OMAHA, Neb. — This wasn’t the ending Louisville imagined for the best sports year in university history.
The mistake-prone Cardinals surrendered seven runs in the fourth inning on their way to an 11-4 loss to No. 3 national seed Oregon State that eliminated them from the College World Series on Monday.
The Cardinals (51-14) committed four errors against the Beavers and 13 in their last six games. The Beavers (51-12) play another elimination game Wednesday against Mississippi State or Indiana.
Louisville was making its second appearance at the CWS, and first since 2007.
“This is very tough at this moment, but I don’t want this game to define them or define their season,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said of his players. “I told them just what I told the ‘07 team: if our season had to end on a loss, I’d always want that loss to be in Omaha.”
The University of Louisville has had a banner year in sports. The football team won the Sugar Bowl, the men’s basketball team won the national championship and the women’s basketball team was national runner-up. And the school landed a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference, starting in 2014, leaving the crumbling Big East.
“We came here with the expectation to win the whole thing, and that’s why it hurts,” McDonnell said. “I told the guys one day we will win a national championship at Louisville. The ‘07 team got us on the map and we’ve been in regionals six of the last seven years. This team made a strong statement I challenged them to leave their mark on Louisville baseball, and they did.”
Louisville starter Jeff Thompson (11-2) lasted 3 2-3 innings, with three of the seven runs against him unearned.
“I didn’t feel 100 percent, I guess you’d say, but I was still able to make effective pitches and keep the ball down. I was getting ground balls, but unfortunately, the ball just wasn’t going our way today.”
Winning pitcher Ben Wetzler (10-1) allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings. Oregon State scored the most runs allowed by Louisville this season. It was the highest-scoring game at the CWS in the three years it’s been played at TD Ameritrade Park.
Oregon State capitalized on a hit batsman and two errors for a three-run third inning against Thompson, the Detroit Tigers’ third-round draft pick.
Gordon was plunked leading off and scored from first when Tyler Smith doubled into the left-field corner.
Peterson’s bunt single and a walk to Michael Conforto loaded the bases. Conforto should have been retired, but Louisville catcher Kyle Gibson dropped a high pop foul along the third-base line.
Two runs came home when Cardinals second baseman Zach Lucas, after fielding a slow grounder, made a careless flip wide of shortstop Sutton Whiting.
The Beavers all but finished off the Cards in the seven-run fourth, batting through their lineup for the 18th time this season and scoring all the runs with two outs.
Dylan Davis just beat third baseman Ty Young’s throw on a bases-loaded chopper. Louisville first baseman Zak Wasserman, thinking Davis was out and the inning over, started jogging toward the dugout unaware that Peterson was coming around to score from second.
Two more runs scored on Whiting’s overthrow of Wasserman, and reliever Kyle Funkhouser’s bases-loaded walk and Gordon’s single brought in three more.
The Cardinals ranked a respectable 76th out of 296 Division I teams in fielding after the regular season, but they committed two or more errors in five of their last six games.
“It’s not so much we’re looking back on the season, but the relationships built after a game like this,” junior center fielder Adam Engel said. “Some guys may be moving on to something different now. Pretty much the one thing on everybody’s mind is the relationships we’ve built since we’ve been here. That’s very special to us, and that’s something we’ll take with us forever.”