ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Scoring five runs in the final two innings of the game, the fourth-ranked Louisville baseball team closed out the 2013 BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge with a 9-4 win over Purdue on Sunday at Al Lang Stadium.
With the Sunday’s win, the Cardinals improved to 2-1 overall as they begin an eight-game homestand at Jim Patterson Stadium on Wednesday at 3 p.m., ET against Eastern Kentucky. The Boilermakers dropped to 1-2 with the loss.
Sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) led the Louisville offense on Sunday going 3-for-5 with two RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases. Junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) added two hits, two RBI and a stolen base, while freshman first baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh HS) had two hits, a walk and scored twice.
With the game tied at 4-4, the Cardinals plated three runs on three hits in the eighth inning to regain command for good. The scoring threat started with a one-out single through the left side by Rosenbaum, who advanced to third moments later on aggressive baserunning following a single to right field by junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC).
Louisville then moved ahead for good at 5-4 when Rosenbaum scored on an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Whiting. Crain then scored the second run of the inning on an RBI single up the middle by senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC), while the final run of the frame came when Whiting scored from third on a balk by Purdue reliever Brett Andrzejewski.
An inning later, the Cardinals pushed their lead to 8-4 when junior infielder Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) scored from third on an RBI groundball off the bat of senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS). Louisville’s final run of the day came moments later when junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) scored from third as Wasserman occupied the defense with a rundown on a stolen base attempt.
On the mound, freshman right-hander Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) pitched three dominant innings of relief finishing with five strikeouts and no hits while allowing only one walk in three shutout innings of relief to earn the win in his collegiate debut. Sophomore righty starter Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) allowed two earned runs and four total runs on six hits with three strikeouts in four innings while finishing with a no-decision. Junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) and sophomore right-hander Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) followed Kidston with scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth innings respectively for the Cardinals to close out the game.
Louisville opened the scoring early in Sunday’s game plating three runs on three hits in the second inning against Purdue lefty starter Kyle Wood. After starting things with a one-out infield single, Sturgeon moved to second on a walk to Rosenbaum and later scored on an RBI single up the middle by Whiting for the 1-0 lead. That was followed by a two-run single up the middle by Engel to score Rosenbaum and Whiting for the 3-0 advantage.
The Cardinals added a fourth run in the third inning as junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona College) led off the frame with a single to center, moved to third on a groundout to the right side by junior infielder Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) and later scored on an RBI groundout by sophomore designated hitter Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS).
The four-run lead was short-lived for Louisville as the Boilermakers answered with a four-spot in the bottom of the third to even the score. The inning including two Louisville errors leading to two unearned runs against Ruxer. However, the Cardinals kept the scored tied and never trailed in Sunday’s weekend finale.
The two teams then played four straight scoreless innings before Louisville regained the control for the duration in the eighth inning.
Wednesday’s home-opener against EKU will also be the Cardinals’ first game in newly expanded Jim Patterson Stadium. The game will be preceded by a pregame ceremony to commemorate the updated facility. Admission is free for the game.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- After going 2-1 during the weekend, Louisville improved to 10-2 all-time in the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge.
- With Sunday’s win, the all-time series between the Cardinals and Boilermakers is even at 6-6. The teams will meet again on March 13 during Elementary School Day at Patterson Stadium.
- Senior Nick Ratajczak, juniors Adam Engel and Cole Sturgeon and sophomore Sutton Whiting each hit safely in all three games during the weekend.
- Going back to last season, Ratajczak has hit safely in eight straight games overall.
- For the weekend, Whiting was 5-for-10 at the plate with three RBI, three runs, three walks and two stolen bases while making his first three career starts as Louisville’s shortstop.
- During the weekend, the Louisville pitching staff allowed only four earned runs in three games for a team ERA of 1.33. The Cardinals also had 31 strikeouts in 27 innings.
- Two position players, junior Coco Johnson and freshman Danny Rosenbaum, and four pitchers, sophomore transfer lefty Kyle McGrath, redshirt freshman lefty Adam Schemenauer and freshmen righties Kyle Funkhouser and Anthony Kidston made their Louisville debuts during the weekend.