Louisville freshman lefty Nick Bennett replaced All-American Brendan McKay as Friday’s starter and the Cards rolled anyway. TCZ’s William Caudill was in the dugouts snapping pics.
Freshman lefthander Nick Bennett twirled six dominant innings and the offense reached double figures in the run column for the sixth time in nine games as the No. 6 Louisville baseball team opened its weekend series against Eastern Michigan with a 13-0 victory Friday at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Making his first collegiate start, Bennett allowed only one hit and registered seven strikeouts while facing the minimum of 18 batters for his first career victory. Starting in place of junior lefthander Brendan McKay, who was held out of Friday’s game with a minor abdominal strain, Bennett became the seventh different Cardinals pitcher to earn a win this season while anchoring the team’s fourth shutout overall.
“We knew at some point, Nick was going to get a start this season, especially with two midweek games next week, but it worked in a way where we had an opening this weekend. Rather than altering the rest of the weekend rotation, we thought today would be a great spot for Nick,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “It didn’t surprise us how well he through and we believed he would give us a quality start. It just happened to be on a Friday night.”
Sophomore righthander Sam Bordner was the first pitcher out of the Louisville bullpen finishing with two strikeouts in two no-hit innings of relief before freshman righty Shay Smiddy added two strikeouts in the ninth inning to close the game. The Cardinals, who moved to 9-0 to extend their longest unbeaten streak to begin a season since winning the first 13 games in 2010, clinched their second one-hit shutout of the season backing up the effort against Omaha on Feb. 25.
Five different Louisville players had at least two hits as the Cardinals, who have connected or 10 or more hits in every game this season, finished with a 16-1 hit advantage on Friday. Junior Drew Ellis had a career-best three hits, including two doubles, to go with one RBI and two runs scored, while freshman Tyler Fitzgerald had a season-high for hits finishing 3-of-4 with a double, one RBI and one run.
Senior Logan Taylor had his fifth multi-hit performance in the last six games and his sixth overall this season finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases. Senior Colin Lyman added two hits, two walks, two RBI and scored once, while sophomore Devin Mann was 2-for-4 with one walk, one RBI and scored twice.
The Cardinals opened the scoring with a run in the first inning after Taylor was hit by a pitch, stole second, moved to third on a single by Mann and went home on a throwing error by Eastern Michigan (2-9) pitcher Brent Mattson. Louisville added to the lead with five runs on two hits in the third inning. A bases loaded walk to Lyman sent junior Colby Fitch home for the first run, while a throwing error by EMU third baseman Devin Hager helped score Mann and Ellis. Freshman Jake Snider followed with a RBI bunt single to plate Lyman and a RBI grounder by sophomore Josh Stowers scored junior Devin Hairston.
The scoring continued for Louisville with three runs in the fifth inning on RBI singles by Taylor and Mann and a RBI double from Ellis. The Cardinals pushed the margin to 11-0 in the sixth inning on a RBI double by Fitzgerald and a RBI single by Taylor. Lyman added a RBI single in the seventh and sophomore Zeke Pinkham drove in the final run with a RBI double in the eighth inning.
The sixth-ranked Cardinals and Eagles will continue their series Saturday at noon ET, while the weekend finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.