LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The second-seeded University of Oklahoma baseball team fell, 11-1, to top-seed Louisville in its winners'-bracket showdown with the host school at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday night. The Sooners (35-23) will face three-seed Xavier in an elimination game Sunday at noon CT.
Oklahoma hung tight with the Cardinals through seven innings, but just as OU did against Xavier on Friday, Louisville used a seven-run inning to break the game open and steal the win.
Both starting pitchers were rock solid through six innings on the night, and while Oklahoma sophomore right-hander Jake Irvin (Bloomington, Minn.) outlasted Louisville's junior lefty Brendan McKay on the night, the UL bullpen proved to be the difference.
McKay threw 6.1 innings of one-run, two-hit baseball, striking out seven and issuing two free passes to earn the no decision. Irvin (6-3) went seven innings, giving up three runs on three hits and striking out four in the loss. Lefty Jake Sparger (5-1) got the win for Louisville, throwing 0.2 innings of relief for McKay.
Louisville broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the eighth after a leadoff-walk and a perfectly executed hit-and-run put runners on the corners with nobody out for the Cardinals to chase Irvin. The Sooners dodged the first Louisville bullet when freshman shortstop Brandon Zaragoza (Moore, Okla.) fielded a grounder from Josh Stowers and threw out his counterpart Devin Hairston at the plate. Louisville followed that up with a walk to load the bases for centerfielder Logan Taylor, who drove in two runs with a one-out single to left center. Catcher Colby Fitch backed up that effort with a bases-clearing triple that gave Louisville a 5-1 lead.
The Sooners' bullpen then issued three straight walks and a hit batsman to plate a sixth run and right fielder Colin Lyman rounded out the damage in the eighth with a two-run single to right.
It took five innings to break the ice, but Oklahoma posted the first run of the game with a one-out double from junior second baseman Kyle Mendenhall (Carlsbad, Calif.) in the bottom of the fifth. Mendenhall's shot off the left centerfield wall pushed across sophomore right fielder Domenic DeRenzo (Pittsburgh, Pa.), who had reached on a walk and was breaking for second on the pitch. The Sooners threatened for more with a single from Zaragoza and a sacrifice-bunt from sophomore left fielder Cade Harris, but settled for just one run.
The Cardinals answered the Sooners with a single run of their own in the top half of the sixth. Stowers led off the inning with a double to left center to set the table. Louisville then used a pair of sacrifices to move the run across. A bunt from third baseman Tyler Fitzgerald gave Stowers third and then a fly to right from center fielder Logan Taylor gave him the last 90 feet.
Louisville added three more runs in the ninth on two walks, a two-RBI double down the right field line from McKay and an RBI-single from first baseman Drew Ellis.
Oklahoma turns to sophomore right-hander Kyle Tyler (Oklahoma City) on Sunday against Xavier lefty Trent Astle.