In a clash of two top 10 teams, No. 5 Louisville beat No. 10 Vanderbilt 11-7 Tuesday night in Nashville. For the Cardinals, the win marked the team's 11th straight win and fourth win over a top 15 foe.
The Cardinals have skyrocketed from No. 54 to No. 14 in the college baseball RPI rankings in the last month and are one of the hottest teams in the nation.
The Barrel is headed to The Ville! #BattleoftheBarrel #L1C4 pic.twitter.com/o9Ejr7AIDg— Louisville Baseball (@UofLBaseball) May 7, 2014
Tuesday's win also extended Louisville's win-streak against the Commodores to three games which includes two wins in last season's Super Regional that sent Louisville to Omaha and foiled Vandy's dreams of a College World Series.
Louisville was led at the plate by strong hitting from Cole Strugeon, Jeff Gardner and Alex Chittenden. Sturgeon had three doubles and scored four runs, and Gardner and Chittenden each knocked in three runs.
On the mound, junior righty Brandon Alphin earned his first career victory with 2.1 innings of shutout relief. Later in the night, freshman righty Jake Sparger returned to the mound from recent injury to add two innings of scoreless relief before Louisville's flame-throwing junior closer Nick Burdi struck out five over the final two innings to assure Louisville's win.
Vanderbilt (36-13) got a grand slam from Vince Conde in the bottom of the first inning, but Louisville (38-11) regained the lead with four runs in the top of the third.
Vandy's Walker Buehler (8-2) suffered just his second loss of the season after allowing a career-high seven runs, all earned, on six hits in 2.2 innings.
The Cardinals will return to their conference slate this weekend. UofL is currently the top team in the American Athletic Conference by virtue of winning percentage with two weekend series left. UofL will play Temple Friday in Ambler, Pa., and Saturday and Sunday in Camden, N.J..
Garett Wall's Postgame Notes
- The three-game winning streak against the Commodores is the Cardinals' longest such streak in the all-time series with Vanderbilt.
- The Cardinals are the first team to win three straight games over the Commodores since Florida did it in 2012 and are the first squad to win three consecutive road games at Vanderbilt since Oregon did it in the opening series of 2012.
- Louisville improved to 26-3 this season when scoring first and 15-2 when scoring in the first inning.
- The Cardinals have won 45 straight games when scoring five runs or more, including a 29-0 record this season.
- The 11 runs on Tuesday night are the most for Louisville in a single game since a 12-3 win over Xavier on March 30.
- Tuesday night's game marked the second most runs allowed by Vanderbilt this season.
- Louisville is 34-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning and has won 89 straight games when entering the ninth with the lead going back to May 2012.
- During the current 11-game winning streak, the bullpen has allowed just six earned runs in 41.1 innings.
- Cole Sturgeon became the second Louisville player to finish with three doubles in a game this season joining Grant Kay (March 14 vs. Samford).
- Sturgeon also played in his 215th career game at Louisville moving him into a tie for eighth all-time at Louisville with Matt Berger (1994-97).
- Jeff Gardner has finished with two hits in each of the Cardinals' last six games. During that six-game stretch, Gardner is hitting .444 with one home run, four doubles, 11 RBI and four runs scored.
- With 2.1 innings of shutout relief on Tuesday, Brandon Alphin extended his career best scoreless streak to 9.2 innings.
- In 10 total appearances this season, all out of the bullpen, Alphin has allowed only one earned run (0.75 ERA) in 12.0 innings.