Johnson Homers Twice as No. 10 Louisville Baseball Wins 6-3 at Ohio State
Junior outfielder goes 3-for-4 with career best five RBI as Cardinals win 13th straight
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Junior outfielder Coco Johnson had a pair of home runs and five RBI to lead the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team to its 13th straight win, a 6-3 victory at Ohio State on Tuesday night at Bill Davis Stadium.
Matching the second longest winning streak in school history, the Cardinals improved to 43-10 on the season, while the host Buckeyes dropped to 33-19 overall. Louisville equaled the 13-game winning streak first accomplished by the 2010 squad, while the school record for consecutive wins is 20 set during a span of the 1956, 1957 and 1958 seasons.
Johnson (Benton Harbor, Mich./Central Arizona) finished the game 3-for-4 overall and became the first Louisville player to hit two home runs in a game since Stewart Ijames had two against Oakland on Feb. 25, 2012. The five RBI for Johnson were a career best and equaled the most for a Louisville player this season. Overall, Johnson is hitting .340 with six home runs and 39 RBI in his first season with the Cardinals.
On the mound, freshman righthander Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest HS) won his second straight start to move to 4-1 on the season after allowing two earned runs and three total runs on four hits with five strikeouts in 5.0+ innings. After junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) struck out four in two innings of shutout relief and sophomore lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky./Eastern Kentucky) recorded two outs in a scoreless outing, sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove HS) recorded the final four outs of the game for his team-leading 12th save of the season.
For the fifth time in the last seven games, the Cardinals scored in the opening inning plating three runs when Johnson sent a 0-2 pitch from Ohio State righty starter Tyler Giannonatti down the left field line and over the wall for his first home run of the night. Junior outfielder Adam Engel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Loveland HS) started the game with a leadoff walk while senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak (Joliet, Ill./Gulf Coast CC) followed by reaching base on a fielding error by Buckeyes' shortstop Kirby Pellant before Johnson's home run gave Louisville a 3-0 advantage.
An inning later, the Cardinals added to their cushion as junior catcher Shane Crain (Lexington, Ky./Wabash Valley CC) scored from third on a wild pitch by Giannonatti for the 4-0 lead. After earning a leadoff walk, Crain moved to third on a single through the right side by sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) before reaching home on the wild pitch.
After Young was hit by a two-out pitch from reliever Greg Greve to extend the fifth inning, Johnson kept his career day going by hammering a 3-0 pitch over the wall in left center for his second home run of the day for a 6-0 cushion.
The Buckeyes broke through for their only runs of the game in the sixth inning plating three, including two earned to cut the Louisville lead in half at 6-3. After three straight singles opened the frame against Funkhouser, an error by Whiting on a tailor-made doubleplay ball off the bat of first baseman Brad Hallberg allowed two runs to score. Moments later, an RBI groundball off the bat of outfielder Patrick Porter plated the final run of the inning.
From that point, the Louisville bullpen made the three-run lead hold for the win. For Ohio State, Giannonatti took the loss and dropped to 0-3 on the season after allowing four runs, including three earned, on two hits and two walks in two innings.
Up next, Louisville will close the regular season at home against No. 16 Pittsburgh in a three-game series that will determine the BIG EAST Conference regular season champion. The series will open on Thursday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium and will continue on Friday at 6 p.m. Saturday's finale is set for a noon start and will be televised nationally by ESPNU. Admission is free throughout the weekend at Patterson Stadium.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- With their eighth straight win against Ohio State, the Cardinals improved to 9-3 all-time in the series, which dates back to 1988.
- Louisville improved to 4-0 all-time against the Buckeyes in Columbus, while head coach Dan McDonnell improved to 8-0 overall against Ohio State.
- Prior to the three runs in the sixth, Louisville had held the Buckeyes scoreless in 25 straight innings dating back to the seventh inning of the Cardinals' 10-8 win over Ohio State on May 5, 2010. That game was followed by a 2-0 win in 2011 and a 20-0 win in 2012 for UofL before posting five shutout innings to open Tuesday's game.
- The Cardinals have allowed two or fewer earned runs in 32 of 53 games this season, including four straight and six of the last seven.
- UofL improved to 36-5 this season when scoring first and 21-2 when scoring in the first inning.
- Through Tuesday's action, Louisville holds a 53-12 scoring edge in the first inning this season.
- During the current 13-game winning streak, the Cardinals have scored first in every game.
- The Cardinals are 29-4 this season against righty starters.
- Louisville moved to 38-0 this season when leading after the eighth inning.
- UofL was out-hit (7-6) for just the 11th time this season. The Cardinals are 6-5 when being out-hit.
- With his home run in the first inning, Coco Johnson has reached base safely in a team-high 28 straight games.
- The three-hit performance was Johnson's 17th multiple hit game of the season, the third highest total on the team.
- With his 12th save of the season, Nick Burdi moved into a tie for third on the Cardinals' single season leaderboard equaling the 12 saves for Carlos Fernandez in 2003.