Josh Stowers homered and drove in four runs while Logan Taylor provided the tie-breaking hit as the No. 7 national seed Louisville baseball team clinched its fifth consecutive NCAA Super Regional berth with Sunday night’s 8-7 victory against Xavier in the championship round of the NCAA Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Facing a one-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Cardinals (50-10) gained command after Stowers evened the score with a run-scoring double and Taylor delivered a RBI single to put the home side in front for good. With the triumph, Louisville pushed its NCAA Regional winning streak to 15 games while also becoming the nation’s only team to make five straight NCAA Super Regional appearances, including each of the last four at home.
The Cardinals will host the winner of the Lexington Regional (Kentucky or NC State) in the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional starting either Friday or Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium. The NCAA is expected to announce the complete Super Regional schedule on Tuesday at 8 a.m., ET. All-session tickets for the Louisville Super Regional are on sale now and can be purchased online at GoCards.com.
Stowers capped a superb NCAA Regional with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate on Sunday, including his sixth home run of the season and a double while also matching a career-high with the four RBIs. In the trio of NCAA games this weekend, the sophomore outfielder was 6-for-10 with four doubles, one round-tripper and seven RBIs.
Taylor finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs, none bigger than his run-scoring single in the seventh inning to push Louisville back ahead for the final time in a game featuring five lead changes. Jake Snider had another strong post-season performance as the freshman was 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored. Snider made two starts and played in all three NCAA Regional games finishing 5-for-7 with a home run and four RBI.
On a day when offense was the most prominent storyline, junior Lincoln Henzman gave the Cardinals the finishing punch they needed on the mound as the righthander retired all eight batters he faced, including three by strikeout, to earn the victory. Henzman moved to 3-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to just 1.30 to go with 35 strikeouts in 24 relief appearances and 34.2 innings.
The Musketeers struck first on Sunday taking a 2-0 lead on Nate Soria’s two-run single to center field in the top of the fourth inning. Joe Gellenbeck singled, stole second and moved to third on a single by Mitch Gallagher, who advanced to second on a throw home from the outfield before Soria drove both players home.
The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the fourth when Stowers delivered a three-run homer off starter Greg Jacknewitz. Devin Hairston started the chance with a one-out single and Colin Lyman followed with a walk before Stowers went the other way sending a 3-2 pitch over the wall in right center for a 3-2 lead.
Xavier evened the score at 3-3 in the fifth inning on a solo home run to left center from Ethan Schmidt. An inning later, the Musketeers regained the lead at 4-3 in the top of the sixth on a two-out RBI bunt single from Soria to score Will Larue from third base. Larue reached base with a one-out single before advancing to third on a throwing error by righthander Riley Thompson on a failed pickoff attempt.
Louisville responded to the deficit by scoring three runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. Lyman was hit by a pitch to start the inning, stole second and took third on a sacrifice bunt from Stowers before scoring the game-tying run on a RBI single from Snider. Later in the inning, Taylor pushed the Cardinals ahead at 5-4 with his RBI single to left field allowing Stowers to score. Brendan McKay added a RBI single to the shortstop to plate Snider for the final run of the inning.
The Musketeers kept up their scoring ways in the seventh sending three runs across to move back in front at 7-6. Rylan Bannon drove Chris Givin home with a RBI single to left center for the first run, while Conor Grammes scored the second run on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Larue. Bannon added the final run on a Louisville throwing error on Larue’s fielder’s choice.
The final lead change came in the bottom of the seventh after the Cardinals plated a pair of runs for the 8-7 advantage. Lyman reached base with a one-out single up the middle before scoring on a RBI double to right center from Stowers. One batter later, Taylor singled through the left side on the first pitch he faced to score Stowers.
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