Louisville junior right-hander Justin Amlung was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, righty Jared Ruxer was selected as the Rookie of the Year and a school record 10 Cardinals earned All-BIG EAST honors during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 BIG EAST Championship at Bright House Field on Tuesday night.
Amlung (Louisville, Ky./St. Xavier) was 8-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 96.0 innings pitched as the Cardinals’ Friday night ace throughout the season. U of L’s only First Team All-BIG EAST selection in 2012, he was twice selected as the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week this season and finished with eight or more strikeouts in six of his 14 starts. He went 5-1 with a 1.63 earned-run average and 63 strikeouts in 60.2 innings in league play. He is the fourth Louisville player to be named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year in the last six seasons joining Thomas Royse (2010), Justin Marks (2009) and Zack Pitts (2007).
Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) finished his first collegiate regular season with an 8-1 record and a 2.61 ERA in 69.0 innings pitched and 12 starts. He becomes the second Louisville player to earn the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award joining Marks in 2007. A Third Team All-BIG EAST selection, Ruxer was 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA in five BIG EAST starts and enters the postseason ranked second in the BIG EAST in wins and fifth in ERA.
Louisville had five players named Second Team All-BIG EAST on Tuesday – senior first baseman Stewart Ijames, sophomore outfielder Adam Engel, sophomore designated hitter Jeff Gardner, sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon and sophomore right-hander Jeff Thompson. Joining Ruxer as a Third Team All-BIG EAST selection were senior righty reliever Derek Self, junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak and sophomore third baseman Ty Young.
Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) led the league with 60 RBI and was second in the BIG EAST with 12 home runs while hitting .266 overall as one of two Cardinals starting all 56 games. Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) was tied for the conference lead in stolen bases with 32 in 34 attempts while hitting .315 overall with 41 runs scored.
Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) hit .301 overall with two home runs and 34 RBI, while in BIG EAST games, he finished with a .338 average. Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) hit .325 with one home run, 39 RBI and 38 runs scored while starting 55 of 56 games in the Louisville outfielder. He also hit .327 in league action. Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS) was led the league in wins finishing with a 9-3 record overall and a 3.91 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 14 starts and 73.2 innings pitched.
Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS) led the Cardinals with seven saves to go with a 2-2 record and a 3.07 ERA while making 24 appearances out of the Louisville bullpen. Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) hit .329 overall with a league-leading 57 runs scored, 23 HBPs and 23 RBI while starting all 56 games for the Cardinals at second base. Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) led the Cardinals in hitting and ranked seventh in the league with a .349 average to go with six home runs, 38 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 19 attempts. He also ranked in the top 10 in the league in slugging percentage (.548) and on-base percentage (.476).
The 10 All-BIG EAST selections for the Cardinals this season are the most since the nine in 2007. This marks the second time Louisville players have earned both the Pitcher and Rookie of the Year honors from the league in the same season, which first occurred in 2007.
The 22nd-ranked and top-seeded Cardinals open the 2012 BIG EAST Championship on Wednesday at 5 p.m., ET against No. 8 seed Pittsburgh. Live play-by-play of Louisville’s games in Clearwater can be heard on News/Talk 1570 AM (WNDA) with live audio also available to subscribers of CardsTV online at www.UofLsports.com. Free live video as well as live scoring for the entire event will be available online at www.bigeastbaseball.com.