PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 25, 2011) – The Rutgers baseball team fell to Louisville, 11-2, in the BIG EAST Conference opener for both teams Friday afternoon at Bainton Field.
Stewart Ijames gave Louisville (14-7, 21-0 BIG EAST) an early 2-0 lead with a two-run double down the left-field line in the first.
Rutgers starter Tyler Gebler (Toms River, N.J.) rebounded from the two early scores as the sophomore retired the next eight batters.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights (7-12, 0-1 BIG EAST) threatened in the first as freshmen Brian O’Grady (Warminster, Pa.) led off the inning with a single and three batters later attempted to score from second on a D.J. Anderson (Randolph, N.J.) single to right field. The runner was tagged out at home, however, on a good throw to home plate from Ijames in right field.
O’Grady and Anderson hooked up again in the third, this time pushing across a run. O’Grady, who reached base after being struck with a pitch from Louisville starter Matt Koch, moved over to third on a sacrifice and a fly out to put the runner 90 feet away from home with two outs. Facing a 2-2 count, Anderson hit a ball back up the middle that was fielded by shortstop Alex Chittenden, but the Scarlet Knight beat the throw to first base as O’Grady crossed home to make it 2-1.
Ijames ended Gebler’s string of eight-straight outs, taking the first pitch of the fourth inning over the right-field fence for a solo home run. Once again, however, the Rutgers starter rebounded with three-consecutive strikeouts in the inning and retired the next 11 batters stretching into the seventh frame.
The Cardinals ended Gebler’s streak with three-straight two-out singles to center field in the seventh to score another run and build a 4-1.
With the first two Louisville runners on in the eighth, the Scarlet Knights went to their bullpen for the first time and the Cardinals collected three more hits and scored five runs in the frame off a pair of Rutgers relievers to open a 9-1 advantage. Ijames doubled down the right-field line in the frame for the Cardinals to drive in two more runs and give him five RBI on three hits for the afternoon.
UofL added two runs in the ninth to make it 11-1.
The Scarlet Knights capitalized on a fielding error in right field in the ninth that allowed pinch hitter Joe D’Annunzio (Scotch Plains, N.J.) to advance to third with one out where Pat Sweeney (Sparta, N.J.) got him home on the next play to make it 11-2.
Gebler (1-3) matched his season-high with five strikeouts without allowing a walk in seven innings in the loss. Koch (3-2) worked 7.1 innings for the Cardinals with just one run allowed on six hits and three strikeouts to pick up the win.
Freshman Nick Favatella (Washington Twp., N.J.) was 2-for-2 in two plate appearances after entering the game in the seventh as a pinch hitter and playing second base.
Rutgers and Louisville will continue the series with a 1 p.m. game tomorrow at Bainton Field. Sophomore lefty Rob Smorol (Clark, N.J.) will be on the mound for the Scarlet Knights against sophomore righty Mike Nastold for the Cardinals.