LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Matched against long-time rival Kentucky for the first time outside the regular season, the top-seeded Louisville baseball team continued its trend of postseason success with a 4-1 win in Sunday night’s NCAA Regional title game at Jim Patterson Stadium.
In a game delayed nearly four hours due to lightning and rain, the Cardinals (48-15) plated three runs in a pivotal seventh inning to win its fourth NCAA Regional in the last eight years under the direction of head coach Dan McDonnell. With the victory, Louisville will host an NCAA Super Regional for the second time in school history when the winner of the Alabama-Kennesaw State matchup in Monday’s finale at the Tallahassee Regional (noon ET) visits Jim Patterson Stadium. The best-of-three series will begin either Friday or Saturday with the complete schedule to be released by the NCAA on Tuesday.
All-Session tickets for the Louisville Super Regional are currently on sale. Fans can purchase all-session tickets online here, by phone (502-GO-CARDS) or through the UofL Ticket Office. All-session tickets for the Super Regional are $45 for reserved chairback seats, $25 for general admission and outfield berm seating and $15 for college students.
Making his third start of the season against the Wildcats, freshman lefty Josh Rogers (New Albany, Ind.) delivered a dominant performance on Sunday night allowing only one run on four hits with five strikeouts and no walks in 6.0+ innings to improve to 3-3 on the season. The performance avenged a pair of earlier losses against Kentucky for Rogers, who made his third straight quality start for the Cardinals and was among six Louisville players named to the NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team.
At the plate, senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.) paced the Cardinals going 3-for-5 with one RBI, while freshman designated hitter Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) added a single, a walk, one RBI and one run scored. After chipping in with a single and a run scored in Sunday’s finale, senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) was chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Louisville Regional. Also on the All-Tournament Team was sophomore pitcher Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill.), junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.), junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) and freshman outfielder Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.).
Louisville fired first on an energetic night at the ballpark when Solak delivered a RBI single down the right field line to plate senior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky.) for the 1-0 lead in the third. Crain led off the inning with a walk from UK lefty starter Logan Salow and moved to third on a double by Whiting before scoring.
The score remained that way until the seventh, when the Cardinals added to the advantage with a three-run frame. Whiting started the seventh with a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a bunt single by Sturgeon. After moving to third on a sac bunt by Solak, Whiting scored on a throwing error by Wildcats reliever Sam Mahar. Chittenden followed with a RBI single to right to plate Sturgeon before a RBI double from Ray scored Solak for the 4-0 lead.
Kentucky answered with a run in the bottom of the seventh on a RBI groundout by shortstop Matt Reida, but the Wildcats’ pursuit of even more was halted by a terrific defensive play by the Cardinals. With first baseman Thomas Bernal at third, pinch hitter Kyle Barrett sent a low liner into centerfield, where Sturgeon charged in before making a sliding catch for the second out of the inning. Tagging from third, Bernal started down the third base line where he was met by Louisville senior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky.), who received a strong throw from Sturgeon and then held on to the ball as Bernal made no attempt at a slide and collided with him for the final out of the inning. Bernal was ejected for the collision, which led to some anxious moments as players and coaches for both teams met at home plate and were separated by umpires before order was restored.
Junior lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky.) gave the Cardinals two innings of shutout relief before junior closer Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 15th save of the season and the 31st of his collegiate career extending his school record total. Salow was charged with the loss for the Wildcats and dropped to 2-4 on the season after allowing one run on five hits in six quality innings.
2014 NCAA Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team
P: Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville)
P: Josh Rogers (Louisville)
C: Michael Thomas (Kentucky)
1B: Cody Koch (Kent State)
2B: Zach Lucas (Louisville)
SS: Sutton Whiting (Louisville)
3B: Max Kuhn (Kentucky)
OF: Cole Sturgeon (Louisville)
OF: Corey Ray (Louisville)
OF: Austin Cousino (Kentucky)
DH: Tucker Tharp (Kansas)
Most Outstanding Player: Cole Sturgeon (Louisville)
Louisville Postgame Notes
– With NCAA Regional games left to be played, Louisville is one of 13 Division I schools with four or more NCAA Super Regional appearances in the last eight seasons.
– The 48 wins for Louisville in 2014 are the third most in school history behind only the 51 in 2013 and the 50 in 2010.
– The Cardinals have won back-to-back NCAA Regional titles for the first time in school history.
– Sunday night’s announced crowd of 4,319 was the largest of the season for Louisville and the fifth largest in school history.
– Louisville is 32-7 at home this season, good for the second highest win total at home in school history behind only the 34 home wins last season.
– Riding a six-game postseason winning streak at home, Louisville is 13-4 in NCAA Championship games at Jim Patterson Stadium.
– The Cardinals are 41-0 this season when leading after the eighth season and have won 96 straight games when entering the ninth with the lead.
– Louisville has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 38 of 62 games this season, something they did 36 times last season.
– In the three NCAA Regional games, the Cardinals allowed only four earned runs for a 1.33 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 27.0 innings.
– After the three NCAA Regional games, Cole Sturgeon moved into fifth place in career games at Louisville with 229, seventh place in career at-bats with 804 and 10th in career hits with 251.
– In his last three starts, Josh Rogers has a 1.80 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 20.0 innings pitched while going at least six innings in all three outings.
– Having started nine straight games for Louisville, Nick Solak was 15-of-30 with nine RBI, nine runs scored, five walks and five stolen bases in that stretch.
– While starting each of the Cardinals’ last nine games, Corey Ray has hit .464 with five walks and five RBI in that span