LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Junior outfielder Coco Johnson’s solo home run kicked off a nine-run eighth inning while junior righty Chad Green allowed only one run in a career best eight innings as the No. 8 Louisville baseball team took a 10-1 series-opening win over visiting Elon on Friday night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) belted the first pitch of the at-bat from Elon starter Dylan Clark over the left field wall for his second home run of the season and a 2-1 lead for the Cardinals (26-7). Johnson, who was 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored, added a two-run single later in the eighth as Louisville sent 14 batters to the plate in their highest scoring inning of the season.
On the mound, Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS) allowed only one run on five hits with five strikeouts while surpassing his previous career best outing of seven innings accomplished three times this season. Green faced just two over the minimum in his eight innings while retiring 13 of the last 14 batters he faced as he improved to 5-2 on the season and lowered his overall ERA to 2.15.
“I thought I threw well tonight and I could throw all three pitches for strikes,” Green said. “I think I got better as the game went on. Early, I threw a lot of fastballs and change-ups and later, it was more fastballs and sliders. I thought this was my best I’ve thrown for a longer period of time rather than just one inning or two innings.”
Overall, Louisville finished with a 12-5 advantage in hits against Elon (20-16). Junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) was 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored, while junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. Sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) was 2-for-3 with a stolen base and scored once, while junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) singled, walked, stole a career best three bases and scored once.
Having taken their first lead of the night with Johnson’s home run, the Cardinals followed by plating the final eight runs of the eighth inning with two outs. After a walk to sophomore infielder Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) and a single by Sturgeon, Crain singled to right field on a 1-2 pitch from Clark to plate both baserunners for the 4-1 lead. Senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) followed with a single to end the day for Clark, who took the loss and dropped to 4-3 on the season after allowing six runs, including five earned, on 11 hits with eight strikeouts and two walks in 7.2 innings pitched.
Jordan Darnell entered from the Elon bullpen and walked Whiting to load the bases before hitting junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) to plate Crain. That was followed by an RBI walk by Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) to score Wasserman before Johnson connected for a two-run single to left to plate Whiting and Engel for an 8-1 win. Moments later Ratajczak and Johnson each scored on wild pitches by Darnell to end the scoring for the Cardinals.
After Green and Clark controlled the first three innings on Friday, Elon broke through for the first run of the game in the fourth. Outfielder Sebastian Gomez led off the inning with a single to right and was followed by a single to center from first baseman Ryan Kinsella before scoring when catcher Alex Swim grounded into a double-play.
Louisville evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single to center by Sturgeon to score Young, who reached base earlier in the inning on fielding error by Phoenix second baseman Wil Leathers. Young stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Sturgeon’s single.
The Cardinals and Phoenix will continue their weekend slate on Saturday at 3 p.m., ET with first pitch slated to begin near the conclusion of the Louisville football spring game at next door Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Sunday’s series finale between UofL and Elon is set for a 1 p.m., ET first pitch and admission is free throughout the weekend.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- Friday’s opener was the annual Patriotic Game at Jim Patterson Stadium with both team’s wearing uniforms inspired by the event.
- Friday’s game was also the first ever between Louisville and Elon on the baseball diamond. The Cardinals improved to 7-2 all-time against current members of the Southern Conference.
- Louisville improved to 21-4 at home this season and 201- 74 (.730 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
- The nine runs in the eighth inning were the most for the Cardinals in an inning since they plated 10 in the first inning against Rutgers on May 1, 2010. Louisville went on to a 24-6 win over the Scarlet Knights.
- The nine-run frame on Friday continued a scoring trend in the eighth inning this season. Through 33 games, Louisville has a 50-15 scoring advantage in the eighth inning this season.
- The Cardinals have finished with 10 or more hits in 19 games this season, including Friday’s 12 hits against Elon.
- Coco Johnson matched a Louisville career-high with his three hits on Friday marking the third time he’s reached that total this season.
- Overall, it was the eighth multi-hit performance of the season for Johnson.
- The three stolen bases for Ty Young were a career best surpassing his previous high of two swipes in a single game accomplished seven times.
- With his single in the eighth inning, Young extended his career best hitting streak to 10 games. It is also the longest hitting streak of the season for any Louisville player.
- With only one earned run allowed on Friday, the Cardinals have allowed two or fewer earned runs in 20 of 33 games this season.