Bat Cats get crushed by Louisville, 12-0

mmaloney@herald-leader.comApril 10, 2012 

Kentucky's 21-game winning streak against non-conference foes came to an end with a resounding thud Tuesday night.

Archrival Louisville knocked the Wildcats silly, outhitting the top-ranked team 17-4 in a 12-0 romp.

A Cliff Hagan Stadium season-high crowd of 3,563 — 563 over the listed capacity — turned out. Most fans dispersed as the Wildcats' chances plummeted along with the temperature.

"I'm going to take overnight to figure out how we're going to address it," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "We'll certainly address the entire thing tomorrow before practice. Obviously a very disappointing performance all the way around."

Louisville (24-9), ranked as high as 19th (Collegiate Baseball Writers), got at least one hit from every starter. Cole Sturgeon, hitting ninth, led with three hits, and Nick Ratajczak, Zak Wasserman, Alex Chittenden, Adam Engel and Zach Lucas had two each.

U of L starter Jared Ruxer (5-0), a freshman right-hander, baffled the Cats through six-plus shutout innings.

"I was just excited really," Ruxer said. "It was a good environment to play in and it was a big challenge against a good team, and we just played well all around."

Ruxer threw 98 pitches, 65 for strikes, and retired 18 of 22 batters. He gave up three singles and a walk while striking out six. The Cats got only two runners as far as second base while Ruxer was on the mound.

"He's had a lot of quality starts," U of L Coach Dan McDonnell said, noting Ruxer beat Mississippi and had a quality no-decision against Purdue. "But I'll tell you, he doesn't act like a freshman. He's very consistent. He's a bright young man. It's not shocking to us at all, but it is fun to watch when you see a freshman perform on a consistent basis like he's doing."

Sturgeon and Matt Koch came on in relief as UK matched a season low with only four hits.

Thomas McCarthy had two of the Cats' hits. UK leadoff man Austin Cousino, a freshman, failed to reach safely for only the second time in his 33 games.

"I thought Ruxer pitched extremely well. We never got anything going," Henderson said. "We never created any breaks for ourselves. The first two balls we hit hard they made plays on."

The Cats (30-4) swept Louisville last season.

The Cardinals will try for the sweep when the teams meet April 24 at U of L.

The Cards plated three runs in the first.

Stewart Ijames singled through the right side to drive in the first run, his team-leading 38th RBI.

Another scored on Chittenden's sacrifice fly and a third scored on Wasserman's bloop single to left.

U of L added two in the third, one in the sixth, four in the eighth and two in the ninth.

In the third, one run scored on Wasserman's fourth homer of the season.

The four-spot in the eighth came on an infield hit, two errors and three walks.

UK starter A.J. Reed (4-1) didn't make it out of the inning.

"I made some good pitches. They put good swings on them," Reed said. "It was just one of those games where things went their way and they really didn't go ours. But it's a learning experience really.

"We haven't had a game like this this year, so we've got to learn from this, know what we've got to do next time and when we go down to Arkansas, we've got to play a lot better."

UK will visit Arkansas for three games this weekend.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com

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