April 28, 2012
Box Score |
Recap by Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Even the most forgiving of baseball fans would have questioned the aesthetics of Saturday's matchup between Louisville and Connecticut. The tarnish came from the surplus of walks, baserunning mistakes and hit batters, most before the game was halfway old. Of course, in the end, there was plenty to admire as well - for the Cardinals, anyway.
After Connecticut seized the lead with a five-run fourth inning, the Huskies self-destructed in the latter half, walking a surplus of Cardinals before committing a crucial error with two outs that allowed three runs to score. With momentum firmly on its side, No. 20 Louisville locked in on the mound and at the plate, steaming to a 14-6 victory at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) was a double shy of the cycle for Louisville, which improved to 31-12 overall and 12-5 in BIG EAST Conference play. The Cardinals' sophomore bashed a two-run triple and a two-run homer to complement a single and a pair of stolen bases as he terrorized Connecticut (23-20, 11-6), which has dropped the first two of the three-game series to Louisville. Young went 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBI and two runs, while sophomore leftfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy HS) robbed the Huskies of a homer.
Louisville took a 3-0 lead after three innings, but Connecticut posted five runs in the fourth off Louisville sophomore right-hander Jeff Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS). The Huskies got a check-swing, two-run single by Stanley Paul and tied it up at 3-3 on an infield error by the Cardinals. Connecticut then went up 5-3 on consecutive RBI singles by Eric Yavarone and Billy Ferriter. The damage could have been much worse: the Huskies had a pair of baserunning mistakes that led to their second and third outs, respectively.
The bottom of the fourth changed the landscape of the game, although it started with two quick outs by Louisville. After that point, Connecticut starter Brian Ward lost his command, walking three straight batters to load the bases for junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC). Will Jolin relieved Ward and appeared as if he would end the threat after inducing a high pop-up by Ratajczak behind shortstop.
As the ball descended, it became clear that Connecticut shortstop Tom Verdi was having problems reading where it would land. He had to shuffle to his left and lunge for the ball, which hit his glove and popped out. All three Louisville runners scored on the game-changing error, including the go-ahead run. The Cardinals weren't done: Young cranked a two-run triple to left center to boost the advantage to 8-5.
Verdi's unfortunate day got even worse the next inning. He creamed a deep fly ball to left off Louisville sophomore right-hander Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS), but Gardner raced back, planted and jumped high to take away a two-run homer from Verdi that would have cut Louisville's lead to 8-7.
Instead, the Cardinals padded their lead in the sixth inning. With two outs, freshman shortstop Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) singled to center. Young followed by launching his sixth home run of the season, jumping on Jolin's first pitch and sending it over the fence in right. Like Young, Lucas had a big day at the plate, lacing a two-run double in the third and finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs.
The rout continued in the seventh as Louisville packed on four more runs. Senior first baseman Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), who went 3-for-5 and drove in the Cardinals' first run with an RBI single, rifled a double to left center and scored on a single by Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS). Junior rightfielder Matt Helms (Eufaula, Okla./Seminole State CC) chipped in an RBI single before Ratajczak collected an RBI after getting hit for the 21st time this season, which forced in a run.
Kime (1-0) collected the win after pitching four shutout innings in long relief of Thompson, who allowed five runs - two earned - on seven hits in four innings. Freshman left-hander Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) gave up one unearned run in the ninth.
Ward (3-3) took the loss for Connecticut, giving up six runs - three earned - on three hits in 3.2 innings. In total, the teams combined for nine unearned runs and four errors. Second baseman LJ Mazzilli was 3-for-5 and Stanley was 2-for-3.
Louisville will look for the series sweep on Sunday when the Cardinals welcome the Huskies at 1 p.m. at Jim Patterson Stadium.
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