March 25, 2012
Box Score |
Recap by Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Cole Sturgeon specialized in the art of the pick-me-up on Sunday at Jim Patterson Stadium. In the process, he proved the value of his duality.
While No. 21 Louisville notched a series sweep of BIG EAST rival Cincinnati with a one-sided 12-4 victory, there were a few tense moments in the latter half of the game, and that's when Sturgeon delivered his best work.
The versatile sophomore tallied career highs of four hits and five RBI, but just as important was his crucial 1.2 innings of scoreless relief for Louisville (18-6, 3-0 BIG EAST). While Cincinnati (8-14, 0-3) didn't score a ton of runs, the Bearcats did collect 12 hits and consistently threatened. The biggest scare came in the seventh inning after they scored one unearned run and loaded the bases with one out against sophomore right-hander Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS). With his team leading 8-4 and the tying run at the plate, Sturgeon jogged in from left field and promptly struck out first baseman Nic Spence and shortstop Matt Williams to quash the threat.
For the 11th straight game, Louisville struck for at least one run in the first inning. On this occasion, the Cardinals pushed four across to increase their margin of scoring over their opponents in opening frames this season to 49-4. Louisville has scored three runs or more in the initial inning in five consecutive games.
Sophomore centerfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) didn't waste any time extending his hitting streak to 13 games when he led off by firing a single to right field. After sophomore leftfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy HS) was hit by a pitch and senior first baseman Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) walked, freshman shortstop Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) roped a two-run double down the left field line. Sophomore third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) followed with an RBI ground out, and sophomore designated hitter Ryan Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS) topped off the charge with an RBI double to left.
Seiz made the most of his third start of the season. In addition to his two-bagger in the first, he lined an RBI single to left in Louisville's four-run third. Before Seiz came to the plate, Lucas laced an RBI single and Young whacked an RBI double. Sturgeon pushed the Cardinals' lead to 8-1 when he poked a two-run single to center.
Louisville's offense went stagnant for a few innings as Cincinnati crept back into the game. However, Sturgeon followed his clutch relief work in the seventh with an RBI single in the bottom half. The Cardinals then poured in three more runs in the eighth on Sturgeon's two-run single and an RBI single by sophomore third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS).
On the mound, senior right-hander Travis Tingle (Louisville, Ky./Cleveland State CC) moved to 4-1 after striking out seven while allowing seven hits and two earned runs in five innings. Tingle struck out the side in the second inning. Junior right-hander Matt Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Cherokee Washington HS) did the same in the ninth, cutting down the Bearcats in order to secure Louisville's seventh straight win and Cincinnati's eighth consecutive loss.
Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) finally proved human. Louisville's junior second baseman saw his hitting streak come to an end at 14 and his consecutive games streak of reaching base stop at 23 after going 0-for-6. Third baseman Joey Bielek made a diving stop to prevent Ratajczak from a hit in the third inning, and Ratajczak smoked a line drive right at first baseman Spence in the seventh.
Ijames had an odd day at the plate. By his last plate appearance, he was still 0-for-0 after walking three times and getting hit another. He rifled a line drive single in his final at-bat and scored his third run.
Sturgeon led Louisville's 15-hit attack by going 4-for-5 with five RBI. Lucas went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs, Seiz had two hits, two runs and two RBI, and Young added two hits and two RBI. Sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) doubled and Engel, Ijames and Chittenden all had one hit apiece.
Leftfielder Braden Kline led Cincinnati's 12-hit haul by going 3-for-5 with three RBI. Rightfielder Justin Glass and Bielek had two hits apiece. Starting pitcher Thomas Gentile (1-1) took the loss, allowing eight earned runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings. Four other Bearcats pitched.
Louisville plays at Purdue at 4 p.m. on Tuesday before hosting BIG EAST rival Villanova at 6 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
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