The No. 2 Louisville baseball team completed a season sweep of its two-game series against rival Kentucky with Wednesday night’s 5-2 victory at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Having earned a 2-1 win in 10 innings in the first matchup between the teams last Tuesday in Louisville, the Cardinals (38-11) closed out their first regular season sweep of the Wildcats (26-21) since 2012. It’s the third straight win in the series for Louisville, which used a four-run sixth inning to gain command for good in Wednesday’s outing.
Sophomore Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) was 2-for-4 with one RBI, while sophomore Will Smith (Louisville, Ky.) finished 2-of-5 with a double and a run scored as Louisville finished with a 9-6 edge in hits. Senior Mike White (East Orange, N.J) chipped in with a double, one RBI and scored twice.
“You’ve got to have quality at-bats with runners in scoring position and Nick Solak had the biggest at-bat of the game in the sixth inning. You always want more and you’re never going to drive in every runner, but you will give yourself a chance with quality at-bats,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “We ran a lot of pitchers out to the mound tonight and we had a lot of guys pitch well. This was a good, team win for us.”
On the mound, sophomore righty Jake Sparger (Eau Claire, Wis.) worked 2.1 innings of shutout relief to earn his first win of the season. Sophomore righty Zack Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) closed the game with a perfect ninth inning to record his seventh save of the season. Overall, a total of seven pitchers combined to allow just one earned run for the Cardinals.
Louisville struck first on Wednesday night plating a run in the third when Solak drove in White with a RBI single. White led off the inning with a double down the right field line before scoring when Solak sent a 1-2 offering from Kentucky lefty Dylan Dwyer up the middle and into centerfield.
The Wildcats gained their only lead of the night in the fourth inning plating a pair runs, including one unearned, against Louisville freshman righty Kade McClure (Mentor, Ohio). The first run of the inning scored after a dropped flyball in left field by White allowing Thomas Bernal to go home from third. A two-out, bases loaded walk from freshman reliever Sean Leland sent Greg Fettes home for the 2-1 advantage.
The Cardinals answered their only deficit with a four-run sixth inning to regain command for good. Senior Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) started the inning with a double down the left field and later trotted home when White earned a bases loaded walk to even the score at 2-2. Solak followed by lacing a 1-2 pitch from Andrew Nelson past the lunging backhand attempt from second baseman JaVon Shelby and all the way to the base of the wall in right center to score Smith and freshman Devin Hairston (Lexington, Ky.) for the 4-2 lead. Moments later, White scored from third on a wild pitch by reliever Brad Schaenzer for the three-run cushion.
Nelson took the loss for the Wildcats and dropped to 2-4 on the season after allowing three runs in less than an inning of relief.
Up next, No. 2 Louisville will host No. 7 Florida State on Friday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium in the first game of a weekend showdown between the top two teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cardinals and Seminoles will continue their series on Saturday at 1 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m., and admission is free throughout the weekend.