NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Junior Nick Solak had three hits and led a trio of Cardinals with home runs as the No. 5 Louisville baseball team remained unbeaten in midweek games with an 8-5 road victory over No. 7 Vanderbilt in the annual Battle of the Barrel on Tuesday at Hawkins Field.
A native of Woodridge, Illinois, Solak was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer as the Cardinals (39-10) improved to 13-0 in midweek games this season. The victory also marked the fourth straight road win for Louisville against the Commodores (36-13).
Joining Solak with home runs on Tuesday were redshirt freshman Drew Ellis, who delivered a three-run shot during a four-run second inning, and senior Danny Rosenbaum, who added a solo homer in the fourth inning. Ellis has homered in back-to-back games after hitting his first collegiate four-bagger in Sunday’s win at North Carolina.
Sophomore Brendan McKay was 2-for-4 with a double and scored once, while junior Corey Ray added two hits. McKay has reached base safely in a career-best 33 straight games and Ray has done it in 30 consecutive games.
On the mound, sophomore righthander Kade McClure won for the 10th time in 11 starts and moved to 10-0 on the season after finishing with a career-best eight strikeouts and allowing two runs on three hits in five innings. The 10 wins for the Mentor, Ohio native equals the nation’s leaders in victories. Junior righty Zack Burdi finished with three strikeouts and touched 101 mph on the stadium scoreboard during two shutout innings of relief to earn his seventh save of the season.
The Cardinals struck first on Tuesday plating four runs in the second inning against freshman righty Donny Everett, highlighted by a two-out, three-run homer off the bat of Ellis. Junior outfielder Colin Lyman provided the first run of the inning driving Solak home with a two-out RBI single to left. Ellis followed by crushing a 1-0 pitch over the 35-foot wall in left field for his second home run in a three days to score sophomore shortstop Devin Hairston and Lyman.
Louisville added to its advantage in the fourth when Rosenbaum led off the inning by launching a 2-1 offering into the bleachers in left center for his seventh home run of the season and a 5-0 lead.
Vanderbilt cut into the margin in the fifth inning plating a pair of runs on three hits against McClure. Jeren Kendall connected for the first hit of the game and drove in the first run of the game for the Commodores with a two-out RBI triple down the right field line to plate Jason Delay. Ethan Paul followed with a RBI single to right to score Kendal and cut the Louisville advantage to 5-2.
Solak slowed the Vanderbilt run in the top of the seventh by crushing a 1-0 pitch from Collin Snider to the top of the bleachers in left center for a two-run shot and a 7-2 lead. McKay singled and scored on the second home run of the season for Solak.
The home club pulled closer in the bottom of the seventh after Paul sent a 0-1 pitch from righty Jake Sparger over the wall in center for a three-run homer. Following a leadoff single by Tyler Campbell and a walk to Kendall, Paul drove both runners home and cut the deficit to 7-5 with his fourth home run of the season.
The Commodores would get no closer as Burdi shut the door in the final two innings while Hairston gave the Cardinals an insurance run with a two-out RBI single to left in the ninth to score pinch runner Josh Stowers. Everett was charged with the loss for Vanderbilt and dropped to 0-1 on the season after allowing five runs, including four unearned, on six hits in 3.0+ innings.
Up next, No. 5 Louisville returns home to begin a weekend series at Jim Patterson Stadium against No. 10 NC State on Friday at 6 p.m., ET. The Cardinals and Wolfpack are also slate for 1 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday and admission is free throughout the weekend.