Back to Omaha
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
Louisville clinched its third trip to the College World Series
with a 7-4 win over Kennesaw State in front of a school-record
6,007 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium Saturday.
Cardinals (50-15) will return to Omaha for the second straight
uncomfortable sometimes when people say I take these kids to
Omaha – they take me,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said.
“They take me.”
McDonnell now has won 24 NCAA Tournament games at a school that
never had won a Regional game before his arrival in 2007.
Louisville never trailed in going 3-0 in the Regional round and
only trailed for five innings during the two wins over Kennesaw
State in the Super Regional.
Kennesaw State (40-24) hit the scoreboard first, plating a run
in the bottom of the first as Kal Simmons led off the game with
a double to left-center. A sacrifice bunt pushed him to third
and a RBI single to left field by Max Pentecost scored Simmons
Louisville took the lead with a pair of runs in the third. After
Zach Lucas led off the inning with a single to left field, Kyle
Gibson bunted for a single. A sacrifice bunt by Cole Sturgeon
advanced the runners, and a pop-fly by Nick Solak, the hero of
Louisville’s Game 1 win over Kennesaw State, scored Lucas from
third on the tag. A RBI single to right field by Jeff Gardner
scored Gibson from second to give Louisville a 2-1 lead.
Kennesaw State struck back immediately.
Cornell Nixon reached on a five-pitch walk, Simmons singled to
right field. A bunt single by Jacob Bruce loaded the bases for
Pentecost, KSU’s first-round Major League Baseball Draft pick.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ top pick didn’t disappoint, smacking a
double to left-center to score Nixon and Simmons and give
Kennesaw State a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third.
Louisville regained the lead with three runs in the fifth. Lucas
doubled to left center to start the inning and was moved to
third on a sacrifice bunt by Gibson. A single by Sturgeon scored
Lucas from third. Solak popped a two-run home run to left field
to push Louisville back into the lead 5-4.
allowing four runs in the first three innings, Louisville
starter Anthony Kidston settled in and held Kennesaw State off
the scoreboard in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Kennesaw
State stranded two runners in the fourth and two more in the
threw more changeups than he did anything else,” Pentecost said.
“We went there with the mindset that we were going to get
something besides that, but we never did. He just kept throwing
it and we didn’t see it too well...it was just a tough night.”
Louisville added a pair of runs in the sixth inning as Corey Ray
singled to shortstop and Sutton Whiting singled to left field.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Sturgeon slapped a base hit
into right field to score both runners.
Bergen (9-5) was chased after 79 pitches. The Owls’ ace pitched
twice in last weekend’s Regional, throwing a total of 180
pitches. He took the loss, giving up 11 hits and seven runs in
thought his velocity was up. His slider wasn’t as sharp as it
has been, but he was battling for us,” Kennesaw State coach Mike
Sansing said. “We have talked to him throughout the week and he
felt good. He did throw Monday of last week, but I thought he
threw pretty well for us tonight.”
Kidston (9-0) exited the game in the
seventh after allowing four runs on nine hits with seven
strikeouts. Kidston gave way to freshman Zack Burdi who, while
throwing 97 miles per hour, got Pentecost to pop up to right
field. Burdi handed the ball off to freshman Drew Harrington,
who got the second out of the inning and gave up a hit. Cole
Sturgeon closed out the seventh and eighth innings for
Louisville before Louisville handed the ball to closer Nick
Burdi, who closed out the game effectively for save No. 18.
Cardinals won their 98th straight game when leading after eight
innings and won their 55th straight game when scoring five or
more runs, including a 39-0 mark this season.
Sturgeon was 3 for 4 with three RBI and a run, and Solak was 1
for 2 with three RBI, a run and a walk for Louisville. Pentecost
was 3 for 5 with three RBI for the Owls.