April 19, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. - Scoring two runs in the eighth inning and four more in the ninth, the eighth-ranked Louisville baseball team overcame a late three-run deficit to earn a 7-4 victory at St. John's in Friday night's series-opener at Jack Kaiser Stadium.
On a cool, windy and foggy night in New York, the Cardinals improved to 30-7 on the season and 8-2 in BIG EAST Conference contests after winning their fifth straight overall, while the host Red Storm dropped to 16-23 and 5-8 in league action. Louisville and St. John's will continue the three-game set on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., ET in a nationally televised game on CBS Sports Network. The weekend finale is set for Sunday at noon and will be televised by ESPN3.
Trailing 4-1 with only two innings left, the Cardinals began their rally scoring two runs in the eighth on a RBI double by junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) and an RBI groundout by junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC). An inning later, Louisville completed the comeback by pushing across four runs in the ninth despite no hits in the frame. It marked the Cardinals' ninth comeback win of the season and their eighth last at-bat win in 2013.
Gardner led the Louisville offense going 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Crain chipped in with an RBI single, while junior infielder Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) added a double and scored twice as the Cardinals won for the third time in seven tries.
On the mound, sophomore lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky) allowed only two unearned runs on two hits with three strikeouts in 2.1 innings of relief to earn the win and improve to 5-0 on the season. Sophomore right-hander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) followed McGrath by striking out two in a scoreless ninth inning for his seventh save of the season. Making his 10th start of the season, junior righty Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS) allowed two runs on six hits with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings while finishing with a no-decision.
The two-run eighth inning for the Cardinals started with Young doubling to right field and junior outfielder Coco Johnson
(Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) being hit by a pitch from St. John's starter James Lomangino. One batter later, Gardner belted a 3-2 pitch to right center for a ground-rule double to score Young. Moments later, Johnson scored on the groundout by Crain to pull UofL to within a run.
Louisville's unlikely ninth inning rally started with a leadoff walk to sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) by reliever Joey Graziano. After Sutton moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, a popup to shallow left field pushed the Cardinals to their final out. However, back-to-back Cardinals were hit by pitches from reliever Thomas Hackimer to load the bases. Junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) then smacked a hot shot to Dustin Breshears at shortstop, where he didn't stop the ball and instead allowed it to roll into left center. Whiting, Young and Johnson all scored on the only error of the game by St. John's. After moving to third on his ninth stolen base of the season, Sturgeon scored the final run of the game on a wild pitch for the final three-run margin.
The Cardinals struck first on Friday night plating a run on two hits in the second inning against Lomangino. Crain started things with a one-out single to right field and after moving to third on a single to right by senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS), scored on an RBI sacrifice fly to right by Whiting for the 1-0 lead.
The Red Storm broke through for their first run of the day an inning later when rightfielder Zach Lauricella delivered a two-out RBI single to right field off Green to plate Breshears. The scoring chance started with Breshears earning a one-out walk and then moving to third on a single to right by centerfielder Martin Kelly before scoring the game-tying run.
Following a pair of scoreless frames, St. John's took its first lead of the game on a RBI sacrifice fly by second baseman Bret Dennis to plate first baseman Frank Schwindel. The inning started with Schwindel singling through the left side off Green before moving to third on a single through the right side by catcher Danny Bethea. McGrath entered from the Louisville bullpen after the sac fly to get a strikeout and end the inning.
The Red Storm added to the lead an inning later with a pair of unearned runs for a 4-1 cushion. The inning started with back-to-back singles by Breshears and Kelly and designated hitter Dan Roland followed with sac bunt to move the runners up. After an intentional walk to Lauricella loaded the bases, McGrath struck out Schwindel on three pitches for the second out of the frame. However, the Red Storm plated a pair of runs moment later after a throwing error by Young at third on a ground ball off the bat of Sean O'Hare.
Hackimer took the loss for St. John's and dropped to 0-1 on the season after allowing three unearned runs without a hit in just 0.1 inning of relief. In the starting role, Lomangino allowed three runs, all earned, on eight hits with seven strikeouts in 7.1 innings for the no-decision.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- Friday's win halted a four-game losing skid for the Cardinals against St. John's in Queens. Overall, Louisville trails 13-10 in the all-time series with the Red Storm.
- The Cardinals' 30-7 mark is one game behind the best record in school history through 37 games trailing only the 31-6 effort of the 2010 team, which went on to set school records for regular season wins (46) and total wins (50).
- Louisville's 8-2 mark is the best BIG EAST Conference record through 10 games ever for the program, one game better than the 2010 team's 7-3 mark.
- In two games this week, Jeff Gardner is 7-for-9 with a home run, three doubles, five RBI and two runs scored.
- While improving to 5-0 on the season with the win on Friday, Kyle McGrath also has a 1.16 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 16 appearances and 31.0 innings pitched this season.
- With his eighth inning double on Friday, Ty Young extended his career best hitting streak to 14 straight games. Along with the team's best hitting streak of the season, Young has also reached base safely in a career best 20 straight games.
- With his second inning single on Friday, Shane Crain extended his career best hitting streak to eight games.
- With his seventh save of the season, Nick Burdi moved into a tie for 10th on the Cardinals' single season saves leaderboard matching what Kerry Griffith did in 1984 and what Derek Self also achieved in 2012.