After two days of baseball, #7 Louisville (50-17) kept their dreams of a national championship alive by defeating Auburn (38-28) 5-3 in an elimination game.
This time around, Louisville got the jump on their opponent with a home run in the first inning. Tyler Fitzgerald smacked a solo shot to left center and gave Louisville an early 1-0 lead.
Auburn would tie it on an RBI groundout in the second inning from Kason Howell, evening it up at 1-1 through two.
But the fourth inning would prove to be the deciding factor for Louisville. Amidst increasingly wet conditions at TD Ameritrade Park, some of Auburn’s miscues would result in three runs scored for Louisville. Justin Lavey was walked with the bases loaded, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Louisville got two more runs after two errors by Auburn second baseman Ryan Bliss in quick succession. Bliss bobbled a groundball that brought in the first run, then an error on the throw to home plate caused the second run to score. Louisville was unable to tack on more runs in the fourth, as Logan Wyatt flied out to close the inning.
The game was suspended in the fifth inning to Wednesday afternoon, where the Cards and Tigers picked up play. Neither team picked up a run until the seventh inning, when Auburn’s Conor Davis had an RBI double off Louisville’s Michael McAvene.
Louisville answered with an RBI single from Drew Campbell in the eighth inning, adding to an impressive game where he had multiple diving grabs on defense.
Auburn had a chance to walk it off in the ninth inning. Conor Davis hit a home run to cut Louisville’s lead to 5-3. A two-out double by Steven Williams brought the tying run to the plate, but Louisville’s Michael Kirian struck Rankin Woley out to end Auburn’s season.
The Tigers outhit the Cardinals 13-7, but two errors and 11 left on base left a lot of opportunities on the table for Auburn. Conor Davis led the Tigers with a 3-for-5 showing at the plate, all of his hits going for extra bases (two doubles, one home run). Davis had two of the team’s three RBI, with Kason Howell (1-for-4) driving in the other run. Ryan Bliss (2-for-5), Edouard Julien (2-for-2, two walks), and Matt Scheffler (2-for-4), and Steven Williams (2-for-4) all had multiple hits, with Scheffler and Williams hitting doubles.
Louisville had several timely hits throughout the day, which would be enough to stave off elimination for at least one more day. Tyler Fitzgerald went 2-for-5 with his eighth home run of the season. Drew Campbell finished 1-for-3 with the RBI single in the eighth inning, giving Louisville a much needed insurance run during Auburn’s rally. Danny Oriente finished 2-for-3.
Adam Elliott, who started Wednesday’s portion of the two-day game, was credited with the win, only allowing one hit and one walk in two innings pitched. Michael McAvene saw his first game action since his suspension, pitching two innings and allowing one earned run on five hits. Michael Kirian notched his fifth save of the season, allowing two hits and one solo homer in the ninth inning. The team notched ten strikeouts, which is the 40th time U of L has reached double digits. When recording at least ten strikeouts, U of L is 35-5 this season.
U of L also records their 50th win this season, the sixth time in Dan McDonnell’s tenure that the Cards reach that mark. But they will need to win three more to reach the CWS Finals, including tomorrow’s game against the loser of Vanderbilt v. Mississippi State at 7 p.m. ET.