By Sam Draut–
For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Louisville baseball team is headed to an NCAA Super Regional. The second-ranked Cardinals defeated Wright State 3-1 on Sunday at Jim Patterson Stadium to win the Louisville Regional. Louisville (50-12) defeated Western Michigan 6-1 on Friday and Ohio State 15-3 on Saturday to breeze through the first portion of the NCAA tournament.
“It was a real collective effort this weekend, we got great starts on the mound,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said. “You got to pitch and play defense.”
Shutdown Sunday– Drew Harrington began the year as McDonnell’s Sunday starter, but pitched well enough to move to Saturday midway through the year. The sophomore closed out the Louisville Regional with a dominant performance on the day he began the year pitching on. Harrington pitched 7 and 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on five hits and walked two batters.
“I was able to make the big pitches when I needed to and the defense bailed me out when I needed it to,” Harrington said.
Harrington said he didn’t feel as sharp in the early innings, but he settled down in the later innings.
He had five strikeouts and walked off the mound to a standing ovation in the eighth inning. Harrington lowered his ERA to 2.08 and picked up his 12th win of the year.
Solak shots– Will Smith reached base on an infield single to lead off the top of the fourth inning and the Cardinals were able to cash in quickly. Nick Solak lined a two-run homerun over the left field fence to give Louisville a 2-0 lead.
“I felt good, our offense put a lot of guys on base,” Solak said.
Solak picked up his third RBI with a two-out single in the fifth inning that scored Logan Taylor.
LOB– Wright State left four runners on base through the first three innings. In the fourth inning with two outs, Wright State runners on first and second attempted a timed double-steal off Harrington, but the left-handed pitcher stepped off the mound and threw to third baseman Blake Tiberi who tagged out JD Orr for the third out.
“We were trying to put pressure, we were trying to score runs,” Wright State head coach Greg Lovelady said. “We were trying to get guys moving to put pressure on them.”
After the fourth inning base running miscue, Harrington retired six consecutive Wright State hitters.
Closed out– Hard throwing closer Zack Burdi hasn’t made an appearance in the first two games of the NCAA Regional, but picked up a five-out save on Sunday. The right-hander’s pitches hit 100 miles per hour several times, but Gabe Snyder was able to hit an RBI single in the right centerfield gap to score Wright State’s only run of the game. It was Burdi’s 11th save of the season.
Photos by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal