Top-seeded and fifth-ranked Louisville will open the American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship on Thursday at 3 p.m., ET against No. 8 seed Memphis at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
The Cardinals (43-13, 19-5 American) will continue their Pool A schedule on Friday at 3 p.m., against No. 5 seed USF before concluding the preliminary action on Saturday at 3 p.m., against No. 4 seed Rutgers. The winners of Pool A and Pool B will advance to Sunday’s final, which will be televised at noon on ESPNU.
The top eight teams in the final regular-season standings qualified for the inaugural American Championship, which consists of an eight-team pool-play schedule. Teams in each four-team pool will play a round-robin set of three games through the first four days of the championship, with all 12 of those games carried on The American Digital Network. The winner of Sunday’s final will be the American Athletic Conference’s automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division I Championship.
The tournament’s opening ceremonies and awards presentations will be Tuesday, May 20 at 7 p.m., at Bright House Field, followed by the American Athletic Conference Home Run Derby at 8 p.m.
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2014 American Athletic Conference Baseball Championship
Bright House Field | Clearwater, Fla.
No. 1 Louisville (43-13, 19-5 American)
No. 4 Rutgers (29-23, 14-9 American)
No. 5 USF (26-29, 10-14 American)
No. 8 Memphis (28-28, 8-16 American)
No. 2 UCF (34-22, 17-7 American)
No. 3 Houston (41-14, 14-9 American)
No. 6 Temple (14-30, 9-14 American)
No. 7 UConn (26-29, 9-14 American)
Tuesday, May 21 (American Digital Network) – Opening Ceremonies
5 p.m. – Gates open
6:45 p.m. – Parade of Teams
7 p.m. – Awards Presentation
8 p.m. – Home Run Derby
8:50 p.m. – Fireworks display
Home Run Derby Participants
UCF – Tommy Williams (.265, 11 HR, 44 RBI)
UConn – Blake Davey (.319, 10 HR, 31 RBI)
Houston – Jake Lueneburg (.265, 0 HR, 11 RBI)
Louisville – Jeff Gardner (.340, 8 HR, 61 RBI)
Memphis – To be named
Rutgers – Lou Clemente (.264, 2 HR, 20 RBI)
USF – Austin Lueck (.278, 0 HR, 11 RBI)
Temple – To be named
Wednesday, May 21 – Pool Play (American Digital Network)
11 a.m. – No. 7 UConn vs. No. 2 UCF
3 p.m. – No. 6 Temple vs. No. 3 Houston
7 p.m. – No. 5 USF vs. No. 4 Rutgers
Thursday, May 22 – Pool Play (American Digital Network)
11 a.m. – No. 3 Houston vs. No. 7 UConn
3 p.m. – No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 1 Louisville
7 p.m. – No. 2 UCF vs. No. 6 Temple
Friday, May 23 – Pool Play (American Digital Network)
11 a.m. – No. 4 Rutgers vs. No. 8 Memphis
3 p.m. – No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 5 USF
7 p.m. – No. 3 Houston vs. No. 2 UCF
Saturday, May 24 – Pool Play (American Digital Network)
11 a.m. – No. 7 UConn vs. No. 6 Temple
3 p.m. – No. 4 Rutgers vs. No. 1 Louisville
7 p.m. – No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 5 USF
Sunday, May 25 – Final (ESPNU)
Noon – Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner
All times Eastern
#5 Cards Close Regular Season with 10-0 win over Cincinnati
Sophomore righty Anthony Kidston completed a dominant weekend on the mound for the fifth-ranked Louisville baseball team pitching seven shutout innings in a 10-0 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium in the final game of the regular season.
Kidston (Defiance, Ohio) allowed only two hits while striking out six in a complete game victory halted after seven innings due to the league’s run rule for the final game of a series. The Cardinals (43-13, 19-5 American) ended Saturday’s game against the Bearcats (22-30, 6-18 American) in walk-off fashion plating four runs in the seventh inning to finish a strong afternoon at the plate for the home team.
Louisville will enter next week’s American Athletic Conference Championship as the No. 1 seed after clinching the outright regular season title on Friday. The championship is set to begin on Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. The complete five-day championship schedule will be released later this evening by the conference.
On the mound on Saturday, Kidston improved to 6-0 on the season and 11-0 in his collegiate career with win while equaling his longest out of the season. It was the first complete for a Louisville pitcher since Kyle Funkhouser’s nine-inning complete game win at Eastern Kentucky on May 7, 2013. Saturday’s game completed a series in which Louisville allowed just two runs and had 27 strikeouts in 25.0 innings pitched.
Finishing with a 14-2 advantage in hits on Saturday, Louisville was led by senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.), who was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and one RBI, while freshman Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) was 2-for-3 with a double and a run driven in. Junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) was 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored, and senior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky.) delivered the two-out, three-run double in the seventh to end the game.
