May 30, 2009

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Cardiac Cards Edge Blue Raiders

By Jimmy Jones

Special to

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Louisville Cardinals are in the driver’s seat of their regional tournament after a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind win over Middle Tennessee Saturday night in front of another capacity crowd at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Blue Raiders (44-17) led throughout the game, but Louisville (46-15) scored two clutch runs, one in the eighth to tie and the winning run in the top of the ninth to advance to the championship game.
Blue Raiders pitcher Bryce Brentz and Cardinals left-hander Dean Kiekhefer (right) very quickly put an end to the notion that this would be a high-scoring affair with well-pitched games on both sides of the chalk lines.
MTSU got on the board in the first inning on a base hit by Nathan Hines, who eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Brentz for a 1-0 lead that would stand until the fourth.
Louisville put its first run on the board in the sixth when a double by first baseman Andrew Clark plated Josh Richmond from third to close the gap to 2-1.
The Cardinals tied the score at 2 on a towering leadoff home run by Richmond on a 3-2 count in the eighth, a shot that he stood and admired until it landed far into the night over the left-field bleachers.
The Cardinals Phil Wunderlich led off the ninth with a walk and eventually moved to third with one out.
A failed suicide squeeze bunt by Drew Haynes that was just foul prompted a pitchout on the next pitch with Wunderlich taking a big lead at third.
Blue Raiders catcher Drew Robertson attempted to pick off a scrambling Wunderlich, but his throw was wild and allowed the Cardinals to take the lead and account for the final score.
“It got down to something big was going to happen,” MTSU coach Steve Peterson said. “Bryce threw really well and their guys matched him up. Their relief guy came in and we just could not pick up his change-up. It’s unfortunate that Drew threw the ball away there, but he thought he had an out.

“It was a heck of a ball game, and I have to take my hat off to Louisville. They have a very good ball team.”
Brentz (left) had a no-decision with 7.2 innings of work. He allowed six hits and two runs. He struck out six.
Junior Coty Woods (4-3) took the loss after allowing one run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Derek Self (7-0) picked up the win on the mound for the Cardinals. He allowed no runs or hits in three innings of work.
Middle Tennessee will play Vanderbilt in an elimination game at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Louisville awaits the winner at 7 p.m.


(photos by Jimmy Jones)