June 1, 2009

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Louisville Headed to Supers

By Jimmy Jones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Louisville Cardinals are California bound with a 5-3 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores Monday night to claim the NCAA Regional Championship. In the end, it was their pitching staff that got the job done with some solid support from a defense that had been porous the night before.
Freshman right-hander Tony Zych – one of only four freshmen to be invited to the USA National Team tryouts this summer – was outstanding in picking up the win for the Cardinals on a night when Vandy pulled out all the stops by pitching ace Mike Minor (right) to open the game on two days’ rest and bringing in Sonny Gray in relief as well. The Commodores were forced to use four pitchers in the game after only using four the previous three days.


The Cardinals advance to the Super Regionals, where they will meet Cal State Fullerton, the No. 2 national seed.
Louisville threatened in the second when DH Phil Wunderich reached on an error by VU first baseman Curt Casali. Ryan Wright followed with a blooper that fell into short centerfield to put runners at first and second base. The threat ended when Minor struck out catcher Jeff Arnold on a hit and run and battery mate Andrew Giobbi made a perfect throw to third baseman Jason Esposito who applied the tag to the hard-sliding Wunderich for the double play.
Aaron Westlake gave the Commodores a 1-0 lead with a leadoff solo shot high off the tall black board over the 402’ mark in center field in their half of the second.
The Cardinals came roaring back in the fourth when Andrew Clark singled and was promptly balked to first by Minor, his first of the season. Wunderich worked his way on via a walk and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.
Ryan Wright, hitting .100 in the tournament, then hit a 3-1 pitch over the center-field fence to give Louisville a 3-1 lead.
The Cardinals flashed some defense in the VU fourth after Aaron Westlake worked out a two-out walk. Giobbi hit high chopper that seemed destined for left field that Cardinals shortstop John Dao short-hopped and threw across his body to just beat the runner to end the inning.
Vanderbilt’s nine-hitter, Joe Loftus, changed the momentum with one swing of the bat in the fifth with a towering blast over the bleachers in left field to cut the Louisville lead to 3-2.
Louisville answered the bell again with a run to bump it to 4-2 on a clutch Dao double with two outs in the seventh.
The wheels fell off for Vanderbilt in the eighth when left fielder Loftus was unable to pick up a fly ball off the bat of Adam Duvall and Jonathan White dropped it after a long run allowing Duvall to reach second.

It was déjà vu all over again in the next at-bat as Andrew Clark lofted a pop up to short left field that Commodores third baseman Jason Esposito waved for and then dropped to place runners at the corners and hasten the departure of reliever Chase Reid for the freshman phenom Gray.
Louisville Slugger All-American Chris Dominguez followed with a ground ball to Esposito who looked home and then threw wildly to first for the second error of the inning to make the score 5-2. It was Dominguez’s 80th RBI of the season, a career high and good for 5th all-time in school history.
Wunderich singled to left, where Loftus picked up and made a strong throw to catcher Giobbi who applied the tag to Clark for the second out of the inning. Wright’s bid for another RBI resulted in his sinking liner being caught by White to end the inning.
White led off the Commodores eighth with a double into the alley in left-center and would come around to score on a Casali single to cut the lead to 5-3 but it would be the last real threat that they could muster.
Cardinals ace Justin Marks (left) picked up the first save of his illustrious career with a scoreless ninth to close it out. Marks was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

(photos by Jimmy Jones)