend the day with his family, enjoying the College World Series Fan Fest before taking in the Ole Miss v Virginia game from the stands. The former Ole Miss assistant coach will be enjoying the action from the seats for the first time ever.
The Cardinals will face one of the most tradition rich programs in college baseball when it faces Texas in Monday's elimination game. The Longhorns (43-20) are participating in their 35th College World Series, the most by any team since its inception in 1947. Texas also has the most all-time CWS wins with 82."I guess it's a big deal, but you try not to think about it," said Gardner. "I know growing up I always wanted to play at Texas. That was my dream school when I was a little kid. The fact that we are going to be facing them in Omaha is pretty cool."
The Longhorns, who swept Houston in super regional play, have more than history on their side. The Texas pitching staff ranks 6th nationally with a 2.32 ERA and their 7.41 hits per 9 innings is 12th best in the country. They are also hot at the plate, hitting .300 as a team over the last 15 games.
Texas head coach Augie Garrido loves to bunt and his team lead the NCAA in sacrifice bunts with 96. It is something to expect when facing the Longhorns.
"There's nothing scary, but they are going to put pressure on you because they like to bunt," McDonnell said. "I feel good as a coach because we've spent our time over the past few years defending the bunt."
This will be the first meeting between the two programs."You have make pitches and make plays and you can't be afraid to fail," McDonnell continued. "I feel good about our club. We'll come out and compete. You get a chance to play Texas with an opportunity to advance. It's a neat day for us, so I'm looking forward to it."
Gardner Feels Good
After hitting .343 during the regular season, Jeff Gardner has struggled during the post season. He's currently hitting .095 (2-for-21) since the start of the NCAA Tournament.Gardner had solid contact against Vanderbilt on Saturday night, but neither would drop. He was also hit by a pitch twice in the game.
"I feel good," said Gardner, who ranks among the nation's top 10 with 68 RBI. "I always tell people that if I'm hitting the ball well, then I'll feel good about my swing. I'm not one that necessarily need hits and your batting average will only say so much about you. If you are hitting the ball well they are going to eventually fall for you. I felt good last night against Fulmer. I hit the ball well off him twice, just right at guys."
For just the third time this season, the Cardinals lost while outhitting the opponent. Louisville out hit the Commodores 9-7 in the opener.
"Offensively I think we did close to everything we could against Fulmer," said Gardner.
The parks deep dimensions kept a Grant Kay first inning fly out just inside the outfield wall and the strong winds negated the Cardinals hard hits.
"The hitters seemed locked in. I still think that from the conference tournament and on we are swinging it good," said McDonnell. "We swung it good last night."
Louisville has out hit it's opponents 57-38 in NCAA play.