May 16, 2013
Box Score |
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In a showdown to settle the 2013 BIG EAST Conference regular season championship, the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team landed the first blow with a 5-2 win over No. 16 Pittsburgh in Thursday night's series-opener at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With their 14th straight win, which is tied with No. 1 Vanderbilt for the nation's longest active winning streak, the Cardinals improved to 44-10 overall and moved into a first-place tie in the BIG EAST standings with an 18-4 record. The Panthers, whose 15-game conference winning streak was halted, dropped to 40-13 overall and 18-4 in the BIG EAST. With a victory in either of the final two games of the weekend series, set for Friday at 6 p.m., ET and Saturday at noon (ESPNU), Louisville would clinch at least a share of its fourth BIG EAST regular season title in five years and the No. 1 seed in next week's BIG EAST Championship.
Junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) paced the Cardinals' offense going 2-for-3 with three RBI, while junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season in the win. Senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) and junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) added two hits each.
On the mound, junior righthander Chad Green won his fourth straight start and improved to 9-2 overall after allowing only an unearned run while striking out five and scattering eight hits in five innings. With sophomore righty Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS), freshman righty Jonah Philley (Louisville, Ky./Eastern HS), junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) and Sturgeon bridging the middle innings, sophomore righty Nick Burdi struck out two while recording the final four outs of the game for his BIG EAST leading 13th save of the season.
The Panthers struck first on Thursday night plating an unearned run in the opening frame of the game against Green. After reaching base with a one-out single, catcher Elvin Soto advanced to third on a two-out single up the middle by outfielder Boo Vazquez and then scored when the ball was misplayed in centerfield by Louisville junior Adam Engel.
After three scoreless innings at the plate, Louisville broke through in the fourth against Pittsburgh righty starter Ethan Mildren scoring four runs on four hits with the home run from Gardner sparking the spree. Leading off the inning, Gardner sent a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right field to even the score at 1-1.
Sturgeon and junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) followed with back-to-back singles before senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) delivered a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. After a walk to sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) loaded the bases, Engel gave the Cardinals the lead with a RBI groundout to score Crain. Moments later, Young pushed the Louisville advantage to 4-1 with a two-out, two-run single to left field to plate Wasserman and Whiting.
Louisville pushed its lead to 5-1 in the seventh on a RBI sacrifice fly to right field by Young allowing Engel to score from third against Mildren. After leading off the inning by being hit by a pitch, Engel swiped his 39th base of the season to reach second and moved to third on a single by Ratajczak before scoring on the flyout. The Panthers cut the lead to 5-2 in the eighth with a RBI bases loaded walk by outfielder Casey Roche, but Burdi forced cleanup hitter Boo Vasquez to flyout to right field to end the threat.
Overall, the Panthers, who had at least two runners on base in eight of the nine innings on Thursday, left 16 on base for the game while finishing with a 13-9 edge in hits. Twenty-one of the 22 hits between the two teams were singles as Gardner's home run was the only extra-base hit in the game.
On the mound for Pittsburgh, Mildren took the loss and dropped to 9-3 on the season after allowing five runs, all earned, on eight hits in seven innings.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- With Thursday's win, Louisville improved to 29-5 at home this season and moved to 209-75 (.735 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
- The 29 wins equal the most in a season at Jim Patterson Stadium for the Cardinals matching the win totals for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
- With their fifth win in the last six meetings with Pittsburgh, the Cardinals own a 12-8 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to 1978.
- Having earned their 14th straight win, the 2013 Cardinals moved into sole possession of the second longest winning streak in school history. The school record for consecutive wins is 20 set during a span of the 1956, 1957 and 1958 seasons.
- During the 14-game winning streak, the Cardinals have an ERA of just 1.71 (24 earned runs in 14 games) with 150 strikeouts and just 37 walks in 126.0 innings pitched. Behind that great pitching has been some stellar defense as Louisville has committed only eight errors for a .985 fielding percentage.
- Thursday marked the first time in the 14-game winning streak that the Cardinals did not score first.
- Louisville improved to 30-4 this season against righty starters.
- The Cardinals are 39-0 when leading after the eighth inning this season.
- The Cardinals have allowed two or fewer earned runs in 33 of 54 games this season.
- Out-hit (13-9) for just the 12th time this season, Louisville moved to 7-5 in those games.
- In his last four starts on the mound, Chad Green is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA (one earned run in 28.1 innings) and 25 strikeouts to just six walks.
- In his last 19 games, including 17 starts, Jeff Gardner is hitting .381 with six home runs, 20 RBI, 13 runs scored and .778 slugging percentage.
- With his 13th save of 2013, Nick Burdi moved into a tie for second on the Cardinals' all-time single season leaderboard with Tony Zych, who had 13 saves in 2011.
- Overall, Burdi has a 0.66 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 23 relief appearances and 27.1 innings pitched this season.
- In 30 relief appearances this season, lefty Cody Ege is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched.
- With his team-leading 22nd multiple hit game and his team-high 17th multiple RBI performance of the season, Ty Young leads the Cardinals in hitting (.378), RBI (55), doubles (12), triples (seven) and slugging percentage (.575).