By Lilly Trunnell
On a sunny Friday evening in Charleston, South Carolina, the Louisville Cardinals opened their 2014 baseball season against West Virginia at the Hollywood Suites Tournament hosted by The Citadel. The first game went into ten regulation innings and ended with a Cardinals win in the most exiting way.
With one out and no one on base, Senior LF Jeff Gardner whacked one down the right field line and out of the park against West Virginia RHP Corey Walter, giving the Cardinals their first walk-off on a home run since 2010. The final score came in at 7-6, with the Cardinals coming back from a once 5-1 deficit.
The magnificence of the win did not come without a trade off. Junior SS Sutton Whiting left the game in the ninth inning after being hit in the face by the pitch. He was taken to a local hospital and shown to have a fractured nose. As of the next day, he had returned to the team but not to the lineup. There is not yet a timeline for his return.
The loss of Whiting in the lineup is the loss of one of four Cardinal captains. However, Gardner quickly made up for the loss. As another captain, he proved to the team, the fans, and the critics that the loss of one does not mean the downfall of many. Though Louisville struggled through the first several innings, the comeback is an example of things we may be looking at later in the season.
The starter for the game was junior LHP Joe Filomeno. Filomeno lasted four innings, allowing seven hits and five runs, four of which were earned. In the fifth, freshman RHP Jake Sparger replaced the struggling Filomeno on the mound. He came in with a 5-1 deficit, and managed to stem the flow to three hits and one run over the next five innings. Junior standout RHP Nick Burdi came in to pitch a hitless, scoreless tenth, giving way to Gardner’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning. Burdi is the pitcher of record with a win.
The Cardinals committed three errors within their first ten innings of play on the season. The three errors resulted in one unearned run. Though the Cardinals mark this one in the books as a win, errors should be watched carefully over the next few weeks to determine if they become game-changing elements.
In the line-up, seniors Gardner and RF Cole Sturgeon both proved to be bright spots, with two hits each in five at bats and each scoring two runs. Gardner had two RBI’s in addition, including his game-winning solo homer. The Cardinals left a total of five runners on base.
With a mix of young and old players and many new faces, Louisville will be looking for leadership from older, experienced players like Gardner and Sturgeon to lead the Cardinals to victory this season.
Now that their first game is out of the way, the Cardinals play twice more in South Carolina before returning to Jim Patterson Stadium for their first game in Louisville against EKU on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 P.M.