June 7, 2014
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville baseball team clinched its second straight College World Series berth and the third in eight years with Saturday night's 7-4 victory over Kennesaw State in the second game of the NCAA Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium.
A school record crowd of 6,007 watched as senior Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored at the plate and struck out three in 1.1 innings of relief on the mound for the Cardinals (50-15), while freshman designated hitter Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) added his second home run of the season and drove in three runs. Sophomore righty starter Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio) improved to 9-0 on the season, while junior righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) closed the night with school record setting 18th save of the season.
In sweeping the first two games of the best-of-three series against the Owls (40-24), the Cardinals improved to 10-0 in regional and super regional games in the last two seasons. In Omaha, Louisville will face the winner of Sunday's deciding third game in the Nashville Super Regional between Vanderbilt and Stanford with the date and time of the game to be announced in the coming days by the NCAA.
Along with Sturgeon and Solak, freshman outfielder Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.) chipped in at the plate going 2-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored, while junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored. After overcoming a two-run deficit in Friday's opener with Kennesaw State, Louisville did again on Saturday scoring three runs in the fifth and adding two more in the sixth .
On the mound, Kidston allowed four runs on a career-high nine hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in six innings to grind out the win. Along with earning the ninth victory of the season, Kidston improved to 14-0 in his collegiate career with 122 strikeouts and a 2.62 ERA in 116.2 innings pitched. After freshman righty Zack Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.), freshman lefty Drew Harrington (Elizabethtown, Ky.) and Sturgeon combined to record scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, Nick Burdi struck out two in a scoreless ninth while surpassing the previous single season saves record set by Neil Holland in 2010.
Kennesaw State struck first on Saturday night plating a run in the first inning on a RBI single to left by catcher Max Pentecost. Louisville followed in the top of the third with a pair of runs on a RBI sacrifice fly by Solak to score Lucas and a RBI single to right by senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) to score senior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky.).
However, the Owls answered in the bottom of the inning with a three-spot, which started with a two-run double by Pentecost and ended with a RBI groundout from first baseman Chris McGowan. After a scoreless fourth from both squads, Louisville made its decisive move in the fifth with a three-run inning against KSU starter Travis Bergen. After starting the inning with a double to left center and advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Gibson, Lucas scored on a RBI single to left by Sturgeon. Solak followed by belting the first offering from Bergen over the left field wall to give the Cardinals the lead for good.
An inning later, Louisville added a pair of insurance runs on a two-run single to right by Sturgeon sending Ray and junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) home. Both Ray and Whiting singled to open the sixth inning and advanced on stolen bases before Sturgeon's hit.
Bergen was charged with the loss and dropped to 9-5 on the season after allowing seven runs, all earned, on 11 hits in 5.2 innings. Pentecost finished the night 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI in the loss.
Louisville Postgame Notes
- The Cardinals are the only team from last season's College World Series field returning to this year's event.
- Saturday's crowd of 6,007 surpassed the previous school record attendance total of 5,351 set just one night earlier in the game one win over the Owls. Prior to the weekend, Louisville's attendance record was 4,733 set on April 2, 2013 against Kentucky at Jim Patterson.
- The Cardinals improved to 34-7 at home this season, equaling the school record for home wins set last season. Overall, Louisville is 248-82 (.751 winning percentage) at Jim Patterson Stadium since its opening in 2005.
- Louisville improved to 15-4 all-time in NCAA postseason games at home, including eight straight wins.
- The Cardinals have won 98 straight games when leading after the eighth inning, including a 43-0 mark this season.
- Louisville has won 55 straight games when scoring five or more runs, including a 39-0 mark in 2014.
- Nick Burdi now owns both saves records at Louisville with his 18 saves this season and his 34 career saves.
- Burdi's 30 appearances on the mound in 2014 rank as the sixth most in a single season at Louisville.
- Cole Sturgeon moved into a tie for fourth all-time at Louisville in games played with 231 and into sixth all-time in hits with 255.
- In the Cardinals' five NCAA postseason games in 2014, Corey Ray leads the squad with a .471 average (8-for-17) with three doubles and three RBI.
- Nick Solak carried a .400 average (6-for-15) with a team-high seven RBI, four runs scored and four walks in the five NCAA games.
- Burdi has earned saves in four of the Cardinals' five NCAA postseason games this season.