April 21, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. - After allowing four runs in the eighth inning and being unable to capitalize on a scoring chance in the ninth, the No. 8 Louisville baseball team dropped a 6-5 road loss at St. John's in the deciding game of a weekend series on Sunday afternoon at Jack Kaiser Stadium.
With back-to-back losses in the final two games of the three-game set, the Cardinals dropped to 30-9 overall and 8-4 in BIG EAST Conference games, while the host Red Storm improved to 18-23 on the season and 7-8 in league action.
Holding a 5-2 advantage in the middle of the eighth inning, three Louisville pitchers combined to allow four runs on three hits and erase a terrific start by freshman righty Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS). After sophomore righty Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) surrendered a leadoff walk to outfielder Zach Lauricella, first baseman Frank Schwindel singled and catcher Danny Bethea walked against Louisville lefty Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) to load the bases.
Junior right-hander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) entered from the Cardinals' bullpen and struck out second baseman Bret Dennis for the first out of the eighth. Third baseman Sean O'Hare followed with an RBI sac fly to right to plate Lauricella to cut the deficit to 5-3. Moments later designated hitter Jimmy Brennan connected for a RBI single to left center to plate Schwindel and draw the Red Storm within a run. Following a walk to pinch hitter Kyle Lombardo, outfielder Martin Kelly delivered the game-winning, two-run single up the middle to score Bethea and Brennan.
In the ninth, the Cardinals put together a serious scoring threat loading the bases with just one out after junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) doubled to left to start the frame and junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) and junior infielder Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) each being hit by pitches. Moments later, Engel was tagged out in a rundown after a failed squeeze play before senior outfielder Matt Helms (Eufaula, Okla./Seminole State CC) grounded out to end the game.
On the mound, Burdi took the loss and dropped to 2-2 on the season after allowing one run on two hits in an inning of relief. Ruxer allowed one run and Sturgeon allowed two runs while neither recorded an out. In the starting role, Kidston was outstanding allowing only two unearned runs on just four hits with two strikeouts and departed with a three-run lead before finishing with a no-decision. For St. John's, reliever Joey Graziano was credited with the win and improved to 3-0 overall after allowing one run on two hits in 2.1 innings of relief, while Alex Katz recorded the final two outs for his first save.
At the plate for the Cardinals, sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) was 2-for-4 with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base, while Sturgeon, who started the game in right field before his eighth inning relief appearance, was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Junior Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) chipped in with his third home run of the season for UofL.
For the third time in as many games against St. John's this weekend, Louisville struck first as Sturgeon scored from third on a RBI bunt single by Whiting. Sturgeon started the inning with a leadoff single through the right side off Red Storm lefty starter Ryan Horstman and moved to third on a single to right center by junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) to setup the scoring chance.
An inning later, a pair of Louisville errors helped St. John's plate two unearned runs against Kidston. After the first two Red Storm batters were retired easily, junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) committed back-to-back errors allowing shortstop Dustin Breshears and outfielder Matt Kelly to reach base and extend the inning. Following a stolen base by Kelly, rightfielder Pat Talbut sent a check-swing single up the middle that barely reached the outfield grass after being just out of the reach of a diving Whiting from his shortstop position to plate both baserunners for the 2-1 lead.
Following a pair of scoreless frames, Louisville regained the lead in the sixth plating three runs, including two unearned, on one hit against Horstman. Sturgeon started the inning with a walk and moved to second as Gibson reached base when Horstman threw wide of first after fielding the Cardinals' sacrifice bunt. After moving to third on a passed ball of the glove of catcher Danny Bethea, Sturgeon scored the game-tying run on a RBI single to right field by senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS). Whiting followed with an RBI grounder on a fielder's choice up the middle to plate Gibson for the go-ahead run. Whiting, who advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Bret Dennis on the double-play attempt on the earlier fielder's choice, moved to third with his 15th stolen base of the season and scored moments later when Bethea's throw to third on the steal was errant.
In the seventh, the Cardinals added to their advantage when Gardner pulverized a 3-0 pitch from St. John's reliever Joey Graziano sending it over the Louisville bullpen beyond the right field wall and out of the ballpark. The solo shot was the third home run of the season and the second this week for Gardner, who also homered in the win at Kentucky on Tuesday.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- Louisville's loss combined with a USF win at Connecticut on Sunday dropped the Cardinals two games behind the Bulls in the BIG EAST Conference standings with four weeks remaining in the regular season.
- With Sunday's loss, the Cardinals trail 15-10 in the all-time series with the Red Storm, including a 4-8 mark in games played in Queens.
- Louisville dropped to 23-5 this season when scoring first and has lost back-to-back games when doing so.
- UofL also lost for the second straight day despite finishing with the advantage in hits, a 9-7 margin on Sunday. Overall, the Cardinals are 25-4 this season when out-hitting their opponents.
- Sunday's defeat marked the first time in 22 games this season the Cardinals lost when leading after seven innings.
- The Cardinals went 2-2 this week marking the first time in 10 weeks of baseball this season they have not finished with a winning record.
- With back-to-back one-run losses at St. John's, the Cardinals dropped to 4-5 this season in one-run games.
- Entering the game, the eighth inning had been the Cardinals' highest scoring inning of the season (55 runs) and the inning with greatest scoring differential for UofL (+40). However, the Red Storm plated four in the frame on Sunday marking just the third time this season a team had scored more than a single run against Louisville in the eighth.
- Ranked fifth in the nation entering the weekend in HBPs, the Cardinals were hit by pitches 10 times in three games against St. John's taking the season total to 82.
- Junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner had a terrific week at the plate hitting .692 (9-for-13) with two home runs, three doubles, six RBI and three runs scored. For the season, he has lifted his average to .360 with three home runs, 20 RBI and seven doubles.
- In his last two starts on the mound, freshman righty Anthony Kidston has not allowed an earned run in 15.0 innings pitched. He also struck out nine and allowed only seven hits during those two outings. Overall, he is 5-0 this season with a 1.37 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 46.0 innings pitched.
- Going 2-for-3 on Sunday, Cole Sturgeon earned his 15th multiple-hit game of the season, which ranks second on the team.
- With his 0-for-4 day at the plate on Sunday, junior third baseman Ty Young had his career best 15-game hitting streak halted. He had also reached base safely in 21 straight games before that streak was also ended on Sunday.
- After going 0-for-3 on Sunday, Coco Johnson had his eight-game hitting streak halted. He was hit by pitches twice and has reached base safely in 14 straight games overall, which is a career best.