LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Junior infielder Ty Young belted a game-winning RBI single to right center to plate sophomore infielder Sutton Whiting in the 10th inning and lift the fifth-ranked Louisville baseball to an 8-7 win over visiting Alabama and complete the sweep of the three-game series.
Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) connected on a 2-1 pitch from Alabama reliever Taylor Wolfe for his second hit of the day as the Cardinals (12-2) earned their second walk-off win of the weekend in front of a season-high crowd of 3,240. On Friday, Louisville won a 4-3 decision in 14 innings, while on Saturday, the Cardinals earned a 6-0 series-clinching victory over the Crimson Tide (8-7).
The decisive 10th inning started with Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) earning a leadoff walk from Alabama reliever Mitch Greer. After moving to second on a bunt single by junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) of Crimson Tide reliever Tucker Hawley, Whiting advanced to third on a bunt sacrifice by senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC). Junior outfielder Coco Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) was then intentionally walked to load the bases and set the stage for Young’s game-winning hit.
Overall, Young was one of six Louisville hitters with two hits on the day to go with two RBI and a run scored. Engel added two hits, including his first home run of the season, to go with two RBI, while Johnson had two hits, including his first home run as a Cardinal. Whiting chipped in with two hits – a triple and a double – and scored twice, while Ratajczak and junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) had two hits each in the win.
On the mound, Louisville used a season-high eight pitchers as sophomore lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky) closed out the weekend for the Cardinals with a perfect 10th inning to earn the win and move to 2-0 on the season. Sophomore right-handed starter Jared Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) picked up his fourth straight no-decision after allowing two earned runs and four total runs on three hits with three strikeouts in his four innings of work.
Alabama fired first on Sunday plating three runs on two hits and one Louisville error in the second inning. After reaching base on fielding error by Whiting to open the frame, Crimson Tide first baseman Austen Smith scored when catcher Brett Booth connected on a 1-1 pitch from Ruxer for his second home run of the season. Alabama added its third run moments later on an RBI sac fly by outfielder Ryan Blanchard to score outfielder Ben Moore.
An inning later, the Cardinals broke through for their first run of the day when Whiting, who tripled earlier in the inning, scored on an RBI groundout by Engel to cut the Alabama lead to 3-1 in the third. The Crimson Tide quickly pushed the margin back to three at 4-1 when Moore led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to deep left field.
Louisville responded with its answer in the bottom of the fourth plating three runs on four hits to draw even at 4-4. Young and Sturgeon started the inning with back-to-back singles off Alabama starter Spencer Turnbull. After advancing a base on a groundout to the right side, both Young and Sturgeon scored on a pivotal two-out, two-strike ,two-run single to right field by senior first baseman Zak Wasserman to pull within a run. Whiting followed with an RBI double down the left field line to plate Wasserman to tie the game.
The Cardinals gained their first lead of the day an inning later on an RBI sac fly to left field by Young to score Ratajczak, who started the frame with a single to center and moved to third on a single by Johnson. Louisville added a pair of runs in the seventh inning on solo home runs by Engel and Johnson off lefty Justin Kamplain for the 7-4 lead.
The Crimson Tide answered that challenge in the next half inning by scoring three runs on two hits to even the score again, this time at 7-7 in the eighth. The first pair of runs in the inning were plated on a two-run double by Moore, while the tying run was scored on an RBI sac fly by Kyle Overstreet. The contest continued with a scoreless ninth inning before Louisville closed it out in the 10th.
Following Ruxer on Sunday for the Cardinals was freshman righty Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest HS), who continued the stellar start to his career with 2.1 innings of shutout relief while striking out two. Junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) and freshman righty Jonah Philley (Louisville, Ky./Eastern HS) followed by retiring single outs without allowing runs before junior righty Dace Kime (Defiance, Ohio/Defiance HS) allowed two runs on two hits in less than an inning of relief. Sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS) worked 0.2 inning of shutout relief before giving way to sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS), who pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.
Up next, Louisville continues its homestand on Wednesday at noon ET against Purdue on Elementary School Day at Jim Patterson Stadium and admission is free. That will be followed by a three-game weekend slate against Xavier starting Friday at 3 p.m.
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Postgame Louisville Notes
- Sunday’s announced crowd of 3,240 set a new Jim Patterson Stadium record for the month of March surpassing the previous high of 3,022 set in Saturday’s win over Alabama.
- After dropping nine straight in the series to the Crimson Tide, Louisville has won the last three meetings, which are the series’ first three contests away from Tuscaloosa.
- The Cardinals’ 12-2 start is their second best 14-game record under the direction of seventh year head coach Dan McDonnell trailing only the 13-1 start by the 2010 team which went on to win a school record 50 games.
- Brett Booth’s home run in the second inning halted Louisville’s shutout streak at 22 innings going back to the second inning of Friday’s 14-inning win. It also ended a stretch of 27 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run dating back to March 3.
- Despite matching a season-high by allowing five earned runs on Sunday, the Cardinals’ team ERA remains impressively low at just 1.70. Louisville pitchers also have 144 strikeouts in 132.0 innings this season.
- Junior Adam Engel has reached base safely in all 14 games this season while hitting safely in 13 of those.
- Ty Young has hit safely in seven straight games overall, which matches a career high.
- With his 2-for-3 performance at the plate, junior Cole Sturgeon leads the Cardinals in hitting at .457.
- With his 2-for-4 day at the plate on Sunday, sophomore Sutton Whiting is second on the team with a .455 average. He is also tied for the team lead with 14 RBI and is the team-leader in walks with nine.
- A day after stealing six bases, the Cardinals were limited to just one on Sunday to match a season-low. Overall, Louisville is 59-of-73 on stolen bases this season, while opponents are just 9-for-14.
- With his 2.1 innings of shutout relief on Sunday, freshman Kyle Funkhouser extended his career-opening scoreless streak to 9.1 innings overall. During his four relief appearances as a college pitcher, Funkhouser has allowed only six hits while striking out 11 during the scoreless streak.