It'd be hard for even the most casual of bluegrass college baseball fans who attended either of this year's Louisville/Kentucky games to call the sport anything less than thrilling.
Big East preseason Player of the Year Chris Dominguez singled up the middle with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cards a 6-5 win and snap UK's 22 game non-conference winning streak in front of 3,652 fans, the largest crowd ever to see a regular-season game at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Photo Credit: C-J
The win was sweet revenge for a Cardinal team that lost to its archrival on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning in Lexington two weeks ago.
"If you're a baseball fan, you might not see two better baseball games all year," said U of L coach Dan McDonnell. "We've struggled some with injuries, but we've been playing better ball since that game two weeks ago."
Louisville (24-15, 8-7) is 8-2 since the heartbreaking loss to Kentucky on April 8.
The Wildcats appeared headed for a season sweep early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead thanks to a a pair of home runs from designated hitter Bryan Rose. UK starter James Paxton allowed just one hit over the first three innings, but head coach John Cohen has him penciled in for another start this weekend, and so Clint Tilford entered the game in the fourth.
Tilford got through the fourth without issue, but walked the first two hitters he faced in the fifth, forcing Cohen to bring in Aaron Lovett. Freshman center fielder Drew Haynes welcomed him into the game by doubling off the left field fence to bring home one run, and then shortstop John Dao (unofficially my favorite player on the team) singled up the middle to drive in two more and tie the game at three. A sacrifice fly from Dominguez later in the inning put the Cards ahead for the first time.
Tyler Howe's bloop single drove in Chris Wade and knotted the score again in the sixth, and then a two-out double off the wall by Rose an inning later put the Cats back on top.
Then the Dominguez show began.
Andrew Albers tried to sneak a change-up past the enormous third baseman, and the ball might not have landed yet.
"He's a superstar," McDonnell said. "What I've always said, he's the All-American. He leads by example on and off the field. It couldn't happen to a guy more deserving of it."
Louisville begins a key weekend home set with Cincinnati on Friday at 6 p.m. The Bearcats are 11-4 in the league, and currently tied with St. John's for second place. Reigning Big East Pitcher of the Year Zack Pitts is your probable game one starter.
And now I leave you with this:
Photo Credit: C-J
See, it's funny because the Kentucky player's head is near the Louisville player's crotch.
You got it? All right, just making sure.