The No. 2 Louisville baseball team had its six-game winning streak against Kentucky halted Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium in an 11-7 loss to the No. 10 Wildcats.
The Wildcats (26-12) scored five runs in the first inning and never relinquished the lead as the Cardinals (31-5) suffered their first loss in the series in more than three years (April 15, 2014). Facing an 11-0 deficit after four innings, Louisville battled back for seven straight runs during the fifth and sixth inning but was unable to get any closer as the teams split the two-game regular season series.
“It’s difficult to win against a good opponent when you find yourself in a five-run deficit in the first and when you don’t make plays defensively to get off the field, which we didn’t do that in that third inning,” said head coach Dan McDonnell, who guided the Cardinals to a 5-3 victory in the first game between the teams on April 4 in Louisville. “We battled back to score seven runs and make it a game late, so we can probably take some good things from that, but it’s a disappointing night because we didn’t play well in any phase of the game in those first four innings.”
Drew Ellis was a bright spot for the Cardinals offense on Tuesday connecting for a three-run home run to highlight a 2-for-4 performance at the plate. Logan Taylor added a two-run double, while Colin Lyman doubled and scored twice. Louisville received contributions on the mound from righthander Riley Thompson, who had four strikeouts in two scoreless innings of relief, and lefthander Adam Elliott, who had one strikeout in one perfect inning out of the bullpen.
The Wildcats started fast Tuesday plating five runs on five hits in the first inning, including four straight RBI singles. Luke Becker had the first of the run-scoring hits with his single to right center to plate Tristan Pompey. Riley Mahan followed with a single through the right side to score Evan White, Troy Squires added a RBI single through the left side to send Becker home and Tyler Marshall delivered a single through the right side to plate Mahan. A RBI sacrifice bunt from Marcus Carson scored Squires for the final run of the inning.
Kentucky added to the lead with four runs in the third inning. A fielding error by the Cardinals negated a potential inning-ending double-play and allowed the first two runs of the inning to score. Connor Heady followed by connecting for a two-run homer down the left field line to cap the inning and push the lead to 9-0. The Wildcats added two more runs in the fifth inning as Marshall delivered a RBI single to score Becker and Squires went home on a wild pitch.
The Cardinals broke through for their first runs of the game in the fifth inning on a two-out, two-run double by Taylor to plate Lyman and Devin Mann. After both Lyman and Mann were hit by pitches from Zack Thompson, Taylor drove both players home with his two-bagger down the right field line.
An inning later, Louisville drew closer with five runs on three hits to cut the deficit to 11-7 in the sixth. Following back-to-back walks to Devin Hairston and Brendan McKay from Thompson to start the sixth, UK lefty reliever Colton Cleary was greeted by Ellis launching a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall for his seventh home run of the season. Lyman doubled down the right field line to chase Cleary and then moved to third on a single by Josh Stowers. A throwing error by pitcher Chris Machamer on a failed pickoff allowed Lyman to score from third and moved Stowers to second. After taking third on a flyout to right field, Stowers scored on a RBI groundout from Tyler Fitzgerald.
Louisville’s hopes for a comeback were halted after the sixth as the Wildcats’ bullpen limited the Cardinals to just one hit over the final three innings of the game. Thompson earned the win for UK and moved to 4-2 on the season after allowing four runs on three hits in 5.0+ innings. Shane Hummel took the loss for Louisville after surrendering five runs on five hits while recording just one out in the start.
Up next, No. 2 Louisville returns home to host ACC foe Duke for a weekend series at Jim Patterson Stadium, which begins Friday at 6 p.m., ET.