Day One- 10/2
The Louisville baseball team completed a busy first leg to its five-day visit to the Dominican Republic by teaching the fundamentals of the game to more than 70 kids during a Friday evening clinic.
After departing Louisville for a connection in Atlanta and arriving in the capital city of Santo Domingo on Friday afternoon, the Cardinals made the 30-minute commute to Juan Dolio for lunch before heading to the field. Located at the end of a narrow dirt road, the rugged baseball diamond provided the ideal setting for the youth baseball players, ranging in ages 8 to 18 years old, who sat patiently on and around the pitcher’s mound as the Louisville players and coaches arrived.
Following a brief introduction by members of the SCORE International staff, the Louisville players and coaches organized four teaching stations, where they focused on pitching, hitting, infield defense and outfield defense. The kids worked from station to station gaining instruction from the UofL coaches as well as on-field interaction and guidance from the Cardinals players.
Covering more than an hour, the clinic concluded with a group teaching session and with the Louisville players donating bats, gloves, hats, shoes and other baseball equipment with the kids. As darkness fell upon the rustic diamond, the Cardinals returned to their hotel for a team dinner.
The trip, which coincides with the university’s mid-term break, will conclude on Tuesday with the team’s return home. The Cardinals are partnering with SCORE International for its housing, transportation and community service work while on the ground in the Dominican Republic. SCORE International is a short term mission organization with extensive experience providing all-inclusive trips.
Day Two – 10/3
Day two of the Louisville baseball team’s five-day visit to the Dominican Republic began Saturday with a pair of dominant split squad wins against local independent players before concluding with the Cardinals visiting and providing food to a girls orphanage as well as two nearby villages.
On the field, the Cardinals had a strong debut on the island earning an 18-0 victory over a Liga del Oesta team and a 22-3 win against an International Prospect League club at The Highlands Complex in Boca Chica. While the offense made a strong statement with 39 runs on 37 hits on Saturday, the pitching staff was equally dominant combining to allow just eight hits and no earned runs in 18 innings.
Away from the field, the Louisville players and coaches followed the games by first visiting Pasitos de Jésus, a facility founded to help care for a young girl with Down Syndrome which also provides assistance to abused and abandoned youth girls in the Dominican Republic. The visit included a welcome introduction by the staff, a tour of the facility and singing by many of the 50 girls at the home before the Cardinals served everyone Papa John’s Pizza for dinner. After entertaining their visitors with songs, the girls shared hugs of appreciate with everyone in Louisville’s travel party.
Following their time at Pasitos de Jésus, the Cardinals split into two groups and visited a pair of rural villages. While at the villages, the players and coaches interacted with numerous local families while sharing food purchased through donations to SCORE International. The Saturday evening visit was Louisville’s third community service outreach opportunity during its first two days in the Dominican Republic.
Among the highlights earlier in the day on the field was the performance of junior lefty Drew Harrington, who finished with nine strikeouts and allowed just one hit in five shutout innings in the win against Liga del Oesta. At the plate, junior first baseman Michael Bollmer was 4-for-7 with two home runs and seven RBI, while freshman outfielder Chris Botsoe homered and drove in four runs. Junior catcher Will Smith added three hits, including a double, and scored five times and sophomore infielder Blake Tiberi was 4-for-7 and scored twice.
In the win over the IPL club, sophomore righty Kade McClure set the pace on the mound by striking out seven without allowing an earned run on three hits in five innings. At the plate, junior outfielder Colin Lyman hit for the cycle and was 5-for-6 overall with an inside-the-park home run, four RBI and five runs scored. Sophomore first baseman Brendan McKay was 4-for-6 with a double, triple and two RBI, freshman outfielder Josh Stowers finished 3-for-6 with a home run and five RBI and freshman infielder Daniel Little added three hits and two RBI.
Day Three – 10/4
A ninth inning rally came up short as the University of Louisville baseball team dropped a 5-3 decision to Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League on Sunday evening at Estadio Tetelo Vargas.
