In the final weekend of the regular season, #25 Louisville Cardinals took on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Jim Patterson stadium and ended the regular season with a three game series sweep. The sweep extends Louisville’s winning streak against Notre Dame to 16 straight, and clinches Louisville’s seventh straight 40 win season and sixth straight 40 win regular season.
Cards Walk Off Irish In Series Opener, 5-4
Kicking off the final home weekend of the regular season, the Cards kicked it off in spectacular fashion by rallying in the ninth and walking off the Irish, 5-4. Replacing Pat Rumoro in the lineup mid-game, freshman backup catcher Zach Britton came through in the clutch and delivered the game clinching hit.
Although sporting an impressive 2.42 ERA, Notre Dame certainly gave starting pitcher Adam Wolf his money’s worth right out of the gate. They would work the junior left-hander into a rare first inning bases loaded jam, but he was able to regain enough composure to only give up one run to the Fighting Irish. The Cardinal Nine wouldn’t be playing catch up for long, as a base hit in the second inning from junior catcher Pat Rumoro with runners on the corners would knot up the game at 1-1 through two innings.
Just an inning after closing Notre Dame’s lead, Louisville would take it for their own. With a runner on base, sophomore first baseman Logan Wyatt would launch his fourth home run of the season into the right field trees. The 2 RBIs of the big fly ball would extend his total RBIs for the season to 55, leading the team. He’d add another notch to this total with an RBI single in the fifth to push the Cardinal advantage to 3.
Throughout the season, Wolf has continued to prove time in and time out why he deserves the number 1 spot in the rotation and today was no exception. By the time he would be relieved after seven innings of work, it wasn’t before he would strike out 8 Notre Dame batters while only giving up 2 hits and 3 walks to the Irish. Once he would make his exit from the game, Notre Dame would pounce. A 2 RBI triple given up by freshman southpaw Michael Kirian would be the end of his day as soon as it began, being replaced by grad transfer Austin Conway. Unfortunately before getting the final out of the inning, he too would give up a run and tie the game up at 4 a piece.
But like Tuesday’s midweek game against IU, Louisville had some ninth inning magic in them. Loading up the bases in the bottom of the ninth with one out remaining, Zach Britton stepped into the box and delivered when it mattered most. He would strike a base hit that floated over the third baseman’s head, and his teammates would all rush the dugout and mob him at second base to celebrate the walk-off win.
Coach Mac postgame (5/17, part 1): pic.twitter.com/WpgLbrjpCe
— Matt McGavic (@GeneralWasp) May 18, 2018
Coach Mac postgame (5/17, part 2): pic.twitter.com/NdE7NlG9BK
— Matt McGavic (@GeneralWasp) May 18, 2018
W: Austin Conway (3-1), L: Andrew Belcik (2-2)
Bennett Blanks Notre Dame, 5-0
Helping the Cardinal Nine win their 9th series of the season, sophomore southpaw Nick Bennett twirled a masterful performance as the Cards blanked the Fighting Irish, 5-0.
Matching the longest outing of his career, Bennett went 8.0 shutout innings deep while striking out 8 Notre Dame batters. He would only give up 6 hits and 1 walk in his ninth start of the 2018 season.
While Bennett was busy blanking the Irish, outfielder Jake Snider was busy opening up the scoring in the home team’s favor. The sophomore plated Louisville’s first two runs of the game with an RBI single in the third and an RBI groundout in the fifth. Outfielders Josh Stowers and Ethan Stringer put up two more runs in the sixth, taking advantage of a Notre Dame fielding error. Stowers would score on a wild pitch after leading off the inning with a double, and Stringer would drive home a run on a base hit to left field.
Sophomores Tyler Fitzgerald and Shay Smiddy would help put away the game in the late innings to put a bowtie on the series clinching game. Fitzgerald would add an insurance run in the eighth inning and Smiddy would pitch a scoreless ninth to complete the shutout.
W: Nick Bennett (7-1), L: Cameron Brown (2-1)
Stowers’ Big Day Sparks Comeback Rally On Senior Day, 10-7
Powered by a 2 HR, 6 RBI day from junior outfielder Josh Stowers, Louisville plated 7 consecutive runs to come back from a 7-3 deficit and win 10-7 to clinch the sweep against Notre Dame. Junior right-hander Bryan Hoeing was also crucial in the victory, salvaging the middle innings and preventing the wheels from falling off.
The long ball was a large part of Notre Dame’s success through the early goings of the game. The Fighting Irish sent a ball into the left field bleachers in their very first at bat for their first of two runs in the inning, as well as launching an additional solo shot in the third inning.
Countering Notre Dame 3-0, advantage, the Cardinal Nine put up a three spot of their own in the third inning. Third baseman Justin Lavey and shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald would hit back-to-back doubles to plate Louisville’s first run, a bunt single by outfielder Jake Snider accompanied by a Notre Dame error would plate Fitzgerald, and a base hit by outfielder Josh Stowers would bring home Snider to tie the game.
Notre Dame would not go quietly though, plating four runs in the fourth inning. This would force Louisville to make not one, but two pitching changes. Even with the second pitching change, starting pitcher freshman Bobby Miller was credited with 6 earned runs, tripling his previous career high in earned runs. Miller would only go 3.1 innings before getting the early hook, and senior lefty Rabon Martin would not even record an out before Coach Mac would yank him as well. Bryan Hoeing would be tasked with saving the inning, recording the last two outs without allowing a baserunner.
Down 4 runs, Louisville had some ground to cover if they had any hope of not losing on senior day. Their comeback rally got started on the right foot in the sixth inning, when the deficit was cut in half with one swing of the bat. A 2 run home run from Josh Stowers would be good for the junior outfielder’s 6th round-tripper of the season, leading the team.
With the final innings of the regular season slowly coming to a close, Louisville had one last comeback rally in them. Sophomore outfielder Ethan Stringer would drive home a run in the seventh to further close the gap, and a sacrifice fly in the eighth off the bat of Devin Mann would tie the contest. Continuing on his already hot day, Josh Stowers would strike yet another long ball, this time good for 3 RBI.
After logging 4.2 scoreless innings to helping salvage the game from a a bullpen perspective, winning pitcher Bryan Hoeing was given some much needed relief from right-hander Michael McAvene. The fireballing sophomore recorded a strikeout in a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 2nd save of the season.
W: Bryan Hoeing (7-2), L: Zack Martin (2-2), S: Michael McAvene (2)