Top-Seeded Louisville Drops Pittsburgh, 8-4, in BIG EAST Championship

CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL
HIGHLIGHTS
INTERVIEW WITH DAN MCDONNELL
INTERVIEW WITH COLE STURGEON

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Shortstop Alex Chittenden went 4-for-4 and scored two runs as top-seeded Louisville took an 8-4 win against No. 8-seeded Pittsburgh Wednesday evening in the opening round of the 2012 BIG EAST Conference Championship at Bright House Field.

Louisville (39-18) advances to face the winner of Wednesday's final first-round game between Connecticut and USF. The Cardinals will play their winners' bracket game at 8 p.m. Thursday, while Pittsburgh faces the Connecticut/USF loser at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Cardinals, who won two of three games against the Panthers to close the regular season, held a 4-0 lead after four innings, held off Pittsburgh's comeback bid in the seventh and broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth with four more runs. Nine of the 10 Louisville players who had a plate appearance had at least one hit as the Cardinals had 16 hits on the day.

Louisville scratched across single runs in the second and third innings to build a 2-0 lead and tacked on two more in the bottom of the third when Kyle Gibson hit an RBI single to centerfield and Nick Ratajczak reached on a hit deep in the second base hole that scored Zak Wasserman and made it 4-0.

The Panthers got one back in the top of the fifth when catcher Elvin Soto led off the inning with a home run to rightfield. Pittsburgh closed to within one in the top of the seventh when Soto hit a one-out double and scored on Stephen Vranka's double to right-center. Vranka came around on Anthony DeFabio's single to right, making it 4-3.

Louisville added some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, however, as Gibson laced two-out triple to right-center to bring home Chittenden, who had led off the inning with a single to center. Adam Engel, Cole Turgeon and Mike White all delivered RBI singles to give the Cardinals an 8-4 lead heading into the ninth inning.

Sturgeon went 3-for-5 with an RBI and also was credited with the save as he worked the final two innings, allowing one run. Starting pitcher Chad Green allowed four hits and one run in four innings with three strikeouts to pick up the win and improve to 5-0.

Pittsburgh was led by Vranka, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and Soto, who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Matt Iannazzo took the loss, falling to 7-4 after he allowed five runs and 12 hits in seven innings.


2012 BIG EAST Baseball Championship Schedule

Wednesday, May 23
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 1 - No. 3 Seton Hall 6, No. 6 Rutgers 1
Game 2 - No. 2 St. John's 12, No. 7 Notre Dame 2 (7 innings)
Game 3 - No. 8 Pittsburgh (28-26) vs. No. 1 Louisville (38-18), 5 p.m.
Game 4 - No. 5 Connecticut (29-25-1) vs. No. 4 USF (34-20), 8 p.m.

Thursday, May 24
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 5 - Rutgers (31-24) vs. Notre Dame (29-26), 10 a.m.
Game 6 - Seton Hall (34-22) vs. St. John's (34-21)
Game 7 - Pittsburgh (28-27) vs. Loser of Game 4, 5 p.m.
Game 8 - Louisville (39-18) vs. Winner of Game 4, 8 p.m.

Friday, May 25
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 9 - Loser of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 5, 4 p.m.
Game 10 - Loser of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 7, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 26
(Live video on www.bigeastbaseball.com)
Game 11 - Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 9, 10 a.m.
Game 12 - Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10, 1 p.m.
Game 13 - Loser of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 11, 5 p.m. (if necessary)
Game 14 - Loser of Game 12 vs. Winner of Game 12, 6:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.
(if necessary; game would be at 6:30 if Game 13 is not necessary, 8 p.m. otherwise)

Sunday, May 27 - Championship game
(live television on ESPNU)
Game 15 - Winner of Group 1 vs. Winner of Group 2, Noon

All times Eastern