Tar Heels’ pitching grounds Cardinals
Published 8:16 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007
By By ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. — North Carolina is proving the adage that good pitching beats good hitting any day.
The Tar Heels’ starters had been anything but good the last two weeks, and Louisville had the hottest hitting team in the NCAA tournament.
But Luke Putkonen and two relievers limited the Cardinals to three hits, and the Tar Heels won 3-1 in a College World Series elimination game Tuesday.
The Tar Heels also had three hits but they made two runs that scored on a Louisville throwing error stand up to advance to a Wednesday game against Rice. North Carolina (55-14), the 2006 runner-up, would have to beat the Owls twice to win their bracket and return to the best-of-three championship series, which starts Saturday.
Rice beat the Tar Heels 14-4 the first time they played Sunday.
The Cardinals (47-24), who had batted .402 and scored 22 runs in their first two games, ended their first trip to the CWS with their fewest hits since getting three in a loss to St. John’s on May 5. They scored their fewest runs since a loss to Rutgers on May 25.
It was the second straight year that a team had three hits in a victory — Oregon State did it in a 2-0 win over Rice. In the CWS’ 61-year history, only one team has won with fewer hits. That was Southern California, which had two in a 5-3 win over BYU in 1968.
Before Tuesday, no team in Fox’s nine years at North Carolina had won with so few.
All of North Carolina’s scoring came with two outs in the second. Seth Williams hit a run-scoring single to center to tie it, and the go-ahead runs came in when Garrett Gore grounded to third, and Chris Dominguez threw wide of first baseman Daniel Burton.
After Williams’ single, Colby Wark (3-4) and Gavin Logsdon held the Tar Heels hitless until Josh Horton doubled leading off the eighth.
The Cardinals threatened with two outs in the bottom half, but they stranded two runners when Isaiah Howes struck out against Andrew Carignan.
Carignan, who relieved Rob Wooten, struck out three of his four batters for his 17th save.
Entering Tuesday, Tar Heel starters had given up 32 earned runs and 47 hits in 25 2-3 innings during the prior seven games. But Putkonen, who hadn’t made it out of the fifth inning in his previous two starts, all but shut down an offense that entered with a .370 batting average and 99 runs in 10 national tournament games.
The 6-foot-6 right-hander worked seven innings, allowing Johnson’s homer and two singles. Putkonen tied his career high with seven strikeouts.
Louisville finished its season with a school record for wins.