Playing in their first game since ascending back into the top 5, the #4 Louisville Cardinals (17-4, 5-1) went on the road and faced the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (11-9) for the second time this season and outpaced the Ohio Valley Conference’s best offense by a score of 12-8. The offense was paced by juniors Tyler Fitzgerald and Danny Oriente, as Tyler would draw a pair of walks and doubles, and Danny would lead the Cards in hits and RBIs with 2 & 3 respectively.
Like your typical midweek game, the pitching took a back seat and the offenses flew high. Designated hitter Danny Oriente drove in the game’s first run in the first inning for Louisville’s 13th instance of scoring in the first inning, with the Colonels responding with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning to make it a 1-1 game. While the start to the game was pedestrian, the scoring really got crazy in the middle innings.
Starting with the third inning, the hitting would become contagious for the Cardinal Nine as Louisville would put up four straight crooked number innings including 4 in the fourth. During this four inning stretch, 7 of the 9 Cards in the starting lineup would drive in a run, and the same amount would also get a base hit. The 7-9 batters in the lineup in freshman Alex Binelas, freshman Trey Leonard and senior Zeke Pinkham would show that even the bottom of the lineup guys are worth something, as the left-handed trio would all launch home runs, with Pinkham and Leonard going back-to-back in the fifth. On top of being aggressive during this stretch, Louisville’s hitters would also demonstrate discipline and patience as 8 of the 9 starters would draw a walk. When this stretch was said and done, the Cards would plate 11 of their 12 runs in the game during the third through sixth innings.
On the flip side, it being a midweek game meant that pitching was not the order of the day. In his 4th start of the season, junior JUCO transfer Luke Smith struggled to put the Colonels away. He would only strikeout 1 batter in his 5.0 inning start, and allow 10 base runners via either the base hit, walk, or HBP. Once his start was over, freshman Jack Perkins would enter in the sixth and EKU would further take advantage of Louisville’s pitching. Thanks in part to a fielding error, and RBI single, double and 3 run home run would put up a 5 spot in the sixth inning and draw EKU to with 4 after being down by 9 runs when the inning began.
However in the seventh inning, right-hander Jared Poland would seize the opportunity for himself and show the Colonels what made the Cards’ pitching staff so deadly through the first month of the season. In just 2.0 innings of relief, the freshman would accrue more strikeouts than the previous two pitchers combined, tossing 3 strikeouts and allowing no runs. Capitalizing on the momentum from the mound, sophomore Michael Kirian would enter the game in the final inning, and the southpaw would strikeout the side in order to secure the victory.
W: Luke Smith (2-0), L: Jacob Ferris (2-2)