Story and photo from www.gocards.com
OMAHA, Neb. – Despite home runs from Brendan McKay and Logan Taylor, the No. 7 national seed Louisville baseball team was unable to overcome an early four-run deficit suffering a season-ending 4-3 loss to No. 6 TCU in a College World Series elimination game on Thursday night at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
With the loss, the Cardinals closed their record-setting season with a 53-12 mark overall after making the program’s fourth CWS appearance, including the third in the last five seasons. Louisville set school record for victories in a season surpassing the previous record of 51 achieved in 2013 while also winning its opening game in Omaha for the first time in its four CWS berths. The 2017 season also included the program’s third straight ACC Atlantic Division championship and its first ever National Player of the Year.
Both McKay and Taylor connected for solo home runs, while Josh Stowers was 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI as the Cardinals dropped their second straight CWS game when out-hitting an opponent after finishing with an 8-7 edge against the Horned Frogs (49-17). Devin Mann added two hits and scored once in the loss.
TCU gained command early Thursday plating four runs on four hits, all with two outs, in the second inning. Elliott Barzilli started the rally with a single through the right side off freshman lefty Nick Bennett and after stealing both second and third, scored on a RBI double to left center from Connor Wanhanen. After being hit by a pitch, Josh Watson joined Wanhanen with stolen bases before Ryan Merrill drove both runners home with a RBI single to right. Following a pitching change, Austen Wade connected for a RBI single to drive Merrill home for the 4-0 lead.
The Cardinals started chipping away at the deficit with a run in the third inning on a RBI single from Stowers. Mann led off with a single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor before scoring on the single to left by Stowers.
Louisville cut the margin to 4-2 in the fourth when McKay launched the first offering from TCU lefty starter Nick Lodolo into the right field seats for his 18th home run of the season. An inning later, Taylor led off the fifth inning by connecting for his second career home run and the first this season to narrow the gap to 4-3. The four-bagger for Taylor was his first since hitting a two-run shot against Cal State Fullerton in game two of the 2015 NCAA Super Regional on June 7, 2015.
After Louisville had garnered the momentum with a run in three straight innings, the Horned Frogs regained control with a call to the bullpen for Sean Wymer, who finished with five strikeouts and surrendered only two hits in 4.1 shutout innings of relief for the win. Wymer, who closed the game for TCU, moved to 6-4 on the season with the performance.
The Cardinals also received strong relief performances on Thursday starting with sophomore lefthander Adam Wolf, who had two strikeouts and just two hits in 3.1 innings of shutout work from the pen. Sophomore righty Sam Bordner added two perfect innings of relief with three strikeouts and junior righthander Lincoln Henzman added a scoreless inning of work. Bennett suffered his first collegiate loss and dropped to 5-1 overall after allowing four runs on three hits with two strikeouts in 1.2 innings.
With Thursday’s win, TCU advances to face No. 3 Florida on Friday at 7 p.m., CT. The Horned Frogs will need two wins over the Gators to advance to the CWS Finals, while UF will need just one win to move ahead to the final round in Omaha.
• Louisville’s four-year seniors — Michael Bollmer, Colin Lyman, Jake Sparger, Ryan Summers and Logan Taylor – closed their careers with 200 wins (most for any four-year class in school history), two College World Series appearances, four NCAA Super Regionals and four regular season conference championships.
• The Cardinals have reached the 50-win plateau in four of the last five seasons, highlighted by the school record 53 wins in 2017.
• Louisville was chosen as a national seed for the third straight season and the fourth time in school history in 2017. The Cardinals also won their third straight ACC Atlantic Division championship.
• In the classroom, the Louisville baseball team registered a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better for the 12th consecutive semester. The notable stretch of academic success has covered six years overall and has coincided with six straight NCAA Championship bids, five NCAA Super Regional appearances and three College World Series berths/
• Brendan McKay, the highest MLB Draft selection in school history at No. 4 to the Tampa Bay Rays, concludes his Louisville career with a .328 batting average, 28 home runs and 132 RBI in 182 starts and 189 total appearances as a hitter. The 2017 season closed with a .341 average, 18 home runs, 57 RBI, 15 doubles and .457 on-base percentage. On the mound, the 2017 National Player of the Year is the school record holder in career (391) and single season (146) strikeouts while also ranking No. 2 in career wins (32) and career innings pitched (315.1) and No. 3 in career starts (47). The lefty capped his junior season with an 11-3 record and 2.56 ERA to go with the record-setting strikeout total.
• A First Team All-American, infielder Drew Ellis closed his third collegiate season as Louisville’s team leader in batting average (.355), home runs (20), doubles (18), and slugging percentage (.701).
• The 2017 NCBWA Stopper of the Year, junior Lincoln Henzman is ranked third in single season saves (16) and career saves (19) while also ranking 10th in career pitching appearances with 75. Henzman closed 2017 with a 3-0 record and 1.67 ERA to go with his 16 saves.
• ABCA Gold Glove honoree and two-time All-American shortstop Devin Hairston finished the 2017 season with just three errors and a .987 fielding percentage while starting all 65 games. He also hit .309 with three home runs, 52 RBI and 16 doubles.
• Sophomore Josh Stowers paced the offense in the NCAA Championship as the outfielder led the Cardinals with a .407 batting average, five doubles, nine RBI and a .778 slugging percentage in eight postseason games. Overall, Stowers closed the season with hitting .313 with six home runs, 34 RBI, 15 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 59 starts and 65 total appearances.
• Senior Logan Taylor departs Louisville ranked No. 4 in career games played with 238 and eighth in career stolen bases with 51. Taylor also made 139 total starts for the Cardinals.
• Sophomore Sam Bordner closed the season with a 0.41 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 43.2 innings. The righthander did not allow a run in 22 of his 23 appearances this season, all out of the bullpen. In his four relief appearances in the NCAA Championship, Bordner did not surrender a hit or run and finished with 13 strikeouts with just two walks in 10.2 innings.
• During his 11 seasons at Louisville, head coach Dan McDonnell has guided the Cardinals to four College World Series berths, seven NCAA Super Regional appearances, 10 NCAA Regional bids, seven regular season conference championships and 34 All-Americans. McDonnell is Louisville’s career wins leader and has accumulated a 509-203 record overall for a .714 winning percentage.