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There is a baseball player at Louisville who just completed the season with a 9-3 record, 117 strikeouts and a 1.77 ERA in 96.2 innings pitched. There’s also a player who batted .308 with four home runs and 34 RBI in 211 at bats.

The pitcher and hitter are the same guy: Blackhawk High School alumnus Brendan McKay. And this was just his freshman year.

McKay is a rare talent as the days of pitchers who can hit the ball just as well seem to be coming to a close. To put it into a major league context, the Pirates’ best-hitting starting pitcher is Gerrit Cole, owner of a /179 average with no home runs and no RBI.

“He is an even-keeled, kind-of cold-blooded,” Louisville Courier writer Jeff Greer said. “I say that in a complementary way. Kind-of a very emotionless guy, at least when it comes to baseball. I think in a game that is so built on that ability to be consistent and not get you high, not get you low, he has really mastered that for only being 19 years-old.”

McKay was drafted after high school in the 34th round by the San Diego Padres but elected to play college ball instead. McKay went into the draft with a plan that included going to Louisville unless he was drafted in one of the top-seven rounds. Even the chance to play at PNC Park in front of his hometown may not have changed anything.

“It could’ve influenced you a little bit,” McKay said. “Ultimately in professional baseball, it’s all a money business to see who you can get for the right amount of money, so you just have to roll with it. If somebody drafts you where you want to go, or for how much you want, you kind of have to take it.”

McKay’s outstanding freshman season landed him on the national radar, and the former WPIAL star saw his stock skyrocket and his ceiling reach once-unimaginable heights.

“He had a fantastic year. Unbelievable what he accomplished as a freshman, all of the accolades that he got,” Blackhawk baseball coach Bob Amalia said. “Honestly nothing with Brendan surprises me. He has inner-confidence, his ability and his mind to stay on an even keel. No stage is too big to him. That to me is the key to his success.Louisville Baseball Brendan McKay

“I am really excited for him,” Amalia added. “He is a great kid. Never gave me any problems, always did what he was supposed to do, and I am really happy to see.”

McKay, who is playing for the United States national team this summer, was a finalist for the John Olerud Award presented to college baseball’s top two-way player. As for Louisville, the Cardinals lost a three-game series to Cal State Fullerton in the super-regionals of the NCAA tournament.

McKay will spend limited time at home this summer as he plays in summer ball but even though he is in Louisville, he still follows the Pirates and is hoping to get to a few games this season.

“It’s really a sight to see, to follow him and watch him,” Greer said. “And his teammates were kind of in awe of him with his attitude, so he certainly made a good impression.”

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