May 5, 2012
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Allowing three runs in the ninth inning, the No. 18 Louisville baseball team suffered a 4-3 loss at West Virginia in game one of a Saturday doubleheader at Hawley Field.
With their third straight loss overall, the Cardinals dropped to 31-15 overall and 12-7 in BIG EAST Conference action, while the Mountaineers improved to 18-27 on the season and 6-13 in league games. Saturday marked the second time in the last three games Louisville has lost after holding a ninth inning lead.
Holding a 3-1 lead after a dominant eight innings from junior righty starter Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS), the Cardinals saw their lead disappear as WVU scored three runs on three hits and a walk against senior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) culminating with a game-winning two-run walk-off double from freshman second baseman Billy Fleming.
The ninth inning rally started with a leadoff walk to centerfielder Bobby Boyd and continued with a single to left by first baseman Ryan McBroom. After a flyout by designated hitter Matt Frazer, shortstop John Polonius connected for an RBI double to left center to plate Boyd to cut the Louisville lead to 3-2. Fleming then hammered his two-run double to left center to score McBroom and Polonius and set off a celebration in the middle of the field for WVU.
With the blown save, Self suffered his second loss of the season to fall to 1-2 overall. The ninth inning turnaround for the Mountaineers wasted the outing for Amlung, who allowed only one run on just two hits while finishing with a career-best 10 strikeouts in 8.0 innings. For WVU, starter Corey Walter allowed three runs on six hits with five strikeouts and four walks in 9.0 innings to earn the complete game win and improve to 5-4 overall.
Louisville opened the game with a pair of runs in the first inning against Walter. Sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic H) started the game with a double to center and then scored moments later on an RBI double down the right field line by junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC). After moving to third on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by sophomore Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep), Ratajczak scored on an RBI sac fly by senior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) for the 2-0 lead.
WVU answered with a run in the second against Amlung on an RBI single to left field by third baseman Nate Antone. However, the Cardinals pushed their lead to 3-1 in the third inning on an RBI bases loaded walk by freshman shortstop Zach Lucas
(Louisville, Ky./Butler HS).
An inning later, the game was halted in the middle of the fourth inning because of lightning and was delayed 2 hours, 24 minutes overall due to weather. After the break, both starting pitchers returned and were dominant. That set the stage for the Mountaineers' decisive ninth inning rally.
At the plate, Sturgeon finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Ratajczak was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. For WVU, Polonius was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Fleming scored once to go with his two-run double.
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