By Dalton Ray–
In front of a record crowd, second-ranked baseball (25-3) held off a comeback attempt from eighth-ranked Kentucky (21-9). The Cardinals held UK scoreless through eight innings, winning 5-3, as junior Devin Hairston went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. Fellow junior Drew Ellis pitched in a pair of RBIs on his two hits.
In the top of the ninth inning, Kentucky loaded the bases with one out. Junior Lincoln Henzman entered the game and struck-out his first batter, but allowed back-to-back singles to give UK three runs. With momentum teetering, catcher Colby Fitch threw out UK’s Zach Rek trying to steal second to end the game.
“We have a tradition where we flip the shirt to someone. Usually it’s the guy that is the MVP of the game, but tonight it went to Colby Fitch. Somebody had to get the last out,” coach Dan McDonnell said. “We called our defender to throw the ball if they steal, and I’m glad Colby was ready.”
The Cardinals started hot offensively but cooled as the sun went down. U of L used an error-less defensive night to lock in the victory.
In the bottom of the first inning, a fielding error and a single put two Cardinals on base with two outs. Ellis pulled a ball to left field, sending home both runners.
Louisville recorded two quick outs to start the bottom of the second inning as well. UK’s Zack Thompson (2-1) then walked the next three batters, loading the bases. Hairston’s ground-rule double sent home another pair of Cardinals to make their lead 4-0.
The Cardinals tacked on another run with two outs in the third as sophomore Josh Stowers was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Drowsy play in the middle innings
Louisville crossed the plate in the first three innings, but failed to in the next three.
Between the fourth and sixth inning, the teams recorded four foul-outs, six fly-outs and only put two runners in scoring position.
Flexing the bullpen
On the season, Louisville allows 2.8 runs a game and their season ERA is 2.31. Going up against the Wildcats, eighth in the nations in runs scored, Louisville used seven pitchers to chop down the Cats. No pitcher recorded more than three innings pitched as the group gave up nine hits.
Louisville hit their season average of nine strikeouts and allowed two walks.
Photos by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal