No. 9 University of Louisville‘s elimination from the NCAA tournament was slightly overshadowed by the draft coverage here at BluGrass Baseball, but now it’s time to finish the season review series with a look at the Big East champion Cardinals. UofL finished the season at 50-14 and one win shy of a NCAA super regional.
- Hitter of the year: 2B Ryan Wright — The Cards had plenty of hitters to choose from for this honor, as evidenced by their six offensive draftees, but the award goes to the sophomore second baseman who wasn’t even eligible for the draft. Wright was second on the team in batting (.366) behind senior first baseman Andrew Clark (.370) but played in 11 more games than Clark. He led the team in RBI (80), hits (93) and triples (2) and ranked third in runs scored (61). Wright also stole 10 bases in 11 attempts.
- Pitcher of the year: RHP Thomas Royse — The Big East pitcher of the year was a shoe-in for this award as he lead the state in most major pitching categories. Royse, a third-supplemental round pick by the Chicago White Sox, finished the season at 9-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 99 strikeouts compared to 26 walks in 104 and one-third innings pitched. Opponents batted just .257 against Royse on the season.
- Season high point: Battling for the Big East Conference regular season title with Connecticut in the season’s final weekend, UofL outscored Notre Dame 23-6 in a series sweep to clinch the title. The Cards all but wrapped up a top eight national seed in the NCAA tournament with the conference championship.
- Season low point: The vaunted UofL offense picked the worst time to go cold as the Cards were held scoreless for a season-high 15 consecutive innings in back-to-back losses to Vanderbilt to be eliminated from the NCAA tournament. Even worse, the first loss came against soft-tossing lefty Richie Goodenow, who had made just one previous start for Vanderbilt before pitching a complete-game shutout against UofL.
- Micellaneous: The Cards had five batters, Phil Wunderlich (21), Wright (16), Stewart Ijames (14), Clark (13), Adam Duvall (12), reach double digits in home runs…Royse, Neil Holland, Duvall, Wunderlich, Josh Richmond, Clark, Jeff Arnold, Ijames, Dean Kiekhefer and Bob Revesz were each selected in the 2010 draft…Holland was among the country’s best relievers after saving 17 games and going 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA and .160 batting average against…Freshman right-handed starting pitchers Justin Amlung (5-2, 4.27) and Matt Koch (3-0, 3.27) performed admirably down the stretch, setting UofL up well for the 2011 season.
Matt Ridings; WKU Photo
A few important notes to pass along on a Wednesday evening:
- Western Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings will undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday, clouding his draft prospects. Ridings confirmed the operation via Twitter to BluGrass Baseball, and we wish him all the best in his recovery as he works toward a professional career.
- No. 9 University of Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell was suspended for three games for his argument with an umpire in the Big East Conference tournament. McDonnell will miss the first three games of the NCAA tournament, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America reports.
- Baseball America is releasing its state-by-state draft previews, and now Jim Callis has published the Kentucky preview. The piece should be mandatory reading for Kentucky baseball fans and is worth the price of the BA subscription. Callis ranks 25 state draft prospects and includes five high schoolers among a plethora of college bats.
Both remaining Kentucky conference tournament teams will be hoping for two games Saturday as each will need to defeat their opponent twice to reach the conference finals. Check out the schedule and possible scenarios below:
- 1 p.m.: University of Louisville (1) vs. St. Johns (4) — Big East Conference Tournament — Live Stats*
- 3 p.m. (CT): Murray State University (3) vs. Loser of Jacksonville St. (2) and Tennessee Tech (1) — Ohio Valley Conference Tournament — Live Stats*
If UofL wins its first game:
- 5 p.m.: UofL (1) vs. St. Johns (4) — Big East Tournament — Live Stats*
If Murray St. wins its first game:
- 7 p.m. (CT): Murray St. (3) vs. Winner of Jacksonville St (2) and Tennessee Tech (1) — OVC Tournament — Live Stats*
* — Marks an elimination game for Kentucky team.
