Louisville Baseball Game Notes
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The 22nd-ranked Louisville baseball team travels to Tampa, Fla., for a pivotal BIG EAST Conference series against league-leader USF starting Friday at 7 p.m., ET.
Live play-by-play of the series will be available to subscribers of CardsTV online at UofLsports.com. Live scoring will be available through the Gametracker feature on the baseball schedule page at UofLsports.com.
Entering the weekend, Louisville trails 38-29 in the all-time series with USF which dates back to 1992. Last season, the Cardinals won two of three against the Bulls at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville. U of L has won 10 of the last 12 overall in the series. This weekend will mark Louisville's first visit to USF Baseball Stadium, which opened prior to the 2011 season. It will also mark the Cardinals' first road games against the Bulls since 2008 when they won two of the three in Tampa. U of L has won two of its last three series against USF in Tampa.
CARDINALS TWO GAMES OUT OF FIRST IN BIG EAST STANDINGS AFTER FOUR WEEKS
After suffering its first BIG EAST Conference series loss at home since 2009 last weekend against Seton Hall, Louisville is tied for third place in the BIG EAST standings with St. John's at 8-4, two games behind first place USF at 10-2. Reigning league champion Connecticut sits in second with a 9-3 league record. The Cardinals will visit conference leader USF this weekend before hosting second-place UConn the following week at Patterson Stadium.
RUXER NAMED BIG EAST PITCHER OF THE WEEK ON APRIL 16
Freshman right-hander Jared Ruxer was named BIG EAST Conference Pitcher of the Week on April 16 after his impressive performance in the Cardinals' 12-0 win at No. 1 Kentucky on April 10. Ruxer pitched 6.0 shutout innings allowing only three hits with a career-best six strikeouts to earn the victory as the Cardinals became the first team this season to shut out the Wildcats. Overall, Ruxer is 5-0 with a 2.58 in 2012 and has won five of his seven starts as a Cardinal. The Indianapolis, Ind., native is scheduled to make his first weekend start in Sunday's series finale at USF.
NOTES AND TRENDS TO FOLLOW...
The Cardinals are 26-0 this season when leading after the seventh inning... As a team, the Cardinals are 62-of-76 on stolen bases this season, while last season they were just 67-for-94... With his team-leading 10th home run of the season on April 6, senior Stewart Ijames moved into a tie for eighth on the Cardinals' career home run list with Richie Hawks (1988-91) with 43 home runs... Ijames has 190 RBI in his career, which places him in eighth on the Cardinals' career list, three behind No. 7 Darren Oppel (1990-93)... With his nine career saves, senior righty Derek Self is tied for 10th on the Cardinals' career list with B.J. Rosenberg (2004-08) and David Sonson (1995-97)... With 44 stolen bases in less than two full seasons, sophomore Adam Engel is sixth on the Cardinals' career list, four behind No. 5 Dave Williams, Jr. (2000-03)... With 21 career wins, junior righty Justin Amlung is tied for third on the Cards' career list with Mike Shields (1975-78)... And with 196 career strikeouts, Amlung ranks ninth all-time at Louisville... With 28 stolen bases this season, Engel is already fourth on the Cardinals' single season list, just one behind No. 3 Mike Hook (2000)... With 18 HBPs this season, junior Nick Ratajczak is tied for fourth on U of L's single season list with Adam Duvall (2009) and Phil Wunderlich (2010) and just one behind No. 3 Daniel Burton (2007)... Engel leads the Cardinals in 2012 with 14 multiple hit games, while Cole Sturgeon is next with 13... Ijames leads the Cardinals with 13 multiple RBI games this season, while sophomore Ty Young is next with eight.
LOUISVILLE OFFENSE SHOWS IMPROVEMENT IN 2012
After struggling for much of 2011, the Louisville offense has shown considerable improvement through 37 games of 2012. Entering the weekend, the Cardinals are hitting .317 as a team, more than 60 percentage points higher than the .253 team average they had in 2011. In the 37 games this season, Louisville has finished with 10 or more hits 23 times, while last season, they achieved that total just 16 times in 61 games. In the scoring column, the Cardinals have scored seven or more runs 20 times (19-1 record), while in 2011, they did it just 15 times overall.
SELF NAMED TO MIDSEASON STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATHCH LIST
Senior righty Derek Self was named to the midseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, as announced by the association on April 19. Self enters the weekend with a team-high seven saves, which is tied for tops in the BIG EAST Conference. Overall, Self has 15 appearances out of the Cardinals' bullpen this season and is 0-1 with a 2.14 ERA. One of Louisville's team captains in 2012, Self has a 17-4 career record to go along with nine career saves.
ENGEL TO MISS 2-4 WEEKS WITH THUMB INJURY
Sophomore outfielder Adam Engel will be out of action for 2-4 weeks due to a thumb injury on his left (non-throwing) hand. Engel suffered the injury during the fifth inning of Louisville's April 15 loss to Seton Hall when he collided with a Pirate middle infielder while stealing second. The injury forced Engel out of the Cardinals' lineup for the first time this season in the April 17 win at Indiana.
Engel has established himself as one of the nation's elite base stealers and has emerged as one of the key components to the Louisville offense. Entering the week, Engel is ranked fifth nationally with 28 stolen bases (in 29 attempts), while his 44 career stolen bases (in less than two full seasons) place him sixth on the Cardinals' all-time list. Having served as Louisville's leadoff hitter in each of the first 36 games this season, Engel also ranks 32nd in the nation in runs scored with 38.
CARDINALS KNOCK OFF NO. 1 FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2005
With their dominating 12-0 victory against long-time rival and No. 1 Kentucky on April 10 in Lexington, the Cardinals clinched their first win over a top-ranked team since winning two of three in a series victory against No. 1 Tulane on March 25-26, 2005 in Louisville. In the win over the Wildcats, freshman righty Jared Ruxer was the star allowing just three hits with a career-best six strikeouts in six impressive innings as the Cardinals became the first team to shutout the Wildcats this season.
USF enters the weekend at 26-12 overall after a 4-3 midweek win over Bethune-Cookman and a conference-best 10-2 in BIG EAST action after winning two of three at Pittsburgh last weekend. The Bulls are led by former Louisville head coach Lelo Prado, who is in his sixth season at the helm at USF. Last season, USF finished 25-29 overall and was ninth in the BIG EAST at 13-14.