— Louisville Baseball (@UofLBaseball) May 31, 2015
Behind its highest scoring performance in an NCAA postseason game since 2007, No. 3 national seed Louisville clinched its third straight NCAA Regional championship with a 13-4 victory over Michigan on Sunday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Facing a two-run deficit after the top of the first inning, the Cardinals (46-16) scored 13 straight runs in earning their 11th straight NCAA postseason victory at home. Louisville will host a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional for the second straight season and will face the winner of the Fullerton Regional next weekend with the dates and times to be announced by the NCAA on Monday night.
The Cardinals advanced to their fifth NCAA Super Regional in nine seasons under head coach Dan McDonnell and are looking for their third straight College World Series berth. With a crowd of 4,614 on hand for Sunday’s finale, Louisville totaled 13,778 fans for its three games (4,592 per game), the highest total of the five NCAA Regionals hosted at Patterson Stadium.
All-session tickets for the Louisville Super Regional are on sale and can be purchased online at GoCards.com, by phone at 502-GO-CARDS or through the Louisville Cardinals Ticket Office. All-session tickets for the Super Regional are $45 for reserved chairback seats, $25 for general admission and outfield berm seating and $15 for college students.
An All-Regional team selection, sophomore Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) led the way at the plate going 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored as Louisville finished with its highest NCAA run total since the 20-2 win against Oklahoma State in game three of the 2007 Super Regional. Sophomore Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.) was 3-for-5 with three RBI and sophomore Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.) added a 2-for-3 performance with two RBI and a run scored.
Senior Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) chipped in going 2-for-3 with one RBI and scored three times, while senior Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) was 2-for-5 with a double and scored once. Freshman Devin Hairston (Lexington, Ky.), who was named as the Most Outstanding Player of the Louisville Regional, doubled and scored twice to finish a weekend in which he hit .500 (5-for-10) with three doubles, three RBI and four runs scored.
On the mound, sophomore lefthander Josh Rogers (New Albany, Ind.) had six strikeouts and allowed just two runs on six hits in seven quality innings for the win to improve to 8-1 on the season. It marked the longest outing since April 18 when Rogers, who was named to the All-Regional team, allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings against Wake Forest.
For the second straight game against the Wolverines and the seventh time in the last eight outings overall, Louisville allowed its opponent to score first as Carmen Benedetti connected for a two-run homer in the first inning. Following a one-out single to left by Jackson Glines, Benedetti sent the first pitch he saw from Rogers over the wall in right center for his fifth home run of the season and a 2-0 advantage.
The Cardinals cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the first inning when Solak launched a 2-1 offering from Michigan starter Keith Lehmann over the left field fence for a solo home run, his third bomb of the season. Lehmann went on to take the loss for the Wolverines and drop to 1-4 on the season.
An inning later, Louisville gained its first lead of the afternoon scoring two more runs against Lehmann. Sophomore Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.), another All-Regional team selection, delivered the first run of the inning with a RBI single to right center plate senior Mike White (East Orange, N.J.), who walked earlier in the frame and advanced to second on a walk to Hairston. Later in the inning, Solak drove in his second RBI of the game with a RBI sacrifice fly to deep right field off reliever Michael scoring Hairston from third for the 3-2 edge.
Louisville added to the margin in the third inning after the Wolverines misplayed a bunt single by Lucas allowing freshman Brendan McKay (Darlington, Pa.) to score from second for the 4-2 cushion. The inning started with a four-pitch leadoff walk to McKay, who moved to second on a single to left from sophomore Will Smith. Lucas followed with a bunt down the third base line that was fielded by the pitcher Hendrickson, who quickly turned and threw to first base, which was not occupied by a Michigan player. The throw finished along the fence down the right field line allowing McKay, named to the All-Regional team as a pitcher, to score easily.
Ray added to the Cardinals’ lead in the fourth with a one-out RBI single off reliever Donnie Eaton to score Whiting. The inning started with an infield single by Whiting, who moved to second on a throwing error by shortstop Jake Bivens. After taking third on a wild pitch, Whiting trotted home for the 5-2 advantage on Ray’s single up the middle past the Wolverines’ drawn-in infield.
Following a scoreless fifth inning for the Cardinals to end a stretch of seven straight innings with at least one run against Michigan, the Wolverines threatened to cut into the deficit in the sixth. After a double by Kendall Patrick and a single from Jacob Cronenworth put runners on the corners with no outs, Rogers battled back to strikeout Glines before Travis Maezes rolled into a 4-6-3, inning-ending double-play to hold the three-run edge.
Fueled by the momentum of Rogers’ strong finish in the top of the sixth, Louisville ended any chance of a comeback by the Wolverines with a three-run frame in the bottom of the inning. Solak started things with a RBI single through the left side to score Taylor and Ray followed with a run-scoring single to right center to send Whiting home. After Eaton was replaced on the mound by Jayce Vancena, Solak scored on a wild pitch for the 8-2 lead.
The Cardinals kept the pedal down with a five-spot in the seventh inning. Hairston started the scoring with a RBI double to left by send Lucas home, while Taylor followed with a RBI sac fly to score junior Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.). Whiting added an RBI single to plate Hairston, Ray chipped in with a run-scoring single to score Whiting and McKay followed with a sacrifice fly to push freshman Ryan Summers (Westfield, Mass.) home.
The Wolverines halted Louisville’s scoring frenzy when Benedetti earned a bases loaded walk to plate Jacob Cronenworth in the eighth inning. Michigan’s final run of the game came in the ninth on a RBI single from Cronenworth.
Louisville moved to 28-6 at home this season and improved to 18-4 all-time in NCAA postseason games at Jim Patterson Stadium. The NCAA Super Regional, which will be the third overall hosted by the Cardinals, will begin on either Friday or Saturday.
2015 NCAA All-Regional Tournament Team – Louisville, Ky.
P: Brendan McKay (Louisville)
P: Josh Rogers (Louisville)
C: Kendall Patrick (Michigan)
1B: Carmen Benedetti (Michigan)
2B: Jacob Cronenworth (Michigan)
SS: Devin Hairston (Louisville)
3B: Spencer Gaa (Bradley)
OF: Isaac Smith (Bradley)
OF: Nick Solak (Louisville)
OF: Logan Taylor (Louisville)
DH: Cody Bruder (Michigan)
Most Outstanding Player: Devin Hairston (Louisville)