Louisville beats Michigan in season opener

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Senior outfielder Drew Haynes went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, while sophomore righty Matt Koch finished with a career-high eight strikeouts to lead the 20th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 6-3 season-opening win over Michigan at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on Friday night at Al Lang Field.

Haynes (New Albany, Ind./New Albany HS) led the way on a solid night at the plate for the Louisville offense, which out-hit Michigan 13-5 overall. Haynes finished with two singles, one double and was hit by a pitch while reaching base in all four plate appearances. Junior second baseman Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead HS) went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, one RBI and one run scored, while sophomore first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.

On the mound, Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) anchored a good night for the Cardinals' pitching staff allowing just two earned runs on four hits with the career best strikeout performance in 5.0 innings of work to earn the win and improve to 4-0 in his career. He was followed by junior righty Derek Self (Cave City, Ky./Caverna HS), who pitched 3.0 scoreless innings of one-hit relief. Junior righty Tony Zych (Monee, Ill./St. Rita HS) closed out the game with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning of work to earn the save.

After Koch worked a scoreless inning in the top of the first, Louisville opened the scoring in the bottom of the inning after Wright reached second on a two-out double and then scored on an RBI double to left field by Wasserman for the 1-0 advantage.

The Cardinals extended their advantage to 5-0 an inning later thanks to four runs on three hits in the second off Michigan lefty Bobby Brosnahan, who took the loss. Louisville started the scoring with an RBI single up the middle by Haynes to score sophomore third baseman Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS), who led off the inning with a walk. Moments later, freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS), who reached base earlier in the inning with a walk, scored from third on an RBI sacrifice fly by freshman outfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) for a 3-0 lead.

Sophomore outfielder Kyle Grieshaber followed with an RBI triple to right to score Haynes, while Wright closed the inning with an RBI double down the left field line to score Grieshaber for the 5-0 advantage.

After the Wolverines broke through for an unearned run in the third inning, first baseman Garrett Stephens cut the Cardinals' advantage to 5-3 in the fourth with a two-run homer to right field off Koch.

The lead remained that way until the seventh when Haynes led off the inning with a double down the left field line, moved to third on a groundout to the right side by Engel and then scored on an RBI pinch-hit single to left field by freshman Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) for the final 6-3 margin.

Louisville will continue the Challenge on Saturday at 4 p.m., against Ohio State at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. The Cardinals will close the weekend on Sunday at 10 a.m., against Minnesota back at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg.

Louisville Notes

- The Cardinals won their season-opener for the second straight season and the fourth time in five seasons overall.

- With Friday's win, Louisville improved to 3-0 all-time against Michigan and 2-0 against the Wolverines at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge.

- The Cardinals are 21-2 against Big Ten Conference opponents in Dan McDonnell's five seasons as head coach. Louisville has won nine straight overall against Big Ten teams.

- Louisville improved to 4-0 all-time in the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge.

- After the first day of action at the Challenge, the BIG EAST leads the Big Ten 5-3 overall.

- 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.

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