In front of a crowd full of the Louisville faithful with a berth in the ACC semifinals against Duke on the line, the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals could not get over the hump and were defeated by the Florida State Seminoles, 6-2. The Cards faced an early deficit due to shaky pitching and some slight defensive miscues, and could not string together the necessary hits to generate runs for the comeback.
With Colby Fitch still slightly banged up from a collision during a practice scrimmage earlier in the week, Josh Stowers would once again take Fitch’s number two spot in the lineup following a 4-5 performance against Notre Dame the day before. After a somewhat subpar day defensively for Zeke Pinkham against the Irish, skipper Dan McDonnell would opt to go with Pat Rumoro over him at catcher. McDonnell would also go with Jake Snider over Tyler Fitzgerald for designated hitting duties after Fitzgerald went 0-4 and Snider would go 1-1 in pinch hitting duties against Notre Dame.
Following the normal pitching rotation for the Cards, Kade McClure would get the start on the mound, though it would not be the smoothest of starts to the game. A misplayed ball in the outfield by Colin Lyman and a wild pitch by Kade McClure would allow Florida State to take an early 1-0 lead. A double from Quincy Nieporte, who had been a thorn in Louisville’s side in their first couple games against the Seminoles, helped push that lead to 2-0 by the time the first inning had concluded.
After taking a bit of an awkward fall from misplaying the ball, Colin Lyman would be replaced by Josh Stowers in right field at the start of the second inning, and Ryan Summers would take Stowers’ place in left field. It was later revealed that he suffered a wrist injury in the fall.
Despite the early deficit, the Cards would not let that get them down. Both new starters Rumoro and Snider would prove their worth in the lineup by getting back-to-back singles to open the third inning. When a fielder’s choice and a passed ball put both of them in scoring position, Josh Stowers would bring Rumoro home off of a groundout to cut the deficit to 2-1 and continue on his late season surge.
Just like in their regular season series against Florida State, questionable defense and less than optimal pitching did not do any favors for Louisville. A missed diving catch by Stowers in the fourth would allow two runners in scoring position, while Kade McClure would then give up a 2 RBI single to increase FSU’s lead to 4-1. When Louisville attempted to respond in the bottom of the fourth with two runners in scoring position, FSU’s JC Flowers would make an incredible diving catch in deep left-center field to assure that the 3 run lead would hold.
When Kade McClure would work himself into a based loaded two out jam in the fifth inning after allowing 4 runs off 6 hits and 4 walks, Dan McDonnell had seen enough and called to the bullpen to finish the game. Righty reliever Sam Bordner was given the dubious task of working out of the jam, but he did not falter and struck out the only remaining batter in the inning.
Golden Spikes frontrunner and top overall MLB Draft prospect Brendan McKay continued to show the scouts what makes him so valuable to teams. With the middle innings dwindling and the Cards still down by three runs, McKay did his best to help his team get back in the game and smashed his 17th home run of the season into the right-center field concourse. The solo shot to Louisville Slugger Field’s Overlook Grill would help cut the lead to 2 runs, as FSU would lead 4-2 at the end of the sixth.
Left-handed relief pitcher Adam Wolf would take over in the top of the eighth after Bordner had successfully kept the Seminoles scoreless for 2.1 innings. Wolf himself would keep FSU scoreless in the eighth, giving the Cards a late chance to make a rally happen.
Even though fireballing closer Lincoln Henzman had established a 1.16 ERA and logged 16 saves on the season, even he fell victim to the Seminole hitters. He would come in after Wolf gave up a leadoff single in the ninth, only to give up back-to-back base hits to allow two runners to score and push the least to 6-2. The four run lead would prove to be too much for the Cards, as they would go down in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
Brendan McKay (2-4), Pat Rumoro (1-3) and Jake Snider (1-3) would be the only batters to record a hit for Louisville, and Kade McClure would take the loss & move to 7-3 on the season. Louisville’s next opponent, as well as the fate of their potential national seed, will be determined this upcoming Monday at Noon on ESPN2 during the NCAA Baseball Selection Show.
— Louisville Baseball (@UofLBaseball) May 26, 2017