Freshman first baseman Danny Rosenbaum’s ninth inning RBI sacrifice fly to right field scored junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon from third to lift the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 4-3 walk-off win over No. 14 Indiana on Wednesday in front of 3,530 fans on Cancer Awareness Night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With their ninth straight win, the Cardinals improved to 39-10 overall while the visiting Hoosiers dropped to 36-10 on the season. Equaling their longest winning stretch of the season, Louisville has won nine straight games for the third time in 2013.
Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth Whitemarsh HS), who entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter, powered a 0-1 pitch from Indiana reliever Ryan Halstead into deep right field to complete the 11th come-from-behind win and the fourth walk-off win for Louisville this season. Prior to scoring the game-winning run, Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) led off the ninth inning with double to right center off Halstead and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS).
“Throughout a baseball season, you have to be able to put everything aside and you must have that laser beam focus. We’ve done that during the last two weeks and we did that tonight,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “We had a couple of bad innings early in the game and we looked like we did in the loss to Vanderbilt a few weeks back. I pulled everybody together and I told them ‘this is the last time we’re going to meet tonight but we’re going to play good baseball. Just play the game and if it’s good enough to win, that’s great, and if not, then so be it. But with this crowd tonight and this atmosphere, I didn’t want to leave the ballpark having not played good baseball.”
On the mound, sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) made his shortest outing of the season delivering just one pitch to record the final out of the top of the ninth inning and earn the win to improve to 3-2 on the season. He followed Sturgeon, who provided 1.2 innings of shutout relief, while junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) had the best outing of the day on the mound for the Cardinals striking out a career best six in three innings of no-hit, shutout relief.
The Cardinals actually struck first on Wednesday as Gibson delivered a RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield to score junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) for a 1-0 advantage in the second inning. After earning a leadoff walk, Gardner moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sturgeon and advanced to third when the throw to first by IU pitcher Will Coursen-Carr upon fielding the bunt was errant.
Indiana answered in the fourth inning plating three runs against Louisville lefty starter Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky). After shortstop Michael Basil was hit by a pitch to start the inning, third baseman Dustin DeMuth connected for his fourth home run of the season and a 2-1 advantage. Later in the inning, centerfielder Justin Cureton pushed the lead to 3-1 with two-out RBI single to center to plate rightfielder Casey Smith, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.
Two innings later, Louisville pulled even at 3-3 after sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) doubled down the right field line to score Gibson while Rosenbaum followed him home thanks to a fielding error in right by Smith. Gibson started the rally with a two-out single to center while Rosenbaum, pinch hitting for senior Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS), reached base on a fielding error by second baseman Nick Ramos.
Halstead took the loss for the Hoosiers and dropped to 2-3 on the season after allowing one run on one hit in two innings of relief. In the starting role, Coursen-Carr was charged with three unearned runs on six hits with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings for a no-decision.
Up next, Louisville travels to Storrs, Conn., for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series at UConn. The series begins with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m., ET at J.O. Christian Field and concludes with the finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Louisville is one game out of first in the BIG EAST race with a 14-4 mark. USF and Pittsburgh sit atop the league standings at 15-3, while Seton Hall is one behind the Cardinals in fourth with a 13-5 record.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- With Wednesday’s win, the Cardinals evened the all-time series with the Hoosiers at 21-21. Indiana did win two of the three matchups with Louisville in 2013 earning victories on Feb. 15 and March 27.
- Louisville improved to 28-5 at home this season and 208-75 (.734 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since it opened in 2005.
- The announced crowd of 3,530 ranks as the third largest attendance number of the season for Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium trailing only the 4,733 (school record) against Kentucky on April 2 and the 4,573 against Elon on April 13.
- With their 39th victory of the season, the Cardinals are one win away from earning their sixth 40-win campaign in Dan McDonnell’s seven seasons as head coach.
- For the sixth straight game, Louisville played error-free baseball extending the team’s longest streak of the season.
- Prior to Wednesday, the Cardinals had walk-off wins this season against Alabama (March 8 and March 10) and Notre Dame (March 29).
- The Cardinals improved to 32-5 this season when scoring first.
- Louisville won its seventh one-run game of the season to go with five one-run losses.
- The three innings of relief matched a career-long for Cody Ege, who is 3-1 on the season with a 1.83 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 26 appearances and 19.2 innings pitched.
- After his fourth inning single, Coco Johnson has reached base safely in 24 straight games, the longest such streak for a Louisville player this season.
- Wednesday marked the third Cancer Awareness Night hosted by Louisville baseball.