LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Unable to overcome a slow start, the seventh-ranked Louisville baseball team was unsuccessful in its bid for a weekend sweep falling 11-2 to visiting Rutgers in Sunday afternoon’s series-finale at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Scoring in each of the first four innings, the Scarlet Knights (8-12, 1-2 American) tallied six runs during that opening stretch in salvaging the final game of the weekend after the Cardinals (17-6, 2-1 American) won each of the first two in the series on Friday (6-1) and Saturday (9-8). Allowing its highest run total of the season, Louisville was also limited to its lowest hit total in 2014 in the loss.
“Today, we just didn’t play good baseball. We didn’t pitch it well, we didn’t make plays defensively and we only had three hits, so you chalk it up to bad baseball,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “What you get out of today is that you have to grow up and continue to respect the game and respect your opponent. We have to show up ready to play every day and if you watched us today, it’s clear we didn’t do that.”
For the second straight day, Rutgers attacked early plating multiple runs in the first inning against Louisville freshman righty starter Jake Sparger (Eau Claire, Wis.). After a three-run first on Saturday, the Scarlet Knights scored two on Sunday on RBI singles from second baseman Nick Favatella and first baseman Brian O’Grady.
An inning later, Rutgers pushed the advantage to 4-0 with a pair of runs in the second, including one unearned. After loading the bases with one out, shortstop Pat Sweeney scored from third on a RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Favatella. As the Cardinals attempted to turn a 5-4-3 double-play to end the inning, the throw from second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) was off-target, which allowed catcher R.J. Devish to score from second.
The Scarlet Knights continued the scoring trend in the third on a RBI sacrifice fly by third baseman Christian Campbell, and again in the fourth inning when catcher R.J. Devish scored from third after an error by Lucas on a groundball that would have ended the inning. Rutgers pushed the advantage to 7-0 in the top of the sixth on a RBI sac fly by outfielder Mike Carter.
Louisville’s only two runs of the day came in the bottom of the sixth on two hits against Rutgers starter Gaby Rosa and two errors by Scarlet Knights. After leading off the inning by being hit by a pitch, senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) advanced to second after a throwing error by Rosa on a groundball off the bat of Lucas. Moments later, Sturgeon scored after a throwing error by Sweeney on an attempted double-play sailed off-target of first baseman Brian O’Grady. Senior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky.) followed with a RBI single to score freshman Colin Lyman (Algonquin, Ill.) and cut the deficit to 7-2.
However, that was as close as the Cardinals would get as Rutgers added four more runs in the eighth inning for the final margin. Sparger suffered his first career collegiate loss and dropped to 2-1 on the season after allowing five runs, including four earned, on five hits in three innings. Rosa earned the win and improved to 2-0 on the season after allowing only two unearned runs on three hits in eight innings.
Up next, Louisville returns to the road for a midweek game against Western Kentucky on Tuesday at 7 p.m., ET at Bowling Green Ballpark.
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Louisville Postgame Notes
- The Cardinals hold a 20-9 lead in the all-time series with Rutgers, including a 12-5 mark at home.
- Louisville is 229-79 all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium for a .743 winning percentage in the ballpark, which opened in April 2005.
- Louisville earned a series win in the opening weekend of conference play in seven of the last eight years under the guidance of coach Dan McDonnell.
- Sunday marked the Cardinals’ first loss this season against a righty starter dropping them to 10-1 overall.
- The 11 runs for the Scarlet Knights on Sunday were the most allowed by Louisville since the 11-4 elimination game loss to Oregon State at the 2013 College World Series.
- The three hits for the Cardinals on Sunday were their fewest since finishing with just three hits in a 2-1 win over Georgetown on April 26, 2013.
- After being hit by a pitch on Sunday, senior Cole Sturgeon has reached base safely in all 23 games this season and 29 straight overall dating back to last season.