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UCSB Earns Trip to College World Series After Walk-Off Grand Slam Sweeps Louisville

Down 3-0 in bottom of the 9th, freshman pinch-hitter Sam Cohen slugs bases-loaded shot to right field for 4-3 victory

UCSB players pile onto freshman Sam Cohen following his walk-off grand slam, which gave the Gauchos a 4-3 victory over Louisville and a trip to the program’s first College World Series.
UCSB players pile onto freshman Sam Cohen following his walk-off grand slam, which gave the Gauchos a 4-3 victory over Louisville and a trip to the program’s first College World Series. (Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press )

UC Santa Barbara freshman Sam Cohen hit a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat second-seeded Louisville, 4-3, on Sunday and send the Gauchos to their first College World Series.

UCSB swept the host Cardinals 2-0 in the best-of-three NCAA Super Regionals in Louisville, Ky., and will now move on to Omaha, Neb., where they will play Oklahoma State in the opener of the double-elimination World Series.

UCSB freshman Sam Cohen swings and connects for a walk-off grand slam during the ninth inning of Sunday’s NCAA super regional game against Louisville.
UCSB freshman Sam Cohen swings and connects for a walk-off grand slam during the ninth inning of Sunday’s NCAA super regional game against Louisville. (Timothy D. Easley / Associated Press)

JJ Muno singled up the middle with one out in the ninth off reliever Zack Burdi. Dempsey Grover drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and pinch hitter Billy Fredrick walked to load the bases.

Cohen hit a Burdi pitch over the right-field wall to give the Gauchos the stunning victory. They had trailed 3-0 after the Cardinals scored all of their runs in the fourth inning off starter Noah Davis.

“The kids have been doing stuff like that all year, UCSB coach Andrew Checketts told ESPN after the game. “It’s absolutely remarkable.”

“I don’t have a lot of words, I’m still in a little bit of shock,” he said at a post-game news conference. “Remarkable. I think as a coach we don't get to get in the box anymore or play anymore so ultimately it is the players who made the difference.

“These guys have been a remarkable group in terms of perseverance and belief.”

Cohen described his at-bat.

“I really just buckled down and choked up a little bit and got on top of the dish and from that point on I was just looking for anything middle in just to try to elevate,” said the back-up catcher.

“Right when I hit it I didn't realize until I touched home plate that I hit one out.”

Louisville was 47-0 when leading after eight innings this season. Burdi had 11 saves, a 2.20 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 28.2 innings this season. He was a first-round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

“We didn’t lose that game, those guys won it,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said afterward.

“(UCSB) kept it close, they kept it within striking distance. Those are the three toughest outs to get in baseball.”

UCSB heads to Omaha with a 42-18-1 record. Louisville, the national tournament’s No. 2 seed, finished with a 50-14 record.

(Iamtimothyburke video)

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

 

 

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