Louisville junior 3B Phil Wunderlich
June 7, 2010
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The No. 7 national seeded Louisville baseball team saw its season come to a disappointing end on Monday night as Vanderbilt's Curt Casali scored from third on an RBI safety squeeze bunt by Connor Harrell in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the 17th-ranked Commodores to a 3-2 win over the Cardinals in the NCAA Regional championship game at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With the loss, the Cardinals close the season at 50-14 overall, while the Commodores improved to 45-18 and advance to next weekend's NCAA Super Regional at No. 10 Florida State. The 50 wins for Louisville is a school record surpassing the 47 victories during the 2007 College World Series season and the 2009 NCAA Super Regional season.
In a tension-filled game that featured numerous momentum swings, the Commodores finished with the final swing in the 10th to clinch their first NCAA Super Regional since 2004. The rally started with Casali being hit by a pitch from Louisville junior All-American closer Neil Holland (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) with one out. Moments later, Mike Yastrzemski sent a slow roller through the right side of the infield, which bounced off of a diving Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) and bounded just far enough away to allow Casali to advance to third base setting the scene for the dramatic finish. Harrell bunted the first pitch of his at-bat down the first base line just out of reach of Holland and first baseman Andrew Clark (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine HS) allowing Casali to score from third for the walk-off win.
Holland, who is tied for the NCAA lead in saves with 17, allowed one run on three hits with two strikeouts in two innings of relief to lose his only game of the season and finish 8-1 overall. Junior righty Thomas Royse (Lexington, Ky./Dunbar HS), the 2010 BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, gave the Cardinals another good start allowing just one run on eight hits with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings, while sophomore righty Tony Zych (Monee, Ill./St. Rita HS) followed by allowing one run on one hit in two innings of relief. For Vanderbilt, Taylor Hill came out of the bullpen to earn the win with a scoreless 10th inning to improve to 6-5, while Grayson Garvin allowed just one run on three hits in six innings in the starting role.
At the plate, Wright and junior third baseman Phil Wunderlich (Chicago, Ill./Downers Grove HS) had two hits each for the Cardinals, while senior catcher Jeff Arnold (Louisville, Ky./Male HS) and redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) each had an RBI for Louisville.
The Cardinals appeared to be on the verge of taking a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Harrell leaped high in the air and went well over the wall in center field to rob Arnold of what would have been a two home run. The catch was the first of several pivotal plays that just did not seem to go Louisville's way on Monday night.
For the second straight game between the two teams, the Commodores opened the scoring with a run in the fourth inning as right fielder Joe Loftus reached base with a two-out single to right field, moved to second on a throw home and then scored on a RBI single to left field by Casali for the 1-0 advantage.
Louisville finally broke through for a run in the top of the seventh inning to even the score at 1-1. Wright led off the inning with a single up the middle and then moved to second with his 10th stolen base in 11 attempts. After moving to third on a single to left field by Wunderlich, Wright scored on an RBI groundout to the right side by Ijames. The run in the seventh ended a season-long stretch of 15 2/3 innings without a run for the Cardinals.
Vanderbilt moved back in front in the bottom of the seventh inning as shortstop Brian Harris earned a leadoff walk from Zych, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Anthony Gomez and then scored on an RBI single through the left side by third baseman Jason Esposito for a 2-1 lead.
Louisville came back to even the score in the ninth with a run on two hits against Vanderbilt ace righty Sonny Gray, who came out of the bullpen for two innings of relief. Ijames led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on an infield single up the middle by junior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS). Arnold then followed with an RBI single to left center to score Ijames to tie the game at 2-2. Duvall followed with a walk to load the bases for Clark, who hammered a line drive that was caught by a leaping Harris at shortstop robbing the Cardinals of at least two more runs.
Louisville then held Vanderbilt without a run in the bottom of the ninth, only to go quietly in the top of the 10th setting the stage for the Commodores decisive rally.
- Monday's crowd of 3,682 was the largest of the 2010 NCAA Regional and the eighth largest in school history for the Cardinals.
- The Cardinals dropped to 7-4 in NCAA post-season games at Jim Patterson Stadium with Sunday's loss. Overall, Louisville finished 29-6 in games at Jim Patterson Stadium this season.
- Louisville was the visiting team in Monday's game by virtue of having been the visiting team in one less game than Vanderbilt during the 2010 NCAA Regional.
2010 All-Louisville Regional Team
P: Richie Goodenow, Vanderbilt
P: Matt Koch, Louisville
C: Jeff Arnold, Louisville
1B: Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt
2B: Ryan Wright, Louisville
SS: Brett Kay, Illinois State
3B: Jason Esposito, Vanderbilt
OF: J.D. Dunn, Saint Louis
OF: Joe Loftus, Vanderbilt
OF: Connor Harrell, Vanderbilt
DH: Phil Wunderlich, Louisville
Most Outstanding Player: Richie Goodenow, Vanderbilt