After eight innings of chock full offensive ineptitude, Isaiah Howes blasted a two-run walk-off home run to give U of L a 3-1 win over No. 6 Villanova in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
In a classic pitcher's duel eerily reminiscent of 'Nova's 1-0 win over the Cards in March, both Wildcat starter Mike Loree and a trio of Louisville pitchers spearheaded by starter Zack Pitts carried no-hitters into the eighth inning. On March 24, Loree got the better of Pitts in a 1-0 Wildcat win.
For those not fans of doinating pitching, the action started in the bottom of the eighth when Jorge Castillo earned the first hit of the game with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice moved Castillo to second, Pete Rodriguez doubled to left to put U of L on top.
Cardinal closer Trystan Magnuson then came on in the ninth, hoping to preserve both the win and the no-hitter. But Magnuson stumbled, hitting the first batter he faced, and later allowing an RBI single Dan Terpak. It was the only hit Cardinal pitchers allowed in the game.
Logan Johnson singled to start the home half of the ninth, but it looked like Loree had once again averted disaster when the Cardinal third baseman was caught stealing. But Daniel Burton singled moments later, setting the stage for the former PRP star Howes' heroics.
Loree went the distance and wound up allowing three earned runs on five hits. He walked none and had a season-high eight strikeouts in the game. Along the way, Loree set the Villanova single-season innings pitched record. He has now pitched 99.0 innings this season and surpassed the record of 95.1 innings pitched set by Rafael Novoa in 1989. Loree had already broken the career innings pitched record at both Villanova and for the Big East.
Pitts, the newly named Big East Pitcher of the Year, tossed 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball while striking out five and surrendering a pair of walks. He left with runners at first and second in the seventh inning and reliever Gavin Logsdon came in to retire all four batters he faced. The winning pitcher was Magnuson, who escaped a jam in the top of the ninth after allowing the game-tying single to Terpak.
The third-seeded Cards will play again tomorrow evening at 5:30 against the winner of today's game between No. 2 Rutgers and No. 7 Notre Dame.