BOZICH | Omaha Bound! Louisville beats Kentucky, 6-2, to sweep NCAA Super Regional
The Louisville players said they would not lose another Super Regional at home -- and they were right. U of L beat Kentucky, 6-2, to earn at trip to the 2017 College World Series in Omaha.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville relief pitcher Lincoln Henzman spoke for the Cardinals’ entire junior class last weekend when Henzman said there was “no way” U of L would lose an NCAA Tournament Super Regional at home three consecutive seasons.
No burp like the one against Cal State Fullerton in 2015. No jarring walk-off grand slam like the one Santa Barbara launched to eliminate the Cards last season. Erase those highlights, ESPN.
Henzman called it – and the junior class made certain of it.
The Cardinals needed only two games to eliminate Kentucky and advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska next weekend. They backed up their words – and backed up their 5-2 opening game win with a series-clinching 6-2 victory over the Wildcats as a record crowd of 6,237 watched the Cards celebrate at Jim Patterson Stadium Saturday.
Louisville improved to 52-10 while Kentucky finished a dazzling 43-23 season for first-year coach Nick Mingione with the program’s first Super Regional appearance.
Drew Ellis, the junior infielder, put the Cardinals ahead, 1-0, with home run to left-center off UK ace Sean Hjelle in the second – and then bumped the lead to 3-1 with another home run to left in the sixth.
Pitcher Brendan McKay, another junior, did the rest – or at least most of it. Throwing 108 pitches, McKay gave the Cardinals one of his trademark bulldog performances, working 6 2/3 innings, striking out nine, walking nobody.
In his final home appearance before he will be selected in the first five picks of the MLB Free Agent Draft next week, McKay earned a pair of standing ovations – one after he handed the ball to reliever Sam Bordner, another after he lined out to first in the eighth.
Kentucky scored single runs off McKay in the fifth and seventh. He left with two runners on base but Bordner erased the mess by striking out UK outfielder Zach Reks after Bordner had loaded the bases by walking Evan White.
Bordner also worked scoreless eighth and ninth innings, retiring Evan White on a fly out to right to end the game.
The Cards scored first on Ellis’ home run. They pushed the lead to 2-0 in the fifth on when Lexington native Logan Taylor sprinted home on a sacrifice fly by Devin Mann.
Ellis homered for third time in two days for the Cards’ third run before left fielder Josh Stowers lined a triple into the left-field corner that allowed Devin Hairston to sprint home with Louisville’s fourth run.
Louisville added two insurance runs in the eighth after UK cut the lead to 4-2. Freshman third baseman Tyler Fitzgerald worked a two-out walk off UK closer Logan Salow.
He scored when Taylor drove a double to the wall over Reks, UK’s left fielder. Taylor followed Fitzgerald home on a looping single to right center by Colby Fitch that fell between three UK fielders.
Louisville will play the winner of the Texas A&M-Davidson Super Regional at TD Ameritrade Park next Saturday or Sunday. The Cards were the first team to secure one of the eight spots in Omaha.
It will be the Cardinals fourth trip to the College World Series in 11 seasons under coach Dan McDonnell as well as their first since 2014.
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