The Bluegrass lost another conference tournament team Friday with EKU’s elimination at the hands of in-state rival Murray St. However, both UofL and the Breds remain in their respective tournaments. Check out recaps and awards from Friday’s games below and post-game interviews from Murray St.’s win over EKU above:
- Murray State University scored four runs in the first inning and didn’t look back in a 10-2 win over Eastern Kentucky University in an Ohio Valley Conference tournament elimination game. The loss ended the Colonels’ season. Murray St. redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Jake Donze pitched a complete game, allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out seven while walking just two. Four different Breds’ batters tallied two hits in the game. EKU junior left-fielder Bryce Labhart was 3-4 with one RBI. (Box Score)
- The Breds returned to action at 3 p.m. in a second elimination game and rode another complete game performance from senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love to a 14-4 win over Southeast Missouri. The game was delayed by rain for five hours in the ninth inning. Love had pitched five innings on Thursday as well. Senior left fielder Bryan Propst was 4-5 with three RBI and two runs scored, and senior first baseman Wes Cunningham added three hits an a home run. Love surrendered three earned runs, struck out three and walked two. (Box Score)
- No 9 University of Louisville blew a late lead but rode a two-run home run from redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames in the top of the 11th inning to a 9-7 win over South Florida in an elimination game in the Big East Conference tournament. Senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich was 4-6 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung took a no-decision, but allowed just two runs in seven innings. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland recorded his eighth win of the season. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
- Stats: 5-10, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 1 2B
- Honorable Mention: Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Stewart Ijames (UofL), Bryce Labhart (EKU)
Pitcher of the day: LHP Jake Donze (Murray St.)
- Stats: 1-0, 9 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO
- Honorable Mention: Alex Love (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL)
The bluegrass lost one of its conference tournament teams with Thursday’s elimination of Western Kentucky University, but UofL, Murray St. and EKU return to action today. Check out the day’s schedule below which includes the second matchup of Murray St. and EKU in the OVC tournament, which will mark the final game of the season for the loser:
- 11 a.m. (CT): Murray State University (3) vs. Eastern Kentucky University (6) — Ohio Valley Conference Tournament — Live Stats — Live Video*
- 7 p.m.: University of Louisville (1) vs. South Florida (5) — Big East Conference Tournament — Live Stats — Live Video*
* — Elimination Game
The day two conference tournament schedule gets a little confusing since Murray St. and EKU have to play two games each. WKU has been eliminated with a morning loss, and Murray St. faces elimination in its afternoon game. I’ve updated the schedule below after EKU defeated Murray State in this morning’s game:
- 9 a.m. (CT): Western Kentucky University (8) vs. FIU (4) — Sun Belt Conference Tournament — L (7-3) — Box Score
- 9 a.m. (CT): Murray State University (3) vs. Eastern Kentucky University (6) — Ohio Valley Conference Tournament — RHP Anthony Bazzani (4-3, 5.71) vs. Chris Craycraft (6-4, 5.25) — 4-3 — Box Score
- 12:30 p.m. (CT): Murray St. vs. SE Missouri — OVC Tournament — Live Stats*
- 8 p.m. (EST): No. 9 University of Louisville (1) vs. St. Johns (4) — Big East Conference Tournament — Live Stats
- 8:30 p.m. (EST): EKU (6) vs. Tennessee Tech (1) — OVC Tournament — Live Stats
* — Denotes an elimination game
While one of the Wednesday’s conference tournament games scheduled for Kentucky teams was postponed, the other two postseason eligible squads were in action. Read below for recaps and awards from those games:
- No. 9 University of Louisville, the No. 1 seed in the Big East Conference tournament, came-from-behind to defeat eight-seed West Virginia 11-4 in the Cards’ opening game of the tournament. UofL trailed four to one entering the seventh inning, but scored four times in the seventh and six times in the eighth inning to blow the game open. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright was 2-5 with a home run, five RBI and two runs scored. Senior shortstop Adam Duvall and senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich also tallied two hits in the game. Sophomore right-handed reliever Tony Zych earned the win with one and one-third scoreless innings out of the Cards’ bullpen. (Box Score)
- Eight-seed Western Kentucky University took the lead in extra innings, but one-seed Florida Atlantic launched a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning to hand the Hilltoppers a 9-8 loss in their opening game of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins was 3-6 with a home run, four RBI and one run scored. Junior closer Rye Davis made his first start of the season and allowed five runs, two of which were earned, in four and one-third innings. Senior reliever Bart Carter took his first loss of the season. (Box Score)
- The opening-round Ohio Valley Conference tournament game between Murray State University and Eastern Kentucky University was postponed untill 9 a.m. (CT) Thursday due to a power outage that prevented the lights from being turned on. The loser of today’s game will have to immediately turn around and face Southeast Missouri at 12:30 (CT).
