Riding on their second-longest win streak of the season with the ACC regular season title on the line, the Cardinal Nine did not have the smoothest of finishes to the season, as they would go 0-3 against the Indiana Hoosiers and Florida State Seminoles. Game 3 against the Seminoles would be cancelled due to rain, with no plans to reschedule. However, an ACC loss by UNC to the hands of the Duke Blue Devils would make up for the bumpy week, as that would help the Cardinals clinch the ACC regular season title, as well as the number 1 seed in the ACC Baseball Tournament.
15 Game Win Streak Snapped Vs. IU
Louisville’s second-longest win streak of the season came to an abrupt end, as untimely errors help sink the Cards in Bloomington. A 4 run second inning by the Indiana Hoosiers was all it took to bring down the mighty Cardinals, as they defeated UofL, 4-3.
Typically playing a relief role, junior lefty Rabon Martin got the start for the Cards, but it would be a short lived start. In the second inning, he would give up a walk, a HBP and then back to back doubles to bring home 3 Hoosier base runners. After a fielding error would bring home the remaining runner in scoring position to push the lead to 4-0, Martin’s day would be done by the time the second inning had concluded. Bryan Hoeing would come in relief in the third inning, and after working himself into a bit of a jam in the fourth inning, Adam Elliott would finish the fourth as well as pitch the fifth inning. This would be a day for the bullpen as Shay Smiddy would then come in to pitch the sixth, seventh and 0.1 of the eighth. Chandler Dale would pitch the remaining two outs of the game.
Immediately following the 4 run inning by Indiana, Louisville got to work to attempt to close the gap between them and the Hoosiers, as Josh Stowers would lead off the 3rd inning with a home run. Colin Lyman would then lead off the fifth inning with a triple, and a Tyler Fitzgerald walk would put runners on the corners. Logan Taylor took the opportunity to help his team and seized it, as he would drive both Stowers and Fitzgerald home from a double off his bat to close the gap to 4-3. Unfortunately, this would be the end of the run scoring for the Cards, as they could not string together the necessary hits to bring home runners for the remainder of the game.
As a result of his rough start to the game, Rabon Martin would take the loss, and move to 4-1 on the season. It would be a rough hitting day for Louisville, as Logan Taylor (1-4), Drew Ellis (1-3), Colin Lyman (1-4), Josh Stowers (1-2), and Tyler Fitzgerald (1-1) would be the only batters to record a hit, and no one would register more than 1.
FSU Spoils Final Opener Of Season
In a game where Brendan McKay was most certainly not at his A-game, Louisville suffered its 8th loss of the season after blowing a 4 a run lead in the 5th inning, inevitably losing 12-9 to the Seminoles. Out of Louisville’s 8 total losses, 4 of them have come in game 1 of an ACC series.
Brendan McKay would have arguably his roughest outing of the season, as the superstar left-hander gave up 5 hits, 4 walks and 7 runs (5 earned), while striking out 6 over 5 total innings pitched. When Jake Sparger relieved McKay to start the sixth inning, it wouldn’t get much better for the Cards. Over 2.1 innings, Sparger would give up 4 runs off 6 hits and only strikeout 3. After giving up a 2-run bomb in the 8th, Sparger would get the hook and Adam Wolf would come in the eighth. Since Wolf would give up a run himself in just 0.2 innings of work, Shane Hummel would pitch the ninth and be the only pitcher to not give up a run.
While the pitching staff was struggling on the mound, the Cards’ bats treated us to some fireworks. Both Josh Stowers and Drew Ellis would launch 3-run home runs in the second and third inning respectively to jump out to an early 6-3 lead. Colby Fitch would bring in another off an RBI double in the fourth to push the lead to 7-3. By the time the Cards were able to score again, they themselves would be the ones facing a deficit because of the struggles of the pitching staff. A ground rule double in the seventh by Colin Lyman that plated Devin Hairston would be the closest Louisville would come to closing the gap. It closed the lead to 9-8, but by the time the Cards got their next runs off a Devin Mann double in the ninth, it would only cut the deficit to 12-9.
Despite the bad start by McKay, Sparger’s outing was declared worse, and he would take the loss to move 4-1 on the season. Logan Taylor would be the only starter to go hitless in the game, and the Louisville offense would be powered by big days from Drew Ellis (1-5, 3 RBI), Devin Mann (2-5, 1 RBI), Colin Lyman (3-5, 1 RBI) and Josh Stowers (2-5, 3 RBI).
Louisville Loses First Series Of Season
For the first time this season, the baseball Cards lost a series, as they dropped game 2 against FSU, 8-2. This was also the first time since February of 2015 that UofL has suffered a three game losing streak. Even more noteworthy, this was the first ever ACC series loss in Louisville’s three years in the ACC.
Junior right-hander Kade McClure got the start for game 2, and although he looked fairly solid in the loss, the loss was mainly due to elements that he could not control. The Cardinals had 4 errors in the game, as well as 13 errors in the previous 4 games combined (UofL had only 16 errors in all other competition). By the time his day was done at the end of the seventh inning, he had only given up 3 hits, 2 walks, no earned runs and struck out 5 batters. Unfortunately the comedy of errors in the infield had left him in a deficit. Adam Elliott’s entry into the game in the eighth inning would only make things worse. In just 1.2 innings, he gave 5 runs (4 earned) on 4 hits, a walk, and a HBP. In order to further stop the bleeding in an almost lost cause, Dan McDonnell had reliever Shay Smiddy come in and pitch the final out in the ninth.
Only adding insult to injury, the Cardinal Nine once again could not string together the necessary hits in order to produce runs. They would not score a run until the seventh inning, when Drew Ellis walked, stole second, and a Colin Lyman single sent him home to cut the deficit to 3-1. They would score just one other time, when Florida State had already scored another 5 runs in the top of the ninth. The lone run in the ninth came off a Brendan McKay double (he was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple) that sent home Devin Hairston.
Despite the good outing, the 4 errors committed by the defense would seal the loss for Kade McClure, and he would drop to 7-2 on the season. Surprisingly, only Logan Taylor (0-2), Drew Ellis (0-3), and Justin Lavey (0-3) were the only Cards left hit-less, while both Devin Mann (2-4) and Devin Hairston (2-4) logged multihit days at the plate in the loss.
Series Finale Cancelled Due To Weather
After enduring a 2 hour rain delay the night before, more severe weather would remain in the area, and would force a cancellation of the regular season finale. In a game that was set up as “win and get the #1 seed”, the cancellation would end up giving the Cards the #1 seed by default, as the Cards would remain 0.5 games ahead of UNC.