April 8, 2011
CINCINNATI, Ohio -
Freshman outfielder Cole Sturgeon had two hits and scored three times while sophomore right-hander Matt Koch pitched into the eighth inning to lead the 25th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 7-4 series-opening win at Cincinnati on Friday night at Marge Schott Stadium.
With the win, the Cardinals improved to 19-10 overall and 5-2 in BIG EAST action, while the Bearcats dropped to 14-13 on the season and 3-4 in league games \with the loss. The series will continue on Saturday at 4 p.m., ET, while Sunday's weekend finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) finished 2-for-4 at the plate and scored the career best three runs to lead the way for Louisville. Freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) extended his career best four-game hitting streak with a 2-for-3 performance and two runs scored, while freshman third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) had a hit and three RBI. Junior second baseman Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) added two hits and an RBI in the win.
On the mound, Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) finished with seven strikeouts while allowing three runs on eight hits in 7.0+ innings of work to earn the victory and improve to 4-3 on the season. After relief appearances by freshman lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) and junior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS), junior right-hander Tony Zych (Monee, Ill./St. Rita HS) pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save of the season to close out the win.
The Cardinals opened the scoring in Friday's game in the first inning as Sturgeon led off the game with a single up the middle off UC starter Dan Jensen and scored moments later on an RBI double to right center by Young for the 1-0 advantage. However, the lead was short-lived as the Bearcats answered in the bottom of the first to even the score at 1-1 on an RBI double to right center by rightfielder Justin Riddell off Koch to plate shortstop Chris Peters.
Cincinnati earned its first lead of the night an inning later as leftfielder Braden Kline scored on a double to right center by first baseman Nic Spence for the 2-1 advantage. The Bearcats were threatening for more with runners on second and third and only one out, but Koch picked up back-to-back strikeouts of Peters and centerfielder Jake Proctor to end the threat.
U of L pulled even at 2-2 in the third inning as Sturgeon reached base with a double to right center and scored on a throwing error by Peters at shortstop. An inning later, the Cardinals regained the lead at 3-2 in the fourth as Gardner reached base with a one-out single to right, moved to second with his first career stolen base and scored on an RBI single to right center by freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS).
After a scoreless fifth inning, the Cardinals pushed their lead to 5-2 in the sixth with a pair of runs on three hits against Jensen. The inning started with a leadoff single by junior rightfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), who moved to second on an infield single by Gardner, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) and then scored on an RBI groundout by sophomore first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS). One batter later, Gardner scored the second run of the inning on a two-out RBI single up the middle by senior leftfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) for the three-run cushion.
The Bearcats scored two runs in the eighth to cut the Louisville lead to 5-4 as Proctor scored on an RBI groundout by Riddell and pinch runner Ronald Cotton scored on an RBI single through the left side by Braden Kline.
However, the Cardinals answered back in the top of the ninth with two runs of their own to push the advantage to 7-4. The inning started with a leadoff walk by pinch hitter Ryan Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS), who was then replaced by pinch runner Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS). After moving to second when Sturgeon was hit by a pitch, Engel advanced to third with his fourth stolen base of the season and then scored on an RBI groundout by Young for the first run. Sturgeon, who moved to second with his fourth stolen base of the season and advanced to third on the groundout by Young, later scored the final run of the game on an RBI triple to left center by Wright.
Jensen, the reigning BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week, allowed five runs, including four earned, on eight hits in 6.0 innings of work to suffer the loss and fall to 2-3 on the season. Riddell led the Bearcats at the plate going 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Kline finished with three hits, one run and one RBI.
- With Friday's win, Louisville improved to 86-79 in the all-time series with Cincinnati. The Cardinals have won seven of the last eight overall against the Bearcats.
- Louisville improved to 14-2 this season when scoring first. The Cardinals also improved to 18-1 when leading entering the ninth inning.
- With his two hits on Friday, Ryan Wright earned his 12th multi-hit game of the season, which leads Louisville.
- Freshman Cole Sturgeon has now reached base safely in 10 straight games, the third longest such streak of the season for a Cardinal.
- The Cardinals remained in second place in the BIG EAST Conference standings with Friday's win, just one game behind first-place Connecticut.