If one figured because Middle Tennessee State had thrown its best pitcher in theÂ opening gameÂ of the NCAA Regional there would be a big dropoff in talent, one would be wrong. MTSU recruits good athletes.
The Bryce Brentz on the mound against Louisville was as good as any pitcher the Cardinals have faced all season, handcuffing most U of L batters through 7.2 innings. The exception was Josh Richmond, who tagged him for a home run in the eighth to tie the game at 2-2.
In fact, Richmond, the leadoff hitter, had three hits in four at bats against Brentz while scoring two of U of L’s runs.
- U of L’s John Dao has hit into more than his share of double plays this season, as he did in the fifth inning in this game. Dao made fans forget about those shortcomings when he rolled a bunt down the first base line moving Jeff Arnold to third base in the ninth inning.
- Arnold could and should have been caught dancing off third base. But an errant throw by MTSU catcher Drew Robertson bounced off the bag, sending a relieved Arnold home with what would be the winning run.
- Starting U of L pitcher Dean Kiekhefer, a sophomore southpaw, settled down after allowing an MTSU run in the first inning, striking out eight batters, spacing eight hits and one more run before departing in the seventh inning. He also denied Brentz, who plays center field when he’s not pitching, any opportunity to fatten his hefty .482 batting average, holding him hitless in three atÂ bats.
- Freshman reliever Derek Self was perfect in relief, shutting down all nine batters he faced in three innings to earn WP honors.
- The Louisville bats have been too quiet lately. Somebody’s going to be sorry soon.