The Cardinals could have celebrated a share of the championship Friday. No. Too early. They wanted sole ownership. The last regular season trophy available before the Big East becomes an all-Cathoiic, basketball-centric league.
“I’m really happy for these kids that they were able to dogpile and enjoy this conference championship,” said head coach Dan McDonnell. “Selfishly, I probably would’ve celebrated yesterday because you don’t get many opportunities to dogpile in college baseball. They showed me a lot of confidence and a lot of resolve and they wanted more – they wanted to be the sole champion of this league.”
Sixteen consecutive wins to close out the season, UofL capturing its fourth Big East season championship in baseball over the past five seasons. The Cards enter the Big East tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 46-10 won-lost record.
The win was not without drama, starting pitcher Dace Kime as groggy as the overcast day, allowing six hits and walking three batters through an anxiety-filled first four innings. The relief team would allow four more hits and give up four other walks, keeping Pitt within striking distance until the end.
Nick Burdi would load the bases in the top of the ninth before finding the strike zone with those 95-plus mph balls, striking out the last two batters in the heart of the Pitt batting order, sending 2,626 fans home ecstatic.
Jeff Gardner would again deliver a key hit for the Cardinals, winding up on third after slapping a ball into the right field corner, pushing Coco Johnson and Ty Young home in a five-run third inning for the Cardinals.