Colby Fitch and Brendan McKay combined for seven hits, two home runs, six RBI and five runs scored as the No. 2 Louisville baseball completed its seventh series sweep of the season with Sunday afternoon’s 9-4 win over Notre Dame at Frank Eck Stadium.
The Cardinals (42-6, 20-4 ACC) overcame a three-deficit by scoring the final eight runs of the game and extended their winning streak to 11 games. Louisville, which improved to 26-1 all-time in ACC series finales, pushed its winning streak against Notre Dame (23-26, 10-17 ACC) to 12 consecutive games while also winning 11 straight games against the Fighting Irish in South Bend.
Fitch was 3-for-4 on Sunday with his eighth home run of the season and matched a career-high with four RBI for the Cardinals, who own a four-game lead in the ACC Atlantic Division race with two weeks remaining in the regular season. The junior from Rocheport, Missouri hit .417 (5-for-12) in the weekend series at Notre Dame.
McKay finished 4-of-4 on Sunday with his team-leading 15th home run, two doubles, two RBI and three runs scored. In his 47 games played this season, McKay has a .389 batting average with a team-high 46 RBI, .507 on-base percentage and .752 slugging percentage. Those offensive numbers for the Darlington, Pennsylvania native are accompanied by a 7-3 record on the mound with a 1.92 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 11 starts and 75.0 innings pitched.
Devin Hairston added two hits, including a double, and scored twice, while Devin Mann chipped in with two hits and two runs scored. Hairston is tied with McKay for the team lead in RBI with 46 while hitting .327 with 13 doubles and just one fielding error in 48 starts at shortstop (.995 fielding percentage). In his last 12 games, Mann is hitting .390 with three home runs, 11 RBI and four doubles.
Freshman lefthander Adam Elliott came out of the bullpen to earn his second win of the season working two shutout innings. Elliott teamed with three other pitchers to combine for 7.2 innings of scoreless relief by the Cardinals bullpen. Righthander Jake Sparger allowed only one hit with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings, righty Sam Border had one strikeout in two innings and righthander Lincoln Henzman had a pair of strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning.
Notre Dame gained its first lead of the weekend scoring two runs on three hits in the first inning on Sunday. Matt Vierling started the scoring with a RBI double to left field to score Jake Johnson. Cole Daily added a two-out RBI single to left field to send Vierling home for the 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals cut the deficit in half with a run in the second when Mann scored from third on a wild pitch by Brandon Bielak. Mann led off the inning with a single to left, moved to second on a single from Colin Lyman and took third on a sacrifice bunt before scoring when Bielak sailed a pitch to the backstop.
The Fighting Irish added to the lead in the bottom of the second with a pair of unearned runs after two Louisville errors. Following a leadoff single, Eric Gilgenbach advanced to second on a fielding error the Cardinals on a groundball off the bat of Jake Shepski. Moments later, Gilgenbach scored from second on a throwing error by pitcher Nick Bennett on a pickoff attempt at first. After moving from first to third on the failed pickoff, Shepski was driven in on a RBI single by Johnson for the 4-1 lead.
Louisville narrowed the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth when Logan Taylor earned a bases loaded walk to score Fitch, who singled to start the inning. After advancing to second on an error and taking third on a wild pitch, Fitch scored on a five-pitch walk to Taylor from Bielak.
The Cardinals added their third run of the game in the fifth inning when McKay scored from third on a RBI sacrifice fly by Fitch. McKay started things with a double down the right field line and moved to third on a single by Drew Ellis before Fitch drove him home with his flyout to left field.
Following a scoreless sixth inning, Fitch gave Louisville its first lead of the game at 5-4 in the seventh with a two-run single to score Hairston and McKay. Hairston started the inning with a double to left center off Peter Solomon before lefty reliever Sean Guenther entered from the Irish bullpen and issued a walk to McKay. Following a sacrifice bunt from Ellis to advance the runners, Fitch sent a 1-2 pitch from Guenther back up the middle and into centerfield to plate two runs.
The Cardinals ended any chance of a late rally by the Fighting Irish by scoring four runs in the ninth inning. Following a leadoff single by Hairston, McKay turned on a 2-2 pitch from Guenther sending it off the right field foul pole for his 25th career home run. One batter later, Fitch crushed a 2-0 offering over the right field wall for a solo home run. Later in the inning, Josh Stowers added a RBI single to center to score Mann for the final run of the game.
Up next, No. 2 Louisville returns home to host Vanderbilt in the annual Battle of the Barrel on Tuesday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.
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