STORRS, Conn. (NEWS RELEASE) - The 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team completed its ninth series sweep of the season while clinching head coach Dan McDonnell’s 300th career win with Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Connecticut at J.O. Christian Field.
With their 12th straight win overall, which ranks just one shy of the school record, the Cardinals improved to 42-10 on the season and 17-4 in BIG EAST Conference games, while the host Huskies dropped to 28-24 and 9-15. Having equaled the 12-game winning streak first achieved during the 2006 season, the 2013 Cardinals will look to match the 13 consecutive wins set by the 2010 team when they visit Ohio State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., ET in a nationally televised matchup on the Big Ten Network.
McDonnell, in his seventh season leading the Louisville baseball program, has guided the Cardinals to six 40-win seasons while putting this year’s team in position to earn the program’s sixth NCAA Regional berth in that span. McDonnell becomes the third coach in Louisville history to reach the 300-win plateau joining Lelo Prado and Dr. John Heldman Jr., and he is the fastest of the trio to reach that mark.
In Sunday’s finale, junior righty Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) gave the Cardinals their third straight dominant start of the weekend striking out nine while allowing just one run on four hits in 6.2 innings to win his third straight start. Overall, Kime improved to 5-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.06.
Junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) delivered yet another scoreless relief outing striking out four in 1.2 innings of no-hit work before sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) recorded the final two outs for his team-leading 11th save of the season.
Sunday’s performance capped a truly dominant week for the Louisville pitching staff, which allowed just four runs on 21 hits in five games and 45.0 innings for an ERA of only 0.80. The Cardinals, whose scoreless streak was ended at 29.2 straight innings on Sunday, finished with 47 strikeouts and just seven walks while going 5-0. For the season, Louisville lowered its team ERA to 2.40 and the Cardinals have 508 strikeouts in 471.2 innings pitched.
For the third straight game in the series and the 12th straight overall, Louisville struck first on Sunday plating a run in the fourth with a two-out rally against UConn starter Jordan Tabakman. Following a double to center by junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep), junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) delivered a RBI single through the right side for the 1-0 advantage.
The Huskies’ first baserunner of the day against Kime came in the bottom of the fourth when shortstop Tom Verdi was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. However, a terrific diving catch in right field by junior Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS), a flyout to junior Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) in center and a great tag by sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) on a 2-6 caught stealing ended the inning.
Louisville added to its lead in the seventh inning as Whiting connected on the first offering from Tabakman for a two-run single up the middle plating Sturgeon and junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) for the 3-0 advantage. After earning a four-pitch walk to start the inning, Sturgeon moved to second on a bunt single by Gibson and advanced to third on an error by UConn second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, whose throw to first after fielding the bunt was wide of first baseman Bobby Melley.
The Huskies broke through for their only run of the weekend in the bottom of the seventh as Melley’s RBI groundout scored Mazzilli to cut the Louisville advantage to 3-1. However, the Louisville bullpen, which did not allow a run in five games this week, closed out the victory.
At the plate for Louisville, Gibson and Young had two hits each as the Cardinals finished with a 7-4 advantage in hits. Tabakman took his first loss of the season for the Huskies and dropped to 5-1 overall after allowing three runs on six hits in 6.2 innings.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- After Sunday’s win, Dan McDonnell is 300-138 as the Cardinals’ head coach for an impressive .684 winning percentage.
- Louisville owns a 15-9 record in the all-time series with Connecticut, which dates back to 2006.
- Along with their ninth series sweep of the season, the Cardinals also earned their 10th series win with the visit to UConn.
- With the run in the seventh inning by the Huskies, Louisville’s shutout streak was halted at 29.2 consecutive innings. The Cardinals’ school record for consecutive scoreless innings is 35.0 set during the 1929 season.
- In the Cardinals’ five games this week, the pitching staff allowed runs in just two of the 35 innings of work.
- After 11 straight relief appearances, righty Dace Kime has won three straight starts, all within the last 13 days.
- The Cardinals improved to 28-4 this season against righty starters.
- Louisville improved to 35-5 this season when scoring first.
- During the current 12-game winning streak, the Cardinals have scored first in every game.
- UofL improved to 37-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
- With his fourth inning RBI single, Coco Johnson has reached base safely in 27 straight games extending his team-best streak. For the week, Johnson hit .421 (8-for-19) in five games.
- Following Sunday’s action, Louisville sits one game out of first and in sole possession of second in the BIG EAST Conference standings with the 17-4 record. Pittsburgh sets the pace with an 18-3 record and they will close the season at Jim Patterson Stadium for a three-game weekend series against the Cardinals to determine the 2013 regular season champion.
- In appreciation of Mother’s Day, Cardinals wore their black jerseys and caps trimmed in pink. It marks the third straight season Louisville has worn pink trimmed uniforms on Mother’s Day.