Louisville junior LHP Justin Marks
April 17, 2009
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Junior lefty Justin Marks moved to the top of the Louisville baseball program's career strikeout list while going the distance for his first ever complete game as the Cardinals earned a 6-1 series-opening win at Rutgers on Friday afternoon at Bainton Field.
An All-American from Owensboro, Ky., Marks had seven strikeouts on Friday to take his career total to 246 and surpass Brian Bentley's 243 atop the all-time list at Louisville. Marks, who improved to 6-2 on the season, is now the Cards' all-time leader in wins (25), ERA (2.66) and strikeouts in just three seasons in Louisville.
"It feels good to get that strikeout honor and to accomplish that goal," said Marks. "With the complete game, I was really more concerned with getting into the eighth inning because I hadn't done that yet this season. I wanted to keep the pitch count low and when Coach McDonnell sent me out in the ninth inning, I just wanted to close it out."
It was the Cardinals' second complete game in less than a week as sophomore Thomas Royse earned an eight-inning complete game win in U of L's 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh last Saturday, while Friday's performance was Louisville's first nine-inning complete game since Zack Pitts went the distance in a 6-2 win at Connecticut on April 13, 2007.
"I'm proud of Justin for the way he approached today's game and the way he executed on the mound to get his first complete game," said Cards' head coach Dan McDonnell. "It's a great honor for him to break the strikeout record and he just continues to add to his legacy as a Louisville Cardinal with every game."
Leading the way for the Cardinals (25-10, 9-4 BIG EAST) at the plate on Friday was freshman Ryan Wright, who finished 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored to lift his season average to .350. Sophomore second baseman Adam Duvall was also 3-for-5 with one RBI and two runs score and lifted his team-leading batting average to .352.
The Cardinals made it 3-0 in the third inning as Duvall led off with a single to left field, moved to third on a single to right field by junior first baseman Andrew Clark and later scored on a RBI single through the left side by Wright. Rutgers (15-20, 3-10) came back for its only run of the day in the third inning as third baseman Russ Hopkins singled through the right side, moved to second on his second stolen base of the season and then scored on an RBI ground-rule double to left center by designated hitter Pat Biserta to cut the Cards' lead to 3-1.
But that was as close as the Scarlet Knights would get as the Cardinals added a run in the fourth, another in the fifth and one more in the ninth to provide more than enough support for Marks, who seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Five of his seven strikeouts came in the final four innings, including his fifth of the day, a three-pitch strikeout of second baseman Brandon Boykin to pass Bentley on the Cards' career strikeout list.
"For me, whether I'm having success or struggling is usually just a matter of location," Marks said. "I didn't do a good job with my location early in the game, but after that third inning, I really keyed on my location and focused on making quality pitches. From there, I just wanted to throw strikes and put together quick innings, which I was able to do."
After that third inning for Marks, Louisville got the run back in the fourth as Haynes picked up a one-out walk, moved to second and then third with a pair of stolen bases to take his season total to 14 on 16 attempts and then scored on an RBI single to left center by Duvall. The Cardinals added another run in the fifth inning as Wunderlich was hit by another pitch, his team-leading 13th HBP of the season, and then scored on an RBI double to left center by Wright for a 5-1 advantage.
The Cardinals finished their scoring in the ninth inning as Duvall reached base on an infield single off Rutgers reliever Billy Murphy, moved to second with his 10th stolen base of the season, advanced to third on a groundout to second by Clark and then scored on an RBI double to left center by Wunderlich for the final 6-1 margin.
Beard, making his fourth start of the season for Rutgers, took the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks in 4.1 innings to fall to 2-3 on the season.
Game two between the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights is set for Saturday at 1 p.m., while the series finale is Sunday at noon ET.
- With the win, the Cardinals improved to 25-10 overall for their best 35-game record in Dan McDonnell's three seasons in Louisville. The 2009 Cards' record is one win better than Louisville's 2007 College World Series squad, which was 24-11 after 35 games.
- Friday's win, combined with Cincinnati's 11-8 win over St. John's, pushed Louisville into sole possession of third place in the BIG EAST standings with a 9-4 league record. The Cardinals remain two games out of first in the BIG EAST standings.
- With his three hits on Friday, junior second baseman Adam Duvall earned his 16th multi-hit game of the season, which is tied for the most on the Cards this season with sophomore outfielder Josh Richmond.