March 27, 2011
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - After winning the first two games of the weekend, the 27th-ranked Louisville baseball team dropped its series finale to Rutgers 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Bainton Field.
With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to 15-8 overall and 2-1 in BIG EAST Conference games, while Rutgers improved to 8-13 on the season and 1-2 in league games with the win. The loss, which was the first ever for the Cardinals at Rutgers, ended Louisville's eight-game winning streak overall against the Scarlet Knights.
After scoring 20 runs on 24 hits in winning the first two games of the weekend, the Cardinals managed only six hits in the series finale. Junior right-hander Nathaniel Roe led the Rutgers' pitching staff on Sunday allowing only two runs on five hits with four strikeouts in 7.1 innings to get the win and improve to 2-4 on the season. After lefty Rob Corsi came on to record the final two outs of the eighth, righty Jerry Elsing pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the season.
For Louisville, sophomore righty starter Mike Nastold (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder HS) suffered his second straight loss to fall to 2-2 on the season after allowing two earned runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 5.0 innings. At the plate, no Louisville player had more than one hit as junior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) hit his sixth home run of the season and his fourth this week for the first run, while sophomore designated hitter Kyle Grieshaber (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS) had an RBI sacrifice fly for the Cardinals' final run.
Rutgers opened the scoring in Sunday's game with a three-run first inning that turned out to be enough for the Scarlet Knights. After back-to-back walks from Nastold to leftfielder Brian O'Grady and second baseman Nick Favatella started the inning, Cards' sophomore third baseman Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) committed a throwing error while fielding a sacrifice bunt off the bat of rightfielder Michael Lang, which allowed O'Grady to score for the 1-0 lead. Third baseman D.J. Anderson followed with an RBI groundout to score Favatella from third for the second run of the inning. Moments later, Lang scored from third just ahead of a throw from Louisville freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) after he fielded a groundball off the bat Michael Zavala for the 3-0 lead.
The score remained that way until the seventh inning when Ijames sent a 1-2 pitch from Roe over the wall in left field to cut the deficit to 3-1. It marked the fourth straight game Ijames has homered. However, the Scarlet Knights answered back in the bottom of the seventh to push the lead to 4-1 on an RBI single to center by Anderson.
The Cardinals cut the RU lead to 4-2 in the eighth inning on the bases loaded, RBI sac fly by Grieshaber, but were unable to get any closer despite having the bases loaded with only one out in the inning.
Up next, Louisville will open a four-game homestand at Jim Patterson Stadium against Western Kentucky on Tuesday at 6 p.m., ET and admission is free.
- With Sunday's loss, the Cardinals dropped to 17-5 all-time against Rutgers while ending their winning streak against the Scarlet Knights at eight. Louisville also dropped to 9-3 all-time in games played in the state of New Jersey, including a 5-1 record on the road at Rutgers.
- Despite their struggles at the plate on Sunday, the Cardinals scored 32 runs in four 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 scored 22 runs in the series at Rutgers with 18 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 did achieve that feat twice in the series.
- Through 23 games this season, Louisville's pitching staff as a team ERA of 2.14 with 151 strikeouts and only 70 walks in 206.0 innings.
- Senior outfielder Drew Haynes leads the Cardinals in hitting at .328, while junior outfielder Stewart Ijames leads Louisville with six home runs and 24 RBI. Junior second baseman Ryan Wright is second on the team in hitting at .318, second in home run with three and second in RBI with 15.