Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Hits Keep Coming for Standout Mckay

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Hits Keep Coming for Standout Mckay

Article excerpt

Brendan McKay took one look at the mountainous figure interviewing him for Fox Sports and said to himself, "Wow . I'm talking to Frank Thomas."

It was Hall-of-Famer meets college wunderkind during All-Star weekend in Cincinnati early last month.

"Humbling," McKay added.

Coming off an otherworldly freshman season at the University of Louisville, the Blackhawk High graduate was a guest of honor after receiving the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award from the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Andrew Benintendi of Arkansas (Dick Howser/Player of the Year) and Garrett Stubbs of Southern California (Johnny Bench /Best Catcher) were the other All-Star weekend invitees.

As for Thomas -- the former Chicago White Sox great who stands 6 feet 5, 275 pounds -- his presence enlightened and energized McKay, a 6-2, 203-pound Darlington resident.

"I used to watch him play on TV, but to see him in person, it tells you what a Hall-of-Famer looks like," said McKay, a left- handed pitcher who also plays first base and/or designated hitter. "To be talking baseball with him was awesome. It was a great moment."

It has been a summer of great moments for McKay, who has been on a whirlwind journey since completing a season at Louisville that saw him excel on the mound - 9-3 record with 117 strikeouts, 34 walks and an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 1.77 ERA - and as a cleanup hitter -- .308 average with 4 homers, 34 RBIs and 14 doubles. He was named ACC Freshman of the Year; All-ACC first team as a pitcher; All-ACC second team as a utility player; and national Freshman of the Year and first-team All-America by Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Impressive stuff, but the hits keep coming. . From June 20 to July 8, McKay was among a select group of 26 freshmen and sophomores who competed for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, which faced the likes of Cuba and Chinese Taipei at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

More recently, McKay finished up a stint in the highly competitive wooden-bat Cape Cod League in Massachusetts. His team, the Bourne Braves, reached the Final Four. …

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