After clinching a third consecutive regular season conference title on Thursday night and then winning it outright on Friday night, the University of Louisville closed out the regular season with a 10-0 victory over rival Cincinnati in seven innings at Jim Patterson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Prior to the contest, Louisville's five seniors - Alex Chittenden, Shane Crain, Jeff Gardner, Kyle Gibson and Cole Sturgeon - were introduced prior to the contest and presented with their framed jerseys. The group closed out the season by helping guide the team to the program's third winningest season at 43-13.
The seniors drove in 6 of the runs on Saturday, including Crain's 3 RBI pinch hit in the seventh inning that ended the game. Sturgeon had a pair of hits and scored 3 runs, while Gibson and Gardner each drove in a run. Chittenden scored in the fifth after leading off the inning with a double.
The victory improved the senior class win total for 167 during their four-year run. The run began in 2011 when they were forced into action as freshmen and struggled to achieve a winning season at 32-29. The experience of that initial year at U of L paid off as the group compiled a 74% winning percentage the past three seasons, 3 regular season conference crowns and the program's second trip to the College World Series.
"They came in after the 2010 season which had 50 wins, a national seed and expectations were at all time high for our program and it was tough that year," McDonnell told Cardinal Authority following Saturday's win. "We threw them to the fire. They didn't have a great class or two ahead of them and they struggled. It was a tough freshmen year. To look up three years later, wow! Three great years and still adding to that. I'm really happy and proud of this five man senior group."
The Cardinals, who have won 16 of their last 18 outings, will return to play next week in the AAC tournament at the Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
"Great way to end the year and have momentum going into the conference tournament," said Sturgeon. "We got the 1 seed for this weekend, so we are ready to go."
Sophomore RHP Anthony Kidston improved to 6-0 on the season, striking out 6 while only allowing 2 hits in the win.
Jeff Gardner finished the regular season among the nation's top 10 with 61 RBI's.
2,052 attended the Cardinals final regular season contest.