In a game that featured five lead changes, 21 combined hits and four errors, the nearly four-hour broadway at Jim Patterson Stadium produced a lot of drama. But for Louisville baseball, this story would not end in tragedy again.
Stowers’ four RBI day, including scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, propelled Louisville to an 8-7 victory over Xavier.
Louisville’s victory marked the fifth straight regional title for the Cardinals, with U of L also hosting its fourth straight Super Regional next weekend. The win also marked the fourth time in the last five seasons that head coach Dan McDonnell has won 50 games in a season.
It was a game that featured many moments, both dramatic and bizarre. Xavier broke a scoreless tie after three innings with a two RBI single from Nick Soria in the fourth. Stowers would follow it up in the bottom of the inning with a three-run homer to right center.
Xavier and Louisville would trade leads four times after that. Ethan Schmidt led off the fifth inning with a home run to tie the game. The Cardinals would rebound with a three-run sixth inning. Jake Snider and Logan Taylor added RBI singles to left field, while Brendan McKay had a high-arching infield single that would score Snider later in the inning.
But as was the theme throughout, Xavier answered the bell almost every time. Percy Fallon’s sacrifice bunt with two outs in the sixth gave the Musketeers a 4-3 lead. The Musketeers added three more runs in the seventh on a Rylin Bannon RBI single, and LaRue’s fielder’s choice plus an error to hold a 7-6 lead into the bottom seventh inning.
Stowers would add an RBI double to tie the game, and later score the go-ahead run in the seventh from Logan Taylor’s RBI single down the left field line. It was the third time in as many games that the Cardinals rallied to win in their regional; the Cards needed runs late to break a 6-6 tie against Radford on Friday, and then busted out ten runs in the final two innings to beat Oklahoma on Saturday. At the plate, Stowers (2-for-3), Taylor (2-for-4, two RBI) and Jake Snider (3-for-4) were the only Cardinals with a multihit game.
With Louisville’s usually stout bullpen struggling after Bennett left, McDonnell opted to put All-American closer Lincoln Henzman at the mound. Though Henzman did not record the save, the closer improved his record to 3-0 on the season with 2.2 innings of perfect pitching. Nick Bennett earned his first start since early May, pitching five innings while U of L used three relievers before settling on Henzman.
The Cardinals (50-10) now await the winner of tomorrow night’s regional final between Kentucky and NC State, with Super Regional times and dates announced on Tuesday.