LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The fourth-ranked Louisville baseball team suffered its first home loss of the season and had its nine-game winning streak halted on Sunday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium with a 3-2 loss to visiting Kent State.
The Cardinals (9-2) stranded a season-high 15 baserunners, including 11 in the final four innings as the Golden Flashes (2-9) salvaged the last game in the three-game series. Sunday’s game also ended Louisville’s six-game winning streak against Kent State.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) finished with his third straight no-decision after allowing just one run on six hits with two strikeouts in 5.0 innings pitched. He was followed by junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS), who was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-1 overall, after the only batter he faced reached base on infield single and later scored the go-ahead run.
Senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) led the Louisville offense going 3-for-5 with an RBI, while sophomore infielder Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Sophomore infielder Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) added an RBI pinch-hit double for the Cardinals and junior designated hitter Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) singled, walked twice and scored once in the loss.
Louisville opened the scoring in Sunday’s weekend finale when Ratajczak connected for an RBI single up the middle off KSU starter Casey Wilson to score Whiting in the third inning. Whiting led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) before scoring the first run of the day.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Golden Flashes evened the score at 1-1 in the fifth on an RBI single through the right side by third baseman Sawyer Polen. An inning later, Kent State gained its first lead of the weekend on a two-run double down the left field line by catcher Tommy Monnot.
The bottom of the sixth started a stretch of four straight innings for the Cardinals where they stranded at least 2 per frame. Louisville left two on base without a run in that sixth inning and followed that by leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
UofL pulled within a run in the eighth inning when Lucas connected for his RBI double to left to score Chittenden to cut the KSU lead to 3-2. However, that was as close as the Cardinals would get as they went on to load the bases in the eighth without plating another run.
In the ninth, Louisville once again threatened by loading the bases with one out. However, Kent State lefty Brian Clark ended his strong relief outing with a one-out strikeout before righty Eric Dorsch came out to close out the game with a flyout to right center.
Wilson earned the win for Kent State to improve to 1-2 on the season after allowing just one run on five hits with one strikeout. Clark followed out of the bullpen allowing only one unearned run despite giving up five hits and five walks in 3.1 innings of six-strikeout relief. Dorsch earned his first save by retiring the final batter of the day.
Following Ege out of the Louisville bullpen on Sunday was junior righty Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS), who allowed only an unearned run on two hits with two strikeouts in 2.0 innings of relief, sophomore lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky), who pitched a perfect inning of relief with two strikeouts and sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS), who pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts.
Up next, Louisville will travel to Richmond, Ky., for a midweek matchup against Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday at 3 p.m., ET. The Cardinals earned a 17-6 win over the Colonels in their first matchup this season on Feb. 20 in Louisville.
That will be followed by a weekend series at home against Alabama on March 8-10 at Jim Patterson Stadium. Admission is free for all three games against the Crimson Tide.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- After Sunday’s game, Louisville holds a 15-12 lead in the all-time series with Kent State.
- With their first loss of the season at home, Louisville dropped to 7-1 at Jim Patterson Stadium this season and 187-71 all-time (.724 winning percentage) in the facility, which opened in 2005.
- The two runs on Sunday matched the second lowest total of the season for the Cardinals.
- Louisville finished with 10 hits on Sunday marking the first time this season they have lost when reaching double-figures in the hit column (6-1 record overall with 10 or more hits).
- The Cardinals dropped to 8-1 on the season when scoring first.
- With his seventh single, Adam Engel has reached base safely in all 11 games this season.
- After allowing two earned runs on Sunday, the Louisville pitching staff has an overall ERA of only 1.82 through the first 11 games. The Cardinals also have 112 strikeouts in 99.0 innings pitched.
- Louisville was limited to just one stolen base on Sunday matching a season-low. Overall, the Cardinals have 48 stolen bases in 60 attempts this season.
- The three hits on Sunday for Nick Ratajczak were a season-high. It was his fourth-multi-hit game of the season.
- Sutton Whiting added two hits for his team-leading fifth multi-hit game of the season. Overall, Whiting leads the Cardinals in hitting at .500 (16-for-32), RBI with 12 and walks with seven.