The University of Louisville is taking ownership of the Big East Conference before it departs for greener pastures. U of L men's basketball, football, volleyball, men's soccer and women's swimming all won the conference crown during their last run through the league and now baseball has done the same.
With Athletic Director Tom Jurich watching on, the 10th-ranked Cardinals (46-10) baseball team defeated visiting Pittsburgh 7-4 on Saturday afternoon to win the conference regular season title.
"This was a goal," said U of L head coach Dan McDonnell. "This was another step on the ladder that we wanted to accomplish. I'm really happy and proud of them right now."
The Cardinals scored first, putting five runs on the board in the third inning. The U of L rally began when senior Zak Wasserman was hit by a pitch and then two throwing errors on a sacrifice bunt by Sutton Whiting that allowed him to reach safely and advance to second. Adam Engel's single drove in Wasserman and then a wild pitch allowed Whiting to score. Following an RBI single by Coco Johnson, the hot-hitting Jeff Gardner ripped a triple down the first base line, driving in two.
Pittsburgh (40-15) battled back to narrow Louisville lead to 5-3 by the fifth inning, but the Cardinals received an RBI single by Johnson in the sixth and an RBI single by Wasserman in the seventh to build a 7-3 advantage.
The Panthers added another run in the top of the eighth and threatened again in the ninth, loading the bases with just one out until reliever Nick Birdi struck out the final two batters to secure the win.
Top-seeded Louisville, which has won a nation-leading 16 straight games, will depart for the Big East Conference tournament in Clearwater, Florida on Monday afternoon.