May 14, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - The Louisville baseball team was unable to hold off a late Connecticut rally and the Cardinals lost a 7-5 decision to the 15th-ranked Huskies in game one of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader at J.O. Christian Field.
With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to 25-26 overall and 11-12 in the BIG EAST, while the Huskies improved to 36-13-1 on the season and 20-3 in league games. The win clinched the BIG EAST regular-season title for the Huskies and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla.
Leading the way for the Cardinals in the loss was junior infielder Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS), who finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while sophomore infielder Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) hit his first home run of the season. On the mound, junior righty Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) suffered his second straight loss and dropped to 8-2 on the season after allowing career highs in runs (seven), earned runs (six) and hits (11) with six strikeouts in 6.1 innings.
For the Huskies, outfielder Billy Ferriter was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored, while outfielder George Springer had two RBI on his team-leading 11th home run of the season. On the mound, lefty starter Greg Nappo earned the win and improved to 8-2 on the season after allowing five runs, including just two earned, on six hits in 7.0 innings pitched.
Following three scoreless innings to start the game, Louisville took advantage of two costly UConn errors to score three runs on three hits for a 3-0 lead. The inning started with freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) reaching base on an error by second baseman L.J. Mazzilli. After moving to second on a single through the left side by Wright, Gardner moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) and then scored on a throwing error by Nappo.
After a single to left field by freshman outfielder Ryan Seiz
(Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS) loaded the bases, Stallings followed with an RBI sacrifice flyout to left field to score Wright for a 2-0 advantage. After moving from second to third on the throw home on the sac fly, Ijames scored moments later on a wild pitch by Nappo for the 3-0 lead.
The Huskies came back for two runs in the bottom of the fourth as Springer hammered his home run to left field to score outfielder John Andreoli to cut the Cards' lead to 3-2. The home run was the 45th of Springer's career, which set a new school record for the Huskies.
UConn added an unearned run in the fifth to even the score at 3-3. After reaching base with a one-out walk, shortstop Tom Verdi moved to third on a throwing error by Amlung on a failed pickoff and then scored on an RBI single through the right side by Ferriter.
The Cardinals moved back in front in the top of the sixth as Wright reached base with a leadoff single, moved to second with his team-leading 15th stolen base, advanced to third on a groundout by Ijames and then scored on an RBI single to left by senior catcher J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS). However, the Huskies answered in the bottom of the sixth as third baseman Ryan Fuller hit his fourth home run of the season on a two-out pitch from Amlung.
Louisville responded in the top of the seventh as Stallings hammered a 2-1 pitch from Nappo over the left field wall for his first home run of the season and a 5-4 advantage.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, UConn bounced back in the bottom of the inning with three runs to take a 7-5 lead. The scoring started with an RBI single by Ferriter to score designated hitter Tim Martin to even the score. Later in the inning, Ferriter scored from the third on an RBI bunt single by Andreoli to give UConn its first lead of the day, while Mazzilli scored the final run of the frame later in the inning on a wild pitch by Cards' reliever Tony Zych (Monee, Ill./St. Rita HS).
From there, the Huskies' bullpen made the lead stand as reliever Will Jolin pitched a scoreless eighth inning and closer Kevin Vance pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 10th save of the season.