By Daniel Rankin —
On Tuesday, April 19, the University of Louisville Baseball team beat the University of Kentucky Wildcats by 4-2. With the rivalry win, the No. 11 ranked Cardinals move to 25-11 on the season.
With both teams battling through the heart of their conference schedules, you’d think that a weekday nonconference game, usually an ignored matchup in College Baseball, would be inconsequential.
However, the energetic crowd at Jim Patterson Stadium and the players’ mood during warmups indicated that this Battle of the Bluegrass game meant more than your average weekday game. After the game in Lexington was postponed due to weather, this will likely be the only time these two teams play each other.
After a promising start from young freshman Kyle Walter in the first half-inning, the Cardinals struck first thanks to Cameron Masterman’s 13th home run of the season.
It became apparent quickly that Head Coach Dan McDonnell was opting for a bullpen game when he switched to Dan Liggett in the second.
Liggett’s inning did have traffic on first and third, but Centerfielder Levi Usher saved the inning with a spectacular catch against the wall keeping the score 1-0. Fellow freshman Kade Grundy finished a solid third inning with two strikeouts.
Weekday pitching has been an issue during some segments of the season; however, McDonnell’s trust in three freshmen to start the game paid off.
Ben Bianco earned a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third after battling to a 3-2 count. Bianco advanced to second after third baseman Ben Metzinger was hit by a pitch. Jack Payton had the opportunity to drive the game open with the bases loaded in his third-inning at-bat after Dalton Rushing walked on four pitches. On the first pitch, Payton nailed a single over the shortstop to drive in two, increasing the Cards’ lead to three.
The two teams shut down the bats in the fifth and sixth innings with only two singles between both lineups, which included a good inning from Alex Galvan.
The Wildcats finally got on board in the sixth inning on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Junior pitcher Ryan Hawks was able to limit the damage to just taking a 3-1 score into the seventh. Hawks continued his momentum, shutting down Kentucky in three straight outs.
Isaac Humphrey started out the bottom of the seventh with a single to left field. After advancing to second on a groundout, Humphrey stole third, marking only the third time Kentucky has allowed a stolen base this season. Three of the next four batters walked, bringing home another run for the Cards.
Michael Prosecky came in the eighth with two Wildcat runners on the corners. In a nine-pitch battle, Prosecky finally got the pivotal strikeout call keeping the Louisville lead at 4-1.
The Cards failed to add an insurance run in the top half of the ninth but wasn’t necessary as Prosecky finished the game giving the Cardinals the big 4-2 win over their in-state rival.
Overall, this was an excellent win for the Cards that should help build momentum as they look to start the second half of the ACC schedule on a solid note.
The No. 11 Louisville Cardinals return to ACC play this weekend when the 23-11 North Carolina State Wolfpack visit April 22-24. Game 1 starts this Friday at 8 pm.
Stay tuned here for more coverage of Louisville Baseball and more!
Photo by Daniel Rankin // The Louisville Cardinal