Louisville players celebrate in the dugout against Virginia. Photo by Wade Morgen.
Louisville Baseball Wins Series @ UNC
The Cardinals traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina this weekend to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in ACC action.
Game one: Brendan McKay received the nod to open the series between #5 Louisville and #17 North Carolina. Game one was pushed back a half hour or so because of rain, but the weather wasn’t going to hinder this series. Behind a strong outing from McKay in which he tossed seven shutout innings, the Cards pushed across runs on sacrifice flies from Danny Rosenbaum in the 2nd and Blake Tiberi in the 4th, and by Brendan himself doubling in a run to help his own cause. Junior right hander Jake Sparger took the mound in the 8th, gave up a single and hit a batter to open the frame before he was pulled for closer Zack Burdi, who retired the next three on two strikeouts. In the top of the 9th, the Cards got some insurance. Blake Tiberi homered, Logan Taylor doubled in another run and Will Smith hit a sacrifice fly to give Zack a 6-0 lead to open the 9th. Burdi finished the night off unscathed, reaching 100 MPH and striking out four of his six batters faced, as the Cardinals took game one. They improved to 37-9, including 15-7 in ACC play.
Game Two: Junior southpaw Drew Harrington was given the start in game two. The Cards struck first in the top of the third on a Corey Ray RBI single. In the bottom of the 3rd, Harrington thwarted a squeeze play at the plate that would’ve tied the game, then finished the inning without any damage, stranding the bases loaded. He pitched brilliantly through five, holding the Tar Heels scoreless, but without being able to manufacture another run, UNC tied the ball game in the 6th. After retiring one and allowing two hits to open the 7th, Drew was replaced by freshman Adam Wolf, a fellow lefty. Adam limited the damage to a single run, and North Carolina took their first lead of the series at 2-1. The following inning, Adam allowed a leadoff single, and was replaced by junior right hander Shane Hummel, who held the deficit at a single run, allowing the Cards to enter the 9th with a chance- a chance that Colin Lyman made good on. As the potential final out, he brought in Devin Hairston with an RBI single to nod the game up at 2-2. Shane Hummel returned in the 9th, and retired the Tar Heels in order. The Cards couldn’t muster anything either, and Shane Hummel returned in the bottom of the 10th for his third inning of work, where he surrendered a walk off home run to UNC’s Logan Warmoth. The final score was UNC 3, UofL 2. The Cards dropped to 37-10 (15-8 ACC) in the loss.
Game Three: On Mother’s Day, senior righty Kyle Funkhouser took the mound for the Cards in the rubber match in Chapel Hill. Following what seems to be a pattern this season, Funk was shaky early, allowing a leadoff triple in the 1st that resulted in a run as well as a second run in as many innings, but this time through a miscommunication in the outfield. Redshirt freshman Drew Ellis, in left, called off centerfielder Corey Ray and it proceeded to drop in between them. Drew was quick to make up for his defensive mistake though, knocking a solo shot over the left field wall to bring the game back to 2-1. Continuing to follow the season’s trend, Funk got dialed in and began to breeze through batters in the 3rd. In the 4th, a sensational hustle play by Drew Ellis allowed him to beat out an infield single to load the bases for Ray, who plated two with a single, taking a 3-2 lead that the Cards would not relinquish. Opting for defense with the lead, Logan Taylor entered in the 5th for Ellis, and took over in center while Corey slid over to left. In the same inning, Colin Lyman made what is easily the play of the series, throwing a laser from right to catcher Will Smith to tag out the potential tying run at the plate, preserving the one run lead. That wasn’t all for Lyman, though. In the next half, he ripped a base hit down the third base chalk. It was controversially (but correctly) ruled fair, and Corey walked to load the bases. Will Smith hit a bases clearing double, and that’s where Louisville solidified the victory. After another run came across with a Danny Rosenbaum sacrifice fly, and the lead swelled to 7-2. UNC was not going down without a fight though, hitting a two run shot off of Funk, now 7-4. With the Cards seeing through the inning defensively and needing to recapture momentum, Devin Hairston led off with a triple and scored on another Rosenbaum sac fly to extend the lead to 8-4. Corey singled and reached third on an error and the Cards scored two more runs, the lead swelling to 10-4. To open the bottom of the 9th, senior Anthony Kidston entered to close out the game, but walked the leadoff hitter and then committed a throwing error against the next batter to put both runners in scoring position with no outs, and he was subsequently replaced by freshman Sam Bordner, who retired the next three to end the series. Louisville won the series and improved to 38-10 (16-8 ACC).