March 20, 2012
Box Score |
Recap by Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ty Young is the incumbent BIG EAST Player of the Week. On Tuesday evening, the Louisville baseball team's sophomore third baseman got his candidacy for re-election off to an encouraging start, although Nick Ratajczak and Jeff Gardner are giving him a run for his money.
Young smacked a homer in the first inning for the second straight game, Ratajczak and Gardner teamed for nine hits, and the No. 21 Cardinals shattered their season high in runs by the third inning of a 20-0 triumph over Ohio State at a crowded Jim Patterson Stadium. The margin of victory was the largest since 1980, when Louisville defeated Capitol 23-1.
Once again Louisville (15-6) raided the scoring column in the first inning. The Cardinals rung up four runs against Ohio State (10-8) and pushed their streak of scoring in the opening frame to eight games. Louisville has owned the first inning this season, outscoring its opponents by an eye-popping tally of 34-4.
Speaking of streaks, Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) hiked his hitting streak to 12 games and was the catalyst of the four-run first inning, beating out an infield single to establish himself as Louisville's first base runner. Ratajczak scored on an expertly placed hit-and-run double by Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy HS) and also crossed the plate after singling twice and doubling in his next three at-bats. He became the first Cardinal since Andrew Clark in 2010 to record five hits in a game when he singled in the fifth. Ratajczak finished 5-for-5 with four runs and boosted his batting average to .451.
Gardner had his best outing of the season with career bests of four hits and four RBI. With Ratajczak striding toward second on a steal attempt in the first inning, Gardner whizzed a line drive into the vacated shortstop spot and it found the gap for an RBI double that opened the floodgates. Gardner collected RBI singles in his next three at-bats, combining with Ratajczak to go 9-for-9 in their first nine plate appearances.
Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) was coming off a torrid five-game stretch where he batted .529 and cracked his first career homer, which came in his first at-bat in Sunday's series finale against Ball State. After entering the batter's box for the first time against Ohio State, Young drilled a two-run homer over the right field fence and finished 2-for-3 with three RBI and three runs. He's hitting a team-best .453.
Runs kept pouring in for Louisville, which has won five of six. The Cardinals followed their four-run first with six runs apiece in the second and third, when they batted around both times. Junior designated hitter Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) highlighted the second-inning explosion by clearing the bases with a three-run double to left center. Louisville surpassed its season high of 14 runs in the third inning on a two-run single by sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS). The Cardinals bested their top hitting tally when sophomore infielder Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) registered the team's 18th hit in the sixth inning.
Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) capped Louisville's 19-hit spree in style. The freshman shortstop belted the first home run of his Cardinals career in the sixth, a two-run shot that cleared the fence in left. Sophomore centerfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) extended his hitting streak to 10 games, stole his 16th base and also gunned down a Buckeyes runner at the plate in the fifth to preserve the shutout.
Starter Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) set the tone for the pitching gem with five shutout innings. The freshman right-hander allowed four hits and one walk while striking out two and improving to 3-0. Sophomore left-hander Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Cherokee Washington HS), freshman right-hander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS), sophomore right-hander Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS) and junior right-hander Matt Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Cherokee Washington HS) all pitched one inning of scoreless relief, combining to allow a single hit.
Gibson was 2-for-3 with two RBI, Wasserman added a three-run double and senior first baseman Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) and sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) both contributed RBI singles.
Shortstop Kirby Pellant had two hits and stole his 13th base for Ohio State. Starter John Kuchno (3-1) allowed 10 earned runs on eight hits in 1.2 innings pitched. Kuchno entered the game with a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings. Four others pitched for the Buckeyes.
Louisville opens BIG EAST Conference play this weekend when the Cardinals welcome Cincinnati for a 6 p.m., ET game on Friday and 1 p.m., contests on Saturday and Sunday.
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