In their final road conference series of the regular season, the #28 Louisville Cardinals (37-15, 15-12) marched into the Steel City to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers (27-22-11-16), and proceeded to sweep the home team in the three game series. The series sweep was aided by solid starting pitching and offensive consistency, with each starter going 6.0 innings and the Louisville batters plating 6 runs in each contest. The sweep also marked the second time Louisville had swept a conference foe (Virginia Tech), and was the first time all season they had won back-to-back ACC series.
Cards Take Series Opener, 6-3
Kicking off their final road series of the regular season, the Cardinal Nine opened up on the right foot and took down Pitt in their series opener, 6-3. From both the mound and the plate, they did just enough to pace themselves past the home Panthers.
RBI singles by sophomore first baseman Logan Wyatt and sophomore third baseman Justin Lavey in the first and second innings respectively gave Louisville an early 2-0 advantage, though Pitt wasn’t far behind. Three extra base hits by the Panthers in the second inning would tally three runs on the scoreboard for the home squad.
Though after lighting up the scoreboard in the second, junior starting pitcher Adam Wolf was able to regain himself and keep Pitt in check. Despite only striking out 2 batters in his 6.0 inning outing, he only surrendered 4 hits and 2 walks and prevented Pitt from putting up any more runs. Helping out his cause, the Cards put up a three spot in the fifth inning including a 2 run home run off the bat of junior second baseman Devin Mann for his 4th long ball of the season.
Once Wolf’s day was done, a pair of scoreless innings on behalf of graduate transfer Austin Conway as well as an insurance run in the seventh inning from outfielder Jake Snider would further cushion Louisville’s lead. Continuing the bullpen’s blanking of Pitt, sophomore right hander Shay Smiddy would come into the game in the ninth and strike out a pair of Panthers and earn his 3rd save of the season.
W: Adam Wolf (6-2), L: Dan Hammer (2-4), S: Shay Smiddy (3)
Late Inning Rally Clinches Series, 6-5
Facing the possibility of having the decide the series in the rubber match, the Louisville Cardinals mounted a rally in the final two innings to sink the Pitt Panthers as well as clinch the weekend series. The victory would mark the first time all season that the Cardinal Nine had won back-to-back conference series.
Despite giving up the game’s first three runs, sophomore southpaw Nick Bennett had an overall solid outing all things considered, tossing 7 strikeouts in the 6.0 inning effort. Junior outfielder Josh Stowers would chip into Pitt’s lead with with an RBI single in the fourth, but the Panthers would counter with an additional run to make it 4-1 through five.
Like Wolf the day before, Bennett regained his composure after having a rocky start. Instead of collapsing and giving up tons of runs at once, he paced himself throughout the game, keeping Louisville’s chances of winning within striking distance. Relieving him the seventh, junior righty Liam Jenkins continued to keep Louisville in the game by twirling a pair of scoreless innings and striking out 3.
With just two innings to go, Louisville’s offense finally woke up. An RBI double from Stowers and an RBI single from sophomore designated hitter Danny Oriente would plate a pair of runs for the Cards and set up a crucial ninth inning last stand. Down 4-3 heading into the top of the ninth, the Cardinal Nine continued their rally by putting up a three spot. An RBI triple off the bat of sophomore shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald would tie the game, a throwing error would give the Cards the lead, and an RBI double by Logan Wyatt would add some extra insurance for the road squad.
Pitt would make things interesting by cutting Louisville’s lead in half in the bottom of the ninth, but right-hander Michale McAvene had other idea. In just his sixth outing of the year, the fireballing sophomore would fend off the Panthers just enough to seal the victory and earn his first career save.
W: Liam Jenkins (1-0), L: Yaya Chentouf (5-3), S: Michael McAvene (1)
Louisville Finishes Sweep On Mother’s Day, 8-5
Sporting their black and pink uniforms as a tribute to Mother’s Day, the Cardinal Nine were able to complete the the sweep of the Panthers despite Pitt’s best efforts to try and claw back into the game. While Pitt had mounted somewhat of a rally, Louisville had scored early and often enough to coast to an 8-5 victory.
Under overcast skies, both teams lit up the scoreboard in the very first frame with fireworks of their own. A groundout RBI from Logan Wyatt would plate the game’s first run, followed by a 2 run home run from Josh Stowers that absolutely sailed over Pitt’s Green Monster-like left field wall. Not to be outdone, Pitt would also notch themselves a 2 run no doubter to make it a 3-2 game after just one inning.
After the first inning, Louisville would continue while Pitt would find themselves in the rear view mirror. A pair of runs would be put up on the scoreboard in the second inning thanks to an RBI single and RBI double from third baseman Justin Lavey and outfielder Jake Snider respectively. Josh Stowers would steal a pair of bases in the third inning to put himself on third base, and a base hit from fellow outfielder Drew Campbell would bring him home. Stowers would swipe three bases by the end of the game, matching a career high.
Through the middle innings, the bats on both sides would cool down a touch thanks to some adjustments from the pitching mound. For the Cards, freshman Bobby Miller had himself another solid Sunday outing before being relieved by Bryan Hoeing in the seventh, striking out 6 and giving up no walks. Later in the contest, Pitt’s pitching started to take a bit of a dive, loading up the bases in the top of the seventh inning. Facing a a great run scoring opportunity, catcher Zach Britton exercised great plate discipline and walked to bring home a crucial insurance run.
That insurance run drawn by Britton would certainly do them some good. In the bottom of the same inning, Pitt’s Liam Sabino would launch a three run no doubter over the left field wall to cut the deficit to just 2. However another insurance run by Zach Britton in the top of the ninth would push the Cardinals lead back up to 3. But after giving up the 3 run home run and getting into another jam in the bottom of the ninth, Hoeing would be relieved with two outs to go by sophomore Adam Elliott. Elliott would swiftly close the door on the Panthers, earning his second save of the season.
W: Bobby Miller (5-1), L: Blair Calvo (1-5), S: Adam Elliott (2)