After earning their sixth straight win against rival Kentucky, the Cardinals took two of three at home against #17 Wake Forest. The Cards are now 6-2 against ranked opponents in 2017, and 20-1 at home.
Cards Drop Opener to Deacs 2-1
A two-run home run in the fourth inning from Gavin Sheets gave the Deacons the deciding runs, as #17 Wake Forest upset #2 Louisville 2-1 on Friday.
The loss marked the first time U of L dropped a home game since March 2016 against Virginia. Despite the loss, Brendan McKay tallied 11 strikeouts while allowing five hits and a walk. Wake Forest pitcher Parker Dunshee earned the win for the Deacs after allowing only one run in seven innings, striking out six batters and only walking one in the process.
It was a day where the Louisville batters got cold, and stayed cold, the entire way. A two-out RBI single from Colby Fitch keyed the only run that Louisville had in the game, while Logan Taylor was 2-for-4 at the plate. McKay and Stowers each had an extra-base hit, hitting a double and triple, respectively. Louisville had a chance to tie the game in the ninth with Colin Lyman at third, but Taylor struck out swinging in the final at-bat to close the game.
Stowers Big Day Pushes Louisville Ahead on Saturday
In a critical juncture, Josh Stowers managed to pull through for the Cardinals in the final few innings. Stowers’ three-hit performance led to a comeback victory for Louisville, as the Cards evened the series with a 7-6 decision on Saturday.
Stowers went 3-for-4 at the plate, including the go-ahead RBI single that scored Ryan Summers. The sophomore would be the only Cardinal to have a multihit game on Saturday.
It was a much better day for the Louisville bats, as the Cardinals finished with seven runs in as many hits. U of L jumped to an early 2-0 lead with a two RBI double from McKay, but Wake Forest would lead for most of the game. Logan Harvey would punch a bases-clearing double to left center field, giving Wake a 3-2 advantage after the second.
The Cards would tie it in the fifth with a Logan Taylor RBI groundout, but Wake Forest responded with a run in the sixth and seventh innings. Trailing 5-3 entering the seventh inning stretch, Logan Taylor hit an RBI triple, while Colby Fitch followed with a game-tying RBI single. Stowers and Mann would follow with RBI singles in the eighth inning to put Louisville ahead for good.
Wake Forest came close to thwarting Lincoln Henzman’s save opportunity in the ninth. Jonathan Pryor scored on a wild pitch to close the score to 7-6, but Henzman struck out Aiello to score his ninth save of the season. Jake Sparger earned the win with two shutout innings in the seventh and eighth innings. Starting pitcher Kade McClure struck out ten batters in six innings, but allowing four earned runs on six hits and two walks.
Hairston Does the Deed, Stops Wake Forest Rally
A two-run RBI double from Devin Hairston in the eighth inning proved to be the difference, as the Cards took the rubber match to hold off Wake Forest 7-5 and take the series.
Hairston has continued to provide an astounding level of heroism in big-time moments for Louisville, sans the cape and a bold S on his chest. The junior has had four game-tying or go-ahead at-bats for the Cardinals in 2017, thriving in late game situations. Hairston would finish 3-for-5 with four RBI in another big-time performance for the junior.
Wake Forest would strike first with Bruce Steel’s RBI single in the second, but Drew Ellis would tie the game with one of his own in the following inning.
The sixth inning became the turning point for the Cards, who were able to stretch the inning with critical at-bats in a two-out situation. Drew Ellis and Devin Mann would score runs on past balls from Connor Johnstone and Griffin Roberts, while Devin Hairston punched a two-RBI single that would score Zeke Pinkham and Logan Taylor.
After the Cards rallied to a 5-1 lead after six innings, Steel crushed a two-run home run to left field in the seventh inning, cutting the deficit to 5-3. After an RBI fielder’s choice from John Aiello, Steel offered an RBI sac fly to tie the game at 5-5. Steel would finish 2-for-3, driving in four of the Deacons’ five runs in the game. Ben Breazeale and Aiello also led Wake Forest with two hits each, with Breazeale scoring two doubles in the game.
Pitchers Nick Bennett (UL) and Connor Johnstone (WF) highlighted Sunday’s pitcher duel, with two of the best throwers in the ACC going head-to-head in the rubber match. Bennett’s led the Cards with 6.1 innings of work, only allowing one run while striking out six. Johnstone, who came off a complete game last week and earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors, was pulled after 5.2 innings and allowing four earned runs. Louisville’s Adam Wolf earned the win with 1.2 innings of relief duty, allowing two earned runs in as many hits, while Sam Bordner earned his first save of 2017 in a perfect ninth inning.
Up Next: #2 Louisville will close their five-game stretch at home with a Tuesday clash against Purdue. First pitch begins at 6 p.m., with free admission to the game.