Lyman Takes Green
Following a freshman season that saw him make 31 starts, added depth has limited Colin Lyman's role during his sophomore campaign. One of the quicker athletes on the Cardinals roster, Lyman has become a situational player, often getting the call in the outfield or as a pinch runner in late game settings.
Against Michigan on Saturday night, U of L head coach Dan McDonnell called Lyman off the bench to pinch run for Danny Rosenbaum, who just opened the ninth inning with a lead off single in a 3-3 contest.
“I'm always ready to pinch run or go in the outfield at the end of the game,” he said. “That's kind of been my role towards the end of the season and I've become comfortable with that. I'm ready for any opportunity to help the team.”
It was the second consecutive night that his number was called in a pinch run situation. After not getting a the right opportunity in Friday's win over Morehead State, Lyman took his lead at first base ready to run. He had a great jump on an attempted steal that resulted in a bouncer up the first base line that would have likely been a double-play.
At second, with one out, Lyman confirmed the green light with McDonnell and stole third to put the team in position to win on a fly ball. He scored the winning run on diving catch of a foul ball in right field to put the Cardinals back on top.
“It's really cool,” he said of the opportunity. “Going to first, he gave me the green light yesterday and I didn't steal – I didn't feel like a really got a good pitch to steal on. Today I got a pitch and he gave me the green light and I was really happy about that. I kept looking in for him to give me the green light. It was good to get it and I was glad I got a good jump.”
McKay a Star
Freshman Brendan McKay didn't pick up the win against Michigan, but his performance was again stellar.
He worked a career-long 7.2 innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits, while striking out five. He threw 104 total pitches, walking just one, which also happened to be the last batter he faced.
The ACC Freshman of the Year, who was also 1 for 3 at the plate, drew praise from Michigan head coach Erik Bakich after the game.
“He throws his fastball in and out, and that curve ball is a swing-and-miss pitch,” he said. “He didn't even have to throw his changeup today. He just does a good job of locating the fast ball, getting strike one, strike two. He has a good demeanor about him, he is very poised. He is outstanding. He is going to be a star, you can already tell; he already is.”
McKay is also a Golden Spikes Award semi-finalist.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning and maintaining a 3-1 lead, momentum was clearly in Louisville's favor. However with two out, the Cardinals gave up a pair of walks separated by a fielding error allowing Michigan to load the bases.
Sophomore closer Zack Burdi was summoned from the bullpen. The request was simple, get one out and then return in the ninth inning to pick up the save.
Michigan pinch-hitter Kyle Jusik had different plans and roped a single into left-center to plate two runs and even the score. Gone is a potential win for McKay and Burdi's tenth save. As a closer, you have to know how to accept those type of temporary defeats and remain focused.
An unshaken Burdi struck out the next batter and then worked a quick ninth inning to secure the victory and improve to 6-0 on the season.
“He's a Burdi and the world of Burdis, you live and die at the end of the game and you got to have thick skin,” said McDonnell, referencing former Cardinal and elder brother Nick. “You're not going to shut the door every time and you're going to give up runs and it's inevitable and you have to be fearless. I think he showed that getting that kid out and then how he pitched the ninth was impressive.”
Rogers is Fresh
When Josh Rogers takes the mound as the Cardinals starter on Sunday, it will be the first time he's faced an opponent since throwing six innings in the regular season's final game at N.C. State 15 days ago.
He was the scheduled starter for U of L if they had made it to the ACC Championship game last Sunday, but that never materialized. Not scheduled to depart Durham until Sunday evening, U of L associate head coach and pitching coach Roger Williams discovered that Duke's field was available and Rogers work six innings of a simulated game.
“The game Sunday was almost too good -- like sickening good,” McDonnell said of Rogers performance a week ago. “We didn't get to throw him in the ACC tournament. But as I said last night that was important for our pitching staff. With the three week stretch that we had at the end of the ACC slate we had to push them back. I think somebody said going into that conference tournament we weren't playing for our lives. We wanted to win it but we knew this was the more important series and weekend. I think the decision we made is paying off and it's showing in our pitching staff. I think Josh is fresh and he's throwing great. He pitched on Sunday last year so he's comfortable in this role.”
Rogers earned All-Regional honors last season when he allowed only one run on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks in six innings to earn the victory in Cardinals' 4-1 win over Kentucky in NCAA Regional title game.
The lefty from New Albany, Ind., is 7-1 with a 3.62 ERA.