The No. 8 Louisville baseball team came home from Florida disappointed. The Big East regular-season champion was eliminated in two straight games at the conference tournament and must now wait for the NCAA bracket to be released Monday.
"We came down here expecting to play good baseball," coach Dan McDonnell said. "We expected to compete for this championship because that was definitely a goal of ours and that didn't happen."
After winning 16 straight regular-season games, the Cardinals were eliminated from the league tournament in back-to-back losses to UConn and Rutgers.
Rated No. 13 in the RPI, Louisville is a lock to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and will likely be host a NCAA Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium. But prior to the Big East Tournament, Louisville was projected to snag one of the eight national seeds. Now, that is not as likely.
The Cardinals (46-12) overall and will learn their NCAA seeding fate when the field of 64 is announced on Monday at noon ET on ESPNU.
CARDS FALL TO RUTGERS
After falling to UConn 3-2 in their first game, Louisville continued its disappointing run Friday when Rutgers (27-29) jumped out early and never looked back in a 9-1 romp.
"I credit the Rutgers offense because they were able to jump on Chad (Green) early, and offensively, it was the second straight game where we just didn't do a whole lot," McDonnell said.
It was Louisville's first-ever 0-2 showing in eight all-time appearances at the Big East Championship.
"Sometimes, you get your butt kicked and we got ours kicked tonight," McDonnell said. "That's part of it, but fortunately for us, we will get ready for an NCAA Regional and we will regroup. We look forward to getting back to Louisville and having a great week of practice. It'll be the first full week of practice we've had since the start of the season, so that'll give us a chance to go back to the basics so that we can be ready to compete at a high level in a regional."
Rutger's Charlie Law (6-5) earned the win after striking out nine and scattering nine hits while allowing only one run in a complete game. Louisville's Chad Green, who had won four straight starts entering the game, dropped to 9-3 overall. He allowed a career-high six runs, including five earned, on nine hits in just 2.0+ innings for his shortest outing of the season.
THOMPSON IS PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Louisville junior Jeff Thompson was named Big East Pitcher of the Year at Tuesday night's Big East baseball awards dinner.
Thompson, a righty from Floyd Central (Ind.) High, was 10-1 in 14 starts with a 2.09 ERA with 97 strikeouts. He threw 90.1 innings this season was also named to the First Team All-Big East.
Thompson is the fifth Louisville player to be named Big East Pitcher of the Year in the last seven seasons joining Justin Amlung (2012), Thomas Royse (2010), Justin Marks (2009) and Zack Pitts (2007).
ALL BIG EAST TEAMS
Louisville DH Jeff Gardner and closer Nick Burdi joined Thompson on the league's first team.
Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) led the Cardinals with nine home runs while hitting .341 with 40 RBI, 11 doubles and a .659 slugging percentage. Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) led the Big East with 14 saves to go with a 3-2 record and had 55 strikeouts while allowing just two earned runs in 28.1 innings for a miniscule 0.64 ERA.
UofL had four players named Second Team All-Big East -- junior righthanded pitcher Chad Green, junior outfielder Coco Johnson, sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting and junior third baseman Ty Young.
Earning Third Team All-Big East honors were senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak and junior outfielders Adam Engel and Cole Sturgeon.