Louisville Exits Big East Championship

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Published on May 24 2013 1:18 pm
Last Updated on May 24 2013 1:18 pm
Written by Millie Lange

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The top-seeded and No. 8-ranked Louisville baseball team completed a disappointing showing at the 2013 BIG EAST Championship suffering a 9-1 loss to fifth-seeded Rutgers Thursday evening in an elimination game at Bright House Field.

With their first ever 0-2 showing in eight all-time appearances at the BIG EAST Championship, the Cardinals dropped to 46-12 overall and will await their NCAA Championship fate when the field of 64 is announced Monday at 11 a.m. on ESPNU. The Scarlet Knights improved to 27-29 and will play the loser of Thursday night’s USF-Connecticut matchup in a Friday evening elimination game.

“We came down here expecting to play good baseball. We expected to compete for this championship because that was definitely a goal of ours and that didn’t happen,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “I credit the Rutgers offense because they were able to jump on Chad (Green) early, and offensively, it was the second straight game where we just didn’t do a whole lot.

“Sometimes, you get your butt kicked and we got ours kicked tonight. That’s part of it, but fortunately for us, we will get ready for an NCAA Regional and we will regroup. We look forward to getting back to Louisville and having a great week of practice. It’ll be the first full week of practice we’ve had since the start of the season, so that’ll give us a chance to go back to the basics so that we can be ready to compete at a high level in a regional.”

Thursday’s elimination game started on the wrong foot immediately for the Cardinals as the Scarlet Knights erupted for four runs in the opening frame against Louisville junior righty Chad Green (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS). With two outs, outfielder Steve Zavala delivered a two-run single to center to open the scoring. Pitcher Charlie Law followed with a RBI single to center before outfielder Brian O’Grady closed the scoring with a RBI double down the right field line for the 4-0 advantage.

An inning later, catcher Jeff Melillo connected for a RBI sacrifice fly to right field to score the fifth run of the day, while a RBI single to right by first baseman Bill Hoermann increased the cushion to 6-0 in the third inning. After a scoreless fourth inning, the Scarlet Knights added a two-spot in the fifth on RBI singles by second baseman Nick Favatella and outfielder Vinny Zarrillo for the 8-0 lead.

After the Scarlet Knights pushed their lead to nine runs in the eighth on a RBI sac fly by Melillo, the Cardinals plated their only run of the game in the ninth on a RBI single to right by senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) to score junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky./Owensboro Catholic HS).

Law earned the win for Rutgers and improved to 6-5 on the season after striking out nine and scattering nine hits while allowing only one run in a complete game triumph. Green, who had won four straight starts entering the game, dropped to 9-3 overall after allowing a career-high six runs, including five earned, on nine hits in just 2.0+ innings for his shortest outing of the season in the loss.

One highlight for the Cardinals was the 2.1 innings of shutout relief by sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS). At the plate, Sturgeon and Wasserman had two hits each as Louisville was out-hit 14-9 by the Scarlet Knights.