Sophomore OF Cole Sturgeon
March 14, 2012
Recap by Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Mississippi sure does know how to spoil a kid's day, not to mention that of the Louisville baseball team. Count the Rebels' Matt Snyder and Zach Kirksey as the primary party poopers.
On an impeccable Wednesday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium, Kirksey launched a pair of home runs, including a prodigious grand slam, and Snyder cranked a two-run shot to highlight No. 12 Ole Miss' 22 hits as the Rebels collected an 18-8 victory over No. 21 Louisville.
Mississippi (14-3) put a damper on Elementary School Day. Approximately 1,500 enthusiastic students from Jefferson County filled up the stadium's seats to cheer on the Cardinals (11-6). Louisville gave the youngsters a lot of exciting action early with a five-run explosion in the first inning, the fourth time this season the Cardinals have put five on the board.
However, things quickly dissolved from there. With the bases loaded in the third inning, Kirksey belted a grand slam that traveled well beyond the right field fence. It gave Ole Miss a 6-5 lead and the Rebels never trailed after that. The senior designated hitter added a solo shot in the sixth inning and has tallied eight home runs in just 12 games played this season. He went 2-for-5 and drove in five runs to boost his team-best RBI total to 30.
Snyder also was a handful for Louisville's pitchers. He smacked a two-run homer to right in the fourth inning and also registered a two-run double in the Rebels' seven-run fifth inning. His standout afternoon included a sacrifice fly in his first at-bat followed by a double, homer and another double. He finished 3-for-4 with five RBI.
As it has with frequency this season, Louisville's offense attacked in the first inning. Sophomore centerfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) and junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) produced back-to-back singles before senior first baseman Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) lined a two-run single with one out. After a single by sophomore third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep), freshman designated hitter Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) roped a two-run double down the left field line and sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) concluded the outburst with a two-out RBI single for a 5-2 lead.
Tanner Bailey relieved Josh Laxer after the first inning and retired the Cardinals in order over the next three innings. Louisville managed three runs in the fifth without a hit - three Cardinals were hit by pitches and two others walked. The Rebels didn't allow a run the rest of the way, yielding six of Louisville's seven hits in the first inning. Bailey (1-0) notched the win and teamed with four fellow relievers to allow three runs on one hit over the final eight innings.
Ratajczak extended his hitting streak to eight games after going 1-for-4 with two runs. He singled in his first at-bat for his fifth straight hit against Ole Miss - he went 4-for-4 on Tuesday. Sturgeon led Louisville with two hits while Ijames had a hit and three RBI, Lucas added a two-run double, and Engel and Young had one hit apiece.
Louisville's pitchers allowed season highs in runs and hits. Freshman right-hander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) fell to 1-2 after allowing six hits and four earned runs in 2.1 innings. The Cardinals used five relievers, with sophomore left-hander Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Cherokee Washington HS) and junior right-hander Andy Flett (Fenton, Mo./Lindbergh HS) combining to allow one run over the final three innings. It was Flett's first appearance this season and he gave up a hit and no runs in the ninth.
Louisville and Ole Miss split the two-game series after the Cardinals took the opener 4-3. The two outings against the Rebels began a nine-game homestand. The Cardinals will host Ball State in a three-game set this weekend, with matchups starting at 6 p.m., ET on Friday and 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.