Entering this weekend’s NCAA Regional in Lubbock, Tx, one of the big stories for Louisville was if they could get the offense going to keep up with the teams in their pod (Kent State, Texas Tech, and New Mexico State).
Needless to say, Louisville came out hot and ready at the plate. The Cards (44-17) rolled to a 13-6 win over Kent State (39-17), keyed with ten runs in the first two innings. Logan Wyatt led the charge with two home runs for seven RBI; a grand slam in the first inning, and three more runs driven in on his homer to right-center field in the second inning. The seven RBIs by Wyatt matched an NCAA Championship school record, set previously by Chris Dominguez in 2007. It’s also Louisville’s 16th straight win in the regional round.
However, it would be Kent State that started the festivities early. An RBI single from Pete Schuler gave the Flashes an early 1-0 lead.
U of L answered that with a six-run stanza in the bottom half of the inning. A pair of walks and a single set up Logan Wyatt to drive a grand slam to deep right field, almost catching a red-eye flight to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Drew Campbell also added an RBI triple in the first. Danny Oriente sacrificed to center field to score Campbell, closing the first inning with a 6-1 Louisville lead.
Kent State added a run in the top of the second with a leadoff home run from Nick Elsen, but U of L came right back with four more runs in the bottom portion. Jake Snider and Devin Mann reached base again to set up another massive home run from Logan Wyatt, driving in three runs this time. Zach Britton had an RBI groundout to add one more run in the second inning, giving the Cardinals a sizable 10-2 lead after two innings.
All the more impressive was that Louisville managed to do this against Kent State’s All-American pitcher Joey Murray. Murray was a third-team selection by Baseball America and among the nation’s leaders in strikeouts (139), ERA (1.71) and hits per nine innings (4.47). Murray finished the night after one whole inning, allowing a season-high eight earned runs.
After Louisville’s early blitz in the first two innings, Kent State found their footing in the fifth inning again with a three-run homer from Pete Schuler.
Jake Snider drove in a two-RBI double in the sixth inning, pushing Louisville’s lead to 12-5. Another RBI base hit from Zach Britton in the seventh added a run, making it 13-5.
Kent State scored a run on an RBI groundout in the eighth inning to complete the scoring, cutting it to 13-6.
At the plate, Logan Wyatt had arguably his most impressive outing in 2018. Wyatt would finish 2-for-4 at the plate with a career-high seven RBIs, both hits coming off of his home runs in the first and second innings. Jake Snider went 3-for-4 — two of which were doubles — with two RBIs, and freshman Zach Britton had an RBI on each of his two doubles. Drew Campbell also had a solid outing in his first NCAA Tournament start, with a 2-for-4 showing at the plate with a triple.
Kent State was led by Pete Schuler, who was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Nick Kanavas was the only other Kent State batter with multiple hits (2-for-4), while Nick Elsen (1-for-3) and Michael Turner (0-for-3) chipped in with RBIs.
The Cards continue their postseason run tomorrow night against regional host Texas Tech at 8 p.m., televised on ESPNU and on 93.9 The Ville. It will be a defacto rubber match for the Cardinals and Red Raiders, whom split their weekday series back in early March.