May 22, 2010
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team clinched its second straight BIG EAST Conference regular season title and completed a doubleheader sweep of Notre Dame with a dominating 13-3 win Saturday at Frank Eck Stadium.
With their sixth series sweep of the season, Louisville improved to 46-10 overall and finished 21-6 in BIG EAST Conference action, while Notre Dame finished its season at 22-32 overall and 10-17 in the league. The Cardinals finished the BIG EAST race a 1/2 game ahead of second place Connecticut, which dropped its series finale at home to Seton Hall earlier on Saturday to open the door for Louisville.
Louisville will enter next week's BIG EAST Championship at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., as the No. 1 seed overall for the second straight year. The Cardinals, who have won the last two BIG EAST Tournament titles, will face No. 8 seed West Virginia on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET in a game that will be aired live in Louisville by KOOL 1570 AM.
The series sweep of Notre Dame, which marked the first time ever the Irish had been swept at home in a three-game BIG EAST Conference series, completed the greatest regular season in school history for the Cardinals, whose 46 wins set a new school record and are six better than last year's previous best of 40. The total is also just one win shy of matching the overall school record for wins of 47, first set by the 2007 World Series squad and matched last season by the Cardinals' 2009 NCAA Super Regional team.
"One of our biggest goals for this season was to win the BIG EAST regular season title and we were able to do that," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell, who is now 181-73 in his fourth season with two BIG EAST regular season titles and two BIG EAST Tournament titles. "We have so much respect for this league, as well as the coaches and players in it. Anytime you can win the regular season title, that is a huge accomplishment and I'm very proud of these guys because it's never easy. Now, we'll turn our focus to the post-season, and hopefully, even more great things for this program."
In Saturday's second game, senior shortstop Adam Duvall (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) led the way with a 3-for-6 performance at the plate, including two home runs and three RBI. It was the fourth time this season Duvall has hit two home runs in a single game, taking his season total to 12. He also hit for the cycle and was 5-for-9 overall with six RBI in the doubleheader sweep of the Irish.
Freshman designated hitter Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) and junior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) also added three hits each in the win as the Cardinals finished with a season-high 20 hits overall. Stallings was 3-for-3 overall with three RBI, while Haynes was 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Four other Louisville players had at least two hits as redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) was 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs, junior outfielder Josh Richmond (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills HS) was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, senior first baseman Andrew Clark (New Palestine, Ind./New Palestine HS) finished 2-for-5 with an RBI and sophomore shortstop Ryan Wright went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
On the mound, redshirt freshman righty Justin Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier HS) gave the Cardinals another outstanding start with six shutouts innings on just four hits and six strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 5-1 on the season. He has won his last four starts for Louisville, while the six strikeouts on Saturday match a career high.
After learning of Connecticut's home loss to Seton Hall between games in Saturday's doubleheader, the Cardinals fired early and often against Notre Dame scoring at least a run in six of the first seven innings. Louisville opened an early 1-0 lead in the first inning as Duvall reached base with his 26th double of the season and scored on an RBI double to right field by Clark off Irish starter Eric Maust, who took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits in 3.1 innings.
The Cardinals added another run in the second inning as Richmond reached base with a single to center, moved to second on a single by Stallings and then scored on a throwing error by the Irish for the 2-0 advantage. Following a scoreless third inning, Louisville made it 3-0 in the fourth as Ijames earned a leadoff walk, moved to second with a stolen base and then scored on an RBI single up the middle by Stallings.
An inning later, the Cardinals pushed their lead to 4-0 on the first home run of the day for Duvall, a solo shot to left field off Notre Dame reliever Cole Johnson. Louisville added three runs in the sixth on a two-run double to right center by Stallings and an RBI single to right by Haynes for a commanding 7-0 advantage against the Irish.
The Cardinals kept the pedal down in the seventh with six more runs on six hits for a 13-0 cushion. The scoring in that inning included an RBI double by Ijames, an RBI sacrifice fly by Richmond, an RBI single by freshman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS), an RBI sacrifice fly by senior catcher Jeff Arnold (Louisville, Ky./Male HS) and a two-run homer by Duvall.
Notre Dame broke through for a run in the bottom of the seventh and a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth for the final 13-3 margin.
- The 21 conference wins for the Cardinals in 2010 are the most ever for the program since joining the BIG EAST. The previous best was 19, first accomplished in 2007 and again achieved in 2009.
- Saturday marked the sixth time this season the Cardinals have played a doubleheader. They have four sweeps and two splits in those six doubleheaders this season.
- The 20 hits in Saturday's second game surpassed the Cardinals' previous season high of 19 on May 1 in a 24-6 win over Rutgers.
- With their six runs in the seventh inning on Saturday, Louisville has now scored at least five runs in an inning 14 times this season.
- Louisville now leads the all-time series with Notre Dame 11-7.