OMAHA, Neb. - University of North Carolina starter Luke Putkonen quieted the rowdy Louisville bats, giving up just three hits and striking out seven to pick up his eighth win and end the University of Louisville Cardinals' NCAA College World Series run with a 3-1 win.
"You realize anything can happen when you lose the first game 15-10," said Dan McDonnell, U of L coach. "It was a tough day on the hitters. We had a couple of balls hit hard but they just weren't going out for us. I credit UNC for getting it done today."
The Cardinals pitched effectively but starter Colby Wark was tagged with the loss despite a strong outing that saw him give up just two hits and one earned run. Gavin Logsdon came in and pitched three and one third innings of strong relief, giving up just one hit and using just 27 pitches to 11 batters he faced. Trystan Magnuson closed the final two innings but the Louisville offense, so stalwart to date, faltered in the face of the teeth of the Tarheel bullpen. U of L ended its best season in program history with a final record of 47-24. The No. 3 seeded Tarheels advance and now post a 55-14 mark.
"First of all, congratulations to North Carolina," said U of L coach Dan McDonnell. "They are a very good team. You don't really prepare for a season-ending speech when things are going so well for you. What a great season for the University of Louisville. This team will go down in history as one of the greatest baseball teams in Louisville history. What a special season we have had. I told them that the season is going to end and you want it to end in Omaha."
Ironically, the Cardinals struck first when Logan Johnson took a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence to put U of L on the board for his fourth dinger of the post-season and 17th of the season.
"Just because the wind was blowing in doesn't mean it's not going to be a big day on offense," said Johnson. "The North Carolina pitchers got it done today. We had a lot of line drives but we just couldn't get anything to fall our way."
The Tarheels answered in the top of the second when Tim Fedroff drew a walk with one out. Chad Flack grounded out before Kyle Seager and Seth Williams both singled. Garrett Gore hit one sharply down the third base line and U of L third baseman Chris Dominguez fielded the ball crisply but threw it past first baseman Daniel Burton allowing two unearned runs to score and give the Tarheels a 3-1 lead. U of L's Boomer Whiting snagged a well-hit ball to center on a diving catch to get out of the inning.
Starter Colby Wark hit a pair of batters and walked another in the top of the fourth. Gavin Logsdon came in with the bases loaded got Dustin Ackley to ground on to end the inning and strand three Tarheels.
Trystan Magnuson came in at the top of the eighth and after giving up a double to Josh Horton, doubled up the Tarheels by catching a laser by catcher Tim Federowicz and turning and gunning down Horton and then struck out Tim Fedroff.
Putkonen went seven innings giving up just three hits and threw 94 pitches, shutting out the Cardinals for six consecutive innings. . UNC went with Rob Wooten to pitch in the bottom of the eighth to face Cates, who flew out to right. Whiting struck out before Johnson reached when he was hit by a pitch and Daniel Burton walked to put two on and the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the person of senior Isaiah Howes. The Tarheels went to ace closer Andrew Carignan who struck out Howes for his fourth strikeout of the game and ended the Cardinal threat.
Magnuson came out and sat the Tarheels down in order to set up the Cardinals in the bottom of the nine. Jorge Castillo flew out to center before Dominguez and Rodriguez struck out to end the Cinderella season for the Cardinals.
"We thought we were very talented," said McDonnell. "They worked so hard all year long. They did everything we asked them to. This is a group of achievers. It wouldn't shock me if a few of them continue to play ball for a long time."