A pair of comeback victories and stellar pitching highlighted another 4-0 week for the Cardinals, who swept the week with wins against Miami of Ohio and Notre Dame. Louisville (41-6) now enters the final two weeks of the season with one of the best records in school history, and an 11-game winning streak.
Hairston Walk-Off Saves Louisville Against Miami of Ohio
Despite three errors and falling behind 5-0, #2 Louisville used a Devin Hairston walk-off single to escape with a 6-5 victory over the Red Hawks in ten innings.
The walk-off marked the fourth-time that Hairston has had a game-winning plate appearance in 2017, and fifth since April 2016. It was the junior’s only hit with five plate appearances, but a timely one, nevertheless.
The Cards fell behind 5-0, with the usually reliable defense having an off-day. Three errors led to Miami of Ohio driving in a 5-0 lead after five innings. Logan Stephens and Will Vogelgesang each had two RBIs during the sequence, but the bullpen gathered its composure after Adam Elliott guided three shutout innings.
Shortly after, Drew Ellis sparked the rally in the sixth with a double. Ellis would later score on an RBI single from Devin Mann; Justin Lavey, who earned his second career start on Tuesday, added an RBI single before the inning closed.
U of L would score two more runs in the seventh inning, and added one in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. McKay added a home run to right-center field with two outs in the seventh, his 14th of the season and seventh in a six-game stretch. Mann would add an RBI single in the seventh inning, while Logan Taylor tied the game after reaching home on a wild pitch in the eighth. Louisville had an opportunity to walk it off in the ninth with a runner on third, but a strikeout allowed the game to continue into extra innings.
Lavey led off the bottom tenth with a lead-off single. Lavey would advance to second on a sacrifice bunt from Logan Taylor, and Hairston punctuated the game’s finish with a two-out RBI single that allowed the runner to beat the throw home.
Louisville Sweeps Again On Solid Pitching at Notre Dame
While Derby weekend was captivating the world from Louisville, KY, the baseball Cardinals went up the road and took two of three at Notre Dame (2-0, 5-1, 9-4). This marked the sixth sweep of the series for Louisville, and the Cardinals are now 14-0 in a sweep situation in ACC conference games.
It was business as usual for starting pitchers Brendan McKay and Kade McClure, who drew quality starts in their Friday and Saturday games, respectively. McKay twirled eight innings of quality pitching, only allowing one hit in the third inning and striking out eight in the process. The eight strikeouts push McKay’s season total to 103, which is number one in the ACC. Lincoln Henzman also earned his 14th save of the season, striking out the side in Friday’s 2-0 win over the Irish.
Devin Mann led the Cardinals with a solo homer in the fifth inning, and also hit a home run in Saturday’s game. Five of Louisville’s nine hits on Saturday went for extra-bases. Hairston led all Cardinals with a 2-for-5 showing, adding two doubles, two runs and one RBI on Saturday.
Louisville would again fall behind early on Sunday, but it was another rescuing effort from the bullpen that saved the Cardinals. Nick Bennett, who has usually been reliable as the Sunday starter, was pulled after 1.1 innings, allowing Notre Dame’s four runs on five hits while a pair of errors were recorded on defense. After that, Dan McDonnell used four relievers to shutout the Irish and only allow four hits, the rest of the way.
Behind 4-1 after two innings, U of L relied on steady power hitting from Fitch and McKay to draw the 9-4 victory over the Irish on Sunday. Colby Fitch led the way with a 3-for-4 showing at the plate, adding four RBI and his eighth home run of the season. Fitch drove in the go-ahead runs during the seventh inning, when he struck a two-RBI single to score McKay and Hairston. Fitch, along with McKay, would later add home runs in the ninth and final inning.
McKay, who had batted 0-for-7 in the series prior to Sunday, rebounded with a flawless 4-for-4 showing, with two doubles, two RBI and his 14th home run of the season. Stowers would later add an RBI single to cap the Louisville scoring, and allow Henzman to close the game with a 9-4 victory on Sunday. Mann had a stellar week, batting 7-of-17 with four RBI, two home runs and a double.
Up Next: Louisville looks to continue its 11-game winning streak when it hosts Vanderbilt on Tuesday, followed by a weekend series at Clemson. Admission is free for Tuesday’s tilt against the Commodores.