March 27, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With two of the nation's top hitting and highest scoring offenses squaring off, it was the pitching that stole the show as the Louisville baseball team suffered a 2-1 loss in 10 innings at Purdue in a Tuesday afternoon Top 20 matchup at Lambert Field.
The Cardinals, ranked as highly as No. 15 in this week's USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll, dropped to 18-7 on the season, while Purdue, ranked as highly as 15th by Perfect Game USA, improved to 17-4 overall. The loss ended Louisville's season-high seven-game winning streak.
The game-winning moment came in the bottom of the 10th when Purdue leftfielder Stephen Talbott connected for a one-out single to right center off Cardinals' senior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) to score first baseman Angelo Cianfrocco from third for the walk-off victory. Cianfrocco started the inning with a leadoff double down the left field line and moved to third on sacrifice bunt by Andrew Dixon to set the stage for Talbott's game-winner.
The final frame ended a day which saw the pitchers for both teams control most of the action. With both Louisville and Purdue ranked in the top five nationally in batting and in the top 20 in scoring entering the day, the pitchers worked to allow only 10 hits and three runs in the 10-inning affair. Both teams matched season lows with five hits each, while the Cardinals set a season low for runs.
A pair of freshmen starters set the tone on Tuesday as Louisville's Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) and Purdue's Connor Podkul were outstanding in finishing with no-decisions. Ruxer allowed just one run on three hits and matched a career-high with four strikeouts while working a career-long 7.0 innings in the fourth start of his young career. Podkul pitched 6.0 innings of no-hit baseball allowing one run on one walk and one hit-by-pitch with one strikeout for the Boilermakers.
Following Ruxer, sophomore righty Dace Kime
(Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) pitched 1.1 innings of shutout relief before giving way to Self, who recorded the final two outs of the ninth inning to send the game into the 10th. However, he allowed the final run of the day on two hits to suffer his first loss of the season and fall to 0-1 overall.
For the Boilermakers, lefty reliever Blake Mascarello followed Podkul with 4.0 innings of shutout relief scattering five hits and working out of a couple of Louisville scoring threats to earn the win and improve to 5-1 on the season.
Purdue opened the scoring in Tuesday's game as catcher Kevin Plawecki led off the second inning with a double down the left field line off Ruxer and scored moments later on an RBI single to right by rightfielder Barrett Serrato for the 1-0 lead. The back-to-back hits in the inning were two of the three allowed all day by the Louisville starter.
The Cardinals answered with a run in the fourth to even the score at 1-1 despite not having a hit in the inning. Junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) was hit by a pitch from Podkul to open the inning and moved to second moments later on a wild pitch. After moving to third on a deep flyout by sophomore outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy), Ratajczak scored on an RBI sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) for the only run of the game for the Cardinals.
Louisville looked to have chances to score in each of the final three innings of the game, but was unable to convert on the opportunities. In the eighth inning, the Cardinals had a runner at second and one out, but lined into an inning-ending double play to end that threat. In the ninth, U of L got a leadoff single by sophomore outfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS), but left him stranded on base with three straight flyball outs. And in the 10th, the Cardinals had runners at the corners with two outs only to see Purdue shortstop David Miller make a terrific play on a hot shot up the middle by sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) to end the threat.
Up next, Louisville returns home to host Villanova for game one of a BIG EAST Conference series on Friday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals and Wildcats will continue their series on Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.
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