LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Senior outfielder Jeff Gardner had two hits and drove in three runs while freshman righthander Jake Sparger came out of the bullpen for three dominant innings of relief as the No. 10 Louisville baseball team completed a doubleheader sweep of Western Illinois with a 5-2 victory in Tuesday’s nightcap at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The victory was also No. 321 for head coach Dan McDonnell in his eight seasons with the Cardinals (12-4) making him the winningest coach in Louisville baseball history. McDonnell, who has led the Cardinals to a pair of College World Series berths, six NCAA Regional berths and seven total conference championships (regular season and tournament), surpassed previous career win leader Lelo Prado, who won 320 games in his 11 seasons at the helm from 1996-2006.
Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) was 2-for-3 overall with a triple and scored once to go along with the team-high three RBI. Sophomore first baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) chipped in with a double and two RBI as the Cardinals, who won 8-0 in Tuesday’s opener with the Leathernecks (1-11) swept a doubleheader for the first time since May 11, 2013 at Connecticut.
On the mound, Sparger (Eau Claire, Wis.) issued only one walk and did not allow a hit while facing the minimum in his three innings to earn the victory and improve to 2-0 on the season. Following a scoreless inning of relief from senior lefty two-way player Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.), junior righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) worked a scoreless ninth inning for his first save of the season and the 17th of his career.
The Cardinals struck quickly in Tuesday’s nightcap plating three runs in the first inning against Western Illinois starter Carson Cheesman. The scoring started for Louisville when junior outfielder Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.), who reached base with a four-pitch walk, was driven home by Gardner on a two-out RBI triple down the right field line. After another four-pitch walk, this one to freshman designated hitter Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.), Rosenbaum connected for a two-run double down the left field line for the 3-0 advantage.
The Leathernecks broke through for their first runs of the day in the fourth scoring two against Louisville freshman lefty Drew Harrington (Elizabethtown, Ky.). Catcher Adam McGinnis plated the first run with a RBI single to center, while outfielder Nathan Pollock delivered a RBI sacrifice fly to center to score the second run. Harrington finished the day allowing two runs on six hits with three strikeouts in four innings.
Louisville then extended its lead to the final 5-2 margin in the fifth when Gardner connected for a two-run single to center to score junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) and Sturgeon. After the inning started with a walk to Whiting and an HBP for Sturgeon, a double steal by the duo put them in scoring in position for Gardner.
Cheesman was charged with the loss for the Leathernecks and dropped to 0-1 on the season after allowing three runs on two hits in 2.1 innings.
Up next, Louisville will host Samford for a three-game weekend set starting Friday at 3 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium. The series continues on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., each day and admission is free throughout the weekend.
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Louisville Postgame Notes
- In his eighth season leading the Cardinals, Dan McDonnell has a 321-146 record for an impressive .687 winning percentage.
- During his tenure at Louisville, the program has eclipsed 40 wins in a season six times, including a 51- win season in 2013 and a 50- campaign in 2010.
- The Cardinals improved to 10-3 at home this season and 224-78 all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium (.741 winning percentage) since it opened during the 2005 season.
- Prior to the two runs in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s second game, Louisville’s pitching staff had a stretch of 27 consecutive innings without allowing a run dating back to Friday’s game against Miami (Ohio).
- Facing a pair of lefty starters on the mound on Tuesday, the Cardinals improved to 6-4 against lefties this season.
- In Tuesday’s doubleheader, Sutton Whiting finished with five stolen bases, including a career best three in the opener. For the season, he is 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts in 10 games played.
- Cole Sturgeon had his career best 11-game hitting streak halted in game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader with a 0-for-3 performance. However, he was hit by a pitch and has reached base safely in 22 straight games dating back to last season.
- On the mound, Sturgeon’s inning of shutout relief on Tuesday extended his career best scoreless streak to 11.2 innings dating back to last season.
- With his 17th career save on Tuesday, Nick Burdi moved into a tie for third on the Cardinals’ career leaderboard equaling the total of Brian Halford (2003-06). Burdi is just one save behind second-place Kerry Griffith (18 saves, 1983-85) and two behind career leader Neil Holland (19 saves, 2008-10).
- Louisville is 11-0 this season when leading after eight innings and has won 66 straight games when entering the ninth inning with the lead dating back to May 2012.