Feb. 16, 2014
Junior righthander Jared Ruxer worked into the sixth inning and earned the win in Sunday's victory.
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Behind a quality start from junior righthander Jared Ruxer and a fast start by the offense, the No. 8 Louisville baseball team closed the Homewood Suites Tournament with a 6-1 victory over Delaware on Sunday at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park.
Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind.) struck out five and allowed only one run on three hits with two walks in 5.2 innings to earn his ninth career victory as the Cardinals improved to 2-1 on the season. Offensively, Louisville wasted little time in taking command plating four runs in the first inning of Sunday's win at the event hosted by The Citadel.
"I felt good out there and the slider was definitely working well for me today," said Ruxer. "It's nice getting those runs in the first inning and it takes a little weight off of your shoulders. We did a great job of jumping on them in the first, which is something our team has done in the past and that was huge today."
Senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) led the way for the Cardinals at the plate going 2-for-4, including a three-run triple and a run scored in the opening frame. Junior second baseman Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.) added two hits, two runs and a RBI, while senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored.
"We had too many strikeouts in the first two games and that was the emphasis today," said Sturgeon, who also struck out two in two innings of shutout relief on the mound. "We wanted to get there, move the ball and compete and good things happen when you do that. It's always good to win the last one on a weekend. We let one get away yesterday, but you learn from it and move on."
After Ruxer worked through the top of the first inning in order with a 1-2-3 frame, the Cardinals blitzed Delaware lefty starter Brandon Hinkle with four runs as each of the first four hitters in the Louisville lineup reached base and scored. Sturgeon started things with an infield single and was followed by a walk to freshman outfielder Colin Lyman (Algonquin, Ill.). After Kay was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Gardner sent a 3-2 pitch down the right field line for a bases clearing triple. Moments later, sophomore first baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) delivered the RBI sac fly to plate Gardner for the 4-0 advantage.
The Cardinals pushed the lead to 5-0 in the fifth on a RBI groundout off the bat of junior shortstop Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) to score Kay, who led off with a single to left, stole second and moved to third on a groundout to the right side. After the Blue Hens (1-2) broke through for a run in the top of the sixth on a RBI single by pinch hitter Doug Trimble, Louisville added its final run of the day in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI sac fly by Kay to score Sturgeon, who led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a bunt single by Lyman.
For Delaware, Hinkle dropped to 0-1 on the season with the loss after allowing five runs on six hits in 4.1 innings.
Up next, Louisville kicks off its 36-game home schedule with a visit from Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday at 3 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium and admission is free.
Louisville Postgame Notes
- Sunday marked the longest outing on the mound for Jared Ruxer since his six innings of work against USF on May 25, 2012.
- Overall, 10 Cardinals made their debuts during the three-game weekend in Charleston as junior Grant Kay and freshmen Corey Ray, Will Smith, Jake Sparger and Jordan Striegel opened their seasons during the first two games.
- Junior college transfer Grant Kay (Iowa Western Community College) was impressive in his first weekend with the Cardinals hitting .455 (5-for-11) with a home run, a double, three RBI, five runs scored and two stolen bases. He started the season as the designated hitter on Friday before playing second base on Saturday and Sunday.
- Tabbed as the American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year by the league's head coaches, Jeff Gardner delivered in the opening weekend hitting .417 (5-for-12) with a home run, two doubles, a triple and six RBI in three starts in left field.
- After opening the season with three defensive errors in Friday's win over WVU, the Cardinals played error-free baseball in each of the final two games in Charleston.
- After stealing just one base in the first two games of the weekend, Louisville had five stolen bases in Sunday's win over the Blue Hens, including two each by Kay and Lyman.
- A trio of Cardinals -- Gardner, Kay and Sturgeon - each hit safely in all three games this weekend, while Danny Rosenbaum reached base safely in all three games.
- Sunday marked the second straight game the Cardinals played without the services of junior shortstop Sutton Whiting, who suffered a fractured nose after being hit by a pitch in the ninth inning of Friday's season-opening 7-6 win over West Virginia. Whiting will be reevaluated this week and a timeline for his potential return to the Louisville lineup will be announced when determined.