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May 1, 2012
Louisville hitters and pitchers among Big East's best
After winning last weekend's series with Connecticut 2-1 the University of Louisville baseball team sits in a tie for second place in the Big East with the Huskies and South Florida. It was the third straight weekend that the Cards won the first two games of a three-game series, but fell in the third game, much to the chagrin of Head Coach Dan McDonnell.
UofL lost only one three-game weekend series this season (1-2 to Seton Hall), but swept only lowly Cincinnati (2-16 in Big East) in league play. St. John's leads the league and will visit Jim Patterson Stadium on May 11-13 for a critical series that could determine the regular season champion.
After a Tuesday clash in Bowling Green with in-state rival Western Kentucky, the Cards will travel to West Virginia this weekend. UofL ends the season at Pitt.
Despite their second-place standing in the Big East, Louisville dominates the team statistics in both hitting and pitching. The Cards' .311 batting average is .010 points ahead of second-place Rutgers with Ty Young (.368), Nick Ratajczak (.333) and Cole Sturgeon (.333) in the top fifteen of the league. Louisville also leads the league in stolen bases, both total and percentage (71-86), home runs (26), fewest strike outs (214) and runs (336); 47 more than second-place Rutgers.
Louisville's pitching dominance is even more impressive than the hitting. Their league-leading ERA is 3.19, .35 ahead of second-place USF. Justin Amlung is second in the league at 2.27 and freshman Jared Ruxer is fourth at 2.59. The Cardinal pitching staff leads the Big East in fewest hits allowed (351), fewest runs (178), fewest earned runs (139) and most strikeouts (356).
In individual stats, Ratajczak leads the league in runs scored (50). Stewart Ijames leads the league in RBIs (48) and is tied for most home runs (10). Adam Engel leads in stolen bases both in total and percentage (28-29), despite of missing the last eight games, and Justin Amlung is third in strikeouts with 75. Ijames is also ninth in total bases (89), tied for third in walks (26) and ninth in slugging percentage (.536). Ty Young (.482) and Nick Ratajczak (.455) are in the top five in on-base percentage. Young is also in second in slugging percentage (.617).
Individual pitching leaders include Jeff Thompson with a league-leading won-loss record of 8-1. Amlung is tied for second at 7-3 and was also named Pitcher of the Week in the Big East after shutting out UConn in the series opener April 27, 5-0. He is first in the league in total innings pitched (75.1). Thompson is also in the top ten with 63 strikeouts. Derek Self is second with seven saves and Amlung, Ruxer and Thompson are in the top eight in opponents' batting average, all under .239.
With a team batting average .058 above last season and an ERA quickly approaching the .306 of 2011, the Cards are well-positioned for a deep run into the post-season.