Sophomore righty Kade McClure allowed just one hit in six shutout innings while the offense erupted for a season-high 20 hits as the No. 4 Louisville baseball team cruised to a 17-0 road win over Western Kentucky Tuesday night at Nick Denes Field.
A native of Mentor, Ohio, McClure finished with five strikeouts and issued just one walk in winning his sixth straight start to improve to 6-0 on the season. The six innings equaled a career high for McClure, who lowered his season ERA to 1.64 while anchoring the second straight shutout and the sixth of the season for the Cardinals (20-5). The trio of junior lefty Dylan Shoffner, freshman righty Sam Bordner and junior righty Zack Burdi combined to close the dominant night on the mound for the Louisville.
The Cardinals, who out-hit the Hilltoppers (14-10) 20-3, reached double-figures in runs for the 10th time this season as sophomore designated hitter Colby Fitch connected for a three-run home run to open the scoring in the third inning and finished 2-for-4 in the game. The home run was the fourth of the season for Fitch, who has hit safely in all 11 starts this season and has a .512 batting average overall. Junior catcher Will Smith registered his first career four-hit performance finishing 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored for Louisville, which has totaled 43 runs in their last three games.
Seven Cardinals finished with two more hits on Tuesday, including sophomore shortstop Devin Hairston, who was 3-for-6 with a double, one RBI and four runs scored. Junior outfielder Colin Lyman finished 2-for-4 with a career-high four RBI and junior outfielder Corey Ray was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Junior outfielder Logan Taylor chipped in with a triple and scored twice and freshman second baseman Devin Mann was 2-for-5 with a double and one RBI.
Louisville gained command of Tuesday’s game in the third inning when Fitch culminated a nine-pitch at-bat by crushing a 2-2 offering over the wall in right center for a three-run homer. Taylor led off the inning with a single up the middle and was followed by a double down the right field line by Ray before Fitch drove them both home with the second home run in his last three games.
The Cardinals ended any hope of a comeback for the Hilltoppers with a five-run sixth inning. After leading off the inning with an infield single, Hairston scored on a RBI triple down the right field by sophomore third baseman Blake Tiberi. Smith followed with an RBI single to score Tiberi for the 5-0 lead. Later in the inning, Taylor delivered his team-leading fifth triple of the season to plate Smith. After an RBI groundout from Ray to score Taylor, Fitch coaxed a two-out walk before scoring on a RBI double down the left field line by Mann for the final run of the frame.
Louisville extended the margin to 10-0 in the seventh inning on RBI singles from Lyman and Ray. Lyman started the scoring with his one-out single through the right side to score Hairston, while Ray delivered a two-strike, two-out single to left to send Smith home. Four more runs were tallied for the Cardinals in the eighth inning on a RBI groundball from Hairston, a two-run single by Smith and a RBI sacrifice fly by Lyman. The final trio of runs were added in the ninth on a RBI single by redshirt freshman Drew Ellis and a two-run single from Lyman.
All six Western Kentucky pitchers on Tuesday allowed at least two runs each, including righty starter Cody Coll, who was charged with the loss anddropped to 0-2 on the season after surrendering three runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings.
Up next, No. 4 Louisville hosts ACC foe Virginia Tech for a weekend set at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals and Hokies are set for Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., ET each day, while the series finale is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m., on ESPNU.
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