Cards sweep Big East/Big 10 Challenge

Louisville downed Minnesota 5-4 Sunday afternoon with a home run in the ninth to sweep three games in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge this weekend. The Cardinals also beat Michigan and Michigan State in the challenge.

Louisville shuts out Michigan in opener

Junior righty Thomas Royse pitched six shutout innings to open the game, while junior righty Neil Holland pitched three scoreless innings to close the game as the No. 11 Louisville baseball team opened the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge with a 2-0 win over Michigan on a cool Friday night at Dunedin Stadium.

With the win, the Cardinals improved to 5-0 overall to open the 2010 season, while the Wolverines dropped to 2-3 overall. The unbeaten start through five games is Louisville's best start since the 2003 squad opened 6-0.

Royse (Lexington, Ky.) was impressive in his second straight start as he allowed only two hits and finished with nine strikeouts in 6.0 innings to improve to 2-0 on the season. The 6-5, 210-pounder has not allowed an earned run and only given up four hits in 11.0 innings this season.

Following the strong outing from Royse, Cards' head coach Dan McDonnell handed the ball to Holland (Owensboro, Ky.), who earned his first save of 2010 with three strikeouts in three perfect innings of relief. Holland has not allowed a run and has given up just one hit in 8.0 innings of work out of the Louisville bullpen this season.

"Pitching and defense can win you a lot of games," said McDonnell. "Thomas and Neil did an excellent job on the mound and we made big plays as a team to keep Michigan off the bases."

Louisville opened the scoring in Friday's victory with a run in the first inning as junior outfielder Josh Richmond (Cincinnati, Ohio) led off the game with a double down the left field line, moved to third on a wild pitch by Michigan starter Alan Oaks and then scored on an RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield by senior first baseman Andrew Clark (New Palestine, Ind.).

Following a pair of scoreless innings, the Cardinals added their final run in the fourth as senior second baseman Adam Duvall (Louisville, Ky.) hammered the first pitch from Oaks over the right-centerfield wall for his second home run this season and the final 2-0 margin. Duvall finished the night 2-for-4 to lead the Cards.

Oaks was the tough-luck loser for the Wolverines after allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work.

Cards pound Michigan State

The 11th-ranked Louisville baseball team exploded for its best offensive game of the season in a 17-6 rout of Michigan State on day two of the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge on a cool Saturday night at Jack Russell Stadium.

Thanks to a season-high 17 runs on 16 hits, the Cardinals improved to 6-0 overall matching the program's best start since the 2003 squad opened with six straight wins, while Michigan State dropped to 3-2 overall with the loss.

The game started more than four hours after its scheduled time after morning rains delayed the Saturday tripleheader at Jack Russell Stadium. The game ended at approximately 11:30 p.m. ET, just 10 ½ hours before the Cardinals' weekend finale against Minnesota is scheduled to begin (10 a.m. ET) at the Naimoli Complex in St. Petersburg.

Leading the way for the Cardinals was the left-handed hitting quartet of Stewart Ijames, Andrew Clark, Phil Wunderlich and Drew Haynes, who combined to go 10-for-15 with three home runs, 12 RBI and eight runs scored in the win. Ijames (Owensboro, Ky.) finished 4-for-4 overall with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored in his best game of the season, while Clark (New Palestine, Ind.) was 2-for-3 with a home run, five RBI and a run scored. Wunderlich (Chicago, Ill.) hammered his first home run of the season and was 2-for-5 overall with two RBI and two runs, while Haynes (New Albany, Ind.) was 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs.

On the mound, the Cardinals got another quality start from junior lefty Dean Kiekhefer, who allowed three runs on three hits with five strikeouts in 6.0 innings to earn his first win of the season.

Michigan State opened the scoring in Saturday's game as second baseman Ryan Jones' two-run single up the middle gave the Spartans a 2-0 advantage. The lead was short-lived as an inning later Clark tied the score at 2-2 with a two-run single to centerfield to score Haynes and junior outfielder Josh Richmond (Cincinnati, Ohio).

