After opening the day with an elimination game win over Missouri, the 25th-ranked Louisville baseball team had its season ended on Sunday night at Hi Corbett Field with a 16-3 loss to No. 8 Arizona in the championship round of the 2012 Tucson Regional.
The Cardinals finish the season with a 41-22 record overall and match the fourth highest win total in head coach Dan McDonnell’s six seasons at the helm. Louisville made its fifth NCAA Regional under McDonnell and its sixth overall while advancing to the championship round of an NCAA Regional for the fourth time in six years. U of L also won its third BIG EAST regular season championship in four years and had a school record 10 players earn All-BIG EAST honors.
With the win, Arizona improved to 41-17 overall and advances to a Super Regional matchup next weekend against St. John’s with the site to be announced on Monday.
For the third time in as many games in the regional, the Wildcats’ offense was the story as they scored 15 or more in each of their contests in the Tucson Regional. Entering the weekend, Louisville had allowed 10 or more runs only once all season while Arizona reached the 16-run plateau in back-to-back games.
Outfielder Johnny Field led the way for the Wildcats finishing 4-for-6 with a grand slam, a double, seven RBI and four runs scored en route to being named Most Valuable Player of the Tucson Regional. Outfielder Joey Rickard was 2-for-4 with a triple, three RBI and three runs, while catcher Riley Moore was 4-for-4 with four runs and an RBI.
On the mound, righty James Farris allowed three runs, including two earned, while scattering 12 hits with seven strikeouts and one walk to earn the complete game win and improve to 7-3 overall.
For Louisville, sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) was 3-for-5 with two RBI, while junior outfielder Matt Helms (Eufaula, Okla./Seminole State CC) was 3-for-4 with a run scored. Junior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) was 2-for-3 with a double, while junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) added two hits and a run scored. Ratajczak and sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS), who did not start in Sunday night’s game, were named to the All-Tournament Team following the game by reporters.
Sophomore righty Jeff Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS) suffered the loss for the Cardinals and dropped to 9-4 on the season after allowing five runs, including three earned, on four hits with four strikeouts and four walks in 5.0 innings. Defensively, the Cardinals had their worst performance of the year committing a season-high six errors leading directly to six unearned runs.
After a pair of scoreless innings started the game, the Wildcats struck in the third as Field drilled a grand slam over the left field wall for his third home run of the season and a 4-0 advantage. The scoring chance started with a leadoff single to center by Moore, who moved to second as Thompson allowed second baseman Trent Gilbert to reach base with a throw wide of the bag at first on a sacrifice bunt. Rickard followed with a walk to load the bases before Field’s shot to left.
Following a scoreless fourth inning, the Wildcats added an unearned run in the fifth on a two-out RBI single to center by third baseman Seth Mejia-Brown to score Field for the 5-0 lead. The inning started with Field reaching base and advancing to second on a throwing error by Thompson while fielding a bunt. Field moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Alex Mejia before scoring on the two-out hit.
Arizona continued its impressive work at the plate in the sixth with its second four-run inning of the night for a 9-0 advantage. The scoring started with a two-run triple to left center by Rickard off Cards’ senior righty reliever Travis Tingle (Louisville, Ky./Cleveland State CC) to plate Moore and first baseman Joseph Maggi. Field followed with a RBI double to score Rickard for the third run. After Tingle was replaced on the mound by Cards’ sophomore leftfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), Field moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a throwing error by sophomore Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) at third.
The Cardinals plated their first run of the night in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ratajczak scored from third as senior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) reached base on a fielding error by Gilbert at second. Ijames was credited with an RBI on the one-out groundball. Ratajczak started the scoring chance with a one-out single to left and moved to third on a single to right by Young before scoring.
The Wildcats used their third four-run frame of the night to push the advantage to 13-1 in the seventh and added three additional runs in the eighth for a 16-1 margin before the Cardinals plated a pair of runs in the ninth on a two-run single by Sturgeon for the final score.
2012 NCAA Regional Baseball Championships
Tucson, Ariz.; Hi Corbett Field
Pitcher: Kurt Heyer, Arizona
Pitcher: Konner Wade, Arizona
Outfielder: Johnny Field, Arizona
Outfielder: Joey Rickard, Arizona
Outfielder: Scott Sommerfeld, Missouri
Catcher: Kyle Gibson, Louisville
First Base: Andreas Plackis, Missouri
Second Base: Nick Ratajczak, Louisville
Short Stop: Alex Mejia, Arizona
Third Base: Seth Mejias-Brean, Arizona
Designated Hitter: Bobby Brown, Arizona
Most Valuable Player: Johnny Field, Arizona
Louisville Postgame Notes
- Seniors Stewart Ijames, Derek Self and Travis Tingle played their final games as Cardinals on Sunday night.
- Fourth-year junior righty Justin Amlung made what is expected to be his final start as a Cardinal and earned the win in Friday’s opening round victory over New Mexico State.
- With its 2-2 performance at the Tucson Regional, Louisville is 11-10 all-time in six NCAA Regional appearances and 14-15 all-time in NCAA post-season games.
- The Cardinals finish the 2012 season with an 87-14 scoring advantage over their opponents in the first inning.
- Stewart Ijames completes his career as a Cardinal ranked second in RBI with 212, second in at-bats with 828, third in games played with 239, fifth in hits with 256, sixth in home runs with 45 and seventh in doubles with 52.
- Junior Justin Amlung ends the 2012 season ranked second on the Cardinals’ career win list with 24, second in career ERA at 2.77, third in strikeouts at 240, fourth in starts with 41 and sixth in innings pitched at 279.1.
- Derek Self closes his career as a Cardinal ranked fourth in pitching appearances at 96, fifth in wins at 19, seventh in ERA at 3.43 and tied for 10th in saves at nine.
- Junior Ty Young closed the 2012 season as the Cardinals’ leading hitter with a .344 average, while Ijames led the Cardinals with 12 home runs and 65 RBI.
- In his first season as a Cardinal, junior Nick Ratajczak was hit by 28 pitches, the second highest single season total in school history.
- Sophomore Adam Engel finished 2012 37-for-39 on stolen bases, the second highest single season total in school history.