May 25, 2011
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Louisville baseball team opened the 2011 BIG EAST Championship with a 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh on a sunny and warm Wednesday at Bright House Field.
With the loss, the sixth-seeded Cardinals dropped to 29-28 overall, while the No. 3 Panthers improved to 33-21 on the season. Louisville will play an elimination game on Thursday at 10 a.m., ET against No. 7 seed Cincinnati, which lost 8-3 to No. 2 St. John's on Wednesday afternoon.
For Louisville, junior right-handed starter Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) struggled on the mound allowing four runs on seven hits in 4.0 innings to suffer the loss and fall to 3-3 on the season. At the plate, junior second baseman Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) was 2-for-4 with an RBI, while freshman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) and sophomore Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) added two hits each.
Catcher Kevan Smith led the Panthers with a pair of solo home runs in a 2-for-4 day at the plate, while second baseman Travis Whitmore was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. On the mound for Pitt, lefty Matt Iannazzo controlled the game allowing two runs on eight hits with four strikeouts in his fifth complete game of the season to earn the win and improve to 8-3 overall.
The Cardinals trailed throughout in the first game of the five-day event as the Panthers scored once in the first, once in the second and twice in the third to take command. Pittsburgh opened the scoring in the first as Smith sent an 0-1 pitch just over the top of the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.
An inning later, the Panthers pushed their lead to 2-0 in the second as designated hitter Rick Devereaux led off the frame with a single up the middle, moved to third on a single to center by Whitmore and then scored on an RBI single by third baseman Phil Konieczny off the glove of a diving Stallings at third.
After a scoreless top of the third for Louisville, Pittsburgh doubled its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back two-out solo home runs by Smith and first baseman David Chester. The home run for Smith was his second of the day and his 10th of the season, while the homer for Chester was his 15th of the year.
Louisville had a scoring threat in the top of the fourth as junior outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) singled through the right side and moved to third on a two-out double down the left field line by Stallings, but Iannazzo forced senior catcher J.J. Ethel (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe HS) into an inning-ending groundout.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Pittsburgh pushed its lead to 7-0 in the sixth thanks to three runs on two hits against Louisville freshman reliever Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) and one costly Cards' error. After earning a one-out walk, Devereaux scored on an RBI triple down the right field line by Whitmore for the first run of the inning. Moments later Whitmore scored on a fielder's choice groundball off the bat of outfielder Casey Roche after Stallings' throw home was dropped by Ethel before he could apply the tag. After advancing to second on the error by Ethel and moving to third on a wild pitch by Kime, Roche scored the final run of the inning on an RBI single to center by shortstop Evan Oswald.
The Cardinals finally broke through for two runs in the eighth against Iannazzo. Chittenden led off the inning with a single to center, advanced to second on an infield single by senior outfielder Drew Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS), moved to third on a throwing error by the Panthers on the hit for Haynes and then scored on an RBI groundout by freshman designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy). Wright followed with an RBI single to center to score Haynes for the second and final run of the day for Louisville.
Wednesday's game against Cincinnati 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. Links to live scoring and live video for the 2011 BIG EAST Championship can be accessed online at www.bigeastbaseball.com. The Cardinals won two of three on the road against the Bearcats in their regular season series on April 8-10.
- The Cardinals, making their sixth appearance all-time in the BIG EAST Championship, suffered their first ever loss in the opening round of the event. Overall, Louisville is now 15-7 in the BIG EAST Championship.
- Louisville is now 14-5 all-time at Bright House Field, including a 1-1 mark in 2011.
- With his two-hit performance on Wednesday, Ryan Wright leads the Cardinals in hitting at .345 and is tied for the team lead in home runs (11) and RBI (45).
- With a run scored in the first by Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Louisville has been outscored 42-21 in the first inning this season. The Cardinals are 7-21 when their opponents score first and have allowed at least one run in the first inning in 14 of their 28 losses this season.
- The Cardinals are 1-18 when allowing five runs or more this season.
- Wednesday's game was the first ever meeting between Louisville and Pittsburgh in the BIG EAST Championship. The Cardinals, which lead the overall series with the Panthers 7-6, have played every other team in the league at least once in the BIG EAST Championship with the exception of Georgetown.