Down 5-1 in the second inning, it seemed like the Cardinals were destined to split the season series again with Kentucky. The Wildcats had run out to an early lead off of home runs and an energized crowd at the brand new Kentucky Proud Park.
That changed in a hurry for both teams. The Cardinals (29-8) rallied from an early 5-1 deficit to explode on an 11-0 run, and cruised to an 18-6 win over Kentucky (20-17).
The win was nearly a historic one for Louisville. The Cardinals tallied a season-high in both runs (18) and hits (23). The 23 hits marked the highest single-game total for Louisville since April 2005. In addition, the win gives Louisville its first sweep of their rival since 2016.
Kentucky came into the game with a lot of power hitters in their lineup, and they came out ready to play early. Ryan Shinn got things started in the bottom of the first with a solo homer off Luke Smith to left field, giving Kentucky a 1-0 lead.
Justin Lavey’s RBI double into the shallow edges of left field squeezed a tying run for Louisville in the top of the second, but UK responded with four runs in their half of the inning. Breydon Daniel blasted a two-run homer to right field (into Louisville’s bullpen) that extended their lead to 3-1. Luke Smith’s day would end shortly thereafter, not even making it out of the second inning.
In came Jack Perkins for Louisville in the bottom of the second. The ‘Cats loaded the bases and managed to get two runs off of a walk and wild pitch sequentially, but the Cards were able to tag another runner out at home after a wild pitch to close the inning.
After Kentucky’s four-run second inning, the Cards roared to an 11-0 run in the mid-portions of the game. Louisville got an RBI triple from Tyler Fitzgerald that kicked off their run in the top of the third. Logan Wyatt brought Fitzgerald home on an RBI ground out, closing Kentucky’s lead to 5-3.
Kentucky’s offense would continue to sputter, but Louisville’s rolled on with effortless precision. A three-run fourth inning gave the Cards the go-ahead runs. Lucas Dunn’s double brought home two runs for Louisville, and Jake Snider gave the Cards the go-ahead run via RBI single.
In the fifth inning, the Cardinals got four more runs that pushed them into double-digit territory. Alex Binelas drove in an RBI single to center field to push the lead to 7-5, then Justin Lavey brought in an RBI single to push it to 8-5. Drew Campbell added two more with a home run that squeezed inside of right field, giving the Cardinals a 10-5 lead halfway through the game. The 18 runs Louisville ended up with was the fourth time in the last five games that the Cards scored 10+ runs.
In the sixth inning, Justin Lavey added another RBI single, bringing home Zach Britton and pushing the lead to 11-5. Zeke Pinkham had an RBI single as well in the sixth, pushing their lead to 12-5.
Kentucky closed the 11-0 run with an RBI ground out by Ryan Johnson in the bottom of the sixth, closing Louisville’s lead to 12-6.
But Louisville simply answered with four more runs in the seventh, which resulted in the Cards reaching their season-high in both runs and hits. Logan Wyatt doubled to right field to bring in the first run of the inning. Zach Britton offered a sac fly to left field that brought Tyler Fitzgerald home for another run. Zeke Pinkham bookended the Louisville scoring with a two-RBI double to left field, giving Louisville a monstrous 16-6 lead.
Two more runs came in the eighth inning for Louisville. A Kentucky error allowed Logan Wyatt to reach base, scoring Cameron Masterman. Then Wyatt scored another run from first base for Louisville, coming home after Alex Binelas crushed an RBI double deep into centerfield.
In total, the Cardinals scored 18 runs on 23 hits, with 11 Louisville batters registering a hit. Alex Binelas continued his torrid stretch tonight, batting 4-for-5 tonight with two RBIs, one double, and four runs scored. Binelas is coming off a week where he earned ACC Player of the Week honors for his efforts against Northern Kentucky and N.C. State. In his last five games, Binelas is averaging .600 with five doubles, nine RBIs, and a home run. In doing so, Binelas has raised his season batting average to .325 and 1.017 OPS.
Several Louisville batters also chipped in with stellar performances. Jake Snider (3-for-5), Logan Wyatt (3-for-6), and Justin Lavey (3-for-6) all had a great showing in Louisville’s first game at Kentucky Proud Park. Lavey, along with Zeke Pinkham (2-for-3), led the team with three RBIs each. Tyler Fitzgerald and Drew Campbell both went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, with Campbell also hitting his second home run of the season.
Kentucky finished with six runs on eight hits, registering four errors as well. Breydon Daniel (3-for-4) was one single away from hitting for the cycle, hitting a double, triple, and home run with two RBIs. The Wildcats ended up using ten pitchers in the game.
Louisville returns home on Thursday for the start of their series against #22 Miami (FL). The first game of the series starts at 6 p.m., with availability on 93.9 The Ville and ACC Network Extra (via WatchESPN).