CHARLESTON, SC. — It’s hard to believe with snow on the ground and ice covering the trees that it’s already time for college baseball, but for the Louisville Cardinals, a walk-off Valentine’s Day victory was a sweet start to their 2014 campaign.
Friday, February 14th, the defending College World Series participants rallied from a 5-1 deficit to defeat the West Virginia Mountaineers in 10 innings, 7-6.
The Mountaineers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning when Taylor Munden was driven in by a single from teammate Jacob Rice.
Louisville went quietly in the bottom of the first inning, a trend that would emerge throughout the rest of the game; The Cards sent three batters up and sat three down in four innings. They managed to light the scoreboard in the second inning when first baseman Danny Rosenbaum slugged a solo shot over the left field wall. A sophomore, Rosenbaum batted .258 and added one homer last season playing in 39 games.
Runs scored in the second, third and fourth innings extended the West Virginia lead to 5-1, but the Cardinals’ comeback was sparked in the bottom of the fifth inning when senior catcher Kyle Gibson drove in second baseman Zach Lucas to pull the lead within three runs.
As the Cards stepped to the plate in the sixth inning, a Cole Sturgeon single was capitalized when designated hitter Grant Kay blasted a screamer to left center field, narrowing the lead to 5-4.
West Virginia added another run in the seventh, but both teams would struggle to find offensive fortitude until U of L knocked two runs in during the bottom of the eighth inning.
After a Sutton Whiting strikeout, Sturgeon singled to left field and stole second before rounding third and scoring as Jeff Gardner doubled deep down the right field line. Rosenbaum added an RBI after he rocked a double down the same right field line, scoring Gardner and tying the game at six.
Into extras the game went as neither team could touch home plate during the ninth inning. Coach Dan McDonnell sent 2013 First Team All-Big East pitcher Nick Burdi to the mound to handle the heart of the Mountaineers’ lineup. Able to fend off a walk and fielding error by Whiting, Burdi was successful in holding the ‘Eers to scoreless inning.
In the bottom of the 10th, Gardner provided the kill shot that sealed the game when he detonated a walk-off bomb that sailed over the right field wall and highlighted the 7-6 win.
Off to a 1-0 start to the year, the Cardinals resume play on February 15th when they take on The Citadel at 2:30 pm.
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
Strong showing against #1 Miss St, brings the Cats some respect. What is notable from this defeat is the attention Patrick Towles will recieve after out dueling a Hesiman hopeful.
Dave Redden Photography