Jim Patterson Stadium, Louisville, KY
For me, this is really the start of Baseball this season. Due to circumstances beyond my control, since Spring Training started I haven’t watched a single game (but I have listened to several). The Louisville Bats open the season on the road, so I decided to return to Jim Patterson for some more FREE BASEBALL as the visiting WKU Hilltoppers show up to give the #18 ranked University of Louisville Cardinals a workout.
WKU started Owensboro native LHP Austin Clay, a “three-quarter side-armer” with a very quick delivery…so quick I had trouble catching his form on camera. Clay’s opponent was U of L’s Jared Ruxer, who hails from Indianapolis, who throws primarily fastballs and fastballs and more fastballs. The Cardinals’ 20-8 record for the season speaks to their formidable lineup, but the Hilltoppers (12-16) have a great lineup with lots of talent and capable of surprises.
The Hilltoppers do strike first…Blake Crabtree, Casey Dykes and Ryan Hutchison help touch Ruxer early on, with 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits in the first inning. Dykes (from Franklin, TN) is doing well this year for the Hilltoppers, with a .303/.385/.345 triple-slash for the season so far. He’s also an incredible defensive infielder, with a stunning play at 3B where I witnessed him channeling his inner Brooks Robinson as he made a superb way down low back-handed grab of a hard-hit grounder, spinning 180 degrees on the way up to fire the ball to 1B.
Tonight, however, it was another Owensboro native, Stewart Ijames, that made all the difference for the Cardinals.Ijames came through twice in 4 plate appearances, with runners in scoring and 2 outs. In the 4th inning, with Adam Engel on thanks to a free pass plus a steal to second, Ijames sends the first pitch of his at bat over the Right Center field fence. In his next AB, as the 7th batter of the 5th inning, Ijames sends a seeing-eye grounder right through the hole at short to allow 2 runners to score. Ijames is one of a slew of offense-focused Cardinals, .303/.606/.413 is where he is right now. Ijames is 2-2 with RISP tonight (Team RISP: 3-6) and his work with the bat at first tied the game, then gave the Cardinals the lead.
I really enjoyed seeing Austin Clay at work, the HR Ijames touched him for in the 4th was the first hit he allowed in the game.
Hopefully, I’ll return for more during what’s left of the season. It was simply thrilling to be back in the ball park for the first time in several months, and this was a great game to get things started…a pitcher’s duel at first, followed by a great deal of action and some power.
I nearly cropped these photos in order to show more immediate detail, but thought better of it…you can open the photos and zoom in if you like.
Jim Patterson field, before the game
The WKU Hilltoppers warm up
The University of Louisville Cardinals take the field
WKU 2B Ivan Hartle faces UofL RHP Jared Ruxer
Hartle grounds out to SS Zach Lucas
WKU 3B Casey Dykes faces Ruxer
Dykes fouls back
Dykes singles to Left Center Field
WKU 1B Scott Wilcox flies out to Right Fielder Cole Sturgeon
WKU RF Ryan Hutchison faces Ruxer
WKU CF Jared Andreoli faces Ruxer
U of L CF Adam Engel faces WKU LHP Austin Clay
Engel grounds out to SS Steve Hodgins
Zach Lucas faces Clay
U of L 2B Nick Ratajczak (from Joliet, ILL, of course you could have guessed from the last name) faces Clay, lines out to RF
Steve Hodgins faces Ruxer
U of L 1B Stewart Ijames faces Clay
Cole Sturgeon (best batting stance of the game, love that extended bat) faces Clay
U of L Catcher Kyle Gibson faces Clay
Hutchison faces Ruxer
Andreoli faces Ruxer
Sturgeon faces Clay to lead off the 9-batter inning. Still loving that batting stance!
Lucas faces WKU RHP Brennan Pearson, in relief of Austin Clay
U of L LF Jeff Gardner (in the game for Mason Snyder) faces Tate Glasscock, who relieved Pearson
Dykes flies out to Engel, this was the last batter Ruxer faced.
Andreoli grounds into a Fielder’s Choice to Lucas
U of L PH Zak Wasserman faces Glasscock
Wilcox faces Sturgeon, who moved from RF to LHP for the 9th
Hutchison faces Sturgeon
Official FREE Scorecard
Gameday Stats and Rosters
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