April 19, 2009
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -
Andrew Clark's RBI single in the 14th inning scored Josh Richmond for the winning run, while Dean Kiekhefer pitched two scoreless innings of relief for the victory as the Louisville Cardinals completed their second straight BIG EAST series sweep with a 4-3 win at Rutgers on Sunday afternoon at Bainton Field.
Louisville improved to 6-0 in extra-inning games this season, 11-4 in the BIG EAST and 27-10 overall with the win, which capped the third series sweep overall this season. The Cards are tied for second with West Virginia in the BIG EAST standings, just one game behind league-leading USF, with four weeks left in the regular-season.
With the game tied at 3-3, Richmond led off the 14th inning with a single through the left side to start the rally. After moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore outfielder Drew Haynes, Richmond scored as Clark sent a 1-1 pitch from Rutgers reliever Ryan Beard back up the middle for his only hit on the day and the go-ahead run. Kiekhefer, a sophomore lefty, closed the game out in the home half of the 14th with three ground ball outs to earn his third win of the season.
"Anytime you can go on the road and get a sweep, you're pleased with that result," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. "This caps a 3-1 week for our team and keeps the momentum going into another big set of games next week."
Kiekhefer came out of the bullpen for the second time this season to close a good day for the Louisville pitching staff. Freshman righty Mike Nastold started the strong performance as the Cincinnati native struck out a career high nine batters while allowing only one earned run on five hits in 7.0 innings. Sophomore lefty Bob Revesz came on to give the Cardinals 3.0 scoreless innings of relief and allowed only one hit, while sophomore righty Gabriel Shaw allowed only one run on two hits in his 2.0 innings of relief.
Leading the way for the Louisville bats on Sunday was junior third baseman Chris Dominguez
and senior outfielder Alec Lowrey
with two hits each, while Dominguez added his team-leading 47th RBI in the win.
After not trailing in the first two games of the series on Friday and Saturday, Louisville finally found itself behind on Sunday as Rutgers (15-22, 3-12) took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning after first baseman Jaren Matthews led off by sending an 0-1 pitch from Nastold over the right field wall for his third home run of the season. Following a scoreless sixth inning, the Scarlet Knights made it 2-0 in the seventh inning as Matthews led off the inning with an infield single, moved to second on a fielding error by Dominguez on a sacrifice bunt by RU catcher Jayson Hernandez, moved to third on a 4-6 fielder's choice by centerfielder Luis Feliz and then scored on a successful double steal.
After a slow start at the plate, the Cardinals finally broke through in the eighth inning with two runs on two hits to tie the game. Lowrey started the inning with a single up the middle off Scarlet Knights' starter Dennis Hill. Lowrey was then replaced with pinch runner Nate Holland, who advanced to second on a walk to Haynes. After both players advanced with stolen bases, Holland scored the Cards' first run as Rutgers' left fielder Steven Zavala dropped a flyball off the bat of Clark.
After Hill was replaced on the mound by reliever Jason Downey, Dominguez singled through the right side to score Haynes from second and tie the score at 2-2.
The score remained tied until the 11th inning, when Haynes singled to center field to score Ryan Wright for Louisville's first lead of the day at 3-2. Wright led off the inning with a hard-hit ball to third baseman D.J. Anderson, which was ruled an error, moved to second on a single by junior catcher Jeff Arnold and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior shortstop John Dao.
However, the Louisville lead was short-lived as Rutgers right fielder Michael Lang connected on a 3-1 pitch from Shaw for his sixth home run of the season to tie the game at 3-3 after the 11th. The Scarlet Knights went on to get their leadoff hitter on base in both the 12th and 13th innings only to see double-plays by the Cards' defense end the scoring threats. The Cardinals turned a season-high five double plays one day after turning their second triple play of the season to end Saturday's 7-4 win over Rutgers.
Beard took the loss for the Knights after allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts in 3.2 innings to fall to 0-2 on the season, while the starter, Hill, allowed two runs on just three hits in his 7.1 innings.
Up next, the Cardinals will travel to Bloomington, Ind., for their second meeting of the season with the Indiana Hoosiers on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. U of L defeated IU 15-1 on April 7 in Louisville. Following the IU game, the Cards will host Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.
- The 11-4 conference record for the Cardinals matches the best 15-game record for the team in their four seasons in the BIG EAST Conference. The 2007 Cardinals were also 11-5 through 15 games en route to a 19-8 BIG EAST record that season and a third-place finish in the regular-season race.
- After allowing only two earned runs in Sunday's 14-inning win, Louisville dropped its team ERA to a season-low 3.94. All three of the Cards' starting pitchers for the Rutgers series now have ERA's under 4.00 - sophomore righty Thomas Royse at 2.75; junior lefty Justin Marks at 3.10; and freshman righty Mike Nastold at 3.52.
- With Sunday's win, Louisville improved to 10-2 in the month of April, including three straight series wins.