After a disappointing start to the season on Friday night, the University of Louisville baseball team was all smiles on Saturday.
And for good reason.
Jeff Thompson pitched a gem of a game that included 12 strikeouts in five innings and the bats woke up as the Cardinals tagged South Florida with a 10-1 loss in the Big East/Big Ten Challenge at Bright House Field.
”The exact opposite of last night,” U of L coach Dan McDonnell said, noting the Cardinals lost 2-0 to Indiana in the opener. “You have to put runs across the plate early in a game when you get a chance. We tried last night, but we didn’t get the hit we needed. We got the two-out hit we needed tonight by Cole (Sturgeon).
”Then Jeffrey Thompson strikes out 12 in five innings, which was impressive. It was also good to see us play good defense. This was a good team win.”
Thompson, a junior from Floyd Central High School, allowed four hits and no runs in five innings. He struck out eight of the first 11 batters and finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts. He only walked one batter.
The 12 strikeouts also set a new Big East/Big Ten Challenge record.
“My fastball was on point for most of the game and I felt pretty good,” Thompson said. “As a pitcher, anytime you have a four-run lead before you ever step on the mound, it helps you relax. This is a great start for me, but it’s all about being consistent. It’s a long season.”
Freshman Kyle Funkhouser pitched three innings and allowed just two hits and no runs, while striking out three. Adam Schemenauer worked the final inning and allowed one run and one hit for the Cardinals.
On this night, the bats also did work for the Cardinals.
Junior outfielder Cole Sturgeon went 2-for-5 with a three-run triple in the first inning and two runs scored. His triple was a shot down the left-field line.
Junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner smashed a two-run home run, while sophomore Sutton Whiting singled home a run, walked twice and scored. Freshman Danny Rosenbaum added an RBI triple to right, while Adam Engel also had an RBI and Kyle Gibson and Nick Ratajczak had two hits apiece.
Ratajczak now has a seven-game hitting streak.
U of L plays Purdue on Sunday morning.