Facing a five-run deficit entering the final inning, the Cardinals scored three runs and later loaded the bases with two outs before the host club closed out the game with a strikeout. It was the first loss of the five-day Dominican Republic trip for Louisville, which earned two split squad wins on Saturday.
The game proved useful for not only the Cardinals, who were matched against highly talented professional players, but also for the coaching staff and management for Estrellas, which used the game to gauge the progress of its club ahead of its season-opener on Oct. 15. Founded in 1910, the Estrellas Orientales baseball franchise won Dominican league titles in 1954 and 1968.
Among the highlights for Louisville on Sunday night was the performance of senior righthander Anthony Kidston, who had four strikeouts and allowed just one hit in three shutout innings of relief. He followed senior righty starter Kyle Funkhouser, who struck out six while surrendering two runs on four hits in four innings.
Junior catcher Will Smith led the offense with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, while freshman outfielder Josh Stowers and freshman infielder Devin Mann came off the bench to drive in runs in the ninth inning. After putting runners at first and second with one out in the ninth, Louisville plated its first run when sophomore Michael Bollmer scored from second on a fielding error. Mann followed with a groundball to score redshirt freshman Drew Ellis, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
Stowers then drove in sophomore catcher Colby Fitch with a single up the middle to cut the deficit to 5-3. The inning continued with a two-out error by Estrellas allowing freshman Chris Botsoe to reach base before junior Corey Ray loaded the bases with an infield single. After a pitching change, freshman Daniel Little went down on strikes to end the game.
GIRLS FROM PASITOS DE JÉSUS CHEER ON THE CARDINALS
The Louisville players had a very special group of fans supporting them on Sunday evening at Estadio Tetelo Vargas as several of the girls from Pasitos de Jésus were attendance for the game. During their Saturday afternoon visit to Pasitos de Jésus, which provides assistance to abused and abandoned youth girls, the Cardinals players asked the staff from SCORE International if the girls could attend Sunday evening’s game at the 8,000-seat ballpark in San Pedro de Macorís. Not only did a large group of the girls attend the game, they were a highly energetic group singing songs and leading the other fans in the C-A-R-D-S cheers.
LOUISVILLE PLAYERS MEET MLB’S DIRECTOR OF DOMINICAN OPERATIONS
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Cardinals met with Rafael Perez, Director of Dominican Operations for Major League Baseball since 2011 and an integral part of Louisville’s games this week against Estrellas Orientales and Leones del Escogido. He welcomed the Louisville players and coaches to the Dominican Republic while also providing background information on the baseball culture in the country. Previously, Perez served as Director of International Operations for the New York Mets and was Senior Manager of Latin American Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball.
Day Four 10/5
The Louisville baseball team concluded its four-game Dominican Republic schedule with a 10-8 loss on Monday to Leones del Escogido in a 10-inning game at the Arizona Diamondbacks Complex at Baseball City.
Monday’s result was the Cardinals’ second two-run loss in as many days to a Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League foe after dropping a 5-3 decision to Estrellas Orientales on Sunday night. Overall, Louisville concluded its first international trip with a 2-2 record while also gaining valuable game experience for both the returning players and newcomers.
“I thought everybody did some good things, but there was a lot we can improve on. It gives me some good perspective on what we need to focus on as we get back home to conclude the fall and what we need to accomplish heading into spring training,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “The final two games of the weekend were reminders that to wins games, especially close games against high level talent like we faced the last two days, you have to show toughness. I challenged our players that if they’re going to win a regional, super regional or a national championship, they have to be tough mentally.”
Like Sunday’s contest against Estrellas, Monday’s game was beneficial for the Louisville coaching staff as well as everyone with Escogido as they continue their preparations for the 2015-16 season-opener on Oct. 15. The Leones del Escogido baseball franchise was founded in 1921 and is a 12-time league champion while also winning four Caribbean Series championships.
Leading the way for the Louisville offense on Monday was freshman outfielder Chris Botsoe, who was 3-for-3 with two stolen bases, two RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore infielder Devin Hairston chipped in going 2-for-4 with one RBI and scoring once, while senior infielder Danny Rosenbaum finished 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sophomore Brendan McKay and freshman Daniel Little had two hits each and redshirt freshman Drew Ellis added a two-run double for the Cardinals, who out-hit the home club 17-15.
