March 1, 2014
Junior righthander Jared Ruxer struck out 11 in six strong innings to earn his second win of the season.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Junior righthander Jared Ruxer finished with a career-best 11 strikeouts as the ninth-ranked Louisville baseball team closed the weekend with an 8-2 victory over Toledo on Saturday evening at Jim Patterson Stadium.
In a game previously scheduled for Sunday but played a day early due to impending weather concerns, Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind.) worked a season-high six innings allowing two runs on four hits without issuing a walk to earn the victory and improve to 2-1 on the season. The 11 strikeouts surpassed his previous career high of eight against Akron on Feb. 24, 2013 and are the most for a Louisville (8-3) pitcher since Jeff Thompson had 12 strikeouts against Villanova on May 4, 2013.
The win over the Rockets (2-6) capped a 1-1 day for the Cardinals, who lost 6-2 to No. 17 Indiana in a top 20 showdown earlier in the day at Jim Patterson Stadium. After four meetings last year with the Hoosiers, including once in Omaha at the College World Series, Saturday's matchup served as the first of three scheduled games between the two programs.
"Jared was very good today and he really competed in order to give us a quality start on what was a disappointing day overall for our team," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. "We learned a lot about ourselves and it was a disappointing day because we didn't play great, but we fought through and won the second game. We challenged the guys after losing the first game that we had to bounce right back and we were able to do that."
At the plate in Saturday's finale, senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, while senior infielder Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.) finished 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI and scored once in the winning effort. Sophomore first baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) also went 2-for-4 with a double, one RBI and one run scored as the Cardinals out-hit the Rockets 10-5.
Following a scoreless opening frame, Louisville plated the first run of the game in the second inning when Gardner scored from third on a wild pitch by Toledo starter Kyle Slack. The inning started with a leadoff single from Gardner, who advanced to third on a double by Rosenbaum before scoring.
The Rockets quickly answered with two runs in the third inning on a RBI single by shortstop Deion Tansel and a RBI sac fly to by first baseman Jacob North. They held that lead until the Cardinals' decisive three-inning stretch where they scored seven runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings combined.
Louisville moved back ahead with a three-run fifth inning, which included junior second baseman Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.) being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score freshman Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.) and Gardner delivering a two-run single to right to score Chittenden and freshman Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.).
After scoring a single run in the sixth inning on a RBI groundout by Chittenden, the Cardinals added three more runs in the seventh. Rosenbaum started the scoring in the inning with a one-out RBI single to send senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) home. After Gardner scored on another Toledo wild pitch, junior infielder Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) delivered a RBI groundout to plate Rosenbaum for the final run of the game.
Beyond Ruxer, the Cardinals also got strong work from their bullpen again on Saturday as Sturgeon led the way working two shutout innings of relief before giving way to junior righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.), who recorded the final three outs in a perfect ninth inning. For Toledo, Slack was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-2 on the season, after allowing four runs, all earned, on six hits in six innings.
Up next, Louisville continues its homestand with a weekend series against Miami (Ohio) on Friday (3 p.m., ET), Saturday (noon) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Jim Patterson Stadium. Admission is free throughout the weekend.
Louisville Postgame Notes
- With his performance on Saturday, Jared Ruxer has a team-leading 18 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched. Overall, he is 2-1 on the mound with a 2.87 ERA this season and now has 10 career collegiate wins.
- Saturday's weekend finale marked the seventh time in nine games Louisville has limited an opponent to two earned runs or less.
- Jeff Gardner earned his team-leading fifth multiple-RBI performance of the season on Saturday (two RBI) and his team-high sixth multi-hit game of 2014 (two hits).
- With his seventh inning single, Cole Sturgeon has hit safely in seven straight games, the longest hitting streak of the season for the Cardinals.
- Gardner and Sturgeon have reached base safely in all 11 games this season.
- Louisville reached double-figures in hits for the fifth time this season after finishing with 10 on Saturday against Toledo.
- UofL improved to 7-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning. Last season, they were 46-0 when leading after the eighth.
- The Cardinals improved to 6-2 at home this season and 220-77 (.740 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since its opening during the 2005 season.
- Louisville played all three games this weekend without junior shortstop and team captain Sutton Whiting, who was out of the lineup after having his fractured nose reset earlier this week.
- In four games this week, Gardner hit .500 (6-for-12) with one home run, six RBI, a .564 on-base percentage and a .750 slugging percentage.
- For the season, Gardner leads the Cardinals in hitting (.459), RBI (16), home runs (two), slugging percentage (.784) and on-base percentage (.522).
- Sturgeon leads the Cardinals with 12 runs scored in 11 games while hitting .348 overall at the plate. On the mound, Sturgeon has five strikeouts and has now allowed a run in three relief appearances and six innings pitched.