BOZICH | Louisville Takes A "Nick" Out of Kennesaw State - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville Takes A "Nick" Out of Kennesaw State

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Nick Burdi earned his 17th save as Louisville beat Kennesaw State. Nick Burdi earned his 17th save as Louisville beat Kennesaw State.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville relief pitcher Nick Burdi used a word that I prefer not to use in this column to describe his reaction to being taken with the 46th pick by the Minnesota Twins in the Major League Baseball Draft.

The word begins with a “P.” It also includes an “S.” And another “S.” It’s a stronger word for being upset.

Burdi used the P-word a second time when I asked him if he was upset that he was taken about 20 spots later than most expected.

That is the tireless worker flashing out of Burdi. It’s also the reaction of a guy who learned to play baseball in an area where spring conditions are more comfortable for playing hockey – Chicago.

University of Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell likes having Chicago-area guys on his roster. Kennesaw State, the Cinderella team of the NCAA Baseball Tournament, discovered why Friday night.

The Cards took a Nick out of the Owls. Actually, they took a couple of them in a 5-3 Louisville victory. A record crowd of 5,351 watched.

That was Nick Solak, a freshman from Woodbridge, Ill., who drilled three hits, including a game-winning double that scored two runs in the eighth inning.

That was Burdi, a junior from Downers Grove, who overpowered Kennesaw State with his 99 mph fastball, to earn his 17th save. Burdi did his work with only 16 pitches.

Now a Louisville team that is Chicago-tough is one game from playing in its second consecutive College World Series, pushing forward with a perturbed closer (Burdi) and a poised No. 3 hitter (Solak).

“We decide to go North (in recruiting) because it’s easy for those kids to go South,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. “As we always say, it’s not Miami, but it’s South.

“Credit the youth ball up there. It’s good baseball. They do play in tough conditions. They’re tough kids. A lot of multi-sport kids. We love the make-up. We love the toughness.”

Burdi was a multi-sport guy – football quarterback, baseball pitcher. Burdi started three games as a freshman, but has now pitched out of the bullpen 58 times the last two seasons, earning 33 saves. His next save will set the Louisville single-season record.

For weeks, Burdi was projected as a guy who would be taken in the first 25 picks of the draft, most likely by Detroit with the 23rd selection.

Didn’t happen.

He lasted to the 46th selection, the 23rd pitcher selected. It was a jarring development that will cost him more than a half-million dollars in his signing bonus, although Burdi is still projected to sign for at least $1.2 million.

He was not pleased.

“This isn’t about the draft,” Burdi said “Yeah it was an exciting moment. A lot of people have asked me if I’m upset. I’m not upset. I’m p---d.

“People don’t realize how much work that I’ve put in. It’s just an honor to get drafted by the Twins. I’m excited to get drafted but I’m more excited to get back to the College World Series.”

I asked Burdi if what upset him was dropping 20 spots. Oops.

“Like I said, I’m not upset, I’m p----d now,” Burdi said. “I’m ready to play.”

Solak was also ready to play – from the first inning. He singled to drive in Kyle Gibson with the Cards’ first run in the third inning. He doubled and scored Louisville’s second run in the seventh inning.

Then in the eighth, with game tied at 3, Solak drove a high fastball into right-center for a double that scored Zach Lucas and Gibson. It was a king-sized moment – and it did not swallow the Louisville freshman.

“These guys aren’t freshmen,” Burdi said. “They were freshmen in the fall. It’s hard to explain. It’s just something that we breath, eat and sleep every day to win and come up in these big moments.”

“Ever since I got here I’ve been watching videos of last year’s team dog-piling, winning and going to Omaha,” Solak said. “It’s something you just lie in bed dreaming about.”

One more win and Solak will join Burdi in another dog-pile.

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