Adam Engel led off the season for the University of Louisville baseball team with a bunt single and things looked good for the Cardinals.
Engel was sacrificed to second and stole third and the Cardinals looked to back up the hype coming into the new season with an early run.
But it didn’t happen on this night. Engel was thrown out at home and the Cardinals struggled on offense the entire night, dropping a 2-0 decision to Indiana in the Big East-Big Ten Challenge on the opening night of the season.
”It was very disappointing,” U of L coach Dan McDonnell said.
Even after Engel was thrown out, the Cardinals advanced Coco Johnson to third and Ty Young to second in the first before Zach Luces flied out to left.
”We had a chance to get a run across,” McDonnell said. “It’s much easier to swing and be aggressive on the offensive side when you put some runs on the board. Our challenge was putting the first run up.”
In the fourth Cole Sturgeon also advanced to third but couldn’t get home.
The Cardinals tried to get going in the seventh when Sutton Whiting singled to third and then Engel drove a ball almost to the wall in left. But Indiana left fielder Chris Sujka made the play of the game, running down the ball.
”We didn’t do anything in the first half of the game,” McDonnell said. “The second half of the game, credit them because they made great plays. We had some really good at-bats in the second part of the game.”
Joey DeNato allowed four hits in four innings for Indiana, while freshman Evan Bell gave up two hits in four innings and picked up the win.
Chad Green pitched four innings, allowing seven hits and two runs to get the loss for the Cardinals. Cody Ege struck out the only batter he faced, while Dace Kime allowed just two hits in 3 1/3 innings and Kyle McGrath was also solid in relief.
McDonnell said the loss doesn’t change any of the lofty expectations the Cardinals have for the season. U of L was ranked as high as No. 4 in preseason polls.
”We still feel like this is going to be a very offensive club, so we don’t want to panic,” McDonnell said. “I don’t think any coach in the country wants to start with a shutout in the first game of the season, but we’re still very confident.
”We just have to let the air out of the balloon.”