After earning their sixth straight win against rival Kentucky, the Cardinals took two of three at home against #17 Wake Forest. The Cards are now 6-2 against ranked opponents in 2017, and 20-1 at home.
Cards Drop Opener to Deacs 2-1
A two-run home run in the fourth inning from Gavin Sheets gave the Deacons the deciding runs, as #17 Wake Forest upset #2 Louisville 2-1 on Friday.
The loss marked the first time U of L dropped a home game since March 2016 against Virginia. Despite the loss, Brendan McKay tallied 11 strikeouts while allowing five hits and a walk. Wake Forest pitcher Parker Dunshee earned the win for the Deacs after allowing only one run in seven innings, striking out six batters and only walking one in the process.
It was a day where the Louisville batters got cold, and stayed cold, the entire way. A two-out RBI single from Colby Fitch keyed the only run that Louisville had in the game, while Logan Taylor was 2-for-4 at the plate. McKay and Stowers each had an extra-base hit, hitting a double and triple, respectively. Louisville had a chance to tie the game in the ninth with Colin Lyman at third, but Taylor struck out swinging in the final at-bat to close the game.
Stowers Big Day Pushes Louisville Ahead on Saturday
In a critical juncture, Josh Stowers managed to pull through for the Cardinals in the final few innings. Stowers’ three-hit performance led to a comeback victory for Louisville, as the Cards evened the series with a 7-6 decision on Saturday.
Stowers went 3-for-4 at the plate, including the go-ahead RBI single that scored Ryan Summers. The sophomore would be the only Cardinal to have a multihit game on Saturday.
It was a much better day for the Louisville bats, as the Cardinals finished with seven runs in as many hits. U of L jumped to an early 2-0 lead with a two RBI double from McKay, but Wake Forest would lead for most of the game. Logan Harvey would punch a bases-clearing double to left center field, giving Wake a 3-2 advantage after the second.
The Cards would tie it in the fifth with a Logan Taylor RBI groundout, but Wake Forest responded with a run in the sixth and seventh innings. Trailing 5-3 entering the seventh inning stretch, Logan Taylor hit an RBI triple, while Colby Fitch followed with a game-tying RBI single. Stowers and Mann would follow with RBI singles in the eighth inning to put Louisville ahead for good.
Wake Forest came close to thwarting Lincoln Henzman’s save opportunity in the ninth. Jonathan Pryor scored on a wild pitch to close the score to 7-6, but Henzman struck out Aiello to score his ninth save of the season. Jake Sparger earned the win with two shutout innings in the seventh and eighth innings. Starting pitcher Kade McClure struck out ten batters in six innings, but allowing four earned runs on six hits and two walks.
Hairston Does the Deed, Stops Wake Forest Rally
A two-run RBI double from Devin Hairston in the eighth inning proved to be the difference, as the Cards took the rubber match to hold off Wake Forest 7-5 and take the series.
Hairston has continued to provide an astounding level of heroism in big-time moments for Louisville, sans the cape and a bold S on his chest. The junior has had four game-tying or go-ahead at-bats for the Cardinals in 2017, thriving in late game situations. Hairston would finish 3-for-5 with four RBI in another big-time performance for the junior.
Wake Forest would strike first with Bruce Steel’s RBI single in the second, but Drew Ellis would tie the game with one of his own in the following inning.
The sixth inning became the turning point for the Cards, who were able to stretch the inning with critical at-bats in a two-out situation. Drew Ellis and Devin Mann would score runs on past balls from Connor Johnstone and Griffin Roberts, while Devin Hairston punched a two-RBI single that would score Zeke Pinkham and Logan Taylor.
After the Cards rallied to a 5-1 lead after six innings, Steel crushed a two-run home run to left field in the seventh inning, cutting the deficit to 5-3. After an RBI fielder’s choice from John Aiello, Steel offered an RBI sac fly to tie the game at 5-5. Steel would finish 2-for-3, driving in four of the Deacons’ five runs in the game. Ben Breazeale and Aiello also led Wake Forest with two hits each, with Breazeale scoring two doubles in the game.
