Josh Stowers homered and drove in four runs as the No. 2 Louisville baseball team won its 12th straight game with Tuesday night’s 6-2 victory over No. 25 Vanderbilt in the sixth annual Battle of the Barrel at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Stowers equaled a career-high with the four RBI while his third home run of the season highlighted a 2-for-4 effort at the plate for the junior outfielder as the Cardinals (43-6) won for the fifth time in the last seven meetings against the Commodores (29-19). The 12-game winning streak is the second longest streak of the season for Louisville, which set a school record with 19 consecutive victories to open the season.
Devin Hairston finished 2-for-4 with his 14th double of the season and scored once, while Devin Mann doubled and scored two runs. Colin Lyman singled, walked and scored twice while also adding a spectacular diving catch in the fifth inning for Louisville, which maintained control of the Battle of the Barrel trophy for the second straight year.
On the mound, junior Rabon Martin was victorious in his first career start for the Cardinals as the lefthander had two strikeouts and allowed just one earned run on three hits in four innings on a staff day for Louisville. The junior college transfer and Dallas, Georgia native moved to 4-0 on the season with Tuesday’s outing. A quartet of relievers followed Martin as Shay Smiddy (0.2 IP), Adam Wolf (1.1 IP), Adam Elliott (1.2 IP) and Jake Sparger (1.1 IP) combined for five scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Louisville struck first on Tuesday when Stowers connected for a three-run homer in the second inning against Vanderbilt righty Matt Ruppenthal. Following a two-out double from Mann and a walk to Lyman, Stowers walloped a 1-1 pitch from Ruppenthal sending it over the left field wall for his third homer in the last eight games.
The Commodores cut into the margin with a pair of runs in the top of the third, including one unearned run. Connor Kaiser drove JJ Bleday home with a sacrifice fly to center for the first run of the inning, while Harrison Ray scored moments later on a sacrifice fly from Stephen Scott.
The Cardinals pushed the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third on a two-out RBI single to right center by Colby Fitch. Hairston started the inning with a double to left center before scoring when Fitch powered a 1-1 pitch into the outfield.
Louisville extended the lead to 6-2 with two unearned runs in the sixth inning. Mann started the inning by reaching base and moving to second on a throwing error by the Commodores, while Lyman followed with a bunt single. Stowers drove Mann home with a RBI single through the left side, while later in the inning, Lyman scored on a RBI groundout by Logan Taylor.
Up next, No. 2 Louisville goes on the road for a top 10 clash at No. 7 Clemson starting Friday at 6:30 p.m., ET. The Cardinals and Tigers are also slated for Saturday at 4 p.m., and Sunday at noon.
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