April 24, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
Senior Alec Lowrey's two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Louisville baseball team to an 8-7 walk-off win over Notre Dame in front of 2,122 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium in Friday night's BIG EAST series opener between the two teams.
Pinch hitting for catcher Jeff Arnold with the bases loaded and only one out, Lowrey, from Weston, Fla., sent the first pitch he saw from Notre Dame reliever Steven Mazur over the head of rightfielder Brayden Ashdown, where it bounced over the wall in right field to score first baseman Andrew Clark and pinch runner Nate Holland for the Cards' 19th come-from-behind win this season and their fifth walk-off win.
"Sending Alec out there to pinch hit in the ninth inning was the only good decision I made all night," said Cards' head coach Dan McDonnell. "It certainly wasn't my best night of coaching, but I'm so proud for Alec. He's a talented senior, who's not in the everyday lineup, but he was ready to go when we needed him tonight and that's a credit to him."
The ninth inning rally started with the Cardinals (29-11, 12-4 BIG EAST) trailing 7-6 after Notre Dame (23-16, 8-8) gained its first lead of the day in the top of the ninth when pinch hitter David Casey connected on a 3-2 pitch from Louisville sophomore reliever Gabriel Shaw for his second home run of the season, this one over the wall in left field to break a 6-6 tie.
Clark led off the bottom of the ninth with a single through the right side to cap a 4-for-5 day at the plate. After junior third baseman Chris Dominguez popped up for the first out of the inning, sophomore outfielder Phil Wunderlich moved Clark over to third base as he closed out his 3-for-5 day at the plate with his third double, this one to right center, to give the Cards two baserunners in scoring position with only out. Notre Dame head coach Dave Schrage then elected to intentionally walk freshman Ryan Wright to load the bases for Lowrey, who was already in the on-deck circle for Louisville.
Wunderlich finished the day with four RBI to take his total to 45 on the season, while Clark scored three runs and added one RBI with his four hits. Dominguez and junior second baseman Adam Duvall
also scored once and added two hits each on the day in the win, which keeps Louisville just one game behind BIG EAST leader South Florida and one game ahead of third place West Virginia.
Shaw got the win for the Cardinals after allowing only one run on three hits with four strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work to improve to 3-0 on the season, while Mazur took the loss for the Irish allowing two earned runs on three hits in 1.0 inning to fall to 2-2 overall.
Louisville rolled out to an early lead thanks to four runs on four hits in the first inning. Sophomore outfielder Josh Richmond and Duvall led things off with back-to-back singles to center field off Notre Dame starter Cole Johnson. Clark then connected for an RBI single to right center to score Richmond for a 1-0 Louisville lead.
Wunderlich continued his hot-hitting this week with a two-run double to right center to score Duvall and Clark for a 3-0 Cards' advantage. After Arnold was hit by a pitch and senior shortstop John Dao was walked to load the bases, sophomore centerfielder Drew Haynes reached base on a throwing error by ND shortstop Jeremy Barnes allowing Wunderlich to score for a 4-0 Louisville lead after the first inning.
The Cardinals added to their lead in the second as Clark and Dominguez reached base with singles and then scored on an RBI double to right center by Wunderlich for a 6-0 Louisville advantage after the second inning.
After five scoreless innings on the mound from Marks, the Fighting Irish finally broke through in the sixth inning with six runs on five hits. Barnes led off the inning with his eighth home run of the season, while third baseman Mick Doyle added an RBI double down the left field line to score Ashdown to make it 6-2. Later in the inning, second baseman Greg Sherry singled through the right side to score leftfielder Golden Tate to make it 6-3. Centerfielder A.J. Pollock followed with his fifth home run of the season, a three-run shot to left center, to close the scoring in the sixth and tie the game at 6-6 to set the stage for the dramatic ninth inning.
After the strong start, Marks finished the day allowing six runs on eight hits with 10 strikeouts in his 6.0 innings for a no-decision, while Notre Dame starter, Johnson, finished his 6.0 innings allowing six runs, five earned, on 10 hits with two strikeouts.
The Cardinals continue their three-game game series with the Fighting Irish on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, while Sunday's finale is set for 1 p.m.
- Louisville sophomore outfielder Phil Wunderlich is having a great week at the plate as the Chicago native is 9-for-13 in the Cards' three games so far, with two home runs, four doubles and 11 RBI. He is the Cards' leading hitter overall this season with a .360 average.
- With the win, the Cardinals improved to 29-11 overall for their best 40-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 28-12 after 40 games.
- Louisville has now won four straight in the series with Notre Dame and the Cardinals hold a 6-2 lead over the Irish since joining the BIG EAST prior to the 2006 season.