Junior OF Adam Engel
Feb. 20, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Paced by strong offensive performances from junior outfielders Adam Engel and Cole Sturgeon and sophomore infielder Sutton Whiting, the fourth-ranked Louisville baseball team earned a 17-6 victory over visiting Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday afternoon during the Cardinals' home-opener at newly expanded Jim Patterson Stadium.
With their third straight win, Louisville improved to 3-1 on the season, while the Colonels dropped to 1-3 overall after suffering their second straight loss. The Cardinals have won six of their last seven home-openers and have won 11 of the last 12 on the diamond against EKU.
Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) led the way for Louisville going 3-for-5 with a double, triple, career best four RBI, three runs scored and three stolen bases in the win. Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) added four hits with two stolen bases, two runs and an RBI, while Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) finished 3-of-3 with two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored.
Overall, the Cardinals' 17 runs were the most since their 21-4 win at Indiana on April 17, 2012, while the 20 hits matched last season's high total against Missouri in the NCAA Regional. Louisville also finished with 11 stolen bases on Wednesday, the most ever under the guidance of head coach Dan McDonnell.
On the mound, junior right-hander Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) allowed only one run on three hits with five strikeouts in four innings as the Cardinals' starter on a predetermined staff day to earn his first win of the season. In his two appearances and 7.1 innings of work this season, Kime has seven strikeouts while allowing only one run on five hits for a 1.23 ERA.
After a scoreless first inning, Louisville gained command of Wednesday's game with five runs on four hits in the second frame against EKU starter Chris Cervantes. The scoring started when junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS). The Cardinals' lead increased to 3-0 moments later when Whiting connected for a two-run double to right field to plate Sturgeon and junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS). The advantage increased to 5-0 for Louisville when junior outfielder Coco Johnson singled to right field to score Whiting, while Engel reached home after an error in right by EKU's Kyle Nowlin.
An inning later, the Cardinals pushed their lead to 7-0 on an RBI single to left by Whiting to score Sturgeon and a throwing error by EKU pitcher Matt Lynch to allow Gibson to score after a failed pickoff on a stolen base attempt.
After the Colonels plated their first run of the game in the fourth inning, the Cardinals answered by pushing their lead to 9-1 in the fifth frame on a two-run single up the middle by Engel to score Gibson and Whiting.
EKU cut the deficit to 9-4 in the top of the sixth on a two-run double down the left field line by catcher Sean Hagen and an RBI single to center by outfielder Kyle Nowlin. However, the Cardinals responded by scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth on RBI groundout by Gibson and another in the seventh on an RBI double down the left field line by senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak to make it 11-4.
Eastern Kentucky pulled a run closer at 11-5 in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Hagen. However, Louisville halted any chance of a comeback by the Colonels by scoring six runs in the bottom of the eighth. The inning included an RBI single by Sturgeon, an RBI single by Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS), a two-run triple by Engel, an RBI sacrifice fly by senior outfielder Matt Helms (Eufaula, Okla./Seminole State CC) and a wild pitch by EKU's Cody Creamer.
The Colonels added a final unearned run in the ninth inning for the final margin. Cervantes took the loss EKU after allowing five runs, including four earned, on four hits in 1.2 innings.
Up next, Louisville will continue an eight-game homestand by hosting Akron for a three-game weekend series at Jim Patterson Stadium. The opener is set for Friday at 3 p.m., ET. The series will continue on Saturday at 2 p.m., before concluding Sunday at 1 p.m.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- After Wednesday's win, Louisville holds a 60-48-1 lead in the all-time series with EKU, which dates back to 1927. The two teams will meet again in 2013 on March 6 in Richmond, Ky.
- After entering the season 0-for-5 in his career at the plate with zero starts, sophomore infielder Sutton Whiting leads the Cardinals with a .615 average (8-for-13) to go with six RBI and five runs scored as the starting shortstop in each of the teams' first four games in 2013.
- Freshman righty Jordan Simons came out of the bullpen for 1.2 innings of relief becoming the fifth different first-year Louisville pitcher and the seventh first-player Louisville player overall to see game action this season.
- Through four games this season, Louisville has outscored its opponents 12-0 in the first two innings, including a 5-0 edge in Wednesday's win.
- With Wednesday's win, Louisville improved to 181-70 all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium for a .721 winning percentage.
- Despite going 0-for-2 on Wednesday, junior catcher Kyle Gibson scored a Louisville season-high four runs after earning two walks and being hit once.
- Louisville plated five runs or more in an inning for the first time this season on Wednesday when they scored five in the second and six more in the eighth.
- Wednesday's game was the first for Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium since the completion of the expansion project which increased the seating capacity of the ballpark to 4,000.