Wright, Zych Lift No. 12 Cards to NCAA Regional Championship Win Over Vanderbilt

 
Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell after Monday night's 5-3 win over Vanderbilt.

Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell after Monday night's 5-3 win over Vanderbilt.

June 2, 2009

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Freshman outfielder Ryan Wright hammered a key three-run home run, while freshman righty Tony Zych pitched six strong innings to lift the top-seeded Louisville baseball team to a 5-3 win over Vanderbilt in Monday night's NCAA Regional championship game at Jim Patterson Stadium and the program's second NCAA Super Regional in three years.

With the win, 12th-ranked Louisville (47-16) will travel to the west coast to face No. 2 national seed Cal State Fullerton in a best-of-three series with the winner advancing to the College World Series. The Cardinals and Titans (45-14) will open their series at Goodwin Field on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2, while Saturday's game is set for 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. If necessary, Sunday's game will start at 10 p.m. ET and be televised back on ESPN2.

With the Cardinals trailing 1-0, Wright sent a 3-1 pitch from Vanderbilt starter Mike Minor over the wall in centerfield to score junior first baseman Andrew Clark and sophomore designated hitter Phil Wunderlich for a 3-1 Cards' advantage. Wright, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., who earned All-Regional honors, finished 2-for-4 overall from the plate, including his fifth home run of the season.

Zych, a native of Chicago, pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in his career and allowed only two runs on four hits to win his third straight start and improve to 6-2 on the season. Last Sunday, he gave Louisville six impressive innings to earn the win and lead the Cards to their second straight BIG EAST Tournament title.

With the Cardinals holding the slim 5-3 advantage, head coach Dan McDonnell turned to junior All-American lefty Justin Marks, who pitched a perfect 1-2-3 ninth inning on just 12 pitches to earn his first career save. The Owensboro, Ky., native was named the Louisville Regional's Most Outstanding Player after earning a win in the Cards' first round victory over Indiana and coming back on just two days rest to earn the save against the Commodores. Marks did a similar feat in 2007 as he earned the win in the Cards' first round win over Miami in the Columbia (Mo.) Regional and then returned on two days rest to pick up the win in relief in Louisville's regional-clinching win over Missouri.

 

 

Joining Marks and Wright on the All-Regional Team were Clark, who was 1-for-3 with a run scored in Monday's win over Vandy, and sophomore outfielder Josh Richmond, who had a hit on Monday and finished 6-for-16 (.375) in the Cards' five regional games, including a key home run in their comeback win over Middle Tennessee on Saturday night.

Along with Wright's performance, the Cardinals also got another two-hit performance from Wunderlich, who finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored and pushed his team-leading average to .372. The Chicago native now has 29 multi-hit games this season and is second on the team in home runs (18) and RBI (78).

Following a scoreless first inning, the Commodores (37-27) took an early 1-0 lead in the second as designated hitter Aaron Westlake belted his 10th home run of the season, this one to centerfield off Zych, to mark the fourth time in four games the Cardinals' opponent has scored first.

After a scoreless third inning, Louisville gained its first lead of the day on Wright's home run to score Clark and Wunderlich. Clark started the rally with a one-out single, while Wunderlich reached on a two-out walk to set the stage for Wright's home run. The Commodores came back for a run in the fifth as leftfielder Joe Loftus hammered his fourth home run of the season over the wall in left field to cut the Cards' advantage to 3-2 after five innings.

Following a scoreless sixth inning, the Cardinals pushed their lead out to 4-2 with one run on two hits. Wunderlich led off the inning with a single to center and after back-to-back outs, he scored on an RBI triple to left center by senior shortstop John Dao. Vanderbilt threatened the Cards' lead in the bottom of the seventh after getting runners on second and third with only one out, but Louisville sophomore righty Gabriel Shaw picked up back-to-back strikeouts of Loftus and Harris to get out of the jam and preserve the two-run advantage.

After the close call in the seventh, Louisville added another run in the eighth to push its lead to 5-2. Junior second baseman Adam Duvall started things for the Cardinals with a one-out double to left center. After moving to third on a throwing error by third baseman Jason Esposito, Duvall scored on an RBI groundball off the bat of Dominguez, while Esposito's throw to first pulled first baseman Curt Casali off the bag for his second straight error.

The Commodores came back for a run in the bottom of the eighth on two hits to cut the Cards' lead to 5-3. White started things off with a double to left center off reliever Gabriel Shaw, who was then replaced by senior lefty Gavin Logsdon. After moving to third on a groundout by rightfielder Steven Liddle, White scored on an RBI single to left center. Any threat for more runs for Vandy was shut down by Logsdon as he forced Westlake into an inning ending 3-6-3 double-play.

From there, Marks came on in the ninth inning to sit down the Commodores in order for the save and push the Cardinals to weekend showdown with Cal State Fullerton.

For Vanderbilt, Minor picked up the loss, his second in four days, after allowing three runs on four hits in 3.2 innings. After pitching 8.0 innings in Friday's loss to Middle Tennessee, the junior lefty pitched three strong innings on just two days rest on Monday before giving up Wright's three-run homer in the fourth.

Louisville Notes
- With the win, the Cardinals have won 18 of their last 21 games overall dating back to April 26.

- Head coach Dan McDonnell is leading Louisville to its second NCAA Super Regional appearance in three years and he continues to raise the bar for the program. Since his arrival prior to the 2007 season, he's led the program to its first ever College World Series appearance (2007), three straight 40-win seasons and 135 wins overall, three straight NCAA Championship appearances and back-to-back BIG EAST Tournament titles.

- The 47 wins for the Cardinals in 2009 matches the school record for wins set during Louisville's magical run to Omaha and the College World Series. That McDonnell-led squad finished 47-24 overall before falling to eventual NCAA runner-up North Carolina.

2009 All-Louisville Regional Team - Louisville, Ky.
P - Caleb Cotham, Vanderbilt
P - Justin Marks, Louisville
C - Andrew Giobbi, Vanderbilt
1B - Andrew Clark, Louisville
2B - Riley Reynolds, Vanderbilt
3B - Jason Esposito, Vanderbilt
SS - Tyler Burnett, Middle Tennessee
OF - Ryan Wright, Louisville
OF - Kipp Schutz, Indiana
OF - Josh Richmond, Louisville
DH - Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt

Most Outstanding Player - Justin Marks, Louisville

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