Propelled by seventh inning home runs from Corey Ray and Zach Lucas, the No. 3 Louisville baseball team evened its weekend series at Clemson with a 5-3 win on Sundaynight at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
With the score tied at 1-1, Ray (Chicago, Ill.) crushed his team-leading 10th home run of the season to score Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.), who singled earlier in the inning, and push the Cardinals (36-11, 20-3 ACC) ahead for good in the seventh. Later in the inning, Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) launched an offering from Clemson starter Zack Erwin into the left field seats for his fourth home run of the season and a 4-1 cushion.
“Good things usually happen when I tell myself to relax and use the middle of the field. Sometimes, I get a little pull happy and try to hit the ball out to right field instead of staying in the bigger part of the field,” said Ray following the game. “Right now, we have to stay moment to moment and pitch to pitch. Tomorrow will be another tough test for our team.”
Ray finished 2-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored, while Lucas was 3-for-4 with a double to go with his 10th career home run. Along with pitching into the sixth inning and finishing with a no-decision on the mound, Brendan McKay (Darlington, Pa.) was 3-of-5 at the plate with a double and one RBI for the Cardinals, who will look to clinch their eighth straight ACC series win in Monday’s finale against the Tigers (24-22, 13-12 ACC) at 7 p.m., ET on ESPNU.
Freshman righty Sean Leland (Orland Park, Ill.) worked two shutout innings of relief allowing just one hit with one strikeout to earn the win and improve to 4-0 on the season. Sophomore righty Zack Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) allowed his first earned runs of the season while also earning his sixth save of 2015 after allowing two runs with two strikeouts in 1.1 innings of relief.
The Cardinals struck first on Sunday night plating a run in the first inning on a RBI single up the middle by Ray to score Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa). The game started with a leadoff single by Whiting, who advanced to second on a Solak sacrifice bunt before Ray’s single pushed him home for Louisville, which improved to 25-0 this season when scoring first.
The Tigers pulled even at 1-1 in the second inning on a two-out RBI single to left by Glenn Batson to score Weston Wilson, who doubled to right center moments earlier. The game remained that way until Louisville’s three-run seventh inning.
The Cardinals added an insurance run in the ninth inning on a RBI by McKay to score Ray, who reached base earlier in the inning on a fielder’s choice putout of Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.). The Tigers battled for a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run single to right by Reed Rohlman. However, they would get no closer as Burdi forced Chris Okey to ground to third for the final out of the night.
Making his eighth start of the season, McKay provided another stellar effort for the Cardinals allowing just one run on four hits with four strikeouts in 5.2 innings before turning things over to the bullpen. Erwin was charged with the loss for the Tigers and dropped to 4-4 on the season after allowing four runs on 11 hits in 6.2 innings.
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