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College : : Story
CWS: Oregon State eliminates L'Ville
Published: Monday, June 17, 2013


College World Series: Game 5

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OMAHA, Neb. -- Louisville exited the College World Series sooner than it had expected.

The Cardinals headed to Omaha with a full head of steam and much momentum. Last weekend, the Cardinals couldn't have been more impressive on the road in Nashville, Tenn., where they did a clean sweep of Vanderbilt to notch the program's second CWS appearance.

In its CWS opener against Indiana, the Cardinals had trouble getting anything going offensively against Indiana left-handed pitcher Joey DeNato, while Chad Green and the pitching staff did their job in impressive fashion.

In uncharacteristic fashion against Oregon State in an elimination game, everything came crashing down for coach Dan McDonnell's club in a disappointing 11-4 setback.

"From our standpoint, I'm sure our guys are very disappointed. They didn't play well and we didn't play clean baseball in the third and fourth innings," McDonnell said. "Unfortunately, that happens when you're playing a very good opponent. It's very tough at this moment, but I don't want this game to define them or their season.”

Even with tough left-handed pitcher Ben Wetzler on the mound for Oregon State, UL felt good about its chances in this contest with imposing right-handed pitcher Jeff Thompson on the mound. Thompson, who usually sits anywhere from 91-93, but was more upper-80s against the Beavers, couldn’t have been more impressive last weekend against Vanderbilt. He struck out nine, walked two and allowed just a run on three hits in seven innings of work.

Thompson had two crisp innings against the Beavers, recording three strikeouts in the first two frames. But as the defense went away in the third and fourth innings, so did Thompson’s crispness an ability to tame Oregon State’s offense.

Louisville’s defense, which entered the CWS with a .971 fielding percentage in the postseason, committed two errors in the third inning, helping lead to two Oregon State runs, via an RBI double by shortstop Tyler Smith, and another run across via an ugly error by second baseman Zach Lucas, who was playing in place of Nick Ratajczak, who didn’t play in either game in Omaha because of an injury.

The fourth inning was the ugliest part of the game for McDonnell’s Cardinals, and essentially put the contest out of reach heading into the middle frames. The Beavers scored seven runs in the frame, aided by another error, and capped off by a two-RBI single from nine-hole hitter Max Gordon to make it 10-0 in OSU’s favor.

Thompson struck out four batters, walked one and allowed seven runs -- three earned -- on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings of work, throwing 77 pitches, 51 for strikes.

“You can’t have great pitching without great defense,” McDonnell said. “Overall, I really would’ve like to see us play better defense behind Thompson. I really think he would’ve given us a chance [to win].”

While Thompson and the Cardinals struggled for the second-straight game in Omaha, Oregon State came out early and made a statement, allowing very reliable left-handed pitcher Ben Wetzler to settle into a groove.

Wetzler had been terrific in his previous two NCAA postseason starts. Against Texas A&M in the Corvallis Regional title game, Wetzler, who can get up to 90-93 with his fastball, allowed just a run in a complete game performance. Then, last weekend, Wetzler willed his way to a good start against Kansas State, allowing three runs on nine hits in 7 2/3 innings of work.

Very much like that performance against K-State, Wetzler wasn’t overpowering against the Cardinals. However, he buckled down when he needed to, striking out six, walking two batters and allowing three runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings of work.

“You want a tough guy, a competitive guy, out there when you’re up against the wall [facing elimination],” Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. “I thought that long inning affected him a little bit. Sometimes you get a lead and lose a bit of focus. But we were fortunate not to let him get deep in his pitch count, and I think that’s something that’s going to benefit him down the road.”

Though Wetzler led the Beavers on the mound, the offensive lineup did their part in this contest, too, with leadoff hitter Tyler Smith having a huge game with two hits and an RBI, two-hole hitter Andy Petersen recording three hits, Max Gordon having his big game, and of course, outfielder Michael Conforto putting together yet another impressive performance, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

With the win, the Beavers actually are set up well in the CWS moving forward. Ace left-handed pitcher Matt Boyd will start Wednesday’s game, while freshman right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore could come back later in the week, along with Wetzler, after the lefty threw 102 pitches against the Cardinals.

As for Louisville, its season comes to an end with a 51-14 overall record. However, despite not making a huge imprint in Omaha, this certainly can be described as a successful season for the Cardinals.

Louisville entered the season expected to compete for a CWS appearance, and potentially a national title.

The Cards might’ve come up short in their quest for the program’s first baseball national title, but they shouldn’t head home too disappointed.

After all, UL accomplished exactly what it was supposed to.


CWS Snapshot: Louisville vs. Oregon State

Player of the game:
OF Max Gordon, Oregon State -- Sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto put together another solid performance for the Beavers, but it was Gordon who led the charge against the Cardinals, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Conforto also deserves to be mentioned after recording two hits, one of them a double, and knocking in yet another run here in Omaha.

Turning point: Oregon State carried just a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning, but that’s when it blew things wide open against the Cardinals. Dylan Davis began the scoring with a two-RBI single, two more runs scored on an error by shortstop Sutton Whitting, the Cards walked in a run, then Gordon capped off the big OSU inning with a two-RBI single through the left side to make it 10-0. The Beavers never looked back on the way to the dominant victory.

What they said: “I told this group how proud I was of them in the outfield. It’s hard watching these guys. Their hearts are broken. And they do love each other. And it’s hard for me to look at a player and see him cry. I get emotional. But I told them how proud I was of them. I don’t want this game today to define their season. I know it hurts. But I challenge them to celebrate, because the one thing this team did was they were expected to come here, and they got here. I am pretty proud of this team because the bar was set so high going into the season.” -- Louisville coach Dan McDonnell.

What’s next: Louisville put together some impressive performances last weekend against Vanderbilt, but wasn’t so great in the College World Series. Though right-handed pitcher Chad Green was solid in the opening game against Indiana, hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Jeff Thompson struggled immensely, and didn’t get much help from his defense, in the setback to the Beavers. Despite the struggles in Omaha, it was a very successful season for the Cardinals, who finished the 2013 campaign with a 51-14 overall mark, an astonishing 20-4 mark in the Big East. The good news for UL, despite likely losing starting pitchers Green and Thompson, among others, Nick Burdi, Anthony Kidston and others give Dan McDonnell a solid foundation for the future.


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