With their largest margin of victory in series history, the Cardinals improved to 24-9 on the season while the Wildcats dropped to 30-4 overall as their 21-game non-conference home winning streak was snapped. It was the Cardinals' first win over a top-ranked team since winning two of three in a series victory against No. 1 Tulane on March 25-26, 2005 in Louisville.
Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) was the star in Tuesday's win allowing just three hits with a career-best six strikeouts in 6.0+ impressive innings of work to improve to 5-0 on the season. Facing one of the nation's top offensive units, Ruxer set the tone for six innings as the Cardinals became the first time to shutout the Wildcats this season. The four hits also matched a season-low for UK, which entered the night ranked second in the nation in hitting and fourth nationally in scoring.
At the plate, sophomore outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) led the balanced offensive attack for the Cardinals going 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) was 2-for-5 with a double and three runs, while freshman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky./Butler HS) was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and an RBI. Junior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run, sophomore outfielder Adam Engel (Loveland, Ohio/Loveland HS) added two hits, an RBI and a run and sophomore Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence Central HS) was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Sophomore third baseman Ty Young (Coatesville, Pa./Malvern Prep) added his fourth home run of the season and two RBI in the win.
Following Ruxer on the mound was Sturgeon, who had one strikeout and allowed only one hit in 1.2 innings of shutout relief to go with his three-hit performance at the plate. Junior righty Matt Koch (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) had three strikeouts while recording the final four outs of the game.
Louisville jumped on UK lefty starter A.J. Reed quickly plating three runs on four hits in the first inning to continue its opening frame trend this season. Through 33 games in 2012, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents 58-7 in the first inning. Ratajczak started the inning with a one-out double down the left field line and after moving to third on a single by Lucas, scored on an RBI single by senior Stewart Ijames (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS) for the 1-0 lead. After Young was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Chittenden scored Lucas on an RBI sacrifice fly for the second run. Wasserman completed the scoring in the first with an RBI single to left to plate Ijames for the three-run advantage.
In the bottom of the first, Ruxer recorded the first two outs with a routine flyout and a strikeout before Engel made a dramatic home run robbing catch on a fly ball to center off the bat of Reed for a 1-2-3 inning. The catch, which was No. 2 on the SportsCenter's Top Plays for Tuesday, was the second home run robbing catch of the season for Engel, who did the same in the Cardinals' home win against Eastern Kentucky on Feb. 22.
After a scoreless second inning, Louisville added to its lead in the third as Young started the scoring with a one-out solo home run to left center off Reed for a four-run advantage. Later in the inning, the Cardinals strung together three straight hits for another run and a 5-0 lead. Wasserman started the two-out rally with a single to right field, After moving to second on a single by sophomore catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS), Wasserman scored on an RBI single through the left side by Sturgeon.
The lead remained that way until the sixth inning when Sturgeon led off with a double to right center off UK reliever Sam Mahar and later scored on an RBI double to left center by Engel for a 6-0 cushion. Louisville added four more runs in the eighth as Sturgeon scored on a wild pitch from Jeff Boehm, Ratajczak scored on an RBI bases loaded walk by Young, Lucas scored on an RBI fielder's choice by freshman Mike White (East Orange, N.J./Salisbury HS) and Ijames scored on throwing error by UK shortstop Matt Reida.
The Cardinals closed the scoring with two more runs in the ninth as Engel was plated on an RBI double to right center by Lucas and Ratajczak scored from third when UK catcher Michael Williams dropped the third strike pitch from Taylor Martin allowing sophomore Ryan Seiz (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock HS) to reach base and extend the inning.
For the Wildcats, Reed took his first loss of the season to drop to 4-1 overall after allowing five runs, all earned, on nine hits in just 2.2 innings pitched. Overall, five of Kentucky's six pitchers on Tuesday were charged with at least one run allowed in the loss.
Up next, No. 19 Louisville returns home for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series against Seton Hall. The Cardinals and Pirates will open the weekend on Friday at 6 p.m., ET for Patriotic Night at Jim Patterson Stadium. The series will continue on Saturday at 3 p.m., before concluding Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is free throughout the weekend.
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Louisville Postgame Notes
- Tuesday marked the Cardinals' first win against a No. 1 ranked team since taking two of three from No. 1 Tulane March 25-26, 2005.
- The 12-run win for the Cardinals was their largest margin of victory at Kentucky in series history surpassing the 11-2 win in 2009.
- Tuesday marked the Cardinals' first shutout win against UK since a 10-0 win in seven innings in Louisville on April 20, 1982.
- Tuesday's triumph was also Louisville's first shutout win against the Wildcats in Lexington since a 6-0 win on April 25, 1934.
- Louisville improved to 12-1 this season against left-handed starters.
- The Cardinals are 19-3 when scoring first and 14-4 when scoring in the first inning.
- Louisville is 24-0 this season when leading after seven innings.
- The shutout was the second of the season for Louisville. Both have come in Tuesday night non-conference wins with Jared Ruxer on the mound. The first was a 20-0 win over Ohio State on March 20.
- With their three runs in the opening frame on Tuesday night, the Cardinals have a 58-7 scoring advantage in the first inning this season.
- Louisville has outscored its opponents 89-22 in the first two innings through the first 33 games this season.
- Tuesday marked the first time since 2006 the Cardinals have scored in the first inning against UK in Cliff Hagan Stadium.
- With their 17 hits on Tuesday, the Cardinals have finished with 10 or more hits 21 times in 33 games this season.
- With 12 runs on Tuesday, Louisville has scored seven or more runs 18 times this season.
- The Louisville win halted Kentucky's 21-game non-conference home winning streak.
- Ranked second in the nation in batting and fourth in the nation in scoring entering the game, Kentucky was shutout for the first time this season and the four hits matched a season-low for the Wildcats.
- The Cardinals' 12 runs and 17 hits were both season highs allowed by Kentucky.
- Freshman Jared Ruxer finished with a career-high six strikeouts while his 6.0 innings pitched was the second longest outing of his career.
- Prior to departing Louisville for Tuesday's road game, the Cardinals visited Kosair Children's Hospital. It marked the sixth straight season under the direction of coach Dan McDonnell the Cardinals have visited the hospital prior to the road game at UK.