Louisville senior C J.J. Ethel
March 4, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Senior catcher J.J. Ethel's walk-off, RBI double in the 11th inning lifted the 23rd-ranked Louisville baseball team to a series-opening 3-2 victory over Kent State on Friday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 6-2 overall, while the Golden Flashes dropped to 5-3 with the loss. Louisville and Kent State are scheduled to continue the series on Saturday at 1 p.m., while Sunday's series finale is also set for 1 p.m. Check UofLSports.com for any weather-related schedule changes throughout the remainder of the weekend.
With the score tied at 2-2 and freshman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) on first after earning a one-out walk, Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) sent the first pitch he saw from Kent State reliever Kyle McMillen down the left field line to score Young for the game-winner. It is the third final-inning, game-winning hit for Ethel in his two seasons as a Cardinal. On March 12, 2010, Ethel had a game-winning RBI double in the 12th inning of the Cardinals' 6-1 series-opening win at Ole Miss, while on May 20, 2010, he hammered a game-winning three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning of Louisville's series-opening win at Notre Dame.
Ethel's game-winner completed a furious late-game comeback for Louisville, which trailed 2-0 with one out and nobody on base in the ninth inning. The Cardinals' started their ninth inning rally when Young reached base with an infield single and then moved to second when Ethel was hit by a pitch. Moments later, Young scored the first run of the inning on an RBI single to right center by freshman pinch hitter Ryan Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS). After advancing to third on the single by Seiz, Ethel scored the game-tying run on an RBI safety squeeze by senior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS).
Earlier in the game, the Golden Flashes used the long ball to build their advantage as third baseman Travis Shaw hit his second home run of the season in the seventh for the first run, while outfielder Ben Klafczynski hit his second home run of the season in the ninth inning for the two-run lead.
Despite the two home runs, the Louisville pitching staff was outstanding again on Friday as sophomore righty Matt Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) and junior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) combined to limit Kent State to just the two runs on seven hits in 11 innings. Matt Koch, making his third Friday start of the season, allowed just one run on five hits while matching a career-high with 8.0 innings of work. Self followed to allow just one run on two hits to earn his first win of the season and improve to 15-0 in his collegiate career.
For Kent State, lefty starter Andrew Chafin was outstanding allowing just one hit with 10 strikeouts in 7.0 shutout innings. He was followed by Justin Gill, who pitched 1.0 scoreless inning of relief before giving way to McMillen, who allowed three runs on three hits in 2.1 innings of relief to take the loss and fall to 0-1 on the season.
Pitching and defense dominated the first six innings of the game for both squads. Chafin pitched five hitless innings before junior second baseman Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) earned the Cardinals' first hit of the game with his two-out single in the sixth.
With Matt Koch pitching well for Louisville, the Cardinals' defense helped keep the Golden Flashes off the scoreboard through the first six innings with several outstanding plays. Haynes ended the third inning by throwing out Joe Koch at home as he tried to score from second on a two-out single to left by Jimmy Rider. With a runner at third base and two outs in the fourth, Wright had a terrific diving stop to his left on a T.J. Sutton grounder to end that scoring threat. Kent State's fifth inning ended with Louisville junior outfielder Stewart Ijames laying out to make a diving catch in deep right field on a fly ball off the bat of Derek Toadvine and then throwing to first base to double-up base runner Joe Koch.