May 24, 2008
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Freshman Stewart Ijames belted a two-run double to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning of the BIG EAST Championship Game, and Justin Marks and B.J. Rosenberg sealed the 6-3 win over Cincinnati, giving the University of Louisville the first conference tournament championship in Cardinal baseball history. UofL earns an automatic bid into the field of 64 and will be making their third trip to the NCAA Regionals.
Sophomore third baseman Chris Dominguez was awarded the Jack Kaiser Award, given annually to the Most Oustanding Player in the tournament, and he was joined on the All-Tournament team by Marks, Justin McClanahan and Josh Richmond.
Cincinnati's Josh Harrison singled to open the fourth and third baseman Mike Spina worked the count to full before hitting his 20th home run of the season out to left for a 2-0 Bearcat (39-20) lead.
Cardinal (41-19) DH Phil Wunderlich reached on a third strike that was wild and Drew Haynes slashed a single down the left field line to put two on with nobody out in the sixth. John Dao's sac bunt nudged both runners into scoring position, and an RBI groundout by Richmond cut the lead to one.
Spina struck again, with two out in the bottom of the sixth, launching an 0-1 pitch from reliever Gabriel Shaw on to the concourse in left for his 21st home run of the season and second of the game, returning UC to a two-run cushion.
In the Cardinal half of the seventh, Dominguez singled through the left side and Ijames singled to left. Jeff Arnold
attempted to lay down a sac bunt, but UC starting pitcher Dan Osterbrock got the lead runner at third on the fielder's choice.
Andrew Clark then doubled down the right field line, plating Ijames, and an error on UC rightfielder Cameron Satterwhite, allowed Arnold to score from first and tie the game at three.
Marks twirled a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out two, and the Cardinal offense took over in the eighth.
Reliever Michael Hill took the hill to open the inning. After Dao lined out to center to lead off, Richmond singled to left and moved into scoring position on a groundout by McClanahan. The Bearcats intentionally walked Dominguez, and Ijames drilled the first pitch he saw into the right field corner for his 10th double of the season and a 5-3 Cardinal lead.
Arnold reached on an infield single and Clark followed with an RBI single to center that made it 6-3.
Marks retired the first two of the eighth before walking Jamel Scott. Rosenberg then entered and induced a lazy fly ball to right off the bat of Harrison to close the frame.
Rosenberg stayed on for the ninth and got Spina and Satterwhite to fly out to right before striking out Ryan Baker to seal the championship.
Cardinal starter Bob Revesz tossed five strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits, striking out two. Shaw allowed a run on a hit and struck out one in an inning out of the pen.
Marks improved his record to 9-1 on the season with 1.2 hitless innings, walking one and striking out three to pick up the win.
Rosenberg retired all four he faced to earn his ninth save of the season, striking out one.
Hill took the loss, falling to 6-4 on the season, surrendering three runs on four hits and a walk in an inning of work.
Dominguez, Ijames, Clark and Haynes each has two hits for the Cardinals, who out-hit UC 12-6. Dominguez finished the tournament 8 for 18(.444) with seven runs, a double, two tape measure home runs and nine RBI, collecting two hits in each of the four tournament games.
Marks is now tied for third with 18 career wins, and tied his 2007 effort for fourth place on the single season list with his nine wins. His 85 K's puts him alone in 10th on the single season list. Rosenberg is now tied for seventh with 72 career appearances and moves into seventh with nine career saves, and tied for fourth on the single season list.
The NCAA Regional sites and host institutions will be announced Sunday at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2, and the field of 64 will be announced live on ESPN on Monday at 12:30 p.m. NCAA Regionals are scheduled to begin on Friday, May 30.
The Cardinal baseball team is scheduled to return to Louisville on Sunday at approximately 4:50 p.m. on a Southwest flight arriving at Louisville International Airport.