May 21, 2009
CLEARWATER, Fla. -
The 17th-ranked Louisville baseball team got five scoreless innings of relief on the mound from sophomore righty Tyler Mathis and the offense added three more runs in a 12-2 victory over Notre Dame on Thursday morning at Bright House Field in the completion of Wednesday's suspended second round game at the BIG EAST Championship.
With the win, top-seeded Louisville (42-14) improved to 2-0 in the 2009 BIG EAST Championship and advanced to the semifinal round, currently scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Friday, where they will face the winner of Friday afternoon's St. John's-Notre Dame elimination game.
Mathis, a redshirt sophomore from Covington, Tenn., allowed only two hits with six strikeouts in his five innings of work to earn his first win since 2007 and improve to 1-3 overall this season. As a freshman, Mathis was 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA before an elbow injury cut the season short and forced him to miss the entire 2008 season. Wednesday's performance was his best since returning from the injury, while the 5.0 innings matched a season-long.
At the plate, junior catcher Jeff Arnold led the way for the Cardinals for the second straight game at the BIG EAST Championship. The Louisville native finished 3-for-4 with his second home run of the tournament, two RBI and two runs scored. In Tuesday's 12-2 win over Cincinnati in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship, Arnold was 3-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored.
Louisville also got a strong performance at the plate from junior second baseman Adam Duvall, who was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Junior first baseman Andrew Clark hit his ninth home run of the season in the first inning on Wednesday night and finished with three RBI, while sophomore outfielder Josh Richmond hit his sixth home run of the season.
After the start of Wednesday's second round game was delayed two hours because of heavy rain, the two teams played three innings of baseball before the game was halted at 8:13 p.m. ET for rain. After more than an hour of extremely heavy rain saturated the playing surface at Bright House Field, BIG EAST officials then made the decision to suspend the game until Thursday morning.
Once play resumed on Thursday, the Cardinals followed a scoreless fourth inning with a run in the top of the fifth to push their lead to 10-2. After Arnold led off the inning with a single to center, he was forced out on a 4-6 fielder's choice off the bat of senior shortstop John Dao. After moving to second on a groundout to the pitcher by Richmond, Dao then scored on an RBI single to left field by Duvall.
Following another scoreless inning in the sixth, Louisville added a run in the seventh to increase the lead to 11-2. Senior designated hitter Alec Lowrey led off the inning with a walk from Notre Dame reliever Steve Sabatino and moved to second on a single through the left side by Dao. Richmond then reached base as Irish third baseman Mick Doyle couldn't handle his ground ball, which also allowed Lowrey to score from second.
After a scoreless eighth inning, the Cards' final run of the game came in the ninth as Richmond led off the inning with his sixth home run of the season for the final 12-2 margin. Sophomore righty Neil Holland came on in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-2-3 inning to close things out in the win.
Prior to Wednesday's suspension, the Cardinals gained command with the seven-run first inning and a strong three innings on the mound from junior lefty Justin Marks. The Owensboro, Ky., native allowed two runs on two hits with five strikeouts in his three innings of work prior to the rain.
For the second straight day in the tournament, Louisville came out of the gate quickly with seven runs on four hits off Notre Dame starter Ryan Richter, including the home runs by Clark and Arnold. Richter retired just one of the eight Louisville hitters he faced before giving way to reliever Sam Elam. The sevens run in the first inning on Wednesday evening came a day after the Cardinals scored six runs in the first inning of Tuesday's 12-2 win over Cincinnati in their BIG EAST Championship opener.
After Richmond led off the game with a walk and Duvall doubled down the left field line, Clark hammered a 2-1 pitch from Richter over the wall in right field for his ninth home run of the season and a 3-0 advantage for the Cardinals. Junior third baseman Chris Dominguez followed with a walk, moved to third on a single to right field by sophomore Phil Wunderlich and then scored on an error by Irish shortstop Jeremy Barnes, which also allowed Wunderlich to move to second base.
After moving to third on a flyout to deep right field by freshman Ryan Wright, Wunderlich then scored on an RBI ground ball by Lowrey, which he reached base on after Notre Dame third baseman Mick Doyle booted for the second Irish error of the inning. Arnold followed that with his third home run of the season and his second of the tournament to score Lowrey for the 7-0 advantage after the first inning. Arnold ended Tuesday's first round win over Cincinnati with a three-run homer in the seventh inning for the 12-2 advantage and then connected for the two-run homer on Wednesday in his first swing of the game for home runs on back-to-back swings in the BIG EAST Championship.
Following a scoreless second inning, the Cardinals added two more runs in the third without a hit. Wright led off the inning with a walk from Elam, moved to second and third on back-to-back stolen bases to take his season total to 11 on 14 attempts and then scored on a balk by Elam for an 8-0 lead. After Dao was hit by a pitch and Richmond was walked to load the bases, Duvall picked up an RBI as he was hit by a pitch from Elam to score Arnold for a 9-0 Louisville advantage.
Notre Dame (34-21) broke through against Marks in the third inning just before the game was halted as A.J. Pollock reached base with a one-out double and then scored on a home run left by Jeremy Barnes to cut the Cards' lead to 9-2.
- Playing in their fourth BIG EAST Championship since joining the league prior to the 2006 season, the Cardinals now have an 11-3 record overall in the event. Louisville won the 2008 title and reached the title game in 2006. The Cardinals also improved to 9-1 in BIG EAST Championship games at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., with Wednesday's win and are averaging 10.3 runs per game in those 10 games at the spring training home to the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Louisville has now won six straight games 13 of its last 14 games overall dating back to April 26, when the Cards dropped their final two games to Notre Dame at Jim Patterson Stadium.
- With Thursday's win, Dan McDonnell improved to 130-59 in his three seasons as Louisville's head coach for a winning percentage of almost 69 percent. He's also led the Cardinals to six straight wins in the BIG EAST Championship dating back to last year's perfect 4-0 mark.