The Louisville baseball team nearly saw a 7-0 lead evaporate Wednesday night in Lexington, but the sixth-ranked Cards hung on for a 9-6 victory over No. 9 Kentucky. The win marked the fourth straight time that U of L has defeated UK on the diamond.
After spotting their arch-rivals a 7-0 lead through five innings, the Cats clawed to within one in the home half of the 8th inning. That's when pinch-hitter Dorian Hairston, the brother of U of L shortstop Devin Hairston, belted a two-run blast to make the score 7-6.
Louisville answered back with their own pinch-hit heroics in the ninth when Colin Lyman singled in a pair of insurance runs. That set the stage for Cardinal closer Zack Burdi, who struck out the side after allowing a double to open the final frame.
"We didn't play as clean as we'd like but we kept fighting and did enough to win a rivalry game," said Cardinal skipper Dan McDonnell.
U of L starter Kade McClure improved to 7-0 on the season by working six full innings, allowing seven hits and a pair of earned runs. McClure, who has been stellar as Louisville's midweek starter all season, has worked at least five innings in all seven of his starts in 2016.
Redshirt freshman Drew Ellis was the hero at the plate for the Cards, driving in a game-high five runs, including three with a bases loaded double in the top of the 5th.
Kentucky (22-10, 8-4), which entered Wednesday night ranked No. 9 in the country, has won all four of its SEC series to date and currently sits in second place in the conference standings. That didn't help them against U of L, which swept the 2015 Battle of the Bluegrass series by a combined score of 7-3, and also eliminated UK from the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Next up for Louisville (25-7, 10-5 ACC) is a three-game home set with Clemson. The Tigers will come to the Derby City with a 24-9 overall mark and an 8-7 record in conference play. First pitch for game one on Friday night is set for 6 p.m.
Louisville will go for its second straight regular season sweep of Kentucky next Tuesday night at 6 p.m. inside Jim Patterson Stadium. The tilt will be the only regular season game at Jim Patterson this season that fans will need to buy tickets for.