Junior OF Coco Johnson
May 31, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Junior outfielder Coco Johnson connected for a pair of home runs while Jeff Gardner added three hits as the top-seeded Cardinals opened the 2013 NCAA Baseball Championship with an 8-3 win over Bowling Green on Friday night in the Louisville Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With the victory, eighth-ranked Louisville (47-12) advanced to a winner's bracket matchup (Saturday, 5 p.m., ET, ESPN2) with second-seeded Miami, a 7-0 winner over Oklahoma State in Friday afternoon's NCAA Regional opener. Bowling Green (23-30) will face OSU (39-18) in an elimination game on Saturday at noon ET on ESPNU. Tickets are available for both games on Saturday and can be purchased at the gates at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) finished 3-for-4 with three RBI while delivering two home runs in a game for the second time this season (two at Ohio State on May 14). For the season, the athletic Johnson has eight home runs and 47 RBI to go with a .333 average the plate. Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, two RBI and a run scored. The junior designated hitter lifted his average on the season to .340 and moved into a tie for the team lead in doubles with 13.
On the mound, junior Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS) became just the seventh pitcher in school history to reach double figures in wins in a single season improving to 10-3 overall after allowing three runs on five hits with five strikeouts in 7.0+ innings. Junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) followed Green with a scoreless inning of relief, while junior lefty Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) recorded the final three outs of the game to close out the win.
The Falcons struck first on Friday when first baseman Jeremy Shay sent a 1-2 pitch from Green over the wall in left center for his sixth home run of the season and a 1-0 lead.
However, the Cardinals answered in the second inning as Johnson led off the frame with his first homer of the day, a shot to left center on a 1-0 pitch from Bowling Green righty starter Mike Frank to even the score. An inning later, Louisville gained its first lead of the day at 3-1 when Johnson hammered a 2-0 pitch from Frank over the left field wall to score junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep), who reached on a two-out throwing error by BGSU shortstop Brian Bien.
UofL put the game out of reach in the fifth inning plate four runs on four hits against Frank. After senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) scored the first run of the frame on throwing error by BGSU catcher T.J. Losby after tracking down a wild pitch, Gardner plated a pair of runs on a double to right. Junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) extended the lead to 7-1 with a two-out RBI single through the right side.
The Falcons trimmed the deficit to 7-3 in the top of the sixth on a RBI double by outfielder Patrick Lancaster and a RBI sacrifice fly by Losby. However, the Cardinals plated the final run of the night in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI groundball off the bat of Ratajczak for the final margin.
Frank took the loss for Bowling Green and dropped to 5-8 overall after allowing seven runs, including five earned, on eight hits in five innings. Shay led the Falcons' offense going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- The Cardinals improved to 3-0 all-time in NCAA Regional openers at Jim Patterson Stadium and 12-10 overall in the regional round of the NCAA Championship.
- Louisville moved to 7-0 all-time against Bowling Green in a series that dates back to 2009.
- UofL improved to 32-5 at home this season and 212-75 (.738 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
- The Cardinals moved to 33-6 this season against righty starters.
- Louisville is 42-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
- UofL played error-free baseball for the 23rd time this season and improved to 21-2 in those games.
- The three hits for Coco Johnson matched a career high, which he has achieved five times this season.
- Chad Green has won five of last six starts overall. He has a 2.22 ERA in 16 starts and 97.1 innings pitched this season.
- Jeff Gardner finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. The Cardinals have not had a player hit for the cycle since James McCauley did it in 1998.
- Cody Ege made his 33rd appearance of the season on the mound to take over sole possession of third on the Cardinals' all-time single season leaderboard.
- Friday's game marked the 73rd career appearance for Ege, who is tied for ninth on Louisville's all-time leaderboard with B.J. Rosenberg (2004-08) and Jason Hobbs (1992-95).
- Louisville will be the home team in Saturday's winner's bracket game with Miami after winning the coin toss on Friday night.