Feb. 28, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -
Junior third baseman Phil Wunderlich's ninth-inning walk-off home run lifted the 11th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 5-4 win over Minnesota on Sunday at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge at the Naimoli Complex.
With Sunday's win over the Golden Gophers (2-4), Louisville improved to 7-0 on the season for the best start since the 1957 squad went 15-0. The Cardinals also finished unbeaten in their first ever appearance in the second annual Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the ninth, Wunderlich (Chicago, Ill.) led off the inning by hammering the first pitch he saw from Minnesota closer Scott Matyas over the wall in right center for his first career walk-off home run. The home run was the second of the weekend and the second of the season for the Cards' All-American.
Along with Wunderlich, the Cardinals also got strong offensive performances from senior second baseman Adam Duvall (Louisville, Ky.), junior outfielder Josh Richmond (Cincinnati, Ohio) and sophomore shortstop Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind.), who finished with two hits each in the game. Duvall added an RBI and a run scored, while Richmond and Wright each scored runs against Minnesota, an NCAA Regional team last season.
On the mound, the Cardinals got a quality start from sophomore righty Tony Zych (Chicago, Ill.), who allowed two runs on six hits with four strikeouts in five innings while getting a no-decision. After junior righty Gabriel Shaw (Paducah, Ky.) allowed only two hits and no runs in 2.1 innings, junior righty Neil Holland (Owensboro, Ky.) recorded the final two outs of the ninth inning with strikeouts to set the stage for Wunderlich and earn his first career win.
Less than 11 hours after closing out Saturday night's 17-6 win over Michigan State in Clearwater, Fla., Louisville was back on the field in Sunday's finale and the offense kept the momentum going early against the Gophers. The Cardinals opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with four straight singles and an RBI sacrifice fly off Gophers' starter Allen Bechstein. Richmond and Duvall started the inning with singles to left field. Clark followed with a single through the right side to score Richmond and Wright added an RBI single up the middle to score Duvall. With Clark the baserunner at the third, Wunderlich's RBI sac fly to center closed the scoring with the Cards holding a 3-0 advantage.
Louisville held that lead until the fourth inning, when junior outfielder Drew Haynes earned a leadoff walk from Bechstein, moved to second with his third stolen base of the season and then scored on an RBI ground-rule double to right center by Duvall to push the lead to 4-0.
An inning later, Minnesota cut the Cardinals' lead in half at 4-2 as shortstop A.J. Petterson doubled to right field of Zych to score Trip Schultz and Sam Ryan. Then, in the sixth inning, Minnesota tied the score at 4-4 with two runs on three hits off Louisville redshirt freshman reliever Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky.). Designated hitter Kyle Knudson led off the inning with a walk, moved to second on a single by Schultz, advanced to third on a single by Ryan and then scored on an RBI single by Kyle Geason for the first run of the inning. The second run of the sixth and the fourth of the game for UM came on an RBI sac fly by Petterson.
From there, the Cards' pitching staff stood strong as Shaw and Holland kept the Gophers off the scoreboard over the final three innings allowing Wunderlich to win it in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals pulled out the win despite leaving 12 runners on base, while Minnesota left 10 on base.
Up next, the Cardinals return home to open a five-game homestand at Jim Patterson Stadium on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET against Evansville.
- Propelled by three Louisville wins, the BIG EAST Conference overcame a tough day one to earn a 17-13 victory in the second annual Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. Along with Louisville, St. John's also earned three wins during the weekend for the BIG EAST.
- With his 2-for-5 day at the plate, Adam Duvall is the only Louisville player to hit safely in all seven games in 2010. A native of Louisville, Duvall leads the team in hitting at .438 overall, ranks second with two home runs and is fourth in RBI with seven.
- Through seven games, the Louisville pitching staff has been outstanding with a team ERA of just 2.39. Leading the way is junior righty Thomas Royse, who has not allowed an earned run through 11.0 innings, and junior righty Neil Holland, who has not allowed an earned run in his 8.2 innings in 2010.
- The Cardinals had a strong week at the plate with three players hitting more than .400 in wins over Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan and Morehead State. Adam Duvall led the way at .471, while Stewart Ijames was .462. Andrew Clark hit .417 with two home runs, nine RBI and four runs scored.