Feb. 14, 2014
Senior outfielder Jeff Gardner connected for his 15th career home run to lift Louisville to the win.
CardsTV Postgame Interviews: OF Jeff ~nbsp>Gardner | RHP Jake ~nbsp>Sparger
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.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter (@UofLBaseball) at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- The Cardinals improved to 6-2 in season-openers under the guidance of head coach Dan McDonnell.
- Louisville improved to 15-6 all-time against WVU, including wins in nine of the last 11 against the Mountaineers.
- Friday marked the first time the Cardinals have hit three home runs in a game since Feb. 25, 2012 (vs. Oakland).
- With Friday's win, McDonnell moved into sole possession of second place on the Cardinals' career wins leaderboard with No. 310 surpassing Dr. John Heldman, Jr. McDonnell is 10 behind career wins leader Lelo Prado, who won 320 from 1996-2006.
- Friday's win was the Cardinals' first walk-off win on a home run since beating Le Moyne on a Cade Stallings walk-off three-run homer on March 6, 2010.
- The Cardinals had 16 come-from-behind wins last season, but only one was by a margin larger than Friday's four-run deficit. They trailed USC 5-0 in the second inning before winning 13-6 on March 19 in Louisville.
- Louisville won Friday's game despite being out-hit 10-8 by the Mountaineers. Last season, the Cardinals were 9-8 when out-hit.
- The second inning homer by Danny Rosenbaum was the second home run of his collegiate career.
- Junior shortstop Sutton Whiting left Friday's game in the ninth inning after being hit in the face on a pitch from Joby Lapkowicz. Whiting was taken to a local hospital and more details on the status of Whiting will be announced when available.