Feb. 26, 2012
Box Score |
By Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville baseball team's offense got lulled into a slumber Sunday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium. But not before the Cardinals started clear-eyed and combustible.
Alive and well at the outset, No. 16 Louisville piled up six runs in the first two innings, riding that early onslaught and splendid pitching from a trio of hurlers to complete a series sweep with a 6-3 victory over Oakland.
The Cardinals (6-1), who have won six straight, sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and seven in the second. They racked up eight of their 11 hits and all six of their runs in that span, including plating four runs with two outs.
Senior first baseman/outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) was the unquestioned star of the series, reaching base 10 consecutive times over the three-game tilt before flying out to deep center in his last at-bat on Sunday. Ijames went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs in the finale. Overall, he went 5-for-8 in the series with six runs, five RBI, two home runs and a double.
Junior right-hander Travis Tingle (Louisville, Ky./Cleveland State CC) ensured Louisville would have three quality starts in the series by notching the win after allowing seven hits and one earned run in six efficient innings. Sophomore left-hander Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) pitched two innings of relief, striking out three and yielding one run, and freshman left-hander Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) earned the first save of his career with a perfect ninth.
In addition to Ijames, junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC), sophomore shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) and freshman designated hitter Mason Snyder (Ottawa, Ill./Marquette Academy HS) each had two hits for the Cardinals. Snyder equaled Ijames with two RBI while Ratajczak and sophomore centerfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) both scored twice.
Engel and Ratajczak, Louisville's leadoff and second hitter, got the Cardinals in motion against Oakland starter Hayden Fox (0-1) with a walk and infield single, respectively, in the first inning. The pair pulled off a double steal and sophomore leftfielder Jeff Gardner
(Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy HS) capitalized with a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Ijames ripped an RBI double to left center and Snyder lined an RBI single to right for a 3-0 lead.
Engel and Ratajczak caused Oakland (0-4) more trouble by opening the second inning with back-to-back singles. Chittenden and Ijames brought in the pair with consecutive singles of their own, and Snyder added to the scoring when he whipped a double down the left field line.
After getting hammered in the first two innings, Fox showed resiliency by pitching well over the next 2.2 innings. Russell Luxton entered with two outs in the fifth and also did a commendable job, allowing a single hit and no runs over 3.1 innings.
Ultimately the day on the mound belonged to Tingle, Sturgeon and Filomeno. Coming off a rough outing in a no-decision against Michigan State in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge, Tingle bared down on the Grizzlies after the leadoff hitter reached base in three of the first four innings. Oakland scored an unearned run in the fourth and Mike Carson added an RBI single in the fifth, but Tingle found a way each time to squash a potential rally.
Aaron Cieslak cracked a home run to left center off Sturgeon in the eighth to cut Oakland's deficit to 6-3, but Sturgeon regrouped to strike out Spencer Marentette to end the inning. Sturgeon fanned half of the six batters he faced. Filomeno struck out the side in his Louisville debut and then punched out the first two Grizzlies he encountered in the ninth before sealing the series sweep by getting Todd Dunham to ground out.
Louisville hits the midway point of a nine-game homestand when the Cardinals welcome Eastern Illinois at 3 p.m., ET on Tuesday at Jim Patterson Stadium. Louisville follows by hosting Pepperdine in a three-game series, with games starting at 3 p.m., on Friday, 1 p.m., on Saturday and 1 p.m., on Sunday.
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