Some may have questions why University of Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell went with Kade McClure and not National Player of the Year Brendan McKay to open the Super Regional on Friday.
The 6-foot-7 McClure answered those questions in impressive fashion.
McClure was super in 5.1 innings, allowing just three hits and no runs while walking one and striking out six. McClure picked up the victory for an 8-3 mark this season and 21-4 record for his career.
"This guy is an All-American out there," McDonnell said. "He on our All-American wall out there. So you got to; these guys have done it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, he didn't have to pitch perfect but we trust him and believe in him.
"I am really happy for him."
McClure got the Cardinals off to a good start in the best-of-three series, pitching out of jams several times during the game. He only threw 75 pitches in the contest before exiting for Adam Wolfe.
"I was just trying to get ahead in the counts and put the ball in the zone and let the defense make plays," McClure said. "I’ve got the best outfield in America and the best infield in America and I’ve got a brick wall behind home plate (Colby Fitch).
"So, it makes it a lot easier for me and just trying to trust my stuff and put it in the zone."
Right fielder Colin Lyman's diving catch was one of the biggest plays of the day for the Cardinals, while McClure also had a huge defensive stop. He said he "found out he wasn't Derek Jeter" with an error on a bunt in the first inning.
But in the fifth inning, Marcus Carson bunted with runners on first and second and no outs. McClure fielded the bunt and threw out the lead runner at third. The Cardinals ended up getting out of the inning.
"I saw he bunted it hard off the bat and I just knew they had a guy on second and my best bet was to try and get the lead runner and Colby was screaming three all the way and I just tried to make as much of an athletic play as I could and get the ball to third," he said.
McClure was 12-0 last season and was named an All-American as the mid-week starter.
But this was the biggest moment of his career. McClure, who had allowed 10 earned runs on 11 hits and walked six batters over 10 innings in his last two starts, bounced back and came through in a big-time way.
“You know what’s on the line in this game," he said. "I had two rough outings in a row and was just trying to get back on track. Situations like that you have to prove yourself and I felt like I just tried to prove myself to my teammates. I know they had trust in me so I was trying to do what I naturally do and it got the best of me a little."