Freshman Sean Leland finished with a career-best five strikeouts and senior Mike White homered to lead a balanced night at the plate as No. 3 Louisville opened a busy week with a 6-2 road win against Cincinnati on Tuesday night at Marge Schott Stadium.
Making his second collegiate start, Leland (Orland Park, Ill.) worked a career-long 5.2 innings allowing just one earned run on five hits to move to 3-0 on the season. Sophomore lefty Robert Strader (Louisville, Ky.) followed Leland with 1.1 innings of shutout work before freshman right Kade McClure (Mentor, Ohio) struck out two in two innings of perfect relief to close the game.
White (East Orange, N.J.) connected for his first home run of the season and the second of his career to cap a 2-for-3 day at the plate. He also doubled and scored twice as the Cardinals (31-9) out-hit the Bearcats 13-5. Sophomore Will Smith (Louisville, Ky.) was 3-for-4 with two doubles, while sophomore Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) finished 2-for-4 with a triple and one RBI. Freshman Brendan McKay (Darlington, Pa.) chipped in with a double and drove in a run while going 2-for-5.
“It was a good win on the road in a rivalry game. We’ve struggled at times in these midweek games, especially offensively, so it was nice to see 13 hits and six runs with some good at-bats,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “Nick Solak got things going early and he’s locked in and comfortable at the plate right now. Sean Leland gave us a strong start and that’s the second time he’s done that this year. I was pleased with how Robert Strader pitched and I thought Kade McClure showed some electric stuff at the end.”
Playing the first of five games in six days, the Cardinals struck first on Tuesday when Solak reached base with a one-out triple to left center before scoring on a RBI sacrifice fly to left by sophomore Corey Ray (Chicago, Ill.) for the 1-0 lead. Solak extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games while Ray increased his team-leading RBI total to 39.
Louisville, which improved to 23-0 this season when scoring first, added to the advantage in the second inning when White doubled down the left field line, advanced to third on a single by Smith and scored on a wild pitch by Bearcats righty Tristan Hammans. The double was the eighth of the season for White.
The Bearcats (12-27) broke through for their first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning after Devin Wenzel doubled to right center and later scored on a RBI single to right by Treg Haberkorn.
The Cardinals answered in the fourth inning when White crushed a solo home run over the scoreboard in right center. Louisville pushed its lead to 4-1 in the sixth when Ray scored from third on a RBI single by senior Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.). Ray led off the inning with a single to center and advanced to second with his 23rd stolen base of the season before scoring later in the frame.
After Cincinnati plated a run in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI single by Ryan Noda, Louisville answered with two runs in the seventh to push the advantage to 6-2. Solak started the scoring with a RBI single to left to score pinch runner Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.). Later in the frame, McKay added a two-out RBI single through the right side to score senior Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.).
No. 3 Louisville returns home to host Western Kentucky on Wednesday at 6 p.m., ET for Cancer Awareness Night at Jim Patterson Stadium. Admission is free and the game will be aired live on 93.9 The Ville.