You would expect a cat to trounce a bird in any matchup but this was for the Big East regular season championship. The 10th ranked Louisville Cardinals hosted the 16th ranked Pitt Panthers in a 3 game regular season ending series and both teams laid it all on the line. Louisville needed to win two out of the three to force a tie for first place, it started Thursday night with 5-2 Cardinal victory. Louisville followed that win with a 12-4 thumping Friday night.
With the stage set for the all important 3rd game in front of a packed Jim Patterson stadium and an ESPN2 audience, neither team was willing to accept defeat. Louisville struck first with 5 runs in the 3rd inning but the Panthers clawed their way back to a 5-3 deficit. Louisville entered the game with a 36-5 record when scoring first. Clinging to a 7-4 lead going into the top of the 9th, the Cards called on their flamethrower, sophomore Nick Burdi. With a fastball topping out in triple digits, Pitt had their hands full. Burdi struck out the first batter but Pitt still had plenty of fight left and managed to get a couple runners on the bases. Burdi wound up striking out the side and leaving the tying run at home plate.
Burdi picked up his third save in five days, his BE leading 14th of the season. In those three games he has 7 strikeouts in 3.2 innings pitched. Pittsburgh’s starter Rhys Aldenhoven (5R 4ER 5H 2BB 5INN) picked up his first loss of the season, falling to 8-1.
The series sweep was the Cards 10th of the season and the win is their 16th straight which is the longest active win streak in the nation and Louisville’s 2nd longest in school history (20 games). During the streak the Cards have a 2.00 ERA, 170 K, 50 BB in 144 INN and have committed just 8 errors. They matched the schools record for regular season victories with 46 (2010). This is the Cards 4th regular season championship in five years. They also ended two of those championships season with sweeps, 2009 against USF and 2010 against Notre Dame.
The BE final standings has Louisville (20-4 46-10) at #1. Pittsburgh (18-6 40-15) finished tied for 2nd with Seton Hall (18-6 36-17). Notre Dame (10-14 31-23) finished tied for 6th with St. Johns (10-14 23-33). In the double elimination BE tournament, the Louisville will face UConn at 5pm Wednesday while Pitt will play the early game at 10am against St. Johns.
Louisville is projected to host Miami, Fla, Illinois and Tennessee Tech in one of the 16 regionals. After the sweep Pitts chance of playing host to a regional seems to have slept away. Pitt is projected to be in a region hosted by Virginia along with Campbell and Holy Cross.
Louisville softball team (44-11) received a #15 seed in the post season and hosting UCLA, UAB and IPFW which started last Friday night. They defeated IPFW on opening day but was eliminated Saturday with losses to UAB and UCLA.
Earlier this week Rutgers hired Louisville’s Senior Associate Athletic Director Julie Hermann as their new AD. She became just the third female AD at a BCS school. Good luck Julie and thank you for your 15 years of hard work at U of L.