Corey Ray’s RBI ground-rule double in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Colin Lyman and lifted the No. 6 Louisville baseball team to a 9-8 walk-off win over No. 16 Clemson on Sunday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
With Lyman at second base and two outs in the inning, Ray belted a 2-1 pitch from lefty Pat Krall into the alley in left center where it bounced once before clearing the top of the wall and landing outside the field of play. The game-winning hit for Ray, who was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in the game, clinched the second walk-off win of the season for the Cardinals (29-7, 13-5 ACC), who completed a weekend sweep of the Tigers (24-12, 8-10 ACC) while also moving into first place in the ACC Atlantic Division.
The decisive inning started with a one-out bunt single by junior catcher Will Smith, who moved to third moments later on a single to center by Lyman. Louisville attempted to win the game with a squeeze bunt by junior outfielder Logan Taylor, but Krall made a nice defensive play to field the bunt and flip the ball to catcher Chris Williams, who tagged Smith for the second out. Lyman moved to second on the bunt before scoring the game-winning run on Ray’s 12th double of the season.
Ray was among five Louisville players with two hits on Sunday, including Smith, who finished 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and scored once. Sophomore Brendan McKay was 2-of-4 with a double, one RBI and scored once, sophomore shortstop Devin Hairston chipped in with two singles, two runs scored and one RBI and sophomore third baseman Blake Tiberi had two hits and scored once.
On the mound, junior righthander Shane Hummel had one strikeout in a perfect inning of relief in the ninth to earn the win and move to 2-0 on the season. Senior righthander Kyle Funkhouser made his ninth start of the season and finished with a no-decision allowing just one earned run on four hits with four strikeouts in five innings.
Clemson opened the scoring Sunday with three runs, including two unearned, in the first inning against Funkhouser. Seth Beer drove in the first run of the inning with a RBI single to right sending Chase Pinder home. Reed Rohlman followed with a RBI sacrifice fly to left to score Maleeke Gibson, who reached base earlier in the inning on an error. Moments later, Chris Okey scored from third Weston Wilson grounded out and Beer was caught in a rundown.
Louisville answered with its first run of the day in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out RBI single up the middle by McKay to score freshman second baseman Devin Mann, who reached base moments earlier on a throwing by third baseman Adam Renwick. The Cardinals evened the score in the second inning when Ray followed a two-out single by redshirt freshman Drew Ellis by launching his 10th home run of the season off the scoreboard in right center. The home run, which came on a 3-2 pitch from Clemson righty Alex Eubanks, was the 22nd of the career for Ray and the 12th to either tie the score of give Louisville a lead.
An unearned run in the third inning gave the Cardinals their first lead of the day at 4-3. After reaching base on a throwing error by shortstop Eli White, Hairston moved to third on a single by Tiberi before scoring on another error by White. However, the Tigers regained the lead in the top of the fifth behind two additional unearned runs.
The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the fifth with three-run frame on four hits. McKay started things with a one-out double to right center before scoring on a RBI single from Hairston. Following a single by Tiberi, Smith drove both Hairston and Tiberi home with a two-run double to push Louisville ahead 7-5.
The teams exchanged runs in the seventh inning as Beer drove Pinder home with a RBI groundout for the Tigers and Smith was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice, stole third and scored on a throwing error by Williams from behind the plate. Clemson then pulled even one final time in the eighth inning as Wilson scored on a RBI groundout by Robert Jolly and White scored on a wild pitch.
Krall was charged with the loss for Clemson and dropped to 5-1 on the season after allowing three runs, including two earned, on seven hits in 4.1 innings. Eubanks received a no-decision after allowing six runs, including four earned, on seven hits in 4.1 innings.
Up next, No. 6 Louisville hosts Kentucky on Tuesday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium in the second game of the annual Battle of the Bluegrass. Tickets are available here. The Cardinals won the Battle of the Bluegrass opener, 9-6, last Wednesday in Lexington.
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