Hitter of the day: 2B Ryan Wright (UofL)
- Stats: 2-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 1 2B
- Honorable Mention: Logan Robbins (WKU), Jared Andreoli (WKU), Adam Duvall (UofL)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
- Stats: ND, 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB 6 SO
- Honorable Mention: Tony Zych (UofL), Neil Holland (UofL), Phil Wetherell (WKU)
In lieu of the normal mid-week schedule item, I’ll be posting daily schedules for the conference tournament action including Kentucky teams this week. Four schools will be battling for automatic bids to the NCAA tournament in the Big East Conference, Sun Belt Conference and Ohio Valley Conference. Day one is highlighted by a matchup between two Kentucky schools in EKU and Murray St. Teams’ tournament seeds are included in parentheses below:
- 12:30 p.m. (CT): Western Kentucky University (8) vs. Florida Atlantic (1) — Sun Belt Tournament —Live Stats
- 5 p.m. : University of Louisville (1) vs. West Virginia (8) — Big East Tournament — Live Stats
- 8 p.m.: Eastern Kentucky University (6) vs. Murray State University (3) — OVC Tournament — RHP Anthony Bazzani (4-3, 5.71) vs. Chris Craycraft (6-4, 5.25) — Live Stats
Tuesday saw the naming of all-conference teams across the country and the awarding of pitcher and player of the year honors. Kentucky collegiate players received their fair share of recognition, and I’ve listed those honors below:
- University of Louisville (9) junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Royse was named the Big East Conference pitcher of the year.
- Western Kentucky University senior right-handed pitcher Matt Ridings was named the Sun Belt Conference pitcher of the year.
- Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year.
- First team All-Southeastern Conference: 3B Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP)
- Second team All-SEC: 2B Chris Bisson (University of Kentucky)
- First team All-Big East: P Neil Holland (UofL), P Thomas Royse (UofL), 1B Andrew Clark (UofL), 2B Ryan Wright (UofL)
- Second team All-Big East: C Jeff Arnold (UofL), 3B Phil Wunderlich (UofL), SS Adam Duvall (UofL), OF Stewart Ijames (UofL)
- First team All-Big Ten Conference: SS Jonathan Roof (Michigan St., Paducah)
- First team All-Sun Belt: RHP Matt Ridings (WKU), RP Rye Davis (WKU), C Matt Rice (WKU), OF Kes Carter (WKU)
- Second team All-Sun Belt: 2B Matt Payton (WKU)
- First team All-OVC: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), SS Drew Lee (Morehead State University), 3B Jayson Langfels (Eastern Kentucky University), OF J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.).
- Second team All-OVC: 1B Anthony Ottrando (EKU), UT Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.), SP Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), RP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)
- Freshman All-OVC: RHP Anthony Bazzani (EKU), OF Austin Grisham (EKU), SS Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), 3B/DH Colton Moore (Murray St.)
- Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley Conference: SP Patrick Cooper (Bradley, Danville)
No. 11 University of Louisville clinched its second consecutive Big East Conference championship with a double-header sweep of Notre Dame Saturday. The Cards took defeated the Fighting Irish 13-3 in game two to secure the regular season championship after a 4-3 win in game one.
“One of our biggest goals for this season was to win the BIG EAST regular season title and we were able to do that,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell, who is now 181-73 in his fourth season with two BIG EAST regular season titles and two BIG EAST Tournament titles, said in a news release. “We have so much respect for this league, as well as the coaches and players in it. Anytime you can win the regular season title, that is a huge accomplishment and I’m very proud of these guys because it’s never easy. Now, we’ll turn our focus to the post-season, and hopefully, even more great things for this program.”
Senior shortstop Adam Duvall was 5-9 on the afternoon with two home runs, three runs scored and six RBI. Freshman designated hitter Cade Stallings had his best performance of the season with a 3-3 performance in game two. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright also homored in game one. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung earned the championship-clinching victory with six shutout innings in game two. Junior right-handed reliever Gabriel Shaw earned the game-one win. (Box Score GM1) (Box Score GM 2)