Louisville junior RHP Neil Holland
March 23, 2010
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The No. 7 Louisville baseball team scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning and junior righty Neil Holland closed the door in the bottom of the ninth as the Cardinals escaped with an 8-7 win over Evansville on Tuesday afternoon at Braun Stadium.
With the win, the Cardinals improve to 18-2 overall to maintain their best start in head coach Dan McDonnell's four seasons, while Evansville dropped to 10-12 with the loss. Tuesday's win for Louisville also clinched a sweep of the two-game series with the Purple Aces.
Trailing 7-6 entering the ninth inning, Louisville scored two runs on Evansville closer Tom Heithhoff to regain the lead for good. After leading off the inning with a single to left field, junior Phil Wunderlich (Chicago, Ill./Downers Grove HS) scored on an RBI double to right center by freshman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) in his only plate appearance of the day to even the score at 7-7. Wasserman, who moved to third on the throw home following his double, scored the game-winning run moments later on a perfect squeeze bunt single by junior Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS).
That set up the bottom of the ninth inning, where Holland, who also recorded the final out of the eighth inning, allowed only one infield hit and recorded the final three outs of the game to earn the win and improve to 3-0 on the season. In 20.0 innings of relief this season, Holland (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) has allowed only one earned run on four hits with 23 strikeouts. He also leads the team with four saves and has a microscopic 0.45 ERA.
On the mound for the Cardinals, redshirt freshman righty Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) allowed four runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings in his second career start, while junior lefty Bob Revesz (Grove City, Pa./Grove City HS) came out of the bullpen for 2.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Sophomore Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) allowed two runs on three hits in 1.0 inning of relief, while junior righty Gabriel Shaw (Paducah, Ky./St. Mary's HS) allowed only one unearned run on one hit in 0.2 inning before Holland closed the game.
Louisville opened the scoring in the first inning as Duvall hammered the first of two doubles on the day for him, moved to third with his fourth stolen base and then scored on a throwing error by Evansville catcher John Day for a 1-0 lead.
An inning later, the Purple Aces gained their first lead of the day with three runs on four hits in the second. The scoring started as Day scored on an RBI single up the middle by Alex Acheson. One batter later, Acheson and Eric Stamets scored on a two-run triple to center by Greg Wallace for a 3-1 advantage.
However, the Cardinals regained the lead in the next half inning thanks to three runs on three hits for a 4-3 advantage. After reaching base with his second double of the day and his team-leading 15th of the season, Duvall scored on the mammoth home run to right center by Wunderlich to even the score at 3-3. Ijames then followed with his home run, a moon shot to right field, to give the Cardinals the lead back.
The two teams exchanged runs in the fourth inning to keep the margin at one. Haynes reached base with a single up the middle, moved to second with the first of two stolen bases on the day and then scored on an RBI single to left field by junior J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) to push the lead to 5-3. However, the Purple Aces cut the advantage to 5-4 as Nate Smith scored on an RBI sacrifice fly to right center by Stamets. Haynes made a spectacular diving catch on the fly ball from Stamets to save at least one run. Louisville pushed the margin to 6-4 in the sixth inning as sophomore Mike Morrison (Fort Wayne, Ind./Bishop Luers HS) walked, was replaced by pinch runner Drew Fitzpatrick, who then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ethel and scored on an RBI single to left field by Grieshaber.
The lead remained that way until the seventh inning, when Evansville scored two runs on three hits and one costly defensive mistake by the Cardinals. After two quick outs to start the inning for Self, Wallace singled to left center and moved to third as Duvall was unable to haul in a pop-up in shallow left field off the bat of Cody Fick. Both players scored moments later on a two-run single through the left side by Trentt Copeland.
In the eighth inning, Evansville regained the lead with an unearned run against Shaw for a 7-6 advantage. After a pair of outs to open the inning, Smith reached base and advanced to second after his fly ball to left center bounced off the glove of Grieshaber for an error. Smith then scored the go-ahead run from second as Wasserman was unable to glove a low throw from Duvall following a ground ball by Acheson and that set the stage for the Cardinals' ninth inning rally.
Heithhoff took the loss for the Purple Aces after allowing two runs on three hits in the ninth to fall to 2-3 on the season. Overall, Evansville used six pitchers in the losing effort.
Up next, Louisville will open BIG EAST Conference action with a three-game home series against Connecticut on Friday (6 p.m. ET), Saturday (1 p.m. ET) and Sunday (1 p.m. ET) at Jim Patterson Stadium. Admission is free for the series, which will be a rematch of last year's BIG EAST Tournament title game won by Louisville, 11-3.
- With his 2-for-4 day at the plate on Tuesday, Adam Duvall regains the team lead in hitting at .391 overall. He also leads the team with 15 doubles, is second in home runs with six and tied for third in RBI with 19.
- Junior Phil Wunderlich leads the Cardinals with 10 home runs and 29 RBI in 20 games and is third in hitting at .376 overall.
- The 18-2 record through 20 games is two games better than the Cardinals' 16-4 record in 2007, McDonnell's first season in Louisville and one that ended in the school's first ever College World Series appearance. The 2009 team was 14-6 through 20 games, while the 2008 squad was 13-7.
- Tuesday's win was the 11th comeback win of the season for Louisville. The Cardinals also trailed in their March 3 win over Evansville at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville.