May 15, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
Sophomore lefty Dean Kiekhefer had the best start of his career on the mound and junior third baseman Chris Dominguez hammered his 20th home run of the season to lead the 23rd-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 4-3 win over No. 27 South Florida in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With the win, the Cardinals (39-14, 18-7 BIG EAST) setup a winner-take-all showdown in the series finale on Friday night with the Bulls (32-22, 18-8). Louisville enters the final game with a 1/2 game lead in the BIG EAST standings over USF, with the winner of the finale earning the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in next week's BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla.
On Friday, Kiekhefer pitched into the ninth inning for the first time in his career allowing just two earned runs on six hits to win his third straight start and improve to 6-4 on the season. Senior lefty Gavin Logsdon came on in the ninth to record the final three outs and earn the first save of his career. USF starter Shawn Stanford took the loss after allowing two runs on seven hits in 7.0 innings to fall to 5-3 on the season.
At the plate, Dominguez led the way for the Cardinals with a 2-for-4 day, including a two-run homer in the eighth inning that turned out to be the game-winner. After hitting 21 home runs last season, Dominguez is now at 20 this year and up to 56 for his career, which ranks second all-time at Louisville.
USF opened the scoring in Friday's first game as second baseman Peter Brotons led off the fifth inning with a single, moved to second as Ryan Lockwood was hit by a pitch from Kiekhefer, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Koscso and then scored on an RBI sacrifice fly to center by Todd Brazeal for a 1-0 lead.
The lead held up for the Bulls until the bottom of the seventh when the Louisville hitters caught fire against Sanford with four straight hits to start the inning for the Cards' first lead of the game. Junior first baseman Andrew Clark led off the inning with a single to right center and moved to third on a double to left center by Dominguez. Clark then scored from third on an RBI single to left by sophomore outfielder Phil Wunderlich to tie the game at 1-1. Freshman Ryan Wright followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Dominguez for a 2-1 Louisville advantage after seven innings.
The Cardinals added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning as Clark picked up a two-out walk from USF reliever Randy Fontanez and was followed by a first-pitch home run over the wall in left center by Dominguez to push the lead to 4-1.
In the ninth, USF's Junior Carlin led off the inning with a single up the middle off Kiekhefer, who was then replaced by sophomore righty Gabriel Shaw. Pinch hitter Brandon Smith followed with a double to left field to move Carlin to third, and Carlin scored moments later on a single to center by shortstop Sam Mende to cut the lead to 4-2.
Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell then turned to Logsdon, who struck out pinch hitter Stephen Hunt for the first out of the inning. After Brotons' sacrifice fly in foul territory to Louisville's Josh Richmond scored Smith to cut the lead to 4-3, Logsdon then closed out his first save with a ground ball off the bat of Ryan Lockwood to shortstop John Dao, who flipped the ball to second baseman Adam Duvall to force out Mende for the final out of the game.
With the win, Louisville moves to 39 wins, which equals the best regular-season win total in school history and within one game of the program's first ever 40-win regular season. In 2002, the Cards won a school record 39 games before earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Regionals. The 2009 Cards also surpassed the 38 regular season wins by the 2007 team, which added nine more wins en route to the program's first ever College World Series appearance in head coach Dan McDonnell's first season.