After having a somewhat dominate performance against Kentucky in their home game against them earlier this month, the Cards were the ones who got dominated this time around in the road edition of the Battle of the Bluegrass. However, they responded with a series win against Duke, 2 games to 1. They move to 33-6 on the season, and 17-4 in the ACC.
Six Game Winning Streak Against Kentucky Snapped In Lexington
For the first time since 2014, the Louisville Cardinals fell to the in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats, 11-7. Although a noble effort to make an unlikely comeback was made in the middle innings, for the most part, the game did not look pretty for the Cards.
Pitcher Shane Hummel got the start for Louisville at Cliff Hagan Stadium, and that about all that went right for the senior right-hander. He gave up 4 earned run in just 0.1 innings of work, which translates into a 108 ERA for the game. After the abysmal start to the game, he got the early hook and reliever Jake Sparger was inserted into the game. He was able to limit the remaining damage in the first inning, giving up only 1 run with runners on the corners and 1 out, as well as pitching a scoreless second inning. However, after giving up 3 earned runs and 1 unearned run to make it 9-0 after the third inning, he would also get the hook and Rabon Martin would start the fourth inning. Unfortunately, he would not be able to get much going himself, as he would give up 2 runs to make it 11-0 by the end of the fourth inning. It wasn’t until Riley Thompson made an appearance in the fifth inning that the Cards got some quality pitching going. He would pitch a scoreless fifth and sixth inning, while Adam Elliott and Shay Smiddy pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth respectively.
For the first half of the game, Kentucky’s defense and pitching kept Louisville off the board. This included a SportsCenter Top Ten play from the Cats in the second inning, where they turned bad base running from Drew Ellis and Brendan McKay into a 7-2-6 triple play. It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Cards finally broke Kentucky’s shutout bid, when Logan Taylor drove in a 2 RBI double that plated Devin Mann and Colin Lyman. In the sixth inning, it got a little bit interesting. After opening frame walks by Devin Hairston and Brendan McKay, Drew Ellis knocked in his 7th home run of the year to cut the deficit to 11-5. After a double by Colin Lyman and a single by Josh Stowers, a throwing error into the dugout would plate Lyman and a sacrifice fly would plate Stowers to make it 11-7 after six innings. However, Louisville would be unable to generate anymore offense after this inning, and the comeback bid would be swiftly shut down.
Shane Hummel would take the loss for the game, and drop to 4-1 on the season. The only meaningful pitching job in the entire game would be from Riley Thompson, when he struck out 4 batters while giving up only 1 hit in two innings of work. The only Card who had more than one hit for the game would be Drew Ellis, who also had 3 RBI.
Ellis’ Monster Day Not Enough As Cards Drop Opening Game Against Duke
Drew Ellis’ two home runs and 3 RBI were not enough, as Louisville suffered only their second loss at home this season. Duke took an early lead and never looked back, as they went on to beat the Cards, 5-3.
Two-way superstar Brendan McKay was on the mound today, but he was not in typical Brendan McKay form. In six innings, while he did have 7 strikeouts on the ledger, he also gave up 6 hits and five runs, the majority of which came in the first two innings. Fortunately for Louisville after McKay’s day was done on the mound, reliever Jake Sparger came into the game in the seventh inning and tossed two scoreless innings, while Shay Smiddy and Chandler Dale combined to toss a scoreless ninth.
Much like the Kentucky game earlier in the week, Louisville offense couldn’t really get going until the middle innings of the game, and for this game, the offense ran solely through Drew Ellis. In the fourth inning after a Brendan McKay walk, Drew Ellis hit his first home run of the day to cut the deficit to 3-2. In his very next at-bat in the sixth inning, Ellis hit another home run, this time a solo shot. However, since Duke had scored two more runs in the inning prior, all this did was once again cut the deficit, this time to 5-3.
