A big day for Colby Fitch, batting 2-for-4 with four RBI, was the difference as the slugger powered Louisville to an 8-4 victory over Texas A&M.
The win marks only the second in school history, their previous victory a 12-4 decision over Mississippi State in 2007. It is also McDonnell’s first win when opening pool play in the College World Series.
Fitch opened his first career game in the College World Series with a stellar showing. His two-RBI single keyed a five-run second inning. After starting pitcher Brendan McKay shook off two leadoff base-hits in the first and second inning, the Cards poured on the runs. Devin Hairston and Colin Lyman scored on back-to-back RBI singles, with Fitch adding his RBI double afterwards. Devin Mann also scored an RBI single before the inning closed.
A&M rallied to put on two runs in the fourth and sixth innings, each. Walker Pennington offered a sac fly to score Bedford, while Janca dished an RBI single in the fourth. Kopetsky and Pennington punched together back-to-back RBI base-hits in the sixth, pulling A&M within one run of the Cardinals lead.
But, as U of L usually did this season, they responded with their pivotal sixth inning. A fielder’s choice — and throwing error — allowed Louisville to tack on two runs. Despite that, they missed an opportunity to add on, after a Mann strikeout and McKay flyout. Fitch’s RBI double in the eighth added an insurance run that proved to be the final blow.
Before the game, McDonnell again altered the pitching rotation for the College World Series. McKay, who had normally been pitching in the second game of each round, was announced as the opening starter A&M. McKay was pushed early with 30 pitches in the first inning, but worked out of a jam with two strikeouts to prevent an early deficit. The junior allowed four earned runs, dishing out six strikeouts and eight hits on 97 pitches. With the win today, McKay earned the 32nd of his career, three shy of Kyle Funkhouser’s career record (35).
Corbin Martin, who earned the start for A&M today, was relieved of his duties after allowing all five earned runs in the second. Head coach Rob Childress opted to bring in Bingham Hill as a reliever, normally A&M’s top hand at the mound. Hill held his own against the Louisville offense, but allowed two runs in 3.2 innings of work. Blake Kopetsky led all Aggies with a 3-for-4 show at the plate, with two doubles and an RBI. Nick Choruby was the only other A&M player with multiple hits in the game.
Louisville will return on Tuesday to face the winner of Florida v. TCU later on tonight, while the Aggies await a potential rematch with the loser in an elimination game. The elimination game will go on first at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, with the 1-0 game scheduled for 6 p.m. that same day.