May 13, 2012
Box Score |
Recap by Adam Pruiett, UofLsports.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There was gloom but no doom Sunday at Jim Patterson Stadium. Indeed, hope sprung eternal for the Louisville baseball team amid the gray skies and ceaseless drizzle of rain.
Avoiding a potentially crippling blow to their chances of a BIG EAST Conference regular season title, the No. 22 Cardinals defeated No. 20 St. John's 6-4 behind a two-run homer by Stewart Ijames and a bases-clearing double by Kyle Gibson as Louisville earned the series victory over the Red Storm.
Freshman right-hander Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) earned the victory for Louisville (35-17 overall, 16-8 BIG EAST), which trimmed its deficit to St. John's (32-19, 17-7) in conference play to a single game after dealing the Red Storm their first series loss in league play this season. The Cardinals also have only dropped one conference series this year. Louisville finishes off league action by traveling to Pittsburgh for a three-game set, while St. John's hosts Seton Hall.
With Louisville down 2-0 in the fourth, Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic) followed a single and two stolen bases by sophomore third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Preparatory School) by rifling a two-run homer on a line over the fence in right off St. John's starter Kyle Hansen. It was Ijames' 12th home run this season, which leads the BIG EAST. The senior rightfielder went 1-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored.
In the sixth inning, Kevin Kirkpatrick came on to pitch for Hansen, and the Cardinals immediately put pressure on him after freshman shortstop Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) and Ijames both walked. Sophomore centerfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) loaded the bases for Louisville by bunting for a hit. After Kirkpatrick recorded a strikeout, sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) hooked a double down the left field line that cleared the bases for a 5-2 lead. Gibson boosted the lead to four when he scored on a squeeze bunt by sophomore leftfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS).
Building on his fantastic freshman campaign, Ruxer improved to 7-1 after allowing two earned runs on six hits in 6.2 innings. Senior right-hander Travis Tingle (Louisville, Ky./Cleveland State CC) relieved Ruxer in the seventh and got the final out.
St. John's managed to make things interesting in the eighth inning by loading the bases with no outs against senior right-hander Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS). The frame started with an error in Louisville's infield. After Self struck out BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year Jeremy Baltz, Sean O'Hare and Zach Lauricella both followed with RBI singles to slice the Cardinals' advantage to 6-4. Sturgeon then entered to pitch and induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the rally.
After walking the leadoff batter in the ninth, Sturgeon buckled down and set down the next three Red Storm, striking out Pat Talbut before Engel clinched the win with a fine running catch on a line drive by Matt Wessinger to left center.
Engel had two of Louisville's eight hits. Gibson, Ijames, Young, junior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS), sophomore designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) and junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) all had one hit apiece. O'Hare, Lauricella, Danny Bethea and Bret Dennis had two hits apiece for the Red Storm.
Louisville will play its regular season finale at home when it hosts Morehead State at 6 p.m., ET on Tuesday. Seniors Ijames, Self and Tingle, and fourth-year junior Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) will be honored prior to the game.