LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A rugged stretch of four consecutive games in as many days started in bitter disappointment for the Louisville baseball team but ended in utter satisfaction.
On Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium, the 10th-ranked Cardinals completed a three-game series sweep of No. 15 Notre Dame with a 10-5 victory that featured a few stellar defensive plays, clutch two-out hitting in a seventh-inning outburst and timely relief pitching to back a solid outing by freshman righty Anthony Kidston.
With Louisville's first sweep in BIG EAST play since the conference-opening series last season against Cincinnati, the Cardinals improved to 22-5 overall and 4-2 in league action while the Fighting Irish dropped to 15-9 and 2-4. The game was tense until Louisville broke loose with six runs in the seventh inning, all with two outs. That siege tempered the grand slam hit by Notre Dame pinch hitter Phil Mosey in the eighth and sent the Cardinals to their fourth three-game sweep of an opponent this season, this time a resilient effort after a Wednesday loss at No. 19 Indiana.
Louisville racked up 11 hits, with four different Cardinals tallying two apiece. Junior centerfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) went 2-for-4 with four stolen bases and two runs scored, junior third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two walks, and junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy HS) added two hits and two RBI. Senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) chipped in two hits while junior leftfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona College) tallied three RBI and junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) a two-run double.
In the second collegiate start of his career and first in conference play, Kidston (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance) improved to 4-0 after matching a career high with 5.1 innings pitched and allowing one earned run on two hits and six walks with six strikeouts. With one out and two on in the sixth, junior left-hander Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Cherokee Washington HS) came on for Kidston with Louisville holding a 2-1 lead and recorded a strikeout of rightfielder Zak Kutsulis. Junior right-hander Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) then entered to face Lane Richards and fanned the Irish shortstop. Kime went on to pitch a scoreless seventh with the help of a diving stop by Wasserman at first in setting up the huge inning on the offensive side.
With the scored knotted at 1-1 in the fourth, Gardner drove in the go-ahead run against Irish starter Pat Connaughton when he blistered an RBI double to right field after Johnson walked. That it put Louisville in front was a credit to sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS). Notre Dame had scored once in the third off Kidston on an RBI double by leftfielder Mac Hudgins to tie it up and was looking for a big inning as the Irish loaded the bases for cleanup hitter Trey Mancini. The Notre Dame first baseman ripped a hard ground ball up the middle, but Whiting made a diving stop and flipped to senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC), who whirled to first for the double play and the possible saving of two runs.
After two scoreless frames, Louisville exploded in the seventh against Notre Dame relievers Nick McCarty and David Hearne, plating six runs on the strength of five consecutive two-out hits. Engel walked and, for the second time this season, matched a single-game school record with his fourth stolen base following his second back-to-back theft of the contest. After Engel's 28th stolen base of 2013 and an intentional walk to Young, Johnson delivered the first two-out hit by lining and RBI single to left field. Junior rightfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) followed up by smashing a two-run double to right field, and Gardner laced an RBI single through the right side. After Hearne entered to pitch, Wasserman singled and Crain creamed a two-run double off the left center field fence as the Cardinals led 8-1.
Following Mosey's grand slam against Louisville sophomore left-hander Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) in the eighth to cut it to 8-5, the Cardinals scored twice in the bottom half on Johnson's second RBI sac fly and a wild pitch that plated Young. Freshman left-hander Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky/Butler HS) set the Irish down in order in the ninth to record his second save after pitching 1.2 scoreless innings.
For the third time in the three games against Notre Dame, leadoff hitter Engel reached base in his first plate appearance and scored. This time he kick-started Louisville's offense by chopping a single over third baseman Eric Jagielo. With one out, Engel stole consecutive bases before scoring on Johnson's RBI sacrifice fly as Louisville took the early lead.
In his second start of the season, Connaughton (0-1), who is a guard on the basketball team, suffered the loss after allowing two earned runs on three hits in 3.1 innings pitched. McCarty gave up five earned runs on five hits after also throwing 3.1 innings. Five different Irish batters recorded one hit.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
-Louisville's run in the first inning Saturday boosted its overall advantage over opponents in the opening frame this season to 27-5. The Cardinals moved to 13-0 in 2013 when scoring in the first inning and 19-2 when scoring first.
-With Saturday's win, Louisville owns a 16-8 advantage in the all-time series with Notre Dame, including a 9-5 edge at home.
-Louisville recorded its third three-game sweep of Notre Dame in school history following the 2007 team that advanced to the College World Series and the 2010 team that won a school-record 50 games.
-Louisville never trailed in the three-game series against Notre Dame.
-The Cardinals improved to 20-3 at home this season and 200-73 (.733) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
-Saturday's 11-hit output marked the 15th time Louisville has recorded double-digits in the hit column this season.
-Ty Young went 6-for-11 with a double, two triples, six RBI and four runs scored in the series.
-Saturday's six-run seventh inning marked the ninth time this season Louisville has scored five or more runs in a single frame and the fifth time the Cardinals have racked up at least six runs.
-With 10 runs on Saturday, Louisville has tallied eight double-digit scoring efforts this season.
-Louisville's staff struck out the side in the sixth in a unique way on Saturday as Anthony Kidston, Cody Ege and Dace Kime each recorded one strikeout in the inning.
-With four stolen bases in four attempts on Saturday, Adam Engel has accumulated 28 thefts while only being caught three times this season.
-Saturday's crowd of 2,351 was the third largest of the season at Jim Patterson Stadium.