Sophomore Brendan McKay pitched eight strong innings on the mound and homered at the plate while junior outfielder Corey Ray and sophomore catcher Colby Fitch also added home runs to lead the No. 7 Louisville baseball team to an 11-3 win over No. 9 Virginia on Saturday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
A lefthander from Darlington, Pennsylvania, McKay finished with nine strikeouts and allowed just one earned run on eight hits and no walks to move to 5-1 on the season. It was the fifth time in six starts this season and the 12th time in his collegiate career McKay has struck out eight or more in a game. At the plate, McKay was 2-for-5 with his second home run of the season as the Cardinals (18-5, 5-3 ACC) registered their highest scoring ACC performance of the season.
Fitch continued his hot-hitting ways going 3-for-4 with his third home run of the season, a triple, three RBI and two runs scored. The Rocheport, Missouri native has hit safely in a career-best seven straight games with six of those being multi-hit performances and is hitting .526 with 11 RBI in 10 starts this season. Ray was 2-for-5 with his seventh home run of the season, three RBI, one stolen base and scored twice. Sophomore shortstop Devin Hairston chipped in with two hits and scored three runs, while sophomore third baseman Blake Tiberi added a pivotal three-run double and walked three times for Louisville, which will look for a series win against Virginia (17-7, 5-3 ACC) in Sunday’s deciding game at 1 p.m., ET.
The Cavaliers opened the scoring Saturday with two runs in the top of the first inning, including one unearned run. Adam Haseley led off the inning with an infield single and moved to third on a single by Ernie Clement before scoring on a wild pitch. After a fielding error advanced Clement to third, Clement scored as Pavin Smith rolled into a 6-4-3 double-play.
Louisville answered in the bottom of the first as Tiberi delivered a two-out, three-run double off Virginia lefty Daniel Lynch for a 3-2 lead. Fitch started things with a single to center and was followed by a walk to freshman second baseman Devin Mann before Hairston reached base with a strikeout on a wild pitch by Lynch. Tiberi made the Cavaliers pay by sending a 3-2 offering into right center for his seventh double of the season.
The Cardinals added to the lead in the second inning as Ray and Fitch launched back-to-back home runs for the 5-2 margin. Ray led the way crushing a 3-1 pitch into the trees in right field for his 19th career homer of the season. Fitch followed by sending a 2-0 offering over the right field wall marking the first back-to-back home runs for Louisville since Nick Solak and Ray accomplished the feat at Clemson on May 4, 2015.
The scoring continued for Louisville in the third inning with a bases loaded walk to Ray to plate Hairston, while McKay helped his own cause in the fourth with his solo home run to right center. Fitch pushed the advantage to 8-2 in the fifth with a RBI triple to right field to score Ray, who singled and stole second earlier in the inning.
After the Cavaliers scored an unearned run in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals answered with a three-spot in the bottom of the inning. Pinch hitter Drew Ellis earned a bases loaded walk to score Hairston, Ray reached on a Virginia error as Tiberi scored and Fitch earned a bases loaded walk to plate junior outfielder Logan Taylor for Louisville, which recorded its eighth double-figure scoring performance of the season.
Admission is free for Sunday’s deciding game of the series, which will also be televised by ESPN3 at 1:00 p.m.
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