In a win-or-go-home game against Pittsburgh (29-26, 13-16 ACC), the 11 seed in the ACC Tournament, Louisville (38-17-1, 18-11-1 ACC) gave up three runs in the final three innings, falling to the underdogs in walk-off fashion. The Panthers improved to 3-1 against Louisville on the season.
Dan McDonnell and Roger Williams elected to start Garrett Schmeltz on the mound rather than their ace, Jared Poland (L, 5-4), who pitched .2 innings in relief. Schmeltz tossed the first three innings, giving up two runs, both from a home run in the third inning. Outside of that one pitch, he was locked in, striking out five batters.
The bullpen allowed four runs (three earned) in the final six innings, but base running mistakes and lack of timely hitting ultimately kept the Cards from advancing to the semifinals. Louisville finished the game 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
That is not to take away from a few stellar performances at the plate. Dalton Rushing is on an absolute tear right now, belting two more home runs. He now has nine home runs in the last eleven games.
Here is the first home run:
And the second. This ball was obliterated.
Levi Usher also chipped in with a home run of his own, while freshman Noah Smith recorded his second multi-hit game of his career, including his first extra base hit.
The Cards were leading 5-3 heading into the bottom of the 7th inning, but Kuehner, Poland, and Prosecky were not able to close the door, surrendering one run in each of the final three innings in the 6-5 loss.
It may have been a safer option to pitch Jared Poland today, but he can not pitch in every single win-or-go-home situation in the postseason. It was not the desired outcome, but allowing Schmeltz to log meaningful innings on a big stage could help in the coming weeks.
Not to mention, when the game was turned over to the three most reliable arms on the staff, Louisville had the lead. So who is to say the outcome would have been different if Coach McDonnell did not start Schmeltz?
As I mentioned the other day, Louisville is 5-9 in conference tournaments in the five seasons they made it to Omaha. Louisville has two (2008 and 2009) conference championships in the history of the program.
The Cards will still be hosting, the sky is not falling.
Chess, not checkers.
Louisville will take on Georgia Tech tomorrow at 11 AM in a game that does not have any ACC Tournament implications as both of the teams have been eliminated after losing to Pittsburgh. Georgia Tech is fighting for an at-large berth and Louisville is still very much in the mix for a top 8 national seed.