May 20, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Louisville's Ryan Wright went 3-for-3 with a solo home run, three RBI and three runs scored and closer Tony Zych worked out of a bases loaded jam in the top of the eighth inning to lead the Cardinals past Notre Dame, 7-5, Friday night at Patterson Stadium. The Irish drop to 21-27-1 overall and 12-13 in the BIG EAST, while the Cardinals improve to 29-26 and 14-12.
Notre Dame enters the final day of the regular season in eighth place in the BIG EAST standings. The Irish still need a victory or USF loss on Saturday to cinch a spot in the tournament.
Notre Dame had a golden chance to tie the game or even take the lead in the top of the eighth inning. After sophomore DH/RHP Adam Norton and senior PH Matt Grosso recorded RBI consecutive singles to bring the Irish within two runs, 7-5, Louisville went to Zych.
The hard-throwing RHP promptly uncorked a wild pitch to move two runners in scoring position. Zych then missed on four straight offerings to walk sophomore C Joe Hudson to load the bases.
Notre Dame called on pinch hitter David Casey to face Zych. Casey belted a game-tying grand slam off the Louisville closer in 2009, but Zych won the battle this time around. He opened the at-bat with back-to-back fast balls, the first topping out at 98-mph, before getting Casey to swing and miss at a slider.
Zych then registered back-to-back strikeouts to open the ninth. Freshman LF Eric Jagielo hit a frozen rope right at Louisville shortstop Alex Chittenden to end the game.
It was a pretty fitting end.
Louisville starter Justin Amlung improved to 9-2 on the year. He allowed three earned runs on six hits in 7.0 innings of work. Amlung struck out four and walked two.
Amlung did not necessarily fool the Irish, but most definitely benefitted from one Irish line drive after the next hit directly at a Louisville fielder. Jagielo had a pair of frozen ropes right at the Cardinals' center fielder as did DeSico and freshman 1B Trey Mancini. Mancini also ripped a liner right at Cade Stallings down the third base line and Norton followed with a bullet that Amlung somehow managed to get a glove on and recovered in time to throw him out by a step.
Nonetheless, Amlung kept the Irish off the scoreboard over his final five innings of work.
Senior RHP Cole Johnson took the loss and dropped to 4-7 on the year. He surrendered five earned runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings of work. Johnson fanned six and walked two.
Wright, who homered in last night's series-opening victory, belted a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame made three loud outs in its half of the first inning and kept it up in the top of the second. Fifth-year senior RF Herman Petzold ripped a leadoff single and senior 3B Greg Sherry hammered a one-out double off the left field wall to put runners on second and third. Hudson followed with two-run triple off the right field wall to give the Irish a 2-1 lead. Senior SS Mick Doyle then grounded out to shortstop, which allowed Hudson to score and pushed the Notre Dame lead to 3-1.
After Johnson had a quiet second inning, Wright struck again in the home half of the third with an RBI single to plate Gardner, who doubled one batter earlier. Stallings followed with a two-run bomb deep over the left field wall to give Louisville a 4-3 advantage. The round tripper for Stallings was his second in as many days and fourth in the last five games.
The Cardinals added to their lead with an RBI single from Adam Engel in the fifth inning.
Johnson settled into a nice groove of his own. He retired the final seven batters he faced, including five on strikeouts.
The Cardinals plated a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning off Norton. Louisville greeted Norton with three consecutive hits to open the inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Norton got a pop out and induced a possible inning-ending double play ball, but Sherry's throw was wide of the second base bag, which allowed another run to score. Norton did get a double play ground ball on the next pitch to keep the Irish deficit at 7-3.
Norton worked 2.0 innings and yielded two earned runs on three hits.
Notre Dame and Louisville wrap up their BIG EAST series at 1:07 p.m. on Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. The game can also be heard in South Bend on WHME / Harvest 103.1 FM and around the world at UND.com.
As always, please visit UND.com regularly for full coverage of all Notre Dame athletics news and events.