Pitching propels UofL past Minnesota

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Fueled by another dominant pitching performance, the No. 20 Louisville baseball team remained unbeaten with a 3-0 win over Minnesota on the final day of the 2011 BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge on Sunday at Al Lang Field. With the victory, the Cardinals improved to 3-0 overall, while Minnesota, the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten title, dropped to 1-2.

Sunday's win clinched a second straight undefeated performance for Louisville at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge and the Cardinals remain the only team without a loss in the three-year history of the event.

Leading the way for the Cardinals on Sunday was the pitching staff, which earned its second straight shutout and extended its streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 23. After giving up two runs in the fourth inning of Friday's season-opening 6-3 win over Michigan, Louisville allowed just 10 hits and no runs in the 23 innings that followed. Overall, the Cardinals allowed just two earned runs through the entire three-game weekend.

Sophomore righty Mike Nastold (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder HS) started Sunday's win with 3.0 innings of one-hit work in his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery midway through the 2009 season. Nastold's return included him striking out the side in the second inning.

From there, the Cardinals turned to freshman righty Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS), who allowed just one hit with one strikeout in 3.0 innings of relief to earn the win in his collegiate debut. He was followed by freshman righty Jeff Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS), who allowed only one hit in 2.0 innings of relief in his first ever college game. Senior righty Gabriel Shaw (Paducah, Ky./St. Mary's HS) closed the game with two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 12th career save.

Offensively, two sophomores started the scoring on Sunday when third baseman Cade Stallings (Knoxville, Tenn./Farragut HS) reached base with his first career triple on a shot off the wall in right with two outs in the second inning and then scored moments later on an RBI double down the right field line by outfielder Kyle Grieshaber (Chesterfield, Mo./Marquette HS). The two-out rally came off of Minnesota starter Austin Lubinsky, who took the loss after allowing three runs, including two earned, on three hits in 4.1 innings.

Following a pair of scoreless innings in the third and fourth, Louisville added its final two runs in the fifth on a two-run single to right field off the bat of freshman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep). After leading off the inning with a walk from Lubinsky, freshman shortstop Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) advanced to third on a throwing error by Minnesota third baseman Kyle Geason as he fielded a sacrifice bunt from freshman outfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS), who advanced to second on the mistake. Lubinsky was then replaced on the mound by lefty Tom Windle, who gave up the two-run single to Young for the final two runs of the game.

Louisville made numerous outstanding defensive plays in the outfield in Sunday's win, but one of the most important came in the first inning as Engel made a perfect throw from centerfield to cut down Geason at home plate for the final out of the inning as he tried to score from second on a two-out single by Nick O'Shea.

Up next, the Cardinals will open their home slate at Jim Patterson Stadium on Friday at 3 p.m., ET in game one of a three-game series against Toledo. Game two is set for a 1 p.m., start, while the weekend finale is scheduled for noon on Sunday.

Louisville Notes

- With Saturday's 2-0 win over Ohio State and Sunday's 3-0 triumph over Minnesota, the Cardinals earned consecutive shutout wins for the first time since March 16-17, 2007 when they had home wins of 6-0 and 10-0 over Xavier.

- With Sunday's win, Louisville improved to 2-0 all-time against Minnesota with both wins coming at the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge.

- The Cardinals are now 23-2 against Big Ten Conference opponents in Dan McDonnell's five seasons as head coach. Louisville has won 11 straight games overall against Big Ten teams.

- Louisville improved to 6-0 all-time in the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. The Cardinals were joined by Michigan State as the only two teams to go 3-0 at the 2011 Challenge.

- For the second straight season, the BIG EAST won the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge title taking the 2011 edition by a 14-10 margin.

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