May 15, 2012
Box Score |
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sophomore outfielder Adam Engel had two hits, two RBI and two stolen bases while senior Stewart Ijames added a three-run double as the 22nd-ranked Louisville baseball team picked up an 8-3 non-conference win over Morehead State in the regular season home finale at Jim Patterson Stadium on Tuesday night.
With the win in their final regular season non-conference game, the Cardinals improved to 36-17 overall, while the Eagles dropped to 25-25 with the loss. Louisville, which has won 12 straight in the series with Morehead State, closed the regular season with a 25-8 record at home.
Making just his fourth start after missing 12 games with a thumb injury, Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) finished with his second straight two-hit performance going 2-for-5 overall and scoring once to go with his two RBI and two stolen bases. With his two swipes on Tuesday, Engel improved to 32-of-33 on stolen bases this season after entering the week ranked second in the nation in stolen bases per game (0.75).
Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), one of four Louisville players honored prior to Tuesday's game during the Cardinals' Senior Day ceremony, connected for a three-run double to right field in the eighth inning to end any chance of a Morehead State rally in the ninth. The Cardinals' team leader in home runs (12) and RBI (59), Ijames moved into second place on U of L's career RBI list with 206, just 12 behind first-place Chris Dominguez's total of 218.
On the mound, eight different Louisville pitchers saw action with sophomore starter Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS) being credited with the win after allowing just one run on one hit with three strikeouts in 2.1 innings pitched. On the season, Green is 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 37.1 innings. Senior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) closed out the game with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning of relief.
Like they've done for much of the season, the Cardinals opened the scoring in the first inning on Tuesday night plating an unearned run against MSU starter Garrick Whittle. The scoring chance started with sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) being hit by a pitch. After moving to second on a wild pitch and advancing to third on a throwing error by Eagles' catcher Eric Bainer, Sturgeon scored on another wild pitch for the 1-0 lead.
Sturgeon finished the night 1-for-1 at the plate while reaching base in all five plate appearances with a single, two walks and two HBPs. Including Tuesday's action, Louisville has outscored its opponents 83-10 in the first inning this season.
After MSU evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the second on a solo home run by Bainer, the Cardinals regained the lead for good in the bottom of the frame plating three runs on five hits. With one out in the inning, six straight Louisville batters reached base with five singles and an HBP. Sophomore infielder Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) and junior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) started the stretch with back-to-back singles, while catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) followed with an RBI single to right to give the Cardinals the 2-1 lead.
Engel followed with an RBI single to center to score Wasserman for the second run of the inning. After Sturgeon was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) added an infield RBI single to score Crain for the final run of the frame. All three runs in the second were charged to Whittle, who took the loss to fall to 1-5 on the season after allowing four runs, including three earned, on four hits in 1.1 innings.
The lead remained at 4-1 until the sixth when the Eagles plated two unearned runs against Louisville freshman lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) to cut the Cardinals' lead to just one. However, U of L answered with four runs in the eighth to put the game away for good. The inning started with a leadoff double from Wasserman against Morehead State reliever Morgan Cirbo. After replacing Wasserman as a pinch runner, freshman Sutton Whiting (Louisville, Ky./Ballard HS) advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Crain and then scored moments later on an RBI single by Engel. After loading the bases with walks to Sturgeon and Ratajczak, MSU's Matt Duncan gave up a screaming double off the bat of Ijames over the head of rightfielder Luke Bainer to score three runs for the final five-run margin.
The Cardinals will conclude a competitive BIG EAST Conference race with a weekend series at Pittsburgh starting on Thursday at 6 p.m., ET. Game two is set for Friday at 6 p.m., while Saturday's regular-season and series finale is set for 1 p.m. The entire series at Pittsburgh can be heard live on News/Talk 1570 AM (WNDA) and through CardsTV at UofLsports.com. Louisville enters the final weekend of the regular season in a second-place tie in the BIG EAST Conference standings and only one game out of first.
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