Feb. 14, 2014
Senior outfielder Jeff Gardner connected for his 15th career home run to lift Louisville to the win.
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Senior outfielder Jeff Gardner capped a dramatic opening day for the eighth-ranked Louisville baseball team with his 10th inning walk-off home run in Friday's 7-6 triumph over West Virginia at the Homewood Suites Tournament hosted by The Citadel.
Having already overcome a 5-1 deficit midway through the season-opener, the Cardinals finished the comeback in style when Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) sent a 1-2 offering from WVU righty Corey Walter down the right field line and out of Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park. With four walk-off wins last season, this was Louisville's first walk-off win on a home run since the 2010 season.
"It got to two strikes and something that a lot of people like to do to me there is come in with a fastball, so I was sitting on that pitch and he threw it," Gardner said after the game. "I was able to put a good swing on it and the ball went."
The home run capped a 2-for-5 day at the plate for Gardner, who added a RBI double and later scored the game-tying run in the Cardinals' two-run eighth inning. Sophomore first baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) was 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and two RBI, while senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) was 2-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base. Junior designated hitter Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.) added a two-run homer in his Louisville debut.
On the mound, junior righthander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) pitched a scoreless 10th inning to earn the win, while freshman righty Jake Sparger (Eau Claire, Wis.) was terrific in his collegiate debut allowing just one run on three hits with two strikeouts in 5.0 strong innings of relief.
The Mountaineers started fast on Friday scoring in each of the first four innings against Louisville lefty starter Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill.). Outfielder Jacob Rice had an RBI single in the first inning, while third baseman Justin Fox added an RBI single in the second. After Rosenbaum cut the Louisville deficit in half with a solo home run to left off WVU lefty starter and reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Harrison Musgrave, the Mountaineers answered in the third with a two-run homer by first baseman Ryan McBroom. A solo home run off the left field foul pole by designated hitter Max Nogay pushed the WVU lead to 5-1 after four innings.
Louisville started its rally in the fifth inning on a two-out RBI single by senior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky.). An inning later, Kay pulled the Cardinals within a run at 5-4 when he belted a 2-2 pitch from Musgrave over the wall in left center for his first home run as a Cardinal after transferring from Iowa Western Community College.
The Mountaineers pushed the advantage to 6-4 in the seventh on a RBI single by McBroom, who finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI. An inning later, the Cardinals were finally able to pull even with WVU when Gardner and Rosenbaum delivered back-to-back two-out RBI doubles for a 6-6 tie. After a scoreless ninth inning, Gardner set off the celebration at home plate with his 15th career home run.
"The whole game, I was thinking that if we pulled this off, it would be huge for us," said Gardner. "You always like to win the first one, but one of the things you want to know about a team is whether or not it can win from behind. Being able to battle back, to do the little things and chip away at it and comeback to win that game is huge for our team."
The Cardinals return to action on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., ET against tournament host The Citadel, the alma mater of Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell and assistant coach Chris Lemonis. Live audio of Saturday's game will be available to subscribers of CardsTV at GoCards.com.
Postgame Louisville Notes