Ruxer shutout ends 2-1 weekend of baseball

Junior righty Jared Ruxer pitched seven dominant innings while the offense erupted for a five-run second inning to lead the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team to a 9-0 series-clinching win over Miami (Ohio) on Sunday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Ruxer (Indianapolis, Ind.) struck out six while scattering six hits without allowing a walk in a shutout performance equaling the second longest outing of his career. With Sunday's performance, he improved to 3-1 on the season and earned his 11th career win on the mound.

"It was really all about the changeup today because they were a left-handed dominate lineup. I knew the changeup would need to be working and it was," Ruxer said. "The message going after the first two games of the weekend was to attack the zone. I tried to get ahead of hitters and then finish them off."

In no inning on Sunday did Ruxer face more than one batter and the RedHawks never managed to get a runner to third against him. In his last two starts, Ruxer is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA, 17 strikeouts, no walks in 13.0 innings pitched.

"From the first batter on, he (Ruxer) attacked the zone, he worked fast and he and (catcher) Kyle Gibson worked really well together today," said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. "Jared fought through a tough year last year, but he seems to be locked in right now which is exciting for our weekend rotation."

At the plate, senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) was 2-for-4 with his team-leading third home run of the season, a double and three RBI, while fellow senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) was 2-for-5 with a triple, one RBI and a scored once to pace the way. Junior infielder Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.) chipped in with a single, two walks, an HBP, a stolen base and two runs scored, while junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) singled, stole a base and matched a career-high with three RBI.

The Cardinals (10-4) gained command early in Sunday's rubber game with a five-run second inning against Miami (4-8) righty starter Ryan Powers. Freshman outfielder Colin Lyman (Algonquin, Ill.) started the scoring with an infield RBI single to plate freshman second baseman Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.), who led off the inning with double down the left field line and moved to third on an error by RedHawks' shortstop Chad Sedio. Later in the inning, Lyman scored from third on a RBI groundout off the bat of Whiting for the 2-0 lead.

The scoring continued for Louisville in the second inning when senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.), who reached base with a walk, scored on a RBI triple down the right field line by Sturgeon. After Sturgeon scored from third on a wild pitch, Kay earned his first walk of the day before scoring the final run of the inning on a RBI double to right center by Gardner.

Louisville pushed its lead to 7-0 in the sixth when Gardner crushed a 2-2 offering from reliever Jacob Banks sending it over the pine trees beyond the right field wall for his 17th career home run. Kay also scored on the two-run shot after extending the inning with his two-out single to left field. The Cardinals added the final two runs of the game in the seventh inning on a two-run single to right by Whiting.

Following Ruxer on the mound for the Cardinals on Sunday were freshman lefty Drew Harrington (Elizabethtown, Ky.), who had one strikeout in a scoreless inning of work, and junior righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.), who struck out the side in a scoreless ninth inning. Powers took the loss for the RedHawks and dropped to 1-2 on the season after allowing five runs, all earned, on five hits with three strikeouts and five walks in five innings.

Up next, Louisville will host Western Illinois for a two-game midweek series on Tuesday at 3 p.m., ET and Wednesday at noon at Jim Patterson Stadium. Admission is free for both games with the Leathernecks.

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