Behind a balanced performance offensively and another quality start on the mound from junior lefthander Drew Harrington, the sixth-ranked Louisville baseball team delivered a 7-2 series-clinching victory over No. 16 Clemson on a sunny and warm Saturday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 4,950, the largest at Patterson Stadium this season, the Cardinals (28-7, 12-5 ACC) turned a season-high four double-plays while limiting the Tigers (24-11, 8-9 ACC) to just two runs for the second straight game. Harrington anchored Saturday’s victory allowing two runs in 6.1 innings to win his seventh straight start and improve to 8-1 on the season. Backing up Harrington on the mound was junior righty Jake Sparger, who had three strikeouts and did not allow a hit in 1.2 innings of relief, and junior righty Zack Burdi, who finished with one strikeout in a no-hit ninth inning.
Offensively, a trio of Cardinals finished with two hits each as senior first baseman Danny Rosenbaum was 2-for-4 with a double and scored twice to pace the way. Redshirt freshman Drew Ellis was 2-for-2 with one RBI and two runs scored and junior outfielder Corey Ray added two hits, one RBI and swiped his third stolen base of the series. Junior catcher Will Smith chipped in with a solo home run.
Clemson struck first on Saturday when catcher Chris Okey drove K.J. Bryant home with a RBI single to left field in the third inning. The Tigers threatened for more with runners at first and second and no outs after the Okey single, but Harrington forced back-to-back groundballs, including a 6-3 double-play to end the inning.
Louisville, which moved to 22-1 at home this season, answered in the bottom of the third inning with a pair of runs against Tigers lefty Charlie Barnes. Rosenbaum led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on a single by Ellis. After a bunt single by junior outfielder Logan Taylor pushed Rosenbaum to third, a throwing error by Tigers third baseman Jordan Greene on the bunt allowed Rosenbaum to score. Later in the inning, the Cardinals plated their second run when Taylor stole second, coaxing a throw by Okey from behind the plate, which allowed Ellis to successfully swipe home.
The advantage increased to 4-1 in the fifth on RBI singles by Ellis and Ray. Like he did in the third inning, Rosenbaum started things with a hit in the fifth drilling a double down the right field line before scoring on the single to left from Ellis. After moving to second on a bunt from Taylor and advancing to third on a wild pitch, Ellis scored when Ray clubbed a 1-2 pitch into right center.
The Tigers narrowed the margin to 4-2 in the top of the seventh inning on RBI grounder off the bat of Bryant to score Greene. Clemson threatened for more with two on base and just one out, but Sparger entered from the Louisville bullpen to strikeout Okey and get a groundout to second by Seth Beer to end the inning.
As they did in the third inning, the Cardinals followed a Clemson run in the top of the inning by scoring two of their own in the bottom of the frame in the seventh. After Taylor reached base on a fielder’s choice, lefty reliever Pat Krall entered from the Tigers bullpen and was greeted by three straight singles. Ray singled through the left side and freshman second baseman Devin Mann followed with an infield single to load the bases before sophomore Brendan McKay drove Taylor home with a RBI single to right. Mann scored the second run of the seventh on an error by first baseman Chris Williams.
The final run of the evening came in the eighth inning when Smith crushed a 0-1 pitch from righty Brooks Crawford sending it to the top of the berm beyond the left field wall for his third home run of the season. Barnes was charged with the loss for the Tigers and dropped to 3-4 on the season after allowing five runs, including three earned, on eight hits in 6.1 innings.
The Cardinals and Tigers will conclude their series on Sunday at 1 p.m., ET, on ESPN3.