The Louisville baseball team will try to prolong the most successful season in school history when it takes on the North Carolina Tarheels this afternoon at 2 p.m.
For the first time in three CWS games, the Cardinals will take the field at Rosenblatt Stadium as the home team.
The Cards are 5-0 in NCAA Tournament elimination games, but have yet to face a challenge as great as the one the No. 2 Tar Heels present. The ACC champions own a sparkling 54-13 record and were the runners-up at this event a year ago.
In Omaha, both teams have defeated Mississippi State and fallen to Rice with the Cards eliminating the Bulldogs 12-4 and falling to the Owls 15-10 in the opener. UNC knocked off MSU 8-5 in their CWS opener and was pounded by Rice 14-4 on Sunday.
Here's the rest of the need-to-know info to be an active spectator Tuesday afternoon:
As expected, Dan McDonnell will hand the ball to usual #3 starter Coly Wark (3-3, 3.63 ERA). Wark is the pitching equivalent of Chris Dominguez in that he's either going to look awfully good or awfully bad, there's very rarely any in between.
"He's had a couple of starts where in the game you would think, 'Oh my God, this guy is awful,' " catcher Derrick Alfonso told The Courier-Journal. "But then he's had some others that have been just great. The past two or three starts he's just been really good."
McDonnell said on Monday that everyone on the Cardinal staff with the exception of Justin Marks would be available to go on Tuesday, so Wark's job is simply to try and give around five quality innings. The junior right-hander's longest career outing came earlier this season when he allowed three runs on six hits in 6.1 innings of work against St. John's.
In his last outing, Wark allowed five hits and two runs - both on solo home runs - over 3.1 innings in the Cards' 20-2 Super Regional clinching win over Oklahoma State.
On the season Wark has appeared in 24 games, including nine starts, and has struck out 71 batters in 62 innings. Though he has allowed a team-high 43 walks and seven home runs (tied with Justin Marks), but opponents are hitting just .219 off of Wark.
Luke Putkonen (7-1, 4.74 ERA) will be on the bump for North Carolina, which has yet to have a starting pitcher make it out of the second inning in Omaha.
Though one of the best in the country during the regular season, Putkonen has been a major contributor to a Carolina staff that has an 11.22 ERA over its last seven games. In his last two outings, the sophomore gave up four runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings against South Carolina, and five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings against Western Carolina.
Still, it isn't like Putkonen is without talent. Against Wake Forest in the ACC championship game, he allowed just three hits and one earned run over 6.2 innings, and a week later he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft.
The other good news for Heels fans is that senior ace Robert Woodard, who worked a season-low 1.2 innings against Mississippi State last Friday, is available.
"We considered starting Woodard, and Coach [Scott] Forbes and I will have to talk about it," UNC coach Mike Fox said. "But when you've had three starting pitchers all year long that have won 54 games for you, I would have to really think hard about telling a young man, `I'm not going to let you go out on the biggest stage after you've helped get us here.'"
Putkonen has made 15 starts this season, striking out 52 and walking 21 over 74 innings. He has surrendered seven home runs and opponents are hitting .282 off of him.
- Boomer Whiting (CF), .373
- Logan Johnson (2B), .364
- Daniel Burton (1B), .312
- Isaiah Howes (LF), .396
- Jorge Castillo (DH), .317
- Chris Dominguez (3B), .266
- Pete Rodriguez (RF), .289
- Derrick Alfonso (C), .276
- Chris Cates (SS), .298
- Reid Fronk (LF), .327
- Tim Fedroff (RF), .346
- Dustin Ackley (1B), .406
- Tim Federowicz (C), .353
- Josh Horton (SS), .336
- Chad Flack (3B), .259
- Kyle Seager (DH), .315
- Seth Williams (CF), .393
- Garrett Gore (2B), .333