Junior OF Coco Johnson
June 2, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville baseball program clinched its third NCAA Super Regional berth in seven seasons after the top-seeded and eighth-ranked Cardinals closed out the 2013 Louisville Regional with a 12-3 victory over third-seeded Oklahoma State on Sunday evening at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With its first ever three-game sweep of an NCAA Regional, Louisville (49-12) will await the winner of the Nashville Regional, which will be determined on Monday night in a winner-take-all title game between No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets forced the title game rematch after earning a 5-0 victory on Sunday night in Nashville.
Playing in front of crowd of 4,374, the Cardinals earned their first NCAA Regional title since winning the Louisville Regional in 2009. UofL also advanced to a Super Regional in 2007 after winning the Columbia (Mo.) Regional to kick off the program's first ever march to Omaha and the College World Series. Overall, Louisville improved to 14-10 in NCAA Regional games and 17-15 in the NCAA Championship.
Leading the way for the Cardinals in Sunday's clincher was junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona), the Most Outstanding Player of the Louisville Regional, who was 2-for-4 with three RBI. In the three NCAA Regional games, Johnson hit .455 (5-for-11) with two home runs, six RBI and a stolen base to become the first Louisville player to earn MOP honors since Justin Marks in 2009.
Junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) capped a terrific week at the plate on Sunday going 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Named to the Louisville Regional All-Tournament Team, Gardner hit .462 (6-for-13) with three doubles, a triple, three RBI and three runs scored in the trio of games.
Senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) completed his All-Tournament Team selection by finishing 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Starting all three games of the regional at second base, Ratajczak hit .364 with two doubles and six RBI. Chipping in with big performances on Sunday were junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep), who was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs, and junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS), who added a triple, two RBI and two runs.
On the mound, sophomore lefthander Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) had his best outing as a Cardinal working a career best 3.1 innings of shutout relief while striking out four to earn his first collegiate win and move to 1-0 overall. Filomeno extended his career best scoreless streak to 5.2 innings with Sunday's performance. He followed righty starter Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS), who finished with a no-decision after allowing three runs, including two earned, on eight hits with four strikeouts. Sophomore righty Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) pitched a scoreless ninth inning striking out two to close the Louisville Regional.
Following two scoreless innings, the Cardinals struck first plating three runs on three hits against OSU lefty starter Kenton Bevacqua in the top of the third. Playing as the road team, Louisville started the scoring when sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) scored on a RBI single up the middle by Ratajczak. One batter later, Johnson delivered a two-run single through the left side to score Engel and Ratajczak for the 3-0 advantage.
After the Cowboys broke through for a run in the bottom of the third on a RBI sacrifice fly to center by outfielder Gage Green, the Cardinals pushed the cushion to 5-1 in the fourth on a two-run triple down the right field line by Engel off OSU closer Brendan McCurry. Scoring on the hit was junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), who singled earlier in the frame, and senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS), who reached base with a walk.
Oklahoma State answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI groundout by outfielder Saulyer Saxon. The Cardinals pushed the lead back to four in the fifth inning on a RBI double down the right field line by Gardner to plate Young, who led off the inning with a single to right and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Johnson.
The Cowboys inched closer again in the bottom of the fifth on a RBI single through the right side by catcher Victor Romero to plate third baseman Robbie Rea for a 6-3 Louisville advantage. However, that was as close as OSU would get as the Cardinals' put the game away with a six-run eighth inning. Junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) started the scoring with a RBI single to right, while Ratajczak added a RBI single for the second run. After a two-run single by Young, Engel scored on an OSU error before Johnson chipped in with an RBi single for the final nine-run margin.
Bevacqua took the loss for the Cowboys and dropped to 2-3 on the season after allowing three runs on three hits in three innings. Romero led the Oklahoma State offense going 3-for-3 with a run and a RBI in the loss.
2013 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team - Louisville, Ky.
P: Jeff Thompson (Louisville)
P: Christian Diaz (Miami)
C: Garrett Kennedy (Miami)
1B: Jeremy Shay (Bowling Green)
2B: Nick Ratajczak (Louisville)
SS: Randy McCurry (Oklahoma State)
3B: David Thompson (Miami)
OF: Coco Johnson (Louisville)
OF: Tyler Palmer (Miami)
OF: Gage Green (Oklahoma State)
DH: Jeff Gardner (Louisville)
Most Outstanding Player: Coco Johnson (Louisville)
Postgame Louisville Notes
- Louisville added to its school record for home wins in a season improving to 34-5 this season and 214-75 (.740 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
- With their 49th win on the season, the 2013 Cardinals moved into second place on the program's single season win leaderboard trialing only the 50 wins in 2010.
- The Cardinals improved to 4-2 all-time against Oklahoma State, including a 3-1 edge in NCAA postseason games.
- In its four NCAA games against the Cowboys (including the 2007 NCAA Super Regional), Louisville has outscored OSU 43-8.
- The Cardinals erupted for six runs in the eighth inning on Sunday marking the second straight day they put together a six-run inning. On Saturday, they scored six in the seventh in the win over Miami.
- The eighth inning remains Louisville's highest scoring inning this season as the Cardinals own a 70-32 edge overall.
- UofL is 16-6 this season against lefty starting pitchers.
- Louisville has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 35 of 61 games this season.
- Nick Ratajczak, who was also a member of the 2012 Tucson Regional All-Tournament team, joined former Cardinal Ryan Wright as the only Louisville players to be two-time NCAA Regional All-Tournament selections.
- With his two RBI on Sunday, Ty Young earned his team-leading 18th multiple RBI game of the season. Overall, he leads the Cardinals with 57 RBI.
- Young also had two hits for his team-high 23rd multiple hit game of 2013. The junior paces the Cardinals with a .349 average overall.
- Coco Johnson earned his 20th multiple hit game of the season and his 15th multiple RBI game of 2013 to rank second on the team in both categories. Overall, he is hitting .332 with eight home runs and 50 RBI.
- With his two doubles on Sunday, Jeff Gardner leads the Cardinals with 15 doubles this season. He is also the team-leader in home runs with nine and slugging percentage at .654.
- With their three games this weekend in the NCAA Regional, the Cardinals increased their average attendance to its highest total in school history at 1,902.
- If Vanderbilt wins Monday night's Nashville Regional title game, the Cardinals will play the Commodores in Nashville in a Super Regional. If Georgia Tech wins, the Cardinals would likely host the Yellow Jackets in a Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
- Dates, times and TV details for the 2013 NCAA Super Regionals will be announced on Tuesday night. Half of the eight Super Regionals will begin on Friday while the other half will begin on Saturday.