Pepperdine clips Louisville 3-2
Waves beat third ranked opponent in push toward Top 25
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Unfortunately for Louisville, Pepperdine's push to crack the Top 25 got off to a promising start Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium.
In the first game of a doubleheader, Joe Sever smacked a two-run home run that proved to be the difference, and Pepperdine's pitchers did a masterful job of escaping trouble in the late innings of a 3-2 victory against the No. 14 Cardinals.
The opening contest of the three-game series was pushed back to Saturday after severe weather on Friday. Unranked Pepperdine (8-2) notched its fourth victory against a ranked club, also defeating No. 16 Oklahoma twice and No. 21 USC. Louisville (6-3) dropped its second game in a row after winning six consecutive.
After losing twice all of 2011 in going 10-2, Louisville right-hander Justin Amlung fell to 1-2. Amlung's strong outing consisted of seven innings, three runs, six strikeouts and two walks. He was perfect through three innings.
Louisville outhit Pepperdine 7-3, but the Waves delivered the biggest blow when Joe Sever went deep in the sixth inning. The Waves were clinging to a one-run lead when he stepped to the plate with one out after Zach Vincej walked. Facing Amlung, Tony Cooper lined a two-run homer over the left field fence.
Louisville responded with two runs in the bottom half, but the Cardinals missed a chance to do even more damage. Cole Sturgeon led off with a single to center off starting pitcher Jon Mascot, advanced to second on Adam Engel's walk and went third after tagging up on Nick Ratajczak's deep fly ball to left center. After Engel stole second, Jeff Gardner plated two runs with a single up the middle.
The Cardinals kept attacking when Stewart Ijames slapped a hit-and-run single, and Alex Chittenden walked to load the bases. More runs would elude Louisville, though, as Jon Moscot (2-1) recorded a strikeout and ground out to end the rally and maintain a 3-2 lead.
With such fine pitching from both teams, mistakes proved especially costly. Louisville had two runners picked off, including one at second base with one out in the eighth. Zak Wasserman followed by clubbing a double to left that likely would have scored the tying run. Reliever Michael Swanner got out of the inning unscathed.
Aaron Brown also escaped trouble in the ninth. After Swanner walked Kyle Gibson to lead off the inning and Sturgeon moved Gibson into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, Aaron Brown jogged in front from right field and preserved the victory by inducing a ground out and notching a strikeout for his third save.
Engel went 2-for-4 with a walk, stolen base and run scored for Louisville. Gardner was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs. Chad Green threw two effective innings of relief, striking out three and allowing no runs.
Sever had two of Pepperdine's three hits.