An inning later, Louisville put the game away for good with six runs on six hits for a commanding 8-2 advantage. Ijames started the scoring and gave the Cardinals their first lead of the night with his first home run of the season, a two-run bomb to left field off MSU starter Tony Bucciferro, to score Wunderlich. Richmond continued the scoring later in the inning with an RBI single and then scored moments later on an RBI double to left by senior second baseman Adam Duvall (Louisville, Ky.). Clark then closed the scoring with his two-run homer to left, his second of the season.

After Michigan State cut the lead to 8-3 in the fifth inning, Louisville erupted for its highest scoring inning of the season with nine runs on six hits in the sixth to take a 17-3 advantage. The scoring started with an RBI sac fly by Clark and continued with a two-run single through the right side by sophomore shortstop Ryan Wright (Fort Wayne, Ind.). Wunderlich followed with his two-run homer off Spartans' reliever Andrew Waszak, Ijames added an RBI double to left field, Haynes hammered a two-run double to left center and Duvall closed it out with an RBI double to right center.

MSU added an unearned run in the seventh and two more runs in the eighth to close out the scoring in the game. Bucciferro took the loss for the Spartans after allowing eight runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings to fall to 0-2 on the season.

Overall, eight of the Cardinals' nine starters had at least one hit, while five players finished with multiple hits.

Courtesy of UofL.

Cards beat Minnesota with Home Run in the Ninth

One week after winning on a walk-off home run against Akron, the Golden Gophers (2-4) fell victim to it as Louisville's (7-0) Phil Wunderlich connected on a game-winning home run to give the 11th-ranked Cardinals a 5-4 victory over Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Naimoli Complex in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Minnesota wiped out an early 4-0 deficit to Louisville to tie the game at 4-4, before Louisville claimed the victory with the Wunderlich home run.

The Golden Gophers were led by sophomore AJ Pettersen (Minnetonka, Minn.) who went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI. Sophomore Kyle Geason (Eden Prairie, Minn.) also went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Sam Ryan (Lake Elmo, Minn.) was also 2-for-4 with a run, while Trip Schultz (Forest Lake, Minn.) was 1-for-3 with two runs. Kyle Knudson (Maple Grove, Minn.) reached base twice, and was 1-for-3 with a double and run.

Louisville jumped on Minnesota in the bottom of the first, as the first four hitters who came to the plate had singles. Andrew Clark and Ryan Wright had RBI singles to move the Cardinals ahead 2-0. Wunderlich followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, Adam Duvall delivered an RBI double to put the Cardinals ahead 4-0. Minnesota had runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth, but Louisville starter Tony Zych managed to wiggle out of trouble in all three situations.

The Golden Gophers got on the board with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth to make it 4-2. Schultz got things started when he was hit by a pitch, and Sam Ryan and Geason followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. Pettersen made it 4-2 when he delivered a two-run double. Zych battled back to retire the next three hitters, and stranded runners on second and third to help Louisville keep its two-run lead.

Minnesota responded with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game at 4-4. With one out, Knudson drew a walk and Schultz and Ryan followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. Geason plated Knudson with an RBI single to make it 4-3, and Pettersen tied the game a sacrifice fly that brought home Schultz.

The Golden Gophers had a chance to take the lead in the top of the eighth when Knudson led off with a double, but Gabriel Shaw pitched out of the jam. Minnesota again had a runner in scoring position in the top of the ninth when Pettersen singled and moved to second on a Matt Puhl (North St. Paul, Minn.) sacrifice bunt. Louisville closer Neil Holland came on to strike out a pair of Gophers to get out of the inning.

Minnesota starter Allen Bechstein (Apple Valley, Minn.) started and gave up five hits, four runs, walked four and struck out one in three innings of work. Phil Isaksson (Eau Claire, Wis.) pitched a career-high four shutout innings, as he gave up three hits, walked one and struck out one. Matyas pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but the took the loss after giving up the home run to Wunderlich to fall to 0-1.

Zych started and gave up six hits, two runs and struck out four batters in five innings of work for Louisville. Freshman Justin Amlung gave up three hits and two runs in one inning of relief. Shaw pitched 2.1 shutout innings, and Holland came on to retired the final two Gophers in the top of the ninth to pick up the win.

The Golden Gophers stranded 10 runners, while Louisville left 12 runners on base.

Louisville was led by Wunderlich who was 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Clark also reached base four times, and was 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run. Duvall also went 2-for-5 with a run and a double.

Courtesy of University of Minnesota

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