Brendan McKay took the loss for the game, and dropped to 5-3 on the season. Outside of Drew Ellis (2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI), only Logan Taylor (1-3), Josh Stowers (1-2) and Devin Mann (1-4) were able to register a hit for the game.
Blazing Start Helps Cards Even Series With Duke
Behind a second inning that saw 6 hits and 7 runs from 12 total at bats, the Louisville Cardinals were able to make up for the opening game loss and evened the series at 1 game a piece.
Junior right-hander Kade McClure got the start for the Cardinals, and while he did have a solid start to the game in throwing three scoreless innings, he gave up 4 earned runs in the fourth innings, and that would be the end of his day. Reliever Adam Wolf would be the one to finish the fourth, as well as pitch a scoreless fifth. After giving up a run and working himself into a tad bit of a jam in the sixth inning, Bordner would finish the sixth and pitch all the way through the eight inning without surrendering any more runs. In the ninth, fireballing closer Lincoln Henzman entered the game, where he earned his 12th save of the season.
There’s catching fire, then there’s what Louisville’s bats did in the second inning. After a Drew Ellis and Devin Mann single as well as a HBP by Ryan Summers loaded the bases, Tyler Fitzgerald reached base on a fielder’s choice that got Summers out but plated Drew Ellis to put runners on the corners. After Josh Stowers walked to load the bases again, Colby Fitch was HBP to plate Devin Mann. Devin Hairston, Brendan McKay, Drew Ellis and Devin Mann then proceeded to hit back-to-back-to-back-back RBI singles, with McKay’s single plating two. The second inning saw 12 total at-bats, with 7 runs coming off of 6 hits. Although Louisville did not put up anymore runs after this inning, this was enough to hold off Duke from taking the lead throughout the rest of the game.
Reliever Adam Wolf came away with the win, and moved to 5-0 on the season. Only Colin Lyman (0-4), Ryan Summers (0-3) and Tyler Fitzgerald (0-4) did not register a hit for the Cards. While Devin Hairston (2-4), Drew Ellis (2-3) and Devin Mann (2-3) all had multiple. Strangely enough, Ellis and Mann got both of their hits in the second inning.
Cards Shut Out Duke In Rubber Match, Win Seventh Straight Conference Series
A good offensive showcase and seven strong innings from Nick Bennett was more than enough for the Cards to clinch their seventh straight conference series, as they shut out Duke 10-0.
Freshman left-hander Nick Bennett was on the mound for the Cards in the final game of the series, and he did not disappoint. He pitched seven scoreless innings, while only giving up only 4 hits, no walks and striking out 4 batters. Reliever Riley Thompson entered the game in the eighth and tossed a pair of scoreless innings himself
Louisville continued to demonstrate quality hitting that they displayed the day before, as they had no issue getting on base as opposed to their first game of the series. In the third inning after a Brendan McKay single and a Drew Ellis single where he advanced to second base on a throwing error, a double by Devin Mann plated them both. Zeke Pinkham followed that up with a double of his own, sending Mann home as well to make it 3-0. The Cards continued their offensive show of force with a dominant performance in the 7th inning. After a Michael Bollmer single and a Josh Stowers HBP, Devin Hairston sent them both home on a double to left center field. Back-to-back intentional walks by Brendan McKay and Drew Ellis loaded the bases, then a 2 RBI Colin Lyman single through the right side sent Hairston and McKay home as well to make it 7-0. When a Devin Mann walk loaded the bases once more, a wild pitch advanced all the runners and sent Drew Ellis home, and then a Justin Lavey (who was pinch hitting for Zeke Pinkham) single sent both Mann and Lyman home to make it 10-0 after the seventh inning. During this inning, Duke made four calls to the bullpen and used five different pitchers.
Nick Bennett came away with the win, and he moved to 4-0 on the season. The only starter to not register a hit in the game was Ryan Summers (0-2), and oddly enough, no batter (starter or pinch hitter) registered more than 1 hit.