Pitchers Nick Bennett (UL) and Connor Johnstone (WF) highlighted Sunday’s pitcher duel, with two of the best throwers in the ACC going head-to-head in the rubber match. Bennett’s led the Cards with 6.1 innings of work, only allowing one run while striking out six. Johnstone, who came off a complete game last week and earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors, was pulled after 5.2 innings and allowing four earned runs. Louisville’s Adam Wolf earned the win with 1.2 innings of relief duty, allowing two earned runs in as many hits, while Sam Bordner earned his first save of 2017 in a perfect ninth inning.
Up Next: #2 Louisville will close their five-game stretch at home with a Tuesday clash against Purdue. First pitch begins at 6 p.m., with free admission to the game.
Last week, the Cardinals continued their momentum by taking three of four games, one against WKU at home and then two of three on the road against Virginia. The Cards currently sit at 24-3, with a five game homestretch coming up (including the anticipated rivalry game against Kentucky).
The Batting Order
1. Brief Recap of the Rivalry
Entering tonight’s game against their in-state rival, the Cards are 40-61-1 against the Wildcats, but U of L has won the last five games in the series. The last three games at Jim Patterson Stadium between UK and Louisville have included a 2014 NCAA Regional victory, as well as walk-off victories for the Cardinals in each of the last two seasons.
2. Cards a Consensus #2 in All Polls
U of L enters this week as the consensus #2 team in the country, only behind consensus #1 Oregon State in all six major polls. The Cardinals supplanted Texas Tech for the #2 spot in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, after the Red Raiders dropped two of three at Oklahoma last weekend.
“ALL RISE!!! Court is now in session. The honorable Bucket Hat King LJ tha Fiasco presiding. Please be seated and come to order”
Good day folks. As we settle in on this Monday, days away from a game that could decide whether or not that collision course with a National Championship will be realized or destroyed in a matter of hours, I want to remind everyone to enjoy this moment. We have the nation’s best player and possibly the schools first Heisman winner.
Where to Watch: 7:00 p.m, ESPN2
Betting Line: LOU -35, O/U 55 (ESPN)
Last Time: Forcing five turnovers and holding Wake Forest to a completion under 33%, Louisville escaped Winston-Salem with a 20-19 win over the Demon Deacons. Lamar Jackson had a stellar night passing, going 19-for-26 for 207 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jamari Staples (10 rec., 133 yards). However, Jackson would leave the game early due to injury.
Louisville is undefeated in the series, holding a 3-0 record against Wake Forest (including the 2006 Orange Bowl).
About the Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Entering tomorrow night’s game at Louisville, the Demon Deacons are 6-3, making them bowl eligible for the first time since 2011. Wake Forest accomplished that by winning five of their first six games, including solid road wins against Duke and Indiana. Other than a 33-16 loss against NC State, WF has hung in there against every team, including a 17-6 loss at Florida State.
The fact that Wake Forest was able to hold FSU down to only 17 points on the road is a huge testament to their head coach, Dave Clawson. But they’ve also had a lot of close games, mostly due to a Wake offense that is 119th in the nation. Their defense, however, has kept the Deacons alive in almost every game up to this point, including a +8 in turnover margin (tied for 13th in the nation). You will always stay alive if you can put the ball back in your team’s hands, and that’s where Clawson’s defense has excelled up to this point.
Bobby Petrino and wide receiver Jamari Staples met with the media on Monday afternoon to recap the win at Wake Forest and talk about this Saturday’s game against Syracuse.
Yes, there were some highlights from this game. Mainly, Jamari Staples catching everything and the Cards forcing turnovers.
Let me preface this by saying it’s okay if you hate me for that title, I kind of hate myself for it too. But with it being Halloween weekend and all, I just couldn’t quite help myself. In any case, we’re headed to Winston-Salem this weekend as an 11.5 point favorite over Wake Forest, but will it be a weekend of tricks or treats for the Cardinals? What is the key for us to come home this weekend as a 4-4 team and 3-2 in the ACC?