In just his second career start in a Louisville uniform, Garrett Schmeltz (W, 2-0) was dominant against the Redhawks, helping the Cards advance to the championship game of the winners bracket.
SEMO took an early 2-0 lead after the second inning, but Schmeltz was able to limit the damage the rest of the way before turning things over to Tate Kuehner.
The PRP native finished with a career high, eight strikeouts, in six innings of work, allowing two runs (one earned), picking up his second victory of the season.
Kuehner tossed the final three frames, giving up just one hit and striking out four more batters. It cannot be stressed enough how important the win was today, especially using just two pitchers, allowing the rest of the bullpen another day to rest.
Offensively, it was the Jack Payton show. The sophomore DH boosted his average to .361 after a four hit, four RBI day in his first appearance in NCAA Tournament action.
Christian Knapczyk, who made his first start in nearly a month, Ben Metzinger, Cameron Masterman, and Isaac Humphry each chipped in with two hits apiece.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the second, Masterman got the scoring started with a 3-2 laser over the right field wall to bring the Cards within one.
The most impressive sequence of the entire game was in the bottom of the fourth when Levi Usher singled, scoring Payton to tie the game. Usher then proceeded to steal second, advance to third on a balk, then scored on another balk just a few pitches later.
He can wreck havoc on the base paths and get opposing pitchers as frustrated as I’ve ever seen a base runner. It was apparent that the SEMO pitching staff was not prepared for how fast Louisville plays and they struggled with how aggressive the Cards were today.
Payton would pickup RBI’s in the 5th, 7th, and 8th innings to complete the scoring.
With the win, Louisville will take on Michigan with an opportunity to advance to the championship game on the line. First pitch is scheduled for Saturday at 4:00 PM and Jared Poland is expected to start on the mound.
Michigan did throw their ace against Oregon so he will be unavailable against Louisville on Saturday.