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Kentucky's Dreams Of Reaching CWS Dashed In Derby City

UK Athletics

Marcus Carson and Tristan Pompey knocked in runs for Kentucky, which made its first super regional appearance but it wasn't enough as the Wildcats fell to the Louisville Cardinals for a second consecutive day, scoring just four runs in the two games. (5-2 Friday and 6-2 Saturday).  They end the season at 43-23.

Louisville on the other hand has been a super regional regular the past five years and finally broke through after consecutive one-run, elimination-game losses the past two springs to earn the return trip to Omaha, Nebraska, it envisioned from the start.

Drew Ellis homered twice, Josh Stowers and Logan Taylor each delivered extra-base RBI hits and left-hander Brendan McKay scattered eight hits and two runs to become the first school to clinch a College World Series berth.

A day after smacking a three-run homer in Louisville's 5-2, opening-game win, the junior first baseman hit solo shots in the second and sixth innings to ignite a super regional sweep that returned the Cardinals (52-10) to the CWS for the third time in five seasons and first since 2014. Stowers followed with an RBI triple, and Taylor delivered the first of two eighth-inning insurance runs as Louisville remained unbeaten in the NCAA Tournament.

McKay (10-3) had to work at times but was effective, striking out nine in 6 2/3 innings to win a showdown with Kentucky ace Sean Hjelle (11-4).

The Cardinals' victory also claimed Bluegrass bragging rights against Kentucky after the schools each won at home earlier this season. A wild, if delayed, celebration followed before a red-clad sellout crowd of 6,237.

Saturday's game matched a pair of pitching aces in McKay, the Atlantic Coast Conference's top player and a finalist for several national awards, against 6-foot-11 Kentucky righty Hjelle, whose two regional wins propelled the Wildcats into their first super regional.

Louisville never trailed thanks to Ellis, who drilled Hjelle's 2-2 pitch in the second over the left-center field fence into a section of Cardinals and Wildcats fans.

Devin Mann's RBI sacrifice fly to center in the fifth made it 2-0, a run that proved critical as Kentucky halved the lead in its at-bat. Riley Mahan hit a leadoff double and reached third on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on Marcus Carson's sacrifice fly to left.

Ellis quickly restored a two-run edge with a leadoff homer to left in the sixth before scoring on Stowers' deep grounder into the left-field corner. Kentucky scored once in the seventh, but Taylor responded to double in Tyler Fitzgerald and score on Colby Fitch's single to right as the Cardinals scored twice more in the eighth.

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