It was a record crowd, in front of rival Kentucky and Drew Ellis called his shot. His three-run homer was the difference, as Louisville took a 5-2 victory over Kentucky.
Ellis’ fifth home run came after he entered today 5-for-33 at the plate since May 14th. Ellis also plated an RBI groundout to kick off the first inning; his four RBI on the day was the most since March 1st.
Louisville’s victory was keyed by timely defensive plays, and rallying off of a record-setting crowd’s energy. Logan Taylor’s lead-off double to start the game energized the crowd early, allowing Louisville to parlay it into a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Ellis’ RBI groundout and Mann’s RBI single keyed the Cardinals at the plate, with Colin Lyman also scoring a base hit.
Ellis would later add the home run to pad Louisville’s lead to 5-0, his 18th of the season.
While the Cards only scored four hits in the game, Kade McClure stepped up after allowing 17 runs in the last month. The pitcher delivered with 5.1 innings of shutout baseball, only allowing three hits with six strikeouts to boot. Adam Wolf also had a stellar showing from the bullpen, shutting out the Wildcats entering the ninth inning.
UK struggled to get any runs with McClure’s arm taking over the game. The pitcher’s error in the first inning allowed Zach Reks to reach third, but U of L thwarted the scoring opportunity. UK would have runners in opportunities again in the fourth, but Marcus Carson’s errant base-running put on an out before McClure delivered a strikeout to close the inning. A spectacular diving grab from Colin Lyman thwarted what would have been a leadoff triple for Marcus Carson.
But much like last April’s game at Jim Patterson Stadium, Kentucky nearly mounted a come back. Evan White scored a leadoff home run on the first pitch, avoiding a shutout in game one. Tyler Marshall also added an RBI single in the ninth, before Henzman closed the door with a strikeout on pinch hitter T.J. Collett.
Tomorrow’s game at noon (ESPN) is now do-or-die for the Wildcats, with a blockbuster matchup between SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle (11-3, 3.75 ERA) and ACC Pitcher of the Year Brendan McKay (9-3, 2.31 ERA). McKay enters tomorrow’s game needing just one strikeout to hold the all-time career record at Louisville.