Cards sweep USF for first Big East title

The Louisville baseball team completed a sweep of South Florida Friday to earn their first regular-season Big East title. The Cardinals beat USF 4-3 in the first game and 12-1 in the night cap to earn the championship.

Behind a first inning grand slam from sophomore Phil Wunderlich and seven strong innings on the mound from sophomore lefty Bob Revesz, the 23rd-ranked Louisville baseball team earned a 12-1 win over No. 27 South Florida in front of a regular-season record crowd of 3,663 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium to close a three-game sweep of the Bulls and clinch the program's first ever BIG EAST regular-season title.

Louisville, which also clinched the No. 1 seed in next week's BIG EAST Championship in Clearwater, Fla., improved to 40-14 overall this season for the program's first ever 40-win regular season, one win better than the 2002 team's previous school record total of 39 regular-season wins. The 2009 total is also two wins better than the 2007 Cards, which finished with 38 wins before adding nine more victories en route to a College World Series appearance and a top 10 national ranking.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to see these players achieve this goal and play so well down the stretch to pull it off," said Cards' head coach Dan McDonnell, who is now 128-59 in his three seasons at Louisville. "This team has heard so much about the 2007 Louisville team and their College World Series run and the 2008 team with their BIG EAST Tournament title, so for them to make their own history with the program's first ever 40-win regular season and our first BIG EAST regular-season title is pretty special."

At the plate, Wunderlich finished the day 2-for-4 with five RBI and two runs scored, including the grand slam in the first inning as the Cardinals seized momentum and never looked back. Junior second baseman Adam Duvall finished the day 4-for-4 with his 10th home run of the season, while junior third baseman Chris Dominguez continued his hitting tear with a 2-for-5 day, including his team-leading 21st home, two RBI and two runs scored. Freshman Ryan Wright also added three hits and an RBI in the win.

On the mound, Revesz had his best performance of the season allowing only one run on five hits with five strikeouts in 7.0 innings to improve to 4-1 on the season. Sophomore Tyler Mathis added a perfect eighth inning, while freshman righty Tony Zych pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close an impressive week for the Louisville pitching staff.

For USF, starter Teddy Kaufman took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in less than an inning to fall to 3-5 on the season. Reliever Andrew Salgueiro pitched two innings of relief and allowed four runs on one hit, while Zach Pietrzyk gave up three runs on five hits in one inning.

In Friday's nightcap, the Cardinals (40-14, 19-7 BIG EAST) did not waste any time in taking command against the Bulls (32-23, 18-9) with four runs on four hits in the first inning. Sophomore outfielder Josh Richmond led off the inning with a single through the left side, moved to second on an infield single by Duvall and then to third as junior first baseman Andrew Clark was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After an infield pop-up by Dominguez for the first out, Wunderlich sent the 0-1 pitch over the right field wall for his 15th home run of the season and a 4-0 Louisville lead.

After USF scored its only run of the game on a solo home run in the top of the second by shortstop Sam Mende, Louisville scored three more runs in the bottom of the second on just one hit. Senior shortstop John Dao was hit by a pitch to start the inning, moved to second on a walk to Duvall and then scored on a throwing error by Mende on a fielder's choice off the bat of Clark.

With Clark on second base, Dominguez hammered the 1-0 pitch from Salgueiro over the wall in left for a 7-1 Cards' advantage. The Cardinals added another run in the third inning as senior Alec Lowrey was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a single to center by junior catcher Jeff Arnold and then scored on an RBI single to right center by Dao off Pietrzyk.

Following another strong inning on the mound from Revesz in the top of the fourth, Louisville added three more runs in the home half of the inning with three more hits. Duvall led off the inning with a single up the middle, moved to second on a walk to Clark, advanced to third on a fielder's choice off the bat of Dominguez and then scored on an RBI single up the middle by Wunderlich. Wright followed with an RBI double down the left field line to score Dominguez, and Lowrey closed the scoring in the inning with an RBI groundout to Mende to score Wunderlich for an 11-1 lead.

After a pair of scoreless innings from both squads, Duvall completed the scoring with his solo home run in the seventh off reliever Kyle Eastham for the final 12-1 margin.

The Cardinals will now await the completion of the rest of the BIG EAST games this weekend to finalize the BIG EAST Championship bracket, their first round opponent and game time for the first day of action next Tuesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.

Louisville Notes
- The Cardinals got four important wins this week and one key component was the pitching staff. In their four wins over Western Kentucky and South Florida, the Cardinals allowed only six earned runs in 36 innings with 35 strikeouts and only one walk.

- After 54 games in regular season play, junior Chris Dominguez and sophomore Phil Wunderlich lead the Cardinals in hitting as each stand at .365 overall. Dominguez also leads the team with 21 home runs and 75 RBI, while Wunderlich is second on the team with 15 home runs and 66 RBI. Interestingly, the .365 average, 21 home runs and 75 RBI are the identical numbers that Dominguez finished the 2008 season with, though this time he still has the entire post-season to build on those numbers.

- The 3,663 fans for Saturday night's BIG EAST title-clinching win over USF is the largest regular-season crowd ever at Jim Patterson Stadium and the fourth largest overall. The only time Louisville has surpassed that number was for the Cards' three Super Regional games in 2007 against Oklahoma State as more than 4,000 fans witnessed each of those.

- In three seasons as the Louisville head coach, Dan McDonnell has amassed an impressive 128-58 record with a winning percentage of 68 percent and three straight 40-win seasons. He's also led the program to its first ever BIG EAST regular season title (2009), first ever BIG EAST Tournament title (2008) and first ever College World Series appearance (2007).

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