On the mound, junior righty Zack Burdi had one strikeout in a scoreless inning of relief, while junior righthander Shane Hummel worked a perfect 10th inning out of the bullpen. Junior righty Jake Sparger recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning for his second scoreless relief outing in three days.
Louisville struck first on Monday connecting for three runs in the second inning on a RBI single by sophomore Colby Fitch and the two-run double from Ellis. Escogido answered with a run in the bottom of the second and another run in the third before gaining the lead for good with a five-run fourth inning. They added two more runs in the fifth inning for a commanding 9-3 advantage.
The Cardinals cut the deficit in half with a three-run sixth inning. After driving in Hairston with a single to left field, Botsoe followed fellow freshman outfielder Josh Stowers around the bases and all the way to the plate after an error fielding the hit allowed the ball to roll to the fence. Botsoe quickly circled the diamond and scored without a throw home to narrow the difference to 9-6.
After Escogido added a run in the seventh, the Cardinals answered with a run in the eighth on a RBI single to center from Botsoe to score Little. Louisville’s final run of the day came in the 10th inning on a two-out RBI single by Hairston to plate Botsoe, who singled and stole second earlier in the frame. After a single by McKay extended the inning and brought the go-ahead run to the plate, a strikeout ended the threat for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals’ trip to the Dominican Republic, which coincided with the university’s mid-term break, concludes Tuesday with the team’s return home that evening. Louisville has partnered with SCORE International for their housing, transportation and community service work while on the ground in the Dominican Republic. SCORE International is a short term mission organization with extensive experience providing all-inclusive trips.
STATISTICAL HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC TRIP
Offensively, Louisville scored eight or more runs in three of the four games while in the Dominican Republic and finished with 51 runs overall. Junior outfielder Colin Lyman led the way hitting .600 overall (6-for-10) with a double, triple, home run, four RBI and two stolen bases, while freshman outfielder Josh Stowers was 5-for-9 (.556) with six RBI.
Freshman outfielder Chris Botsoe closed the weekend at .455 (5-for-11) at the plate with a home run and six RBI, while junior first baseman Michael Bollmer had seven RBI with two home runs, both on Saturday, and hit .364 (4-for-11) overall. Junior catcher Will Smith and sophomore infielder Blake Tiberi each hit .545 (6-for-11) and freshman Daniel Little was 5-for-10 at the plate.
On the pitching side, junior lefty Drew Harrington set the pace by striking out nine and allowing just one hit in five shutout innings to earn the win in one of Saturday’s split squad games. Sophomore righty Kade McClure earned the victory in Saturday’s other split squad contest after striking out seven and allowing just two hits without surrendering an earned run in five innings. In Sunday night’s narrow loss to Estrellas, senior righthander Anthony Kidston had four strikeouts and allowed just one hit in three dominant innings of shutout relief.
FALL BALL AT PATTERSON STADIUM TO RESUME LATER THIS WEEK
The Cardinals are expected to take Wednesday off from the practice field as the players return to classes following the mid-term break and recharge from five days of international travel. McDonnell tentatively plans for his club to return to the practice field on Thursday at Jim Patterson Stadium. Louisville will likely resume its intra-squad scrimmage schedule over the weekend with the dates and times to be announced later this week. Fall ball for the Cardinals is expected to continue for approximately two more weeks before concluding with the annual Pizza Bowl series later this month.
LOUISVILLE BASEBALL 2015 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC GAME SCHEDULE/RESULTS
Results: Louisville 18, Liga del Oesta 0 | Louisville 22, International Prospect League 3 (split squads)
Date/Location: Saturday, Oct. 3 | The Highlands Complex | Boca Chica, Dominican Republic
Result: Estrellas Orientales 5, Louisville 3
Date/Location: Sunday, Oct. 4 | Estadio Tetelo Vargas | San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic
Result: Leones del Escogido 10, Louisville 8
Date/Location: Monday, Oct. 5 | Arizona Diamondback Complex-Baseball City | Boca Chica, Dominican Republic