Louisville junior C Jeff Arnold
May 30, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville's Jeff Arnold scored from third base on a throwing error by Middle Tennessee catcher Drew Robertson in the top of the ninth inning to lift the 12th-ranked Cardinals to a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Blue Raiders in Saturday night's NCAA Regional game at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With the victory, the top-seeded Cardinals (46-15) advance to the championship round of the Louisville Regional on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET at Jim Patterson Stadium against the winner of the Middle Tennessee-Vanderbilt elimination game, set for Sunday at 3 p.m.
With the game tied at 2-2, Arnold led off the ninth inning with a walk from Middle Tennessee reliever Coty Woods and moved to second with his 13th stolen base in 17 attempts this season. He then advanced to third on a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first base line by senior shortstop John Dao.
With one out, sophomore outfielder Drew Haynes at the plate and Arnold taking a good secondary lead, Robertson's throw to third base hit Arnold in the back and bounced away from third baseman Rawley Bishop allowing Arnold to score the game-winning run standing up.
After falling trailing by two runs for the second straight game at the NCAA Regional, the Cardinals were able to do enough to earn their 24th come-from-behind win this season and advance to their second regional final in three years. In 2007, Louisville came through the loser's bracket to win the Columbia (Mo.) Regional before eventually advancing to the College World Series.
On the mound, freshman Derek Self earned the win for the Cardinals after pitching 3.0 innings of perfect relief to improve to 7-0 overall. A native of Cave City, Ky., Self had three strikeouts and 27 of his 29 pitches were strikes. He replaced lefty starter Dean Kiekhefer, who was also very good allowing only two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
Woods took the loss for the Blue Raiders (44-17) after allowing one unearned run on two hits in less than an inning of work. The strong performance by the Louisville pitchers spoiled a strong day on the mound by Middle Tennessee starter Bryce Brentz, who allowed only two runs on six hits in 7.2 innings of work.
After a scoreless top of the first inning for the Cardinals, Middle Tennessee opened the scoring in the home half of the first with one run on two hits. Centerfielder Nathan Hines led off with a single down the left field line off Kiekhefer and moved to second on a single to left field by first baseman Ben Darlington. After moving to third on a fly out to center by leftfielder Blake McDade, Hines scored on an RBI sacrifice fly to right center by Brentz. Cards' freshman rightfielder Ryan Wright made a diving catch on the flyball to save at least one run and turn an extra-base hit into an out for the Cards.
Following a pair of scoreless innings, the Blue Raiders added to their lead in the fourth with a run on three hits. With two outs, Bishop singled to center field, moved to second on his seventh stolen base of the season in nine attempts and then scored on an RBI single to right by rightfielder Stuart Meinhart for a 2-0 advantage.
The Cardinals finally broke through against Brentz in the sixth inning with one run on two hits to cut the deficit in half. Richmond led off the inning with a double off the wall in left field. After moving to third on a groundout to the right side by second baseman Adam Duvall, Richmond scored on a double off the wall in right field by junior first baseman Andrew Clark for a 2-1 advantage for the Blue Raiders.
After a scoreless seventh inning, Louisville pulled even in the eighth inning as Richmond led off with his seventh home run of the season, a bomb to left field off Brentz, to tie the score at 2-2 and set the stage for the dramatic ninth inning.
- Louisville improved to 16-2 in the month of May and the Cardinals have won 17 of their last 19 games overall dating back to April 26.
- Though Louisville was considered the road team in Saturday's game after losing the coin flip on Friday, the Cardinals continued their impressive play at home with their seventh straight win at Jim Patterson Stadium.
- With the win, head coach Dan McDonnell improved to 10-6 in NCAA Tournament games as the Cardinals' head coach. Prior to McDonnell's arrival in 2007, Louisville had never won an NCAA Tournament game. In three seasons, he's led the Cards to three straight NCAA appearances.
- The 3,521 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium for Saturday night's game ranks sixth on the Cards' all-time attendance list and is the third largest this season behind only Friday's school record total of 4,605 and the 3,663 fans that witnessed their 12-1 win over USF on May 15 to clinch the BIG EAST regular-season title.