Fr. RHP Nick Burdi in Wednesday's win.
Feb. 22, 2012
By Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It may have taken place in the fourth game of the Louisville baseball team's season, but centerfielder Adam Engel already has a strong contender for the Cardinals' defensive play of the year. Certainly Engel's sensational home-run robbing grab in the fifth inning Wednesday against visiting Eastern Kentucky University has set the bar high.
Behind Engel's spectacular catch, a balanced offensive effort that produced 13 hits and solid pitching by five hurlers, No. 16 Louisville captured a 7-2 victory over the Colonels in its 2012 home-opener at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Sophomore third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) led Louisville (3-1) offensively by going 3-for-3 with two doubles, a triple and an RBI. In addition to his defensive effort, Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Sophomore outfielders Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) and Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy HS) added two hits apiece and senior first baseman Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) smacked a two-run homer for the Cardinals, who have won three straight since dropping their opener.
Freshman right-hander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) made his career debut on the mound for Louisville, earning his first win in a Cardinals uniform after throwing four shutout innings against the Colonels (2-2). Freshman left-hander Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) also had a memorable debut, striking out the side in the first inning of his Louisville career. Filomeno pitched the eighth and junior right-hander Matt Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Cherokee Washington HS) tossed a scoreless ninth.
Sophomore right-hander Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) started the fifth inning in relief of Burdi and pitched 2.2 innings, allowing EKU's only two runs on a two-run home run by Michael Garcia. It might have been worse had Burdi not shown a knack for getting out of trouble. He wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first inning and didn't allow a run after the first two EKU batters reached base to start the second.
Louisville jumped in front 3-0 after two innings. Engel led off the first by lining the second pitch from EKU starter Shane Grimm into right field for a single. Following a single by Gardner, Engel scored the Cardinals' first run on a sacrifice fly by sophomore shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS), who reached base when EKU right fielder Garcia dropped the ball.
Young ripped the first of his three extra-base hits leading off the second inning. He drilled a double that caromed off the center field wall on a hop. Sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) moved Young to third on a sacrifice bunt, and Young trotted home when Sturgeon cranked a triple to right center.
Engel saved a two-run homer in the fifth inning, which would have cut Louisville's lead to 3-2. With two outs, Bryan Soloman sent an offering by Kime to deep left center. Engel raced back to the wall and waited. He timed his jump perfectly, elevating high off the ground and fully extending his left arm above the fence to make the grab. After Engel raised his glove to show the umpires evidence of his home-run saving catch, his teammates jumped out of the dugout to greet him as he jogged in.
Engel's preservation of two runs proved even more important after Garcia's blow in the sixth inning. With a stiff wind blowing out to center field, Garcia drove a Kime pitch over the right center fence as the Colonels cut their deficit to 3-2.
Behind reliever Andrew Wilson, EKU kept Louisville's offense at bay until the bottom of the sixth inning. Young led off by lacing a triple down the right field line off Wilson, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Gibson to boost the Cardinals' advantage to 4-2.
Louisville looked like it might squander a prime opportunity to add some insurance runs in the seventh inning when, after getting runners on first and third with no outs, a Cardinals runner got picked off and another popped out. However, Ijames stepped in and smoked a two-run homer to right off EKU reliever Blake Bottoms for his first four-bagger of the season and a comfortable 6-2 lead.
Pinch hitter Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) followed with a walk, and Young capped the scoring with an RBI double to left center. Besides pounding out 13 hits, Louisville's defense didn't commit an error and turned three double plays.
Garcia had two of EKU's five hits. He went 2-for-3 with two RBI, adding his second homer of the young season. Wilson only allowed one run and two hits in 3.2 innings of relief. Grimm suffered the loss for the Colonels.
Up next, Louisville will continue its nine-game homestand at Jim Patterson Stadium with a three-game weekend series against Oakland starting on Friday at 3 p.m. Admission is free for the entire series against the Grizzlies.
Louisville Post-Game Quotes - Head Coach Dan McDonnell
(On the pitching) "With it being a mid-week game, we wanted to throw four or five guys today and get some work for them and it worked out for us. I'm glad Nick Burdi got his first start under his belt. Obviously, he struggled in the first, but he battled out of that bases loaded jam and showed how talented he is."
(On the hitting) "Offensively, with 13 hits and only seven runs, we're not there yet. When we can have 10 hits and 10 runs, that's when we're closer to being the offense we want to be. But we did answer the call. Those guys hung in there and put together a rally and it was nice to see our kids respond and extend the lead."
(On the catch by Adam Engel) "It was the greatest catch I've seen here at Jim Patterson Stadium and one of the two greatest catches I've ever seen right along with Boomer Whiting's catch in Rosenblatt Stadium (2007 College World Series). What makes Adam's just as special is that it robbed a home run. It's not a great catch against the wall or a catch on a ball that may have been a home run. This was a ball that was clearly over the fence that he went up and got. I'm just glad the fans got to see that. We know how special he is because we see him every day, but it's great that our fanbase can realize how special Adam Engel is."
Louisville Post-Game Notes