A complete game effort by Illinois State’s Matt Walker, who only allowed two earned runs in nine innings, kept Louisville’s offense at bay as the Redbirds (36-24) upset the #7 Cardinals (44-16) 4-2.
The complete game by Walker marked the third time in the last four games that an opposing pitcher had thrown at least 8+ innings against Louisville, and the second time in that stretch that Louisville’s opponent had a complete game from their starter.
Both teams went the first three innings without a run on the board, but Illinois State scored first in the fourth inning via RBI double from Joe Aeilts.
Louisville took their first lead of the game in the top of the sixth inning. Tyler Fitzgerald grounded out to the third baseman, but drove in a run as Justin Lavey slid home. Logan Wyatt’s RBI single added another run and gave the Cardinals the 2-1 lead after the top of the inning.
Illinois State, however, would get three decisive runs in the bottom half of the inning. Aeilts added another RBI on a fielder’s choice, then the pinch-hitting Jeremy Gaines brought two runs home on an RBI double.
The performance of the day undoubtedly went to Illinois State pitcher Matt Walker, who threw his first complete game of the season against one of the best teams in the country. Walker finished the complete game with two earned runs on six hits, striking out seven batters in the process. After the two runs by Louisville, Illinois State got an unassisted double play from first baseman Jack Butler that closed the inning, keeping the Cardinals from adding more runs in the inning. The Redbirds had three timely double plays, all which ended innings for the Cardinals before they could add runs (fifth, sixth, and eighth innings).
Illinois State only had three hits in the game, but they were nevertheless effective. Joe Aeilts (1-for-3) had one hit in the game, resulting in the first run of the game for the Redbirds. Jeremy Gaines (1-for-1) had the two RBIs on his double that gave them the lead. Jordan Libman (1-for-3) had the only other hit.
Tyler Fitzgerald (0-for-4) and Logan Wyatt (1-for-4) had the lone two RBIs for Louisville. Jake Snider was the only Louisville batter with a multi-hit game, finishing 2-for-4 at the plate. Lucas Dunn finished 1-for-2 at the plate, and drew the only two walks of the game for the Cardinals.
Starter Reid Detmers threw seven innings and allowed four earned runs on three hits, but struck out 11 and passed Brendan McKay’s single-season record for strikeouts. The sophomore now holds 156 on the season.
For Louisville to advance to the Super Regional, they now have to win three games in two days, starting tomorrow with a noon elimination game against Indiana. If they win, they’ll advance to the Regional Final against Illinois State on Sunday, slated for a 6 p.m. start.