Bowling Green’s Jeremy Shay hit a solo home run during the first inning of the Falcons’ loss.
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LOUISVILLE — Bowling Green slipped into the losers’ bracket of the four-team Louisville Regional of the NCAA tournament. Louisville, the No. 1 seed, beat the Falcons 8-3 on Friday night at Patterson Stadium.
The Falcons (24-30) scored on a first-inning home run by Jeremy Shay, but Louisville responded with the next seven runs — three on a pair of home runs by Cardinals’ left-fielder Coco Johnson. Bowling Green could not overcome a pair of errors and five Louisville extra-base hits.
“We played hard,” Bowling Green coach Danny Schmitz said. “We knew coming into the game that we had to play error-free baseball. We made a couple of boo-boos there.
“When you’re playing a good team, an outstanding team, like Louisville, more times than not they’re going to make you pay for it. That’s what I thought the difference in the game was.”
Mike Frank, the Falcons’ No. 2 pitcher, faced the Cardinals because Bowling Green’s top starter, Cody Apthorpe, was extended an extra day in the Mid-American Conference tournament. Shay gave Frank a run to work with after a two-out home run to left-center in the top of the first inning off Louisville ace Chad Green.
“He left a slider up, and I put the best swing on it that I could,” Shay said.
Frank retired the first three hitters. But Frank did not have an answer for Johnson, Louisville’s cleanup hitter.
Johnson lined a 1-0 pitch over the left-center wall to tie the game in the second. He then put Louisville ahead for good by hammering a 2-0 fastball to left for a two-run homer in the third. A two-out error by Bowling Green shortstop Brian Bien preceded the home run and made one run unearned.
Bowling Green's Mike Frank gave up eight hits in five innings and battled through a 25-minute rain delay, but took the loss Friday.
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“I just made a couple of mistakes, and he capitalized on them,” said Frank, who gave up eight hits in five innings and battled through a 25-minute rain delay. “He’s a good hitter. I left the ball up. The rest is history.”
The Cardinals broke the game open with four more runs in the fifth, taking advantage of a leadoff double, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, a throwing error on catcher T.J. Losby, two singles, and another double.
Bowling Green responded with a mild rally in the sixth. Bien walked, center fielder Patrick Lancaster doubled Bien home, and a single by Shay put runners on first and third. But the Falcons scored only one more on a sacrifice fly by catcher T.J. Losby.
Louisville, the Big East regular season champions, plays Miami (Fla.) in the winners’ bracket.
The BG-OSU game is scheduled for noon, but rain is forecast. The Cowboys lost to Miami 7-0, even though OSU started Jason Hursh, a possible first-round pick in the MLB draft next week. Apthorpe (5-4) will start for the Falcons today.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and WDRB-TV of Louisville. Rick Bozich is a columnist for WDRB.