Louisville Holds Off Late Push, Win 5-2
Much like the two regular season games between Louisville and Kentucky this year, yesterday's game saw one team get out ahead early and appear in control, only for the opposition to put more pressure on than expected late in the game. Much like the last two super regional series in Jim Patterson Stadium, it was one of the best closing pitchers in the college game getting into trouble late. Louisville was able to hang on in the end and grab a win in the game many figured Kentucky needed to win to win this series.
Kade McClure got the ball in game one opposite a rising star in Kentucky freshman, Zach Thompson. Kade's struggles had been real in his last three starts, and the Wildcats trot out a lineup with 7 left handed or switch hitters. In baseball, it is generally true that a hitter with an opposite handedness than the pitcher has an advantage. Louisville's other two starters this weekend, Brendan McKay and Nick Bennett, are both lefties, which is an issue for UK. McClure got a quick ground out from his first batter before sailing a put out throw into left field on the second batter. E1. Runner on second base. One out. This looked like trouble immediately for the Cardinals, but McClure was able to work himself out of the jam and put up a zero. This would end up being a common theme in his five and a third innings pitched.
In the bottom half of the first, Louisville struck quickly. Logan Taylor led off the inning with a deep double, lighting a fire in the crowd. Colby Fitch was struggling yesterday and that showed with his first strikeout of the day. Fortunately, Devin Mann was able to control the bat well enough to get a single and bring home Logan Taylor. Brendan McKay took a plunk on the upper arm in his at bat, and Louisville had runners on first and second with one out. After a pick-off throw from Thompson ended up in center field, Mann and McKay ended up at second and third. What came next was rather strange. Drew Ellis came up to bat and battled for a couple of pitches before getting a hard hopper over Thompson's head. Mann came into score, but Ellis was thrown out easily as he was barely out of the box talking to the umpire. Calling catcher interference (Ellis had taken the catcher's glove off with his swing), the umpire sent the runners back and put Ellis safe at first. Bases loaded, one out. Fortunately for the Cards, Dan McDonnell is one of the headiest coaches in baseball. He came out to talk to the umpire, recognizing the rule about catcher's interference, and chose to take the result of the play. Devin Mann was allowed to score and Ellis was out at first. Louisville led 2-0 before Hairston struck out to end the inning.
The score held for quite awhile with plenty of nerves on both sides. Both teams were able to keep the other from putting any runs on the board despite getting into some tight jams. There were two on and two out for Drew Ellis in the fifth when he battled with a UK reliever. The announcers warned the pitcher against throwing the same pitch that Ellis was just missing three times in a row. He got away with it. They warned him against throwing it a fourth time. He didn't get away with it. Ellis launched a three run homer over the berm in left field and the Cards led 5-0. Some jawing from both teams ensued, but ultimately nothing came out of it.
The score continued with Adam Wolf taking the mound from McClure through the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. For whatever reason, McDonnell decided to go to Lincoln Henzman in the 9th inning. Whether it was to get him work, to save Wolf's arm, or to shut down UK's chances, I can't be sure. However, UK's Evan White greeted him with a first pitch home run to right field to end the shutout. Henzman got first pitch outs on the next two batters and it seemed as though the drama would be over. It wasn't to be though as UK was able to get another run in, put two on, and bring the tying run to the plate. Henzman did what does though, and got the batter to strike out swinging to end the game.
Brendan McKay will get the ball today at 12 squaring off against UK's ace Sean Hjelle. Louisville will bat first as the "away" team in today's game. The Cards will look to end this series in two games, as one win will send them to Omaha. Cardinal faithful will be out in force, and tensions will run high. Here's hoping the dream series ends in two games and the Super Regional struggles of late can be put to rest. The game is on ESPN2 or can be heard on 93.9 The Ville.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
Though Paulie is still recovering from his surgery, Jeff and I will be back in the studio today, joined once again by JC Sullivan. We'll have plenty to say about baseball, track and field championships, and anything else we know about the summer of women's sports. Tune into 100.9 WCHQ FM or any of their online offerings at 11 to hear all of our shenanigans leading up to the game. Should be a fun show!
Until next time, Go Cards!