PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Junior catcher Kyle Gibson had three hits and a pair of RBI while junior righthander Jeff Thompson matched a career-high with 12 strikeouts as the No. 11 Louisville baseball team earned a series-clinching 6-5 win at Villanova on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals improved to 36-10 on the season and 13-4 in BIG EAST Conference action after winning their sixth straight overall, while the Wildcats dropped to 11-35 and 2-15. Louisville, which won its ninth series of the season, will look for its eighth weekend sweep in the series finale on Sunday at 12:15 p.m., ET at Villanova Ballpark.
Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) finished 3-for-4 overall and scored once to go with his two RBI as UofL finished with a 13-6 advantage in hits. Senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored, while junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) was 3-for-5 with a run scored. Junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) chipped in going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) added a RBI triple in the win.
On the mound, Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS) improved to 8-1 on the season after matching his 12-strikeout performance in the Cardinals’ win over USF on Feb. 16. Overall, the 6-6 starter allowed four runs on four hits in 6.1 innings while earning his 19th career win, which equals Derek Self (2009-12) for fifth all-time at Louisville.
With the Cardinals holding a 6-5 lead, sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning to earn his second save of the series and his 10th of the season. He lowered his overall ERA 0.76 and now has 48 strikeouts in 23.2 innings of relief this season.
Louisville struck first in Saturday’s game plating a run in the top of the second when junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon scored on a RBI sacrifice fly to center by Wasserman against Villanova starter Pat Young. However, the lead was short-lived as the Wildcats answered with four in the bottom of the second for a 4-1 lead. After loading the bases against Thompson, Villanova plated a pair of runs when third baseman Adam Goss and centerfielder Paul Rambaud were hit by pitches. Second baseman Tyler Sciacca followed with a two-run single to center to complete the four-run inning.
The Cardinals started their comeback in the fourth inning plating a pair of runs on three hits. Gibson plated the first run with his RBI sac fly to left to score Gardner, while Whiting’s RBI triple later in the inning scored Wasserman to cut the deficit to 4-3. Gardner singled to lead off the inning and moved to third on a throwing error by Young on a pickoff attempt before the sac fly, while Wasserman doubled to center before scoring on Whiting’s triple.
Louisville evened the score at 4-4 in the sixth when Wasserman belted a 2-2 pitch to right center to score Gibson, who singled earlier in the inning. An inning later, the Cardinals regained the lead for good scoring two in the seventh frame. After doubling to left field and advancing to third on a bunt single by Gardner, Young scored the go-ahead run on a RBI sacrifice fly to center by Sturgeon. Gibson followed with a RBI single to center to score junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona), who walked earlier in the inning.
The Wildcats cut the deficit in half in the eighth as Rambaud scored when designated hitter John Cialone grounded into a double-play but they would not get any closer as the Cardinals’ bullpen finished off the one-run win. Young took the loss and dropped to 1-7 overall after allowing six runs on 11 hits in 6.0+ innings.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- With Saturday’s win, the Cardinals improved to 19-3 in the all-time series with Villanova.
- Entering the weekend leading the nation in strikeouts per nine innings pitched at 9.4, the Cardinals had 15 strikeouts in Saturday’s victory after striking out 13 on Friday.
- Louisville improved to 26-4 this season against righty starters.
- The Cardinals improved to 32-0 this season when leading after eight innings.
- Saturday marked Louisville’s 10th comeback win of the season.
- Louisville played error-free baseball for the second straight game and the 15th time this season while improving to 14-1 overall in those games.
- The Cardinals have played error-free in three straight games equaling the longest such streak of the season.
- Third in the nation in stolen bases entering weekend, UofL had added three more on Saturday after swiping four on Friday to increase their overall total to 122.
- With his 10th save, Nick Burdi moved into a tie for fourth on the Cardinals’ single season saves list equaling the 10 saves of Josh Ring in 2001 and Todd Raithel in 1998.
- With a pair of walks on Saturday, Coco Johnson has reached base safely in 21 straight games overall, which matches the longest streak of the season for a Louisville player equaling the stretch of 21 games for Adam Engel earlier in 2013.
- With his two hits on Saturday, Ty Young earned his team-leading 19th multiple hit game of the season.