Louisville junior 2B Ryan Wright
March 26, 2011
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Junior second baseman Ryan Wright finished 4-for-5 with a home run, five RBI and three runs scored as the 27th-ranked Louisville baseball team rolled to a 9-2 series-clinching win at Rutgers on Saturday afternoon at Bainton Field.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 15-7 overall and 2-0 in BIG EAST action, while Rutgers dropped to 7-13 on the season and 0-2 in league games with the loss. The series will conclude on Sunday at noon ET, and live audio for the game will be available to subscribers through CardsTV at UofLSports.com.
Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) matched career-highs in hits and RBI as he finished with two singles, a triple and his 24th career home run to lead Louisville, which has scored 30 runs in three games this week. Junior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) continued his good weekend going 2-for-4 with his team-leading fifth home run and three RBI. In Friday's series opener, Ijames was 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) improved to 5-0 this season after matching a career-high with seven strikeouts and allowing only one earned run on seven hits in 6.0 innings. With their two-out run in the fourth inning, Rutgers ended Amlung's career best scoreless stretch at 18.2 innings. In his six starts this season, Amlung has an ERA of just 0.65 (three earned runs on 25 hits) with 30 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 41.2 innings pitched. He leads the BIG EAST in wins and ERA.
Junior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) followed Amlung with three shutout innings of relief and two strikeouts to earn his second career save and the first since his three-inning save against Villanova in 2009. In seven appearances out of the bullpen this season, Self is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.79 and 14 strikeouts in 22.1 innings of work.
Following three scoreless innings to open the game, the Cardinals broke through first in the fourth inning when Wright sent an 0-1 pitch from Rutgers lefty starter Rob Smorol over the wall in left field for his third home run of the season and a 1-0 advantage.
The Scarlet Knights answered back in the bottom of the fourth to even the score at 1-1 on a two-out, infield RBI single by centerfielder Brian O'Grady to plate leftfielder Steve Zavala. An inning later, Rutgers took its first lead of the weekend at 2-1 with an unearned run against Amlung. After reaching base on a throwing error by Louisville freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) to start the inning, rightfielder Michael Lang moved to second with second stolen base of the season and later scored on an RBI single to left by catcher Michael Zavala.
Rutgers held the one-run advantage until the seventh inning, when Louisville exploded for five runs on four hits and two Scarlet Knight errors for a 6-2 lead. With runners on first and second, RU shortstop Pat Sweeney gloved an infield single by Cards' sophomore designated hitter Kyle Grieshaber (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS) but threw wildly over the head of third baseman Russ Hopkins allowing senior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) to score the tying run.
Wright then followed with a two-run single to center off Scarlet Knights reliever Joe Esposito to score freshman outfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) and Grieshaber for the 4-2 lead. Ijames then closed the scoring in the inning by hammering the first pitch he saw from Esposito over the wall in right field for the two-run homer.
After a scoreless eighth inning, the Cardinals added their final three runs of the day in the ninth on a two-run triple to center by Wright and an RBI sacrifice fly to left by Ijames. Smorol took the loss for the Scarlet Knights after allowing four runs on five hits in 6.1 innings to fall to 1-4 on the season.
- With Saturday's win, the Cardinals improved to 17-4 all-time against Rutgers and extended their overall winning streak against the Scarlet Knights to eight. Louisville also improved to 9-2 all-time in games played in the state of New Jersey, including a 5-0 record on the road at Rutgers.
- The Cardinals have scored 30 runs through their first three games this week for their highest scoring week of the season. Louisville's previous high was 23 total runs in four games from March 8 through March 13.
- Louisville has scored 20 runs through the first two games of the series at Rutgers with 16 of those coming in the final three innings of each game. U of L had scored five or more runs in an inning only once entering the weekend, but has achieved that feat in each of the first two games of the series.
- The Cardinals have allowed only two earned runs in the first two games of the series at Rutgers. Through 22 games this season, Louisville's pitching staff as a team ERA of 2.09 with 144 strikeouts and only 68 walks in 198.0 innings.
- Junior second baseman Ryan Wright leads the Cardinals in hitting at .329 and is second on the team with three home runs and 15 RBI. Junior outfielder Stewart Ijames leads Louisville with five home runs and 23 RBI.
- With Saturday's win, Louisville opened BIG EAST Conference play with back-to-back wins for the third time in four seasons.