In front of a possible home-opening record crowd, the University of Louisville pounded the visiting Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Wednesday.
Behind a combination of solid pitching, error-free fielding and plenty of offensive power, the Cardinals won easily 13-1.
"[It was] a pretty complete game," head coach Dan McDonnell said. "From pitching, to defense, to offense, it was a pretty complete game today.
True freshman Zack Burdi, the younger brother of All-American junior reliever Nick Burdi, made his first career appearance against the Colonels and was credited with the win.
Admitting that he had a touch of the “butterflies” when taking the mound, Burdi tossed two innings of no-hit middle relief. He did allow three base runners, giving up a walk and hitting two batters.
“It was a great experience,” said Burdi, who is teaming up with his brother for the first time since the 8th grade. “It was nice going out there and pitching well and then seeing my brother go out there and have a nice outing himself.”
"We saw Nick really blossom in this program and Zack is starting to blossom already," said McDonnell, adding that the brothers "want to be great. It's fun to coach those guys."
Burdi entered following another solid performance from fellow freshman pitcher Jake Sparger. Following 5 innings of 1-run middle relief in the season-opening win, Sparger made his first career start. The Wisconsin native threw four innings, surrendering just one run on four hits, while striking out four. In 9 innings of work this season, Sparger has a 2.0 ERA and leads the team with 6 strikeouts.
Nick Burdi struck out the side in the 9th inning.
The Louisville offense put up what head coach Dan McDonnell refers to as “crooked numbers” on the scoreboard. The Cardinals 13 runs and 12 hits are both season highs, nearly doubling the total from their first three games combined.
In the third inning, catcher Shane Crain connected for first home run of the season, a shot over the left field wall that drove in three during a six-run rally in the third. Junior Zach Lucas drove in four, going 2-for-4 at the plate, including a three-run blast that cleared the left field wall in the sixth inning. Jeff Gardner, last week's AAC Player of the Week, went 2-for-3 and now leads the team with a .467 batting average.
Centerfielder Mike White also went 2-for-3 at the plate, and may have had the defensive play of the game with a 2-out diving catch in center to end an EKU rally.
"Mike's White play in the first inning was the key to the game. They could score 3 or 4 runs in that first inning if you don't make that catch."
The Cardinals will host Western Michigan for a weekend series beginning on Friday at 3:00 p.m. Admission is free.