May 6, 2012
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Sophomore Ryan Seiz hit his first career grand slam during a five-run first inning to help propel the 18th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 7-6 road victory over West Virginia in the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader at Hawley Field.
With the win on Saturday night, the Cardinals improved to 32-15 overall and 13-7 in BIG EAST Conference games, while the Mountaineers dropped to 18-28 on the season and 6-14 in league action. The win, which earned Louisville a split in Saturday's doubleheader after dropping the opener 4-3, also halted the Cardinals' season-high three-game losing skid. The decisive series finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m., ET.
With the bases full and one run already on the scoreboard after an RBI walk by senior Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS) capped the Cardinals' big first inning by hammering an offering from WVU starter Marshall Thompson over the wall in left center for his first home run of the season and the third of his career. The grand slam was the first of the season for Louisville.
The first inning started with a leadoff walk by sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), who then moved to third on a double to left center by freshman shortstop Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS). After sophomore Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Ijames earned the RBI walk to score Sturgeon for the first run of the game. Seiz followed with the Cardinals' first grand slam since Ryan Wright's against Georgetown on April 30, 2011.
After plating an unearned run in the bottom of the first, WVU added another run in the second against Louisville righty starter Jeff Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS) on an RBI double by catcher Alan Filauro. The Cardinals then pushed the lead to 6-2 in the top of the third on an RBI single through the right side by Ijames to plate Lucas, who led off inning with a double down the right field line. Lucas finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Ijames singled, walked, had two RBI and scored once.
The Mountaineers closed to within two after scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the third against Thompson. Centerfielder Bobby Boyd led off with a double and after moving to third on a deep flyout to center, scored on a passed ball for the first run of the inning. Second baseman Billy Fleming plated the second run later in the frame on an RBI single to left center to cut the Louisville to 6-4.
Following the third, Thompson worked a pair of shutout innings in the fourth and fifth to complete his day. He allowed four runs, including three earned, on seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks in 5.0 innings and picked up his team-leading ninth win of the season to go with just one loss.
After Louisville added its seventh and final run in the top of the seventh inning on a wild pitch by Marshall Thompson, WVU was able to pull within a run in the bottom of the frame scoring two runs on two hits against sophomore righty reliever Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS). However, the Mountaineers were never able to pull even as Sturgeon followed Kime with 2.2 innings of shutout relief allowing just one hit and striking out two to earn his first career save.
Marshall Thompson took the loss for West Virginia allowing seven runs, all earned, on six hits with six strikeouts and five walks in 7.0 innings to fall to 3-7. At the plate, Fleming was 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
With Saturday's games included, Louisville has outscored its opponents 78-10 in the first inning this season. The 32 wins so far in 2012 matches the Cardinals' win total last season, while five-run first inning marked the 17th time this season Louisville has scored five or more runs in an inning.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.