Louisville sophomore RHP Mike Nastold
April 3, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The 23rd-ranked Louisville baseball team won its second straight BIG EAST Conference series with a 6-3 victory over visiting West Virginia in front of a crowd of 1,833 at Jim Patterson Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 18-9 overall and 4-2 in BIG EAST games, while the Mountaineers dropped to 17-13 on the season and 3-3 in league games with the loss. After two weeks of conference action, Louisville is alone in second place in the BIG EAST standings, one game behind league leader Connecticut.
Sophomore right-hander Mike Nastold (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder HS) led the Louisville pitching staff on Sunday allowing only three hits with five strikeouts and no earned runs in 5.1 innings to get the win and improve to 3-2 on the season. Junior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) followed by matching a career high with five strikeouts in 2.2 innings of shutout relief, while junior right-hander Tony Zych closed out the game in the ninth inning as the Cardinals allowed two earned runs or fewer for the 19th time in 27 games this season.
At the plate, freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) was 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored to follow his 3-for-3, two-run performance in Saturday's win. The left-handed hitting Gardner, who was 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter in Friday's loss, entered the weekend 0-for-7 at the plate in his young career before finishing the series 6-for-8 with two RBI and three runs.
Senior catcher J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) also had a good day at the plate for Louisville going 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs. Freshman first baseman Ryan Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS) finished 2-for-3 with two runs, while freshman outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
Louisville opened the scoring in Sunday's game in the second inning as Ethel sent a 2-0 pitch from WVU starter Andy Berry into left field for a one-out RBI single for the 1-0 lead. Seiz scored on the play after reaching base with a triple off the wall in center field prior to Ethel's at-bat.
West Virginia gained its first lead of the day a half inning later with two unearned runs against Nastold. With two outs and two runners on base, Cardinals' leftfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) was unable to catch a deep fly ball off the bat of WVU's Justin McDavid, which allowed Mark Dvoroznak and Brady Wilson to score for the 2-1 advantage.
The Cardinals moved back in front for good in the fourth inning with an RBI groundout by freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) to score Ethel and a two-out RBI single to left field by Sturgeon to score Gardner for the 3-2 lead. An inning later, Louisville added three more runs to push its advantage to 6-2 over the Mountaineers. After junior second baseman Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) scored the first run of the inning on a wild pitch, the Cardinals added their final two runs of the frame on a two-run double by Gardner to score Seiz and Ethel.
The Mountaineers added a run in the ninth inning on an RBI single to left field by pinch hitter Isac Franklin for the final 6-3 margin. Berry took the loss for WVU and fell to 4-2 on the season after allowing six runs, including five earned, on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Through 27 games this season, the Louisville pitching staff has a team ERA of just 2.12 with 179 strikeouts and only 80 walks in 242.0 innings. With his ninth appearance of the season on Sunday, Self lowered his ERA this season to just 0.68 to go with his 2-0 record, while Nastold now has an ERA of only 1.74 in his seven starts this season.
Up next, Louisville will take to the road to face Western Kentucky on Tuesday at 7 p.m., ET at Bowling Green Ballpark, the home of the Class A Bowling Hot Rods in downtown Bowling Green. Last Tuesday, the Cardinals earned a 3-1 win over the Hilltoppers at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville.