Louisville opens season vs. Michigan

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The No. 20 Louisville baseball team will open the 2011 season on Friday afternoon at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge hosted by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission.

The Cardinals will begin the weekend against Michigan on Friday at 4 p.m., ET at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Day two of the event will feature Louisville and Ohio State on Saturday at 4 p.m., at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. The Cards will close the Challenge on Sunday at 10 a.m., against Minnesota back at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg.

Live audio play-by-play for all of Louisville's games at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge will be available to subscribers of CardsTV at UofLSports.com. CollegeBaseball360.com will also be providing live streaming video for 13 of the 24 games at the 2011 BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge, including all of the Cardinals' games. Live scoring for all of Louisville's games will also be available through the Gametracker feature at UofLSports.com.

During Monday's Media Day activities at Jim Patterson Stadium, Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell announced the Cardinals would use the pitching rotation of sophomore righties Matt Koch (vs. Michigan), Justin Amlung (vs. Ohio State) and Mike Nastold (Minnesota) at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. Both Koch and Amlung finished the 2010 season in Louisville's weekend pitching rotation, while Nastold was in the Cardinals' weekend rotation in 2009 before Tommy John surgery ended his freshman campaign prematurely.

Cardinals at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge Louisville, making its second straight appearance in the third year event, went 3-0 in its first ever appearance at last year's Challenge. The Cardinals earned wins over Michigan (2-0), Michigan State (17-6) and Minnesota (5-4) to lead the BIG EAST Conference to a 17-13 win in last year's event. The Big Ten Conference won the inaugural Challenge in 2009, 15-9. The 2011 Challenge will feature eight games each day matching teams from the two leagues. Joining Louisville from the BIG EAST for the 2011 event will be Cincinnati, Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, St. John's and West Virginia, while the Big Ten will have Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.

About Louisville

Last season, the Cardinals won their second straight BIG EAST regular season championship, finished with a school record 50 wins and earned the program's first ever selection as a national seed for the NCAA Championship. Louisville also hosted an NCAA Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium for the second straight season and closed last season ranked as high at No. 16 overall.

In his four seasons as the Cardinals' head coach, McDonnell has led Louisville to impressive heights, including its first ever College World Series appearance in 2007, four consecutive 40-win seasons, 185 wins overall and a school record four straight NCAA Championship appearances. Louisville has also hosted NCAA post-season games in three of the last four seasons.

Following the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge, the Cardinals will open their home slate at Jim Patterson Stadium on Friday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m., ET in game one of a three-game series against Toledo.

Cardinals Against the Big Ten

Following the success at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge, the Cardinals completed the 2010 season undefeated against the Big Ten with a 7-0 record. Along with the three wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota, Louisville earned two wins over Indiana (9-7, 5-4) and two wins at Ohio State (6-0, 10-8). The Cardinals are 20-2 against Big Ten teams in McDonnell's four seasons as head coach.

About Michigan

The Michigan baseball program finished with a 35-22 record overall and a 14-10 mark in Big Ten games in 2010. Despite going two straight seasons with an NCAA Regional appearance, the Wolverines have carried the banner for Big Ten baseball for many years with 21 total NCAA Regional appearances and six College World Series appearances. This will be just the third meeting ever between U of L and UM on the baseball diamond, with the Cardinals owning a 2-0 advantage in the series. Along with last year's 2-0 win over the Wolverines at the Challenge, the Cardinals earned an 11-1 home win over Michigan in 1994.

About Ohio State

Ohio State, another of the most tradition rich programs in the Big Ten, was 28-23 overall in 2010. The Buckeyes have one national title (1966) to go along with four College World Series appearances, 18 NCAA Championship appearances, 15 Big Ten regular season titles and eight Big Ten Tournament titles. Louisville holds a 6-3 advantage in the all-time series with Ohio State and owns a five-game winning streak overall against the Buckeyes. Last year, the Cardinals earned a pair of midweek wins (6-0 and 10-8) over OSU in Columbus.

About Minnesota

Minnesota, which leads the Big Ten with 30 all-time NCAA appearances, earned its second straight NCAA berth in 2010 after winning the Big Ten Tournament title. The Golden Gophers finished 32-30 overall after being eliminated in the championship round of the NCAA Regional in Fullerton, Calif., by Cal State Fullerton. The 2011 Challenge matchup will be just the second meeting on the baseball diamond between the two schools. Louisville earned a 5-4 win over Minnesota at last year's Challenge on Phil Wunderlich's ninth inning walk-off home run.

Cardinals at Bright House Field, Al Lang Field Bright House Field in Clearwater, site of Saturday's game against Ohio State, is a familiar ballpark for Louisville. The Cardinals have won two BIG EAST tournament titles and have a 13-4 record overall at the ballpark. This weekend will mark the Cardinals' first visit to Al Lang Field since 2000, when they finished 0-2 at the Conference USA Tournament.

2011 BIG EAST/Big Ten Baseball Challenge Schedule

FRIDAY, February 18, 2010

10:00 a.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Iowa vs. West Virginia
10:00 a.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Penn State vs. Seton Hall
1:00 p.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Minnesota vs. St. John's
1:00 p.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Ohio State vs. Cincinnati
4:00 p.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Illinois vs. Pittsburgh
4:00 p.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Michigan vs. Louisville
4:00 p.m. Dunedin Stadium (Dunedin, Fla.) Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
7:30 p.m. Dunedin Stadium (Dunedin, Fla.) Purdue vs. Connecticut

SATURDAY, February 19, 2010

10:00 a.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Cincinnati vs. Illinois
10:00 a.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Seton Hall vs. Michigan State
1:00 p.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) West Virginia vs. Penn State
1:00 p.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) St. John's vs. Michigan
4:00 p.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Connecticut vs. Minnesota
4:00 p.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Notre Dame vs. Purdue
4:00 p.m. Bright House Field (Clearwater, Fla.) Louisville vs. Ohio State
7:30 p.m. Bright House Field (Clearwater, Fla.) Pittsburgh vs. Iowa

SUNDAY, February 20, 2010

10:00 a.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Michigan vs. Connecticut
10:00 a.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Louisville vs. Minnesota
10:00 a.m. Walter Fuller Complex (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Penn State vs. Notre Dame
10:00 a.m. Walter Fuller Complex (St. Petersburg, Fla.) St. John's vs. Ohio State
1:00 p.m. Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (Clearwater, Fla.) Cincinnati vs. Michigan State
1:00 p.m. Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Illinois vs. West Virginia
1:00 p.m. Walter Fuller Complex (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Seton Hall vs. Iowa
1:00 p.m. Walter Fuller Complex (St. Petersburg, Fla.) Purdue vs. Pittsburgh


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