Drew Ellis connected for a three-run homer and drove in four runs overall while Kade McClure delivered a strong start on the mound as the No. 7 national seed Louisville baseball team opened its NCAA Super Regional at Jim Patterson with a 5-2 victory against Kentucky on Friday afternoon.
With a school record crowd of 6,235 packed into the ballpark, the Cardinals (51-10) scored a pair of runs in the first inning and added three more in the fifth before holding off a ninth inning rally by the Wildcats (43-22). Louisville matched the school record for wins with Friday’s result equaling the total achieved by the 2013 squad while also moving within one win of the program’s fourth College World Series berth. The teams will continue the best-of-three series with on Saturday at noon ET on ESPN.
Ellis, who was just 1-for-11 in last week’s NCAA Regional, had a first inning RBI on a groundout before sending Patterson Stadium into a frenzy with his three-run blast to left field in the fifth inning. The home run was the 18th of the season for the First Team All-American, who also leads the team with 59 RBI and a .700 slugging percentage this season.
McClure gave the Cardinals a terrific start registering six strikeouts with just one walk and allowing only three hits in 5.1 scoreless innings. The junior righthander improved to 8-3 on the season and 21-4 in his collegiate career with Friday’s performance against a Wildcats offense ranked in the top 10 nationally in batting average entering the day.
Devin Mann added a RBI single, walked once and scored twice for Louisville, while Logan Taylor doubled, walked, stole one base and scored two times. The Cardinals won Friday’s game despite being limited to just four hits, their lowest total at home of the season.
Louisville started fast Friday plating a pair of runs on two hits in the first inning against lefty Zack Thompson. Taylor led off the inning with a double to left field before scoring on a RBI single down the first base line from Mann. After moving to second when Brendan McKay was hit by a pitch and advancing to third on a throwing error, Mann scored on the RBI groundout by Ellis for the 2-0 lead.
After three scoreless innings from each side, Louisville increased the lead to 5-0 in the fifth on the three-run shot from Ellis. Taylor started the inning with a walk from reliever Chris Machamer before Mann also reached base with a walk. On batter later, Ellis launched a 3-2 offering from Zach Logue over the left field wall and into the bleachers atop of the berm.
Kentucky mustered its only two runs of the game in the ninth inning on solo home run from Evan White and a RBI single by Tyler Marshall. Thompson took the loss for the Wildcats and dropped to 8-3 on the season.
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