Louisville junior OF Stewart Ijames
March 25, 2011
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Junior outfielder Stewart Ijames was 3-for-5 with a season-high five RBI to guide the 27th-ranked Louisville baseball team to an 11-2 series opening road win over Rutgers on Friday at Bainton Field.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 14-7 overall and 1-0 in BIG EAST action, while Rutgers dropped to 7-12 and 0-1 on the season with the loss. The series will continue on Saturday at 1 p.m., ET, while first pitch for Sunday's series finale is set for noon. Live audio for the entire series will be available to subscribers through CardsTV at UofLSports.com.
Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season to go with a pair of two-run doubles as the Cardinals out-hit the Scarlet Knights 13-7. Senior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) finished 2-for-5 and matched a career-high with three RBI, while senior catcher J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) and sophomore designated hitter Kyle Grieshaber (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS) had two hits and two runs scored each in the win.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Matt Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) was terrific for Louisville allowing only one run on six hits with three strikeouts in 7.1 innings to earn the win and improve to 3-2 this season. Friday's game marked the 15th time in 21 games this season the Louisville pitching staff has allowed two earned runs or fewer in a game.
For the second straight game, the Cardinals opened the scoring in the first inning plating a pair of runs on a one-out, two-run double down the left field line by Ijames for the 2-0 advantage on Friday. The strong start offensively was followed by a key defensive play for the Cardinals in the bottom of the inning when Ijames fielded a one-out single off the bat of third baseman D.J. Anderson and made an accurate throw home where Ethel tagged outfielder Brian O'Grady as he tried to score from second on the play.
After Rutgers broke through for a run in the third inning on an RBI infield single by Anderson, Louisville pushed its lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning on the home run by Ijames, a solo shot to right field on the first pitch of the inning from Rutgers starter Tyler Gebler.
The score remained that way until the seventh inning, when the Cardinals pushed their advantage to 4-1 with three straight two-out singles off Gebler. It started with a single to center by Ethel, who moved to second on a single to center by freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) and then scored on an RBI single to center by Haynes.
An inning later, Louisville matched its highest scoring inning of the season with five runs on five hits to push the advantage to 9-1. Ijames started the scoring with a two-run double down the right field line to plate Grieshaber and junior second baseman Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS). After Ijames scored the third run of the inning on a wild pitch, the final two runs were scored on a two-run single up the middle by Haynes.
The Cardinals added their final two runs in the ninth inning on a bases loaded RBI walk to sophomore third baseman Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) and an RBI groundout by freshman catcher Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy). The Scarlet Knights added an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth for the final 11-2 score.
Gebler took the loss for Rutgers after allowing six runs on nine hits in 7.0+ innings to fall to 1-3 overall.
- With Friday's win, the Cardinals improved to 16-4 all-time against Rutgers and extended their overall winning streak against the Scarlet Knights to seven. Louisville also improved to 8-2 all-time in games played in the state of New Jersey, including a 4-0 record on the road at Rutgers.
- After going their first 19 games without scoring in double-figures, the longest stretch to open the season since 1972, Louisville scored 11 runs in back-to-back wins over Kent State (11-2) and Rutgers (11-2) this week.
- Through 21 games this season, Louisville's pitching staff as a team ERA of 2.14 with 135 strikeouts and only 64 walks in 189.0 innings.
- With Friday's win, Louisville opened BIG EAST Conference play with a win for the fourth straight season. The Cardinals followed with another win for a 2-0 start in two of the previous three seasons.