PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Junior righty Dace Kime struck out a career-high 10 while junior outfielder Adam Engel had three hits and a pair of stolen bases as the 11th-ranked Louisville baseball team completed a weekend sweep at Villanova with a 6-2 win on Sunday afternoon.
Earning their eighth series sweep of the season and their seventh consecutive win overall, the Cardinals improved to 37-10 overall and 14-4 in BIG EAST Conference games, while the host Wildcats dropped to 11-36 and 2-16 on the season.
Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) allowed only one run on just three hits in a career-long seven innings to earn his second win of the week and improve to 4-1 on the season. Prior to Sunday, Kime had worked five innings twice, including Tuesday’s win over Western Kentucky. In two starts this week, Kime was 2-0 allowing only one run (0.75 ERA) on seven hits with 16 strikeouts 12.0 innings. His 10 strikeouts on Sunday surpassed his previous high of seven in the Cardinals’ win at Kentucky on April 16.
At the plate, Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) was 3-for-5 overall with an RBI and run scored while increasing his stolen base total to 37 in 45 attempts. The three hits match a season-high while the 37 stolen bases equal his 2012 total ranking second all-time in a season at Louisville behind Boomer Whiting’s 73 in 2007. Engel also pushed his career stolen base total to 90, which is tied for second all-time at UofL matching the total of Curtis Watson from1983-86. Whiting also holds the Cardinals’ career stolen base record with 112 from 2003-07.
Junior outfielder and lefty pitcher Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) was 2-for-4 with a run scored at the plate while striking out a career best five in two innings of shutout relief to close the game. Junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) chipped in with a single, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base, while junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) and sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) each added a hit, an RBI and a run scored as the Cardinals finished with an 11-5 edge in hits.
Louisville struck early in Sunday’s win plating two in the opening frame against Villanova lefty starter Josh Harris. After Engel led off the game with a single up the middle, he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC), who also had two hits on the day. After reaching base when he was hit by a pitch, Young moved to second with his 24th stolen base of the season while Engel took third with his first swipe of the day. Moments later, Engel scored the first run on a wild pitch from Harris, while junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) followed with an RBI groundout to score Young for the 2-0 advantage.
After the Wildcats cut the margin in half with a two-out RBI single in the fourth by outfielder Connor Jones, the Cardinals pushed the lead to 3-1 in the seventh when Whiting scored on a RBI sacrifice fly by Young. Whiting led off the seventh with a single up the middle, moved to third on a bunt single by Engel and advanced to third on a sac bunt by Ratajczak before scoring.
An inning later, Louisville put the game out of reach plating three runs on three hits in the eighth. Gibson had an RBI single to score pinch runner Mike White (East Orange, N.J./Salisbury HS), Whiting added an RBI groundout to plate Sturgeon and Engel had a RBI single up the middle to score Gibson for the 6-1 lead. The Wildcats answered with a single run in the bottom of the eighth on another RBI single for Jones for the final four-run margin.
Up next, Louisville visits Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday at 3 p.m., ET for a game that was originally scheduled for March 6 but was postponed due to inclement weather. On Wednesday, the Cardinals will host No. 16 Indiana at 6 p.m., ET on Cancer Awareness Night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- After Sunday’s win, the Cardinals hold a 20-3 advantage in the all-time series with Villanova.
- With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Louisville is one game out of first place in the BIG EAST Conference race with its 14-4 mark. USF and Pittsburgh sit atop the league standings at 15-3, while Seton Hall is one behind the Cardinals in fourth with a 13-5 record.
- The seven-game winning streak for the Cardinals is their longest since taking nine straight from March 8-20. Louisville has won nine straight twice this season.
- The Cardinals’ 37-10 mark is the second best record through 47 games in school history trailing only the 39-8 effort of the 2010 team, which set school records for regular season wins (46) and total wins (50).
- Entering the weekend leading the nation in strikeouts per nine innings pitched at 9.4, the Cardinals had 15 strikeouts for the second straight day against Villanova. They had 13 strikeouts on Friday for a three-day total of 43 in the series sweep.
- Louisville pitchers have struck out 10 or more in four straight games and five of the last six overall.
- The Cardinals have allowed two or fewer earned runs in 27 of 46 games this season, including two of three at Villanova.
- The Cardinals improved to 33-0 this season when leading after eight innings.
- With two runs in the first inning on Sunday, the Cardinals increased their scoring advantage in the opening frame this season to 40-12.
- UofL improved to 17-2 this season when scoring in the first inning and 30-5 when scoring first.
- Louisville played error-free baseball for the fourth straight game (the longest error-free stretch of the season) and the 16th time this season while improving to 15-1 in those games.
- Third in the nation in stolen bases entering weekend, UofL had added three more on Sunday to increase the overall total to 125.
- With his third inning single, Coco Johnson has reached base safely in 22 straight games overall, the longest such streak