Shortstop Devin Hairston homered and drove in two runs while lefthander Brendan McKay won his fourth consecutive start as the No. 4 Louisville baseball opened its weekend series at Wake Forest with a 3-1 victory on Thursday night at David F. Couch Ballpark.
Thursday’s win by the Cardinals, combined with Florida State’s loss to Miami, clinched a second straight ACC Atlantic Division championship for Louisville (44-10, 20-8 ACC), which has won five straight regular season conference titles. The Cardinals are guaranteed one of the top two seeds in next week’s ACC Championship, which kicks off Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina.
Hairston, a sophomore from Lexington, Kentucky, was 2-for-3 with his third home run of the season while also scoring twice as the Cardinals pushed their winning streak to seven games and won for the 14th time the last 15 outings. Junior outfielder Colin Lyman added a RBI single as Louisville finished with an 8-7 edge in hits.
A sophomore Darlington, Pennsylvania, McKay fanned six and allowed just one run on six hits in six innings to improve to 11-2 on the season and 20-5 in his collegiate career. Thursday’souting marked the ninth time in 14 starts this season McKay has limited an opponent to no more than one earned run. The two-way standout lowered his season ERA to 1.99 and increased is strikeout total to 105, the sixth highest single game total in school history.
McKay was backed up by another stellar outing from the Louisville bullpen as righthanders Lincoln Henzman and Zack Burdi closed the door on the Demon Deacons (32-21, 13-15 ACC). Henzman, a sophomore from Lexington, Kentucky, registered a pair of strikeouts in two no-hit innings of relief before giving way to Burdi. The Cardinals closer, a junior from Downers Grove, Illinois, pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 10th save of the season and the 19th of his collegiate career matching Neil Holland for No. 2 all-time at Louisville.
Louisville struck first on Thursday when Hairston launched a 2-2 offering from Parker Dunshee over the left field wall to begin the second inning. The 359-foot shot to left field was the fourth career home run for Hairston.
The Cardinals added to the lead in the top of the fourth inning on a two-out RBI single to center by Lyman to score Hairston for the 2-0 advantage. Hairston reached base with a one-out single and moved to second on a two-out single by senior Danny Rosenbaum before scoring on Lyman’s shot up the middle.
Wake Forest cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth on an inside-the-park home run by Kevin Conway. The Demon Deacons leftfielder sent a 2-2 from McKay into center field, where Corey Ray’s diving attempt at a catch came up short. The ball rolled to the centerfield wall allowing Conway to round the bases for his sixth home run of the season.
Louisville extended the lead in the sixth inning on a RBI sacrifice fly to left by Hairston to score Solak for the final 3-1 cushion. Solak led off with a double to center and moved to third on a fielding error by centerfielder Stuart Fairchild before scoring without a play on the second RBI of the night for Hairston.
The Cardinals and Demon Deacons will continue their series on Friday at 1 p.m., while Saturday’s finale is slated for 1 p.m. Friday’s game was originally slated for a 6 p.m., start but was changed due to expected inclement weather.
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