By Dalton Ray–
Second overall seed Louisville baseball fell 4-2 to the visiting UC Santa Barbra Gauchos in game one of the Louisville Super Regional. UCSB is now one game away from going to the College World Series. The Super Regional is a best of three series.
The two starting pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts in the game but also allowed two home runs. Louisville’s Brendan McKay got the starting nod and went eight innings. In those innings McKay threw 113 pitches. He allowed four runs, one home run and struck-out nine.
Dan McDonald was very relaxed in the press conference after the game and had a calm demeanor.
“It’s baseball, it’s apart of the game,” he said. “Their guy come out and performed well. You just have to tip your hat. Our saying all year has been ‘So what?’ This is baseball, go out and play.”
UCSB’s Shane Bieber, selected in the fourth round by the Cleveland Indians, came into Jim Patterson with a 11-3 record and only allowed four home runs. McDonald said the power-throwing righty is “one of the best pitchers” they’ve faced this year. He ended with seven strikeouts, allowed eight hits and one home run. Bieber played very well into his defense’s hands and the team didn’t register an error in the game.
U of L simply wasn’t able to get the bats going in the first game. Corey Ray, Drew Ellis, Danny Rosenbaum and McKay played were a combined 0-for-16 with five strikeouts. The biggest spark of the game came in the second inning with Blake Tiberi’s moon shot over right field.
Tiberi’s explained the team’s mind state after the loss.
“It’s a two-out-of-three series, I’m looking back at the Virginia series. We dropped the first game but battled back and won that,” he said. “We’re not panicking or freaking out right now.”
The fourth inning was the truth difference maker as the Gauchos scored two runs. Austin Bush started the inning off with a homer and Kyle Plantier’s liner down the foul line brought home another runner. McKay was able to recover with a ground-out and strikeout but the damage was already done.
UCSB was able to score another run in the fifth inning to get a comfortable 4-1 lead. Bieber could see the frustration in the batters of the Cardinals.
“I could start to see the anxiety in their at-bats and their body language,” he said. “I started pitching high and going outside the zone and they were reaching once we got deeper into the game.”
Offensively, Louisville had eight hits and six came from three players. Will Smith, Devin Hairston and Tiberi all had two hits a piece for the Cards. Hairston’s double in the sixth inning set him up to score after Tiberi’s single, his second RBI of the game.
While it appeared that Louisville might have some life, the final nine outs came with no struggle. Four fly-outs, three ground-outs and two strikeouts was all the Cardinals could put together.
McDonell’s message to the team was very simple.
“They need to be themselves tomorrow, be loose. We’ll stick to the process,” he said. “We’ve lost game ones before. We’re going to come out tomorrow ready to play.”
Drew Harrington will be starting tomorrow for U of L in game two. Louisville will need to win back-to-back games in order to advance to the CWS. Game two will take place at 12 p.m.
Photos by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal