It’s not often a midweek starter gets an opportunity to start nine games in that spot much less win nine games on the season.
But University of Louisville sophomore Kade McClure has a 9-0 record and will go for win No. 10 – which would be tops in the ACC alone – tonight as the Cardinals travel to Nashville, Tenn., to take on Vanderbilt at 5 o'clock.
The 6-foot-6 McClure has been sensational in the midweek spot for the Cardinals.
D1Baseball.com called him the “best Tuesday night starter” in the country after he blitzed Cincinnati last week in a 7-1 victory at Jim Patterson Stadium.
“He’s been so consistent for us,” U of L coach Dan McDonnell said. “We know he could be a weekend starter but he knows his role on this team and that’s what he’s doing. He’s going to play a big part (in the postseason).”
McClure, a sophomore from Mentor, Ohio, is currently tied for first in the ACC – along with teammates Brendan McKay and Drew Harrington – and ranks fourth nationally with the nine victories.
His ERA is 2.36 and opponents are hitting just .175 against McClure, which ranks best among any pitcher in the ACC.
The only start McClure didn’t win was against Kentucky at home several weeks ago when the Cardinals rallied late from a deficit to beat the Wildcats.
“I’m just trying to attack the zone, trust the pitches coach Williams calls and then have confidence in the defense behind me,” McClure said. “I’m just not trying to do too much out there on the mound this year.”
McClure has 48 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 61 innings pitched.
“I want to be (in the weekend rotation) at some point, that’s my goal whether it’s this year or next year,” McClure said. “But those guys in front of me push me every week. I am just trying to approach every game like it’s a weekend start.”
And he could get one of those type games soon. McClure is likely to start game one of the ACC Tournament in a few weeks and McDonnell said he wants him prepared to be a started the team can turn too in an NCAA Regional or Super Regional.
“I am just trying to live in each game right now,” McClure said. “I’m just going to try and continue to do what I do and see what happens. I’ll let those guys continue to make plays behind me no matter if it’s a start or me out of the bullpen.”
A couple of nuggets
**McKay has reached base in 32 straight games, while Corey Ray has been on base in 29 consecutive games.
**The No. 9 spot in the order went 5-for-5 and scored three runs on Sunday. Drew Ellis was 2-for-2 with a home run before Logan Taylor was moved into the lineup. Taylor went 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
**Louisville has scored 378 runs on the season, while opponents have scored 155.
**Ray leads the Cardinals with 54 RBIs – two off his mark from last season – while Blake Tiberi has 43 and Devin Hairston has 37.
**Ray and Tiberi have 15 double apiece to lead the team, while Taylor has a team-high five triples and Ray has 13 home runs to pace the Cardinals.