It’s been a long six years since the last one, but here we are! The 2013 College World Series. It wasn’t easy to get here. Louisville had to fight and claw their way to Omaha all season. They had to first be Big East regular season champs. They had to make the tournament and host a regional. They had to best three other teams in their region. They had to defeat number 2 national seed Vanderbilt. And here they are. Playing to win a national title in TD Ameritrade Park. This is their time to show what they’re made of.
Chad Green started off the first pretty shaky, walking the first batter he faced, then allowing a single to Kyle Schwarber to put runners on first and second. Even worse when Green gets in a 3-0 count against Sam Travis. Then Louisville managed to catch a HUGE break when IU attempts a double steal and Nolden is thrown out at third, and Schwarber barely makes it into 2nd. Thankfully, he managed to strike out Travis and IU had two outs just like that. Then, Green couldn’t capitalize on that momentum and he allowed an RBI single to Scott Donley, which was partially redeemed by striking out the next batter, Michael Basil. The Cards couldn’t manage any better. After a promising start to the inning that included a leadoff walk by Adam Engel, which was followed by a flawless sac bunt from Cole Sturgeon to advance Engel to second, the Cards looked to be in good position to tie the game. Sadly, they proved unable to do such after flying out in back-to-back at bats from Ty Young and Coco Johnson.
The top of the third inning was not great for the Cards, to say the least. Chad Green had been looking off his game all night, and it all began to culminate in this inning. Right off the bat, he walked the first IU batter of the inning, allowed a single to Schwarber, and followed that up with another walk. Something had to change. UofL didn’t hesitate to go to the bullpen and bring in LHP Cody Ege to try and work out of the bases loaded-no outs situation. He managed to get out the first batter he faced, but then allowed a hit to LF, which scored a run, but thanks to the spectacular throw by Coco Johnson, IU’s Kyle Schwarber was out at home. This was then followed by an IU groundout to end the inning. Gotta give it up to UofL for getting out of that situation and only allowing one run. Louisville started the third with a fly-out, but that was followed up with a Sutton Whiting walk, where he then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Engel fouled out and Louisville looked like it might strand another baserunner. Then, Cole Sturgeon hits a ball into right field, but a great throw home by Nolden, coupled with poor baserunning decisions by Whiting and the 3B Coach leads to an out at home. Louisville comes up with nothing.
The fourth looked like it could also be bad for Louisville (as we’ve become accustomed to throughout this game so far). IU started off with a single, then a sac bunt. Louisville then looked to be in a position to get a second out on a ground ball, but it hit Ty Young’s glove and there was the night’s first error. Thankfully, Cody Ege showed why he was brought in (as well as the massive strike zone tonight) and struck out back-to-back batters to end the inning. The bottom of the fourth was delayed for quite a while, however, as the home plate umpire ran off the field, apparently sick, and then the 2nd base ump had to change and assume the role of home plate umpire. Then we had to wait for an alternate umpire to come to the game…it was a very odd ordeal and was about a 10 minute delay.
The top of the fifth inning was superb for Cody Ege and the Cards, as they allowed IU to do nothing offensively, as well as striking out two batters. Cody Ege has been dealing all night. Then it looked like the Cards were finally gonna muster up some offense here in the bottom of the fifth after a leadoff hit by Zach Lucas. Sadly, terrible baserunning decisions cost UofL another chance at scoring tonight, as Wasserman struck out while Lucas was thrown out trying to steal second. this was followed by a Crain strikeout and pitiful baserunning for the Cards squandered an excellent opportunity to score some runs in the game. This obviously isn’t meant to take credit away from IU’s Joey DeNato, who has been dealing tonight and hasn’t allowed UofL to do anything offensively.
After Ege pitched another great inning in the sixth, Louisville started the bottom of the sixth looking like they would have a shot to close the gap after a Cole Sturgeon two-out single. Sadly enough, Ty Young hit a ball right into the glove of an IU defender and that was that. Another baserunner stranded. Another scoreless inning for IU’s DeNato.
In the top of the seventh, IU started to capitalize on the fatigue from Cody Ege. Ege had pitched great for the Cards tonight, but he pitched a career-high 4.1 innings tonight. The Cards brought in skilled pitcher Dace Kime to face a situation with the bases loaded and only one out. Thankfully, Ty Young was able to catch a hit that was rocketing along, then step on third, and throw a bullet to first for the inning-ending double play. Absolute redemption for the error earlier. It was just a great catch. Any miscalculation, and the game would more than likely be over. As was usual this game, UofL was able to get a walk, but could not capitalize on the gift baserunner or the tired DeNato, and the inning was over…Thankfully, that was DeNato’s last inning and we were all hoping the Cards would get some runs without him on the mound.
In the top of the eighth, Dace Kime picked up right where Cody Ege left off, striking out a batter and pitching a hitless inning. Going into the bottom of the eighth, Joey DeNato surprisingly took the mound again for the Hoosiers, and the Cards knew they had only 6 outs left in the game and that they need to capitalize on a tired pitcher. Crain led off the inning by grounding out on the second pitch. Whiting then followed that up by being DeNato’s 8th strikeout victim of the night. Then Adam Engel, with a full count, hit a ball dead on and rocketed it into left field for a double. Just a beautiful hit bu Engel, which was immediately done away with after a Sturgeon groundout. Three outs left.
To start the ninth, IU’s Nolden hit a leadoff double, which he’s been tearing up the Cardinals’ pitching staff all night. Dace Kime followed up after by striking out Schwarber, but then a passed ball caused Nolden to advance to third. IU had runners on the corner with only one out. Cole Sturgeon was then brought in to replace Kime, what with the pressing situation. Thankfully, Nolden was thrown out at third on the pitch out, which was the inning’s second out. One of the many baserunning mistakes that have been riddled throughout this game. Sturgeon then struck out Sujka. The Cards have three outs left. What are they going to do?
Joey DeNato, despite throwing 130 pitches already, stayed in the game for the beginning of the bottom of the ninth inning. He had to be tired. Instead, in a matter of six pitches, Louisville had gotten all three outs off of two fly-outs and a ground out. It was over. Louisville had been shut out only twice this season, and both times by the Hoosiers.
IU’s DeNato is obviously the player of the game. I mean, where would the Hoosiers be without DeNato’s spectacular performance? Many thought he was going to be too fatigued in the waning innings, but he proved the nay-sayers wrong (sadly). Instead, he made UofL look silly tonight and now the Cards are headed to an elimination game.
So now we wait for Monday night. The Cards will be playing Oregon State in an elimination game. As the name entails, a loss means a trip back to Louisville. A win means another day in Omaha. Which path will the Cardinals choose? All I can say is that I hope Jeff Thompson plays 1,000,000x better than Chad Green tonight. I know where I’ll be Monday at 3 pm. Time for redemption. Go Cards.
FINAL PITCHING STATS:
WP: IU’s Joey DeNato (10-2), complete game, 4 Hits, 3 BB, 8 K.
LP: UL’s Chad Green (10-4), 2 IP, 3 Hits, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K