May 20, 2010
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -
Junior J.J. Ethel's pinch hit, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a dramatic 6-3 series-opening comeback win at Notre Dame on Thursday night at Frank Eck Stadium.
With their 22nd come-from-behind win of the season, the Cardinals improved to 44-10 overall and 19-6 in BIG EAST Conference games, while the host Fighting Irish dropped to 22-30 overall and 10-15 in league games. The two teams will continue their series on Friday at 6:05 p.m. ET, while Saturday's series finale is set for 1:05 p.m. Live audio play-by-play for the series at Notre Dame will be available online through CardsTV at www.UofLSports.com.
Trailing 3-2 with runners on first and second and two outs, Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) hammered the 1-1 pitch from Notre Dame starter Brian Dupra over the wall in left center field for his second home run of the season and the game-winner for the Cardinals. Senior catcher Jeff Arnold (Louisville, Ky./Male HS) followed with his third home run of the season, a laser to left field on an 0-1 pitch from Dupra, for the final 6-3 margin. It marked the seventh time this season Louisville players have hit back-to-back home runs.
Junior righty Neil Holland (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 14th save of the season and add to his school record single season save total. Sophomore righty Tony Zych (Monee, Ill./St. Rita HS) pitched 1.1 innings of perfect relief to earn the win and improve to 3-2 on the season. Junior righty Thomas Royse (Lexington, Ky./Dunbar HS) finished with the no-decision after allowing three runs on four hits with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
At the plate, Arnold led the way on a slow night for the Louisville offense finishing 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Dupra, who had held the Cardinals to just three hits entering the ninth inning, took the loss after giving up six earned runs on seven hits in 8.2 innings of work, his longest outing of the season.
The decisive ninth inning rally for Louisville started with a one-out single to left field by redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), who advanced to second later in the inning on an important two-out single up the middle by freshman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) to extend the inning. After Wasserman was replaced by pinch runner Kyle Grieshaber (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS), Cardinals' head coach Dan McDonnell sent Ethel to the plate to pinch hit for junior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) setting the stage for the game-winning home run.
Notre Dame opened the scoring in Thursday's game in the second inning when center fielder Brayden Ashdown hit a 2-1 pitch from Royse over the wall in left center for his fifth home run of the season and a 1-0 advantage.
Following two scoreless innings, Louisville earned its first lead of the game with two runs on two hits with two outs in the fifth inning for a 2-1 advantage. The two-out rally started with a walk by Haynes, who scored moments later on an RBI double to right field by Arnold for the first run of the inning. After moving to third on a wild pitch by Dupra, Arnold scored on an RBI single to center field by senior first baseman Andrew Clark (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine HS) for the second run of the inning.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the seventh inning, when Notre Dame moved back in front on a two-out, two-run single to left field by Billy Boockford for a 3-2 lead. After a scoreless eighth inning, the pieces were in place for Louisville's decisive ninth inning comeback.
- With Thursday's victory, the Cardinals remained a 1/2 game behind first place Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference standings with two games left in the regular season.
- J.J. Ethel's ninth inning home run clinched the Cardinals' 14th last at-bat win this season.
- Louisville leads the all-time series with Notre Dame 9-7 and has won three of the last four overall against the Fighting Irish.
- With each victory, the Cardinals add to their single season school record win total, which has surpassed the previous record of 40 wins set last season. The 44 wins are just three shy of tying the overall school record for wins of 47 first set by the 2007 College World Series team and equaled by last season's NCAA Super Regional squad.
- Thursday's game was televised nationally by ESPNU, the second nationally televised game of the season for the Cardinals. On May 4, Louisville earned a 6-0 win at Ohio State in a game televised by the Big Ten Network.