April 9, 2013
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - With the help of two ninth inning errors, Western Kentucky pulled a 6-5 walk-off upset of the eighth-ranked Louisville baseball team on Tuesday night at Bowling Green Ballpark.
In a tie game, the visiting Cardinals (25-7) committed back-to-back errors to begin the ninth inning and set the table for the Hilltoppers (18-15), who improved to 3-0 against UofL at Bowling Green Ballpark. The decisive frame started with outfielder Jordan Cessna reaching base on a throwing error by Louisville sophomore shortstop Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) on a grounder against righty reliever Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS). Moments later, catcher Aaron Gershenfeld (Champaign, Ill./Butler University) threw wide of freshman first baseman Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) after fielding a bunt by outfielder Trevor Lowe. The last of four errors on the day for the Cardinals moved Cessna to third and Lowe to second with no outs in the ninth.
Following an intentional walk to second baseman Steve Hodgins, lefty Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) took over for Kime on the mound. Sturgeon quickly forced shortstop Scott Wilcox into a popup for the first out of the inning. Sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) followed out of the Louisville bullpen and struck out first baseman Ryan Huck for the second out of the inning. However, outfielder Regan Flaherty managed to send a flare into shallow right field to plate Cessna for the game-winner.
The dramatic finish to the midweek game was setup in the top of the ninth inning when Sturgeon turned a 5-3 Louisville deficit into a tie game with his first home run of the season, a two-run shot down the right field line off Western Kentucky reliever Justin Hageman. After junior outfielder Coco Johnson led off the inning with a walk, Sturgeon followed by connecting on a 1-2 pitch for his second career home run.
WKU reliever Josh Bartley replaced Hageman on the mound after the home run and successfully recorded three outs while keeping the game even. Bartley earned the win with his inning of shutout relief to improve to 2-0 on the season. Despite allowing only an unearned run in less than an inning of relief, Kime took the loss for the Cardinals and dropped to 2-1 on the season.
The walk-off finish capped a frustrating for the Cardinals, who allowed three unearned runs with those four errors while also leaving 14 runners on base. Louisville finished with an 11-8 edge in hits, earned five walks and was hit four times providing ample opportunities for the win. Sturgeon led the way at the plate for UofL going 2-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Tuesday's game started with three scoreless innings before the Cardinals found the scoring column first plating a run in the top of the fourth against WKU lefty starter Austin Clay. Junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) delivered a two-out RBI single to centerfield to score Sturgeon for the 1-0 lead. Sturgeon started the inning with an infield single and moved to second when senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) was hit by a pitch before scoring on the Crain single.
However, the lead for Louisville was short-lived as the Hilltoppers connected for a pair of two-run home runs in the bottom of the fourth. After a leadoff double down the left field line by Wilcox, Huck sent a1-0 pitch from Louisville lefty starter Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky) over the wall in right center for his team-leading 10th home run and a 2-1 lead. Later in the inning, the Hilltoppers took advantage of a Louisville error to extend the inning when catcher Ryan Messex reached on a two-out fielding error by Cards' second baseman Nick Ratajczak. Second baseman Blake Crabtree followed by hitting his first career home run on a shot to left center just out of the reach of a leaping Johnson off sophomore righty Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) for a 4-1 lead.
Two innings later, the Cardinals cut the deficit to a single run after plating a pair of runs off WKU reliever Jake Thompson. Louisville started the inning with a single to center from junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS), a walk by Ratajczak and an infield single by junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep). After Thompson was replaced on the mound by lefty Ian Tompkins, Sturgeon grounded out to second to plate Engel for the first run of the inning. Moments later, Ratajczak scored from third on a wild pitch by Tompkins to cut the Hilltoppers' lead to 4-3.
After Louisville left two more on base in the top of the eighth, WKU managed to add an insurance run in the bottom of the inning without the help of a hit. After issuing a leadoff walk to Wilcox, sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) threw wide of Kidston at first on a pickoff attempt allowing the WKU baserunner to move to third. Moments later, a wild pitch by Filomeno plated Wilcox for the 5-3 cushion.
Making his first start of the season, McGrath allowed two runs on four hits with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work as the first of eight Louisville pitchers on the day. For WKU, Clay allowed just one run on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts in five innings as the first of six Hilltopper pitchers.
Up next, the Cardinals return home to Southern Conference foe Elon for a three-game non-conference series at Jim Patterson Stadium starting Friday at 6 p.m., ET. Saturday's game is set for a 3 p.m., first pitch, while Sunday's weekend finale will start at 1 p.m. Admission is free throughout the weekend.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- With Tuesday's loss, Louisville trails 63-59 in the all-time series with WKU, which dates back to 1924.
- The Cardinals dropped to 0-3 all-time at Bowling Green Ballpark against the Hilltoppers.
- The Cardinals have lost three straight midweek games dating back to March 27.
- Louisville lost for just the third time in 24 games this season when out-hitting its opponent.
- The 14 runners left on base for Louisville is one shy of the season-high of 15, which has been achieved twice this season.
- With his 13th multi-hit performance of the season, which is tied for the team lead, Ty Young has hit safely in nine straight games overall.
- Young has also reached base safely in 15 straight games, the longest such streak of the season for a Louisville player.
- Tuesday was Cancer Awareness Night for WKU with both squads wearing specialty uniforms featuring the color pink.