University of Louisville second baseman Nick Solak only twice this season had back-to-back games when he went hitless. So, after the junior did it for a third time on Friday night the Cardinals knew he was likely due.
And Solak came through.
After going 0-for-3 in the ACC Tournament finale and 0-for-5 to start the NCAAs against Western Michigan, Solak was red-hot in the final two games to help the Cardinals to the NCAA Super Regionals for the fourth straight season.
Solak was 2-for-3 with two runs scored in a 15-3 win over Ohio State and then went 3-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs, including a two-run home run to power Louisville past Wright State 3-1.
"It felt good," Solak said. "Our offense put a lot of guys on base. We were grinding out at bats."
Solak was named as the top second baseman in the regional and has a team-leading .380 average heading into next weekend's Super Regional, which will be held at Jim Patterson Stadium.
"This is the best time of the year,” Solak said last week before the regional. “It’s a fun time to hit. You face a lot of good pitching, but your adrenaline is running and your competitive juices are flowing. It’s just fun competing and playing in front of your fans and being able to come up in big situations and help the team win.”
It's been a tough season for Solak.
He started out red-hot and was hitting .455 when an attempted bunt hit him in the hand against Virginia on March 25. He was sidelined for the next 19 games as he tried to recover.
But since coming back he hasn't really missed a beat.
After returning as a pinch runner against Boston College, Solak had a double, scored a run and had an RBI against Florida International. He's not kept up the .455 pace but as McDonnell said the competition was a lot tougher.
"He's been really good," McDonnell said. "He's had a lot of big hits for us during his time, especially in the postseason. He's probably got more line-drive outs than any hitter on the team, almost to the point where he gets so angry.
"The guys on the team kind of laugh because he's had such bad fortune."
Solak has also had some good fortunate and on Sunday was one of those times. The game was scoreless when Wright State pitcher Trevor Swaney threw him a sinker ball that didn't sink. And Solak sent it over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
The next inning, Solak singled up the middle to give the Cardinals a third run. He now has three home runs in NCAA play for his career. It was the fifth home run of the season and 10th of his career.
"Hitting it tough as it is," Solak said. "I just try to come out every day and hit the ball hard and help my team win. That's really all you can do. It's about trying to help the team win."
Solak has a few more games left for the Cardinals but is expected to get picked in the June MLB Draft that starts on Thursday. He's projected as a third-to-fifth round pick and McDonnell said he's "going to be a great professional."