Nick Bennett twirled a career-best seven scoreless innings and nine different Cardinals had a hit as the No. 2 Louisville baseball team clinched a series victory with Sunday’s 10-0 win against Duke at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Bennett finished with five strikeouts without issuing a walk and allowed just four hits to anchor the eighth shutout of the season for the Cardinals, who improved to 33-6 overall and a conference-leading 17-4 in the ACC. The freshman lefthander’s longest previous outing was 6.1 innings against Wake Forest on April 9, while Sunday’s effort moved his record to 4-0 on the season, including a 3-0 mark in the ACC.
Sunday’s game featured a balanced effort offensively for the Cardinals, who finished with nine hits overall with nine different players accounting for the hits. Devin Hairston and Devin Mann each connected for two-run doubles, while Zeke Pinkham added a RBI double. Colin Lyman chipped in with a two-run single and Justin Lavey had a two-run single. Brendan McKay singled, walked twice and scored two runs for Louisville, which improved to 11-1 in ACC rubber games in the last three seasons.
A day after scoring seven runs in the second inning of Saturday’s win, the Cardinals gained control Sunday with a three-run third inning against Duke starter Ryan Day. Following back-to-back singles from McKay and Ellis, Mann drove both players home with his two-run double to left field. Pinkham then delivered a run-scoring double down the right field line to score Mann for the 3-0 advantage.
Louisville ended any thoughts of a comeback for the Blue Devils (21-21, 8-13 ACC) with seven runs, all with two outs, in the seventh inning. The Cardinals had four hits to go along with three walks and one hit-by-pitch as they sent 11 batters to the plate and faced five different Duke pitchers in the inning. Hairston started the scoring by scorching a two-run double to left center to send Logan Taylor and Josh Stowers home. Lyman continued the scoring with his single through the right side to plate Hairston and McKay, while a wild pitch from Kevin Lewallyn allowed Ellis to score. Lavey capped the inning with his single to center to push Lyman and Mann home.
Sophomore righthander Riley Thompson followed Bennett and registered three strikeouts in two scoreless innings of relief to complete the shutout for the Cardinals, who moved to 23-2 at home this season. Through 39 games, McKay leads Louisville with a .388 batting average and a .522 on-base percentage, while Ellis is the team leader in home runs (nine) and doubles (11) to go along with a .375 average and 37 RBI. Hairston leads the Cardinals in RBI with 40 to go with his .329 average and 10 doubles.
Up next, No. 2 Louisville will begin a busy stretch of five games in six days with a visit to Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday at 3 p.m., ET in a makeup contest for a game originally scheduled for March 7 but postponed due to rain. The Cardinals will then make a regular season visit to Louisville Slugger Field for a matchup with Northern Kentucky on Wednesday at 6 p.m., ET.
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