Senior third baseman Alex Chittenden had three hits and three RBI and freshman outfielder Corey Ray hit his first career home run to lead No. 12 Louisville to a 7-3 win over Morehead State on Wednesday night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.) connected for the go-ahead two-run double in the four-run fifth inning for the Cardinals (30-11) and was 3-for-4 overall while matching a career high with the three runs driven in. A late defensive replacement in left field, Ray (Chicago, Ill.) connected on a 0-1 offering sending it over the right field wall for a two-run shot to end any hopes of comeback for the Eagles (22-19).
Sophomore Danny Rosenbaum (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) chipped in going 2-for-2 with a pivotal two-run single to start the scoring for the Cardinals, while senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) and junior first baseman Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.) finished with two hits, one stolen base and a run scored each. Junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.) added a single, a walk and two stolen bases as Louisville finished with a 13-7 advantage in hits.
One of eight Cardinals to take the mound on Wednesday, freshman righty Ryan Lauria (Roanoke, Va.) had one strikeout in 1.0+ inning of shutout relief to earn his first career collegiate win and improve to 1-0 overall. Sturgeon recorded the final out of the night for his first save of the season and the fifth of his career.
The Eagles struck first on Wednesday scoring three runs, including two earned, in the second inning against Louisville freshman Jake Sparger (Eau Claire, Wis.). Catcher Jimmy Wright delivered the first run of the game with a RBI double to score Bobby Burns. After a RBI groundout by outfielder Clayton Meyer scored Jeff Birkofer, first baseman Kane Sweeney added a RBI single to score Wright for the 3-0 lead.
Louisville finally broke through against MSU lefty starter Luke Schneider in the fifth inning scoring four runs on four hits. A single up the middle by Sturgeon, a bunt single by Kay and a walk to senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) loaded the bases for the Cardinals. With two outs, Rosenbaum sent a 0-1 pitch from Schneider into left center to score Sturgeon and Kay and put Louisville on the scoreboard. Moments later, Chittenden laced a 3-1 pitch deep into the gap in left center scoring Gardner and Rosenbaum for the 4-3 lead.
The Cardinals added a run in the seventh on a RBI single to right field by Chittenden to score junior third baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.). An inning later, Louisville added the final two runs of the night when Whiting, who walked to lead off the eighth, scored on Ray’s home run off reliever Cable Wright.
Schneider was charged with the loss for the Eagles and dropped to 2-3 on the season after allowing four runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings. Sparger allowed two earned runs on four hits in two innings in his first start for the Cardinals since March 23. Following Sparger, the Louisville bullpen worked seven innings of shutout relief with seven different pitchers chipping in. Junior righty Brandon Alphin (Mt. Washington, Ky.) had two innings of scoreless work, while junior lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill.) added 1.2 innings of perfect relief to highlight the day on the mound.
Up next, Louisville will continue its homestand with a three-game weekend series against Connecticut, which begins on Friday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Louisville Postgame Notes
– The Cardinals have won 14 straight against Morehead State and they own a 44-35 advantage in the all-time series against the Eagles.
– Louisville improved to 22-6 at home this season and 236-81 (.744 winning percentage) all-time at Jim Patterson Stadium since its opening in April 2005.
– The Cardinals have held opponents to two or fewer earned runs in 23 of 41 games this season.
– Ranked fourth in the nation in stolen bases per game (2.05) entering the week, the Cardinals added four more for the second straight night on Wednesday.
– Overall, Louisville is 88-of-111 on stolen bases this season after swiping 150 bases last season.
– The 13 hits for the Cardinals on Wednesday were the most since they had 16 against Memphis in the 8-7 win in 12 innings on April 6.
– Louisville improved to 11-8 this season when its opponent scores first.
– Dating back to 2012, Louisville has won 82 straight games when entering the ninth inning with a lead and is 27-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
– Wednesday’s game with the Eagles was originally scheduled for Feb. 26 but was postponed due to inclement weather.
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