Louisville Reaches BIG EAST Championship Semifinals With 12-2 Win Against Pittsburgh

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Third baseman Cade Stallings hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning to send Louisville to the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Baseball Championship with a 12-2 win against Pittsburgh Friday at Bright House Field. Stallings's blast with one out in the eighth gave the Cardinals a 10-run margin after seven innings, which ends the game in the conference tournament format. The win sends Louisville (31-28) to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the sixth consecutive season. The Cardinals will face St. John's Saturday at 10 a.m. and will have to beat the Red Storm twice in order to reach the championship game. St. John's, which has not lost in this year's championship, needs one win against Louisville to reach the final. Louisville starting pitcher Travis Tingle picked up the win, improving to 3-1 after allowing seven hits and two runs with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work. Matt Koch worked two shutout innings with two Ks giving the Cardinals 12 strikeouts of Pittsburgh hitters on the day. Louisville gained an early 2-0 lead as Adam Engel led off the bottom of the first with a walk and designated hitter Jeff Gardner followed with a two-run home run to left field. The Panthers got one back in the top of the second when Travis Whitmore reached on a bunt single, stole second and scored on Casey Roche's base hit to left-center. Ryan Wright's sacrifice fly brought Engel home in the bottom of the fifth to give Louisville a 3-1 lead and JJ Ethel was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 4-1. The Cardinals left the bases loaded, however, and the Panthers were able to close within two in the top of the sixth when David Chester and Rick Devereaux hit back-to-back doubles to make it 4-2. The Cardinals added two more in the bottom of the sixth on Ryan Wright's two-run double, making Wright the all-time RBI leader in the BIG EAST Championship (21), and Louisville piled on six runs in the eighth, capped by Stallings's grand slam. The Cardinals took advantage of six hits, two throwing errors and two hit batsmen in the inning and Stallings ended it with his fifth home run of the season - a deep drive to the leftfield bullpen on an 0-1 count. The top four hitters in the Louisville lineup were a combined 8-for-13 and scored nine of the 12 runs as Engel, Gardner, Wright and Stewart Ijames had two hits each. Chester and Whitmore were both 2-for-3 for the Panthers, who were eliminated from the tournament with their second loss. Matt Wotherspoon took the loss, falling to 5-2.