Senior 2B Nick Ratajczak
April 5, 2013
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak finished with a season-high four hits to go with two RBI and two runs scored to lead the ninth-ranked Louisville baseball team to a series-opening 8-3 win at Cincinnati on Friday night at Marge Schott Stadium.
With the victory, the Cardinals improved to 23-6 overall and 5-2 in BIG EAST Conference action, while the host Bearcats dropped to 11-16 on the season and 1-6 in league games. The two teams will continue their series on Saturday in the inaugural Reds Collegiate Invitational at Great American Ballpark, which is set to begin at approximately 4 p.m., ET or 30 minutes following the completion of the Reds' home game against the Washington Nationals at 1:10 p.m. The weekend finale with the Bearcats is set for a 1 p.m., first pitch back on campus at Marge Schott Stadium.
Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) finished 4-for-6 at the plate as the Cardinals out-hit the Bearcats 15-7 overall. The 15 hits for Louisville were the most since they had 16 against USC on March 19. Ratajczak was one of five Cardinals with multiple hits. Junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) was 2-for-5 with a triple, an RBI and two runs and junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) finished 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI and run. Freshman designated hitter Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh HS) added two hits, including a double, and a run scored and sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) chipped in with two hits, two runs and a stolen base.
On the mound, the Cardinals allowed only one earned run behind a solid start from junior righty Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS), who allowed only two unearned runs on three hits with three strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Following Green was junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS), who entered the game with two on and two outs in a two-run contest and promptly struck out leftfielder Justin Glass to end the inning. Ege was credited with the win to improve to 1-1 on the season.
Following Ege was junior righty Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS), who struck out four in a perfect two innings of relief, while sophomore righty Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) allowed one run on four hits with four strikeouts in two innings to close out the game.
The Cardinals opened the scoring early on Friday plating two runs on three hits in the first inning against UC starter Connor Walsh. After back-to-back singles from Ratajczak and Young, Johnson followed with an RBI groundout to plate Ratajczak for the 1-0 lead. Junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) added an RBI single through the right side to score Young for the two-run lead.
An inning later, Louisville pushed its lead to 3-0 on an RBI single to center by Ratajczak to score Whiting. The scoring chance started with a two-out bunt single by Whiting, who moved to second with his 11th stolen base of the season and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on the Ratajczak hit.
Two innings later, the Cardinals moved ahead 4-0 on an RBI single by junior designated Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) to score Johnson, who doubled earlier in the fifth inning. The Bearcats cut the deficit in half with a pair of unearned runs against Green in the bottom of the frame and threatened for more before Ege entered to end the inning with the go-head run at the plate.
The Cardinals answered the Bearcats' two runs in the fifth by scoring three in the sixth to push the lead to five at 7-2. After a leadoff walk to Whiting, Walsh was replaced on the mound by Thomas Gentile. After advancing to second on a sac bunt by junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS), Whiting scored moments later on an RBI single by Ratajczak. That was followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Young, who later scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch by Gentile.
The teams exchanged runs in the ninth inning as Engel connected for an RBI sac fly to score Rosenbaum for Louisville, while second baseman Colin Hawk came off the bench for the Bearcats to chip in with an RBI single. Walsh took the loss for Cincinnati allowing five runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and five walks in 5.0+ innings.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- With Friday's win, Louisville holds a 92-80 lead in the all-time series with Cincinnati, which dates back to 1924. The Cardinals have won five straight and 16 of the last 20 in the series.
- In Cincinnati, the Cardinals hold a 46-34 advantage against the Bearcats.
- With their two-spot in the first inning, the Cardinals have scored a run in the opening frame 15 times this season (14-1 record when doing so), including five straight overall.
- With their 15-hit performance on Friday night, the Cardinals have finished with 10 or more hits 16 times this season.
- The four hits for Nick Ratajczak on Friday were the most since his career-best five hits against Ohio State on March 20, 2012.
- Friday's performance was Ratajczak's team-leading 12th multi-hit outing of the season.
- After entering the week ranked second in the nation in sacrifice flies with 24, Adam Engel's ninth inning sac fly was the Cardinals' second this week pushing their season total to 26.
- With the Bearcats plating just one earned run on Friday, Louisville has allowed two or less earned runs in 18 of 29 games this season.
- Junior righty Dace Kime entered the game to start the sixth inning and promptly struck out the side in order becoming the first Louisville pitcher to do so since Joe Filomeno accomplished the feat in the ninth inning against Rutgers on March 23.
- The 4.2 innings of work on Friday for righty starter Chad Green was his second shortest outing of the season and the shortest since he went four innings on opening day (Feb. 15) against Indiana.