Louisville struck early on Saturday when senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) delivered a RBI sacrifice fly to right to score Sturgeon for the 1-0 lead in the first inning. Sturgeon led off with a single to right before moving to third on a single to left center by Solak.
An inning later, the Cardinals had the first of their two four-run innings in the game connecting for five hits in the frame, including four against Cincinnati starter Andrew Zellner. Junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) started the scoring with a RBI single through the right side to plate freshman Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.). Later in the inning, Sturgeon delivered a RBI single to left to send sophomore first baseman Danny Rosenbaum home for the 3-0 lead. An RBI sac fly by senior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky.) scored Whiting for the third run of the inning, before Solak doubled off the right field wall to plate Sturgeon.
Louisville added its sixth run of the game in the fifth inning on a RBI sac fly to left by Lucas to score senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.). Then, in the seventh, the Cardinals closed the game as Lucas delivered a RBI single to left to score junior outfielder Mike White (East Orange, N.J.) before Crain sent a 1-0 offering from Austin Woodby down the left field line to score junior Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.), Lucas and Sturgeon.
Zellner suffered the loss for the Bearcats and dropped to 4-4 on the season after allowing five runs, all earned, on six hits in just 1.2 innings. Reliever Mitch Patishall was charged with one run allowed on five hits in 3.1 innings before Woodby gave up four runs on three hits in 1.2 innings.
Louisville Postgame Notes
– Prior to Saturday’s regular season finale, the Cardinals honored senior players Alex Chittenden, Shane Crain, Jeff Gardner, Kyle Gibson and Cole Sturgeon as well as manager Chad Deely during the annual Senior Day activities.
– The 43 regular season wins for the Cardinals 2014 rank third all-time at Louisville trailing the 2010 and 2013 squads, which each finished with school record win totals of 46.
– The Cardinals close the regular season with a 29-7 record at Jim Patterson Stadium, the second highest regular season win total at home in school history behind only the 31 wins last season.
– The Cardinals have won 10 straight against the Bearcats and 18 of the last 20 overall in the series.
– Louisville finished the regular season by winning 16 of its last 18 games.
– Saturday’s game marked Louisville’s seventh shutout win of the season.
– Louisville has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 33 of 56 games this season.
– The two hits for the Bearcats on Saturday equal the fewest allowed by Louisville in a game this season matching the two hits for Western Michigan in the Cardinals’ 8-0 win on Feb. 22.
– The Cardinals improved to 29-4 this season against righty starters.
– The seven innings on Saturday for Anthony Kidston equaled what he did at UCF on April 18 for his longest outings of the season.
– With two hits on Saturday, Cole Sturgeon earned his 23rd multiple hit game of the season equaling the team lead first set by Jeff Gardner.
– Sturgeon moved from ninth to eighth place in career at-bats at Louisville with 778 surpassing the 776 by Nick Haley (2003-06).
– With the 56-game regular season completed, Gardner enters the postseason leading the Cardinals in hitting (.340), home run (eight), RBI (61), doubles (19) and slugging percentage (.575).
Cole Sturgeon Named Semifinalist for Dick Howser Trophy
Louisville senior outfielder and lefty pitcher Cole Sturgeon was named on Thursday evening as a semifinalist for the 2014 Dick Howser Award, given annually to the top player in collegiate baseball by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
This is the 28th year of the Dick Howser Trophy with two rounds of national voting determining the winner. The finalists will be announced on Thursday, June 5. The 2014 award will be presented at TD Ameritrade Stadium in downtown Omaha, the home of the College World Series for the fourth year. The winner will be unveiled on Saturday, June 14 at 10 a.m. CT, the opening day of the 2014 CWS.
A native of Owensboro, Ky., Sturgeon’s value to the success of the Cardinals in 2014 and throughout his four-year career is unmistakable. A team captain, Sturgeon is hitting .312 with two home runs, 27 RBI, 15 doubles, 46 runs scored and 17 stolen bases while starting every game in the outfield. On the mound, he is 3-0 with a save to go with a 1.67 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 22 relief appearances and 32.1 innings pitched. A two-time all-conference selection with more than 200 career starts, Sturgeon finished the 2013 season as the leading hitter on Louisville’s College World Series team with a .339 average.
The Dick Howser Trophy, given in memory of the former Florida State University All-America shortstop and major league player and manager, who died of brain cancer in 1987, is regarded by many as college baseball’s most prestigious award. Criteria for consideration of the trophy include performance on the field, leadership, moral character and courage, qualities that were exemplified by Dick Howser’s life.
No. 5 Louisville, which clinched a share of the 2014 American Athletic Conference regular season championship with Thursday night’s win over Cincinnati, will continue its series against the Bearcats on Friday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.