Playing in their 60th overall meeting with the Xavier Musketeers (2-5), the #8 Louisville Cardinals (5-3) would see their six game win streak against them snapped in a 5-4 defeat for their first home loss of the season and third overall. As they have in both their other losses, the Cardinal Nine struggled with their clutch hitting, batting 0-10 with 2 outs and 11 men being left on base as a result.
Both teams got off to a quick start, with Xavier and Louisville both plating 2 runs off 3 hits in the first inning. Junior shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald would send a ball just deep enough into the outfield to send home Lucas Dunn and increase his RBI total to 11, good for first on the team. After first baseman Logan Wyatt would draw his 11th walk of the season (1st in ACC), designated hitter Danny Oriente would tie the game up with an RBI base hit of his own. By the end of the contest, Wyatt would draw a total of 3 walks increase his total to 13, good for second in the nation (Andrew Vaughn, California).
Making his second start of the season, junior right-hander Luke Smith ran into a bit of trouble when it came to handling Xavier’s hot hitters. After surrendering the game’s first couple of runs, Xavier would plate another run in the fourth to break the 2-2 tie. Though the grad transfer from Parkland College would strike out a pair of batters in the fifth to regain some momentum from the mound before junior Shay Smiddy would make his relief entrance in the sixth. Smith would exit the game with 4 strikeouts and no allowed walks.
In the meantime, the Cardinal Nine got to work in an attempt to take back the lead. They weren’t able to take the lead but they were able to get the score tied back up in the fifth inning thanks to outfielder Jake Snider. The junior would provide Louisville’s first extra base hit of the game and send home Lucas Dunn to tie the game up yet again. As the tie progressed into the later innings, Smiddy capitalized on the momentum provided by Smith, and tossed 5 strikeouts in his 2.1 inning relief appearance.
The momentum would however come to a screeching halt in the eighth. The Musketeers would force Smiddy off the mound after he would allow a pair of base runs with 1 out and subsequently force Coach Mac to insert sophomore southpaw Michael Kirian. He wouldn’t last long, as a double steal and wild pitch to bring home a runner would prompt another pitching change to accommodate the batter-pitcher matchup. This would work in McDonnell’s favor, as freshman right-hander Jared Poland would strikeout the right-handed and final batter of the inning, limiting the damage to just 1 run.
Xavier’s late run gave Louisville very little time to even up the score, but once again they answered the call. In the bottom of the eighth, freshman catcher Henry Davis drilled his first extra base hit of the season when it mattered most and sent Drew Campbell home on a double that rocketed down the left field line. Louisville would not prevail in the ninth, so the game went into extra innings for the second time this season.
Unfortunately, this time around extra innings would not be so kind to the Cardinals, as a passed ball with a runner on third would break the tie for the final time. Third baseman Justin Lavey would be the last chance batter like he was in the previous extra inning game, but he could not connect with two runners on and Louisville would earn their first home loss of the season.
W: Lane Flamm (1-1), L: Jared Poland (1-1)