Louisville beat arch-rival Kentucky 4-1 to advance to the 2014 Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday night at rain-soaked Jim Patterson Stadium.
After both teams went three-up, three-down in the first inning, Louisville's Corey Ray got to second on an error by Javon Shelby with two outs in the second inning. Danny Rosenbaum struck out to end the inning.
Ka'ai Tom singled in the second inning for Kentucky and moved to second on an overthrow to second by catcher Shane Crain. Louisville freshman pitcher Josh Rogers plunked Thomas Bernal, but the Cardinals got out of the inning unscathed.
Crain walked to start the third inning, and, after Zach Lucas flied out to deep left field, Sutton Whiting hit a double to right field to put runners on second and third. UK startr Logan Salow plunked Cole Sturgeon to load the bases and UK coach Gary Henderson walked to the mound.
After a long conversation with Salow, Henderson left him in the game, and UofL's Nick Solak made him pay with a single to right field that scored Crain. Jeff Gardner grounded into a double play to end Louisville's best opportunity of the game thus far.
Rogers retired Kentucky's side in the third inning including a strikeout to end the inning. With Salow back on the mound in the fourth, Alex Chittenden started the inning with a hit. A pop-fly by Ray was Louisville's first out of the inning. Danny Rosenbaum walked, but Shane Crain hit a line drive at Shelby who promptly threw to first to get Rosenbaum out and end the inning.
Rogers struck out National Player of the year A.J. Reed to start the fourth inning before giving up a hit to Tom. UK's Michael Thomas got a base hit to left field sending Tom to third base, but quick thinking saw Louisville's third baseman Alex Chittenden caught Thomas at second base for the second out of the inning. Rogers got Storm Wilson to pop out to strand Tom at third.
Louisville came up empty again in the fifth inning despite loading the bases. Zach Lucas started the fifth inning off with a bang with a double to right field. It was his fourth double of the weekend out of five hits. Sutton Whiting bunted Lucas over to third. Salow hit Sturgeon to put runners on the corners and then walked Solak to load the bases. Gardner struck out swinging and Chittenden struck out looking to strand all three runners.
Rogers started the fifth by hitting Bernal and then he struck out of Matt Reida and Shelby. Austin Cousino reached on an infield dribbler, and Louisville got out of the inning on a grounder by Max Kuhn that appeared to be an incorrect call at first because Rosenbaum's foot was off the bag slightly despite the throw being on time.
After a pair of pop-ups got the first two outs in the sixth inning, Crain took two bases after Kentucky misplayed a high pop-up down the first base line. Louisville switched Kyle Gibson for Shane Crain at second base, but Zach Lucas struck out to end the inning. Rogers continued to shine in the sixth, getting two Wildcats to pop-up and another to ground out.
UK brought in Sam Mahar to pitch the seventh inning and promptly walked Whiting. Sturgeon bunted for a single to put runners on first and second with no outs. Solak bunted back to the pitcher, and Mahar sailed a throw over Kentucky first baseman Bernal's head. Seeing that, Whiting sprinted home from third to push Louisville's lead to 2-0.
After a strikeout by Gardner, Chittenden hit a blooper over the second baseman's head to score Sturgeon from third and leave runners at the corners. A double by Corey Ray scored Solak from third to put Louisville up 4-0.
Rogers left the mound in the 7th and the Cardinals brought in freshman righty Jake Sparger, who walked the first batter he faced. Louisville brought in junior righty Kyle McGrath who got big help when Cole Sturgeon sprinted in and snagged a fly ball for the second out of the inning and Sturgeon rifled a throw to the third base line to Kyle Gibson who tagged UK's Bernal as Bernal tried to run him over.
The play ended the inning in bang-bang fashion and emptied both dugouts as Louisville celebrated and Kentucky screamed foul. Bernal was ejected from the game for "going high into home plate," and Louisville headed back to the dugout after coaches calmed both sides down.
Ahead 4-1, Louisville was able to close out the win with McGrath throwing in the eighth and Nick Burdi closing out the ninth inning.
The Cardinals will host the Super Regional next weekend. A decision on whether the Super Regional will start Friday or Saturday will likely be made Tuesday. Tickets are currently available through GoCards.com.