Sophomore RHP Justin Amlung improved to 9-2 with Friday's win.
May 20, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Junior infielder Ryan Wright was 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, while sophomore right-hander Justin Amlung pitched 7.0 solid innings to lead the Louisville baseball team to a series-clinching 7-5 victory over Notre Dame in front of a crowd of 2,742 at Jim Patterson Stadium on Friday night.
With their fourth straight win, the Cardinals improved to 29-26 overall and 14-12 in BIG EAST games, while the Fighting Irish dropped to 21-27-1 on the season and 12-13 in league action. The teams will conclude the series on Saturday at 1 p.m., ET and admission is free.
Playing in front of a national television audience on CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports), the Cardinals secured a berth in next week's BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla. With a win in Saturday's series finale against the Fighting Irish, which will also be televised by CBS Sports Network, Louisville would clinch the No. 4 seed in the BIG EAST Championship. The Cardinals have won two of the last three BIG EAST Championship titles.
In Friday's victory, Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) hit his 11th home run of the season, which is tied for the team lead, to go with a double, a single and three runs scored. Sophomore third baseman Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) homered in his fourth straight BIG EAST game, while freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
On the mound, Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) allowed three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks to earn the win and improve to 9-2 on the season. The quality start (6.0 innings or more, three earned runs or less) for Amlung was his 13th of the season, which is a Louisville school record. The previous best was 12 quality starts for Zack Pitts during the Cardinals' 2007 College World Series season. With the game still in the balance in the eighth inning, Louisville junior closer Tony Zych (Monee, Ill./St. Rita HS) recorded the final four outs of the game with three strikeouts and a lineout to earn his 12th save of the season. The save was the 14th of his career, which is tied for fifth all-time at Louisville.
For Notre Dame, senior righty Cole Johnson suffered the loss to fall to 4-7 on the season after allowing five runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks in 6.0 innings of work. Reliever Adam Norton finished the game allowing two runs on three hits in 2.0 innings of work. At the plate, catcher Joe Hudson was 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored in the loss.
The Cardinals opened the scoring in the first inning as Wright hammered the 0-1 pitch from Johnson over the left field wall for the early 1-0 advantage. However, the Fighting Irish answered with three runs in the second inning for a 3-1 lead. The scoring started with a two-run triple off the wall in right by Hudson to score outfielder Herman Petzold and third baseman Greg Sherry, while shortstop Mick Doyle followed with an RBI groundout to plate Hudson for the final run of the frame.
Louisville moved back in front for good one inning later scoring three runs on three hits in the third for the 4-3 lead. Gardner started things for U of L with a double to right center and then scored moments later on an RBI single to center by Wright to cut the deficit to one. One batter later, Stallings gave the Cardinals the lead by hitting the first pitch he saw from Johnson over the left field wall for the two-run homer.
An inning later, the Cardinals pushed their advantage to 4-2 as freshman infielder Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) led off the fourth with a single to right field, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) and then scored on an RBI single up the middle by freshman outfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS).
After two scoreless innings, Louisville added two more runs in the seventh on an RBI double down the right field line by Wright to score Gardner and an RBI ground ball off the bat of freshman catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) to plate Wright for the 7-3 lead. The Fighting Irish cut the deficit in half at 7-5 in the eighth on an RBI single by Norton and an RBI single by pinch hitter Matt Grosso. But with the bases loaded, Zych struck out pinch hitter David Casey on three pitches to end the threat.
Louisville has won six straight overall against Notre Dame and the Cardinals hold a 13-7 lead in the all-time series with the Fighting Irish. The four-game winning streak for the Cardinals is their second longest of the season, while the crowd of 2,742 was the second largest of the season for Louisville.
Following Saturday's regular-season finale against Notre Dame, Louisville will open the 2011 BIG EAST Championship in first round action on Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. All of the Cardinals' post-season games will be aired live on KOOL 1570 AM in Louisville and Southern Indiana, while streaming audio will be available through CardsTV at www.UofLSports.com.