The Baseball Cards traveled down to South Carolina this weekend to face the Clemson Tigers, and they came back to the Ville unscathed. They swept the Tigers in a three game series to put them at 46-6 on the season, and 23-4 in the conference.
(Click on more below for the rest of the story)
Dan McDonnell Earns 500th Career Win Behind McKay’s Solid Pitching
In the opening game of the three game series down in Clemson, skipper Dan McDonnell earned his 500th career win at the University of Louisville. The Cards relied on dominant pitching as well as an early start to the game to defeat the Tigers, 4-2.
As fate would have it, McDonnell’s 500th win came on a day where it was none other than two-way superstar Brendan McKay on the mound pitching for the Cards. In his five innings of work, it was business as usual for the junior left-hander, as he only gave up five hits, no runs, 3 walks and struck out 7 batters. When Sam Bordner would enter in the sixth inning, Louisville’s pitching would not be so dominant, as Bordner would give up 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in just 0.2 innings. McDonnell saw enough, and Adam Elliott would finish the sixth inning as well as pitch the seventh inning in relief. Fireballing closer Lincoln Henzman would then get the two inning save for his 15th save of the season.
Louisville got started early in the run scoring department as Colby Fitch would launch a solo shot over the wall in just the second at-bat in the game for the Cards. In the third inning after Logan Taylor was hit by a pitch, Colby Fitch walked, and a Hairston groundout advanced them, a throwing error into the dugout from a Drew Ellis grounder would plate both Taylor and Fitch to make it 3-0, Cards. Then finally in the fourth inning with Tyler Fitzgerald and Josh Stowers on first and second base, a Logan Taylor fielder’s choice would force out Fitzgerald, but a throwing error trying to get Josh Stowers out at third would send him home to make it 4-0.
Brendan McKay would earn the win, and move to 8-3 on the season. Tyler Fitzgerald (0-2), Brendan McKay (0-3) and Logan Taylor (0-3) would be the only Cardinals to not record a hit, while Drew Ellis was the only Card to have a multi-hit game (3-4).
Louisville Clinches Outright ACC Atlantic Title
After clinching at least a share of the ACC Atlantic crown in Dan McDonnell’s 500th career win, the Cards would clinch the outright ACC Atlantic title, as well as clinch the series against Clemson in game 2 of the weekend by defeating Clemson, 6-4.
Kade McClure got the start for Louisville in game 2, but it was not a smooth start to his outing on the mound. McClure would give up all 4 of his earned runs in the first four innings, including a pair of homers. Although he did only give up 1 walk and struck out 5 batters in his 7 innings of work, he did give up 7 base hits. Fortunately, he did not allow any runs after the 4th inning, and neither did Adam Wolf when he came in the seventh inning for the two out save.
Facing a 4-0 deficit with 4 innings to go, the Cards had some work to do in order to not have to go to a rubber match to decide the series. What better way to do it than with some home runs? Colby Fitch would lead off the sixth inning with a solo shot, and then Devin Mann would drive in a two out, two run blast to cut the lead to 4-3. Then in the 8th inning, Colby Fitch would once again lead off the inning with another home run to tie the game. Keeping up with the flair for the dramatic, Drew Ellis would keep up with his All-American pace and launch the second two-run homer of the game, this time to take a 6-4 lead and secure the game for Louisville.
Despite the rocky start, Kade McClure would earn the win and move to 7-1 on the season. Devin Hairston (0-5), Josh Stowers (0-4) and Tyler Fitzgerald (0-4) would be the only Cards to go hitless while Brendan McKay (2-4) and Devin Mann (2-4) would enjoy multi-hit games. Colby Fitch would have a monster game (4-5, 2 HR) and Drew Ellis’ performance at the plate (3-4) would push him to the .400 batting average mark on the season.
Louisville Earns 8th Season/5th ACC Sweep With 6-4 Victory Against Tigers
Louisville capped off a perfect week by battling with Clemson in a tight game that ended up with the Cards on top. The victory helped Louisville tie a school record for most wins in the regular season at 46.
Freshman left-hander Nick Bennett got the start on the hill for the Cards, and although he gave up a couple runs here and there, he had an other wise decent outing despite a defense that allowed 5 errors. Over 6.1 innings of work, while he did allow 2 earned runs off of 6 hits and a walk, he did manage to sit down 7 batters. After allowing a home run in the seventh, that when skipper Dan McDonnell decided to insert Jake Sparger in relief. through the remainder of the seventh as well as the eighth. While he garnered no strikeouts, he did only give up 2 hits and no more runs. This allowed the sandman himself, Lincoln Henzman to enter in the game and earn his 16th save of the year.
Trying to gain yet another sweep on the season, Louisville’s bats got off to a hot start. After Logan Taylor utilizes his position as the leadoff hitter to get on base and advance all the way to third on a wild pitch and a sac bunt, a Devin Hairston sacrifice fly would send him home. Drew Ellis would leadoff the very next inning, and drive in his 15th home run on the season. Then after a Stowers base hit and a wild pitch would send him all the way to third, a fielding error would allow him to leg it all the way to home to make it a 3-2 game by the end of the second. The Cards wouldn’t score anymore runs until the sixth inning, when a leadoff Colby Fitch single would but hum on base, and Hairston, McKay and Mann would help him get all the way home. The seventh inning would then see a Colby Fitch sacrifice fly that would plate Ryan Summers after he doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Finally in the eighth, Brendan McKay broke through the right side, and Tyler Fitzgerald would pinch run for him. He was able to get all the way to third and then a balk would send him home to make it 6-4.
Nick Bennett would come away with the win, and he would move to a perfect 5-0 on the season. Devin Hairston (0-2), Zeke Pinkham (0-4) and Colin Lyman (0-0) would be the only starters to not record a hit, while Logan Taylor (2-5) would be the only Card to have a multi-hit game.
Louisville will be on the road for their next game, as they will face the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington on Tuesday. They will then face the Florida State Seminoles in a three game series for their final home games on the regular season the following Thursday through Saturday.