LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Danny Oriente had three RBI with a two-run homer in the third inning and a run-scoring sacrifice fly that helped top-seeded Louisville beat Illinois-Chicago 5-3 on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament Louisville regional.
The No. 4 Flames (29-22) homered in the first two innings and led 3-0 entering the bottom of the third. The Cardinals (44-15) quickly tied the game as Oriente homered to center field and Zach Britton scored on an error at first, one of three by UIC.
Louisville added another unearned run in the third before Oriente’s RBI sacrifice to center in the fifth provided an insurance run. Nick Bennett (7-3) allowed four hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings for the victory and Michael McAvene closed out UIC with three strikeouts in the ninth for his seventh save.
The Cardinals, the tournament’s No. 7 seed nationally, will meet Illinois State in Saturday’s winner’s bracket game. Jacob Key (7-9) took the loss for Illinois-Chicago, which will face Indiana in the loser’s bracket.