The U of L will be competing for its first ever conference championship and the BIG EAST's automatic bid to the NCAA Baseball Championship. The Cards have only qualified for the NCAA regional one time when they earned an at-large bid in 2002.
The Cardinals as a team have reached safely 50 times in 105 at bats in three conference tournament games for a .477 average. The BIG EAST Championship record for team batting is .386, which was set in 1986 by a Seton Hall team that included Major League All-Star Mo Vaughn.
Chris Cates' 5-for-5 performance tied him with 11 other players who have hit safely five times in BIG EAST Championship play.
Isaiah Howes (2-for-3) became the seventh player in conference tournament history to notch five RBI in one game.
Five U of L runs came on sacrifice flies.
On the mound, Louisville sophomore Jake Smith (3-3) posted one of the strongest outings by a starter in the tournament to date, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and six walks, while striking out one in his first complete game of the season.
RU's Jim Jansen (2-1) took the loss, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and two walks in two innings.
Louisville didn't waste any time in getting on the board in its half of the first. The Cardinals scored four runs on four hits in the inning. Sacrifice flies by Jorge Castillo (1-for-2, walk, three RBI, two runs) and Howes gave the U of L a 2-0 lead, and a two-out, two-run double by Pete Rodriguez (2-for-4, two RBI) put the Cards ahead, 4-0.
Small ball contributed to two more runs for Louisville in the bottom of the second. A leadoff walk by Nick Haley (1-for-3, walk, two runs) and a single by Cates put runners on first and second for Logan Johnson. Johnson's sac bunt set up Castillo's second sacrifice fly of the game before Derrick Alfonso's (3-for-3, two RBI, two runs) two-out single plated Cates to give the U of L a 6-0 advantage.
Castillo continued to be in the middle of the Louisville scoring as he led off the bottom of the fifth with his fourth home run of the season. Alfonso followed up that effort with a triple to right and scored on a Howes' sac fly.
Rutgers finally got on the board with two runs in the top of the sixth. Consecutive singles by Jeff Grose (3-for-4, walk, run) and Todd Frazier (2-for-4, RBI, run) set up Ryan Hill's sac fly to cut the deficit to 8-1. Frazier advanced two bases on a slow roller to Cates at shortstop to make the score 8-2.
Cates' fourth hit of the game plated Lowrey in the bottom of the sixth, who reached on a single earlier in the inning, to extend the margin to 9-2 for Louisville. The team's fourth sac fly of the game - this one by Alfonso - with the bases loaded scored Cates. A three-run homer by Howes scored Castillo and Johnson to put the U of L ahead, 13-2.