With college basketball coming to a close in Louisville, all eyes are centered around the U of L baseball team. The Cardinal Nine have built a solid season under head coach Dan McDonnell, holding a 28-8 record heading into Tuesday’s game at Kentucky.
The Cards have notched a couple of nice wins in their resume, taking a sweep of Duke on the road and beating Ole Miss in both games of their doubleheader last month. But they have earned perhaps their biggest wins of the season, sweeping #2 N.C. State in Raleigh and taking sole possession of first place in the ACC Atlantic Division this past weekend.
Cards Take Both Games in Doubleheader With Dominant Offense
Coming off a dominant 11-2 win over Northern Kentucky that prior Tuesday, Louisville parlayed their strong offensive display with an explosive showing in Saturday’s doubleheader. The Cardinals scored 14 runs in both games of the doubleheader, taking game one with a 14-10 victory, then game two in a 14-2 blowout win.
The offensive explosion by Louisville was one of the most impressive in recent memory by the Cardinals. The 28 combined runs on Saturday were the most by the Cardinals in a doubleheader since 1991. The Cardinals also scored ten-plus runs in three straight games (dating back to the NKU game earlier that week) for the first time since February 2017, and marked the first time since 2004 that they scored 10+ runs in both games of a doubleheader.
Louisville started both games with a couple of early runs, then blow it wide open with a seven-run inning.
Game one saw the Cardinals put up seven in the third inning, all of which came with two outs. Alex Binelas hit a three-run homer that extended Louisville’s lead to 5-1. Tyler Fitzgerald and Logan Wyatt also drove in two runs each through RBI base hits of their own, closing the top of the third with Louisville holding a commanding 9-1 lead. The Cardinals later scored five runs (three in the sixth, and two in the eighth) that would help them get past an N.C. State team who ended up scoring ten runs, including three homers (two by Will Wilson).
Game two featured a seven-run inning in the top of the fourth for Louisville, and was part of a 12-0 run that the Cardinals had throughout most of the game. Drew Campbell had an RBI single that started the scoring for Louisville in the fourth. Campbell, along with Danny Oriente, would later score runs off an RBI single by Justin Lavey. Tyler Fitzgerald hit an RBI double that cleared a bases-loaded situation, then scored another run for Louisville after Logan Wyatt brought him home via RBI single.
Logan Wyatt led the way in the doubleheader for Louisville’s offense, batting 5-for-10 across both games with six RBIs, two doubles, and a home run in game two. Jake Snider went 4-for-9 at the plate total, with three of his four hits going for doubles. Tyler Fitzgerald also drove in six RBIs on Saturday, with Alex Binelas also going 5-for-9 with five RBIs (all of which came in game one). Game one also saw strong performances from Henry Davis and Justin Lavey, both going 3-for-5 at the plate. Drew Campbell was 4-for-7 on Saturday with two RBIs and a double.
On the mound, both Reid Detmers (6-2) and Nick Bennett (5-2) recorded wins for Louisville, throwing eight strikeouts each. Michael McAvene and Jack Perkins had saves in games one and two, respectively.
Miller’s Five Inning Shutout Secures the Sweep
Louisville wasn’t able to get ten runs again in game three against N.C. State, but Bobby Miller’s five shutout innings were the key as Louisville closed the sweep with a 6-3 win over N.C. State.
Miller, along with Bryan Hoeing, were able to shutout the high-powered Wolfpack offense through the first six innings, allowing Louisville to jump ahead with a 4-0 run. Jake Snider got the Cardinals on the board first with a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Justin Lavey to reach home.
Henry Davis brought in a couple of runs for Louisville, as well. Davis’s RBI groundout in the fourth inning and RBI single in the sixth pushed the Cardinals lead to 3-0. Tyler Fitzgerald continued his strong weekend with a solo home run in the seventh, putting Louisville ahead 4-0 entering the stretch.
N.C. State did make it close with a couple of runs coming out of the seventh inning stretch. Evan Edwards had an RBI single to right field that got the Wolfpack on the board, then Patrick Bailey brought in a run on a sac fly to centerfield.
But the Cardinals would put it out of reach in the eighth inning, scoring two runs on Lucas Dunn’s RBI single through the right side.
N.C. State shortstop Will Wilson hit his third homer of the series in the bottom of the ninth off Michael Kirian, closing the gap to 6-3. But Kirian would finish the game with a strikeout and groundout, giving Louisville the sweep and their biggest series win in 2019.
Lucas Dunn and Henry Davis drove in four of Louisville’s six runs in game three, both going 1-for-5 at the plate. Alex Binelas was 2-for-3 with two walks, both hits going for doubles. Justin Lavey (2-for-4) and Tyler Fitzgerald (2-for-5) also had multi-hit games. Counting the NKU game on Tuesday, Fitzgerald finished the week 8-for-20 with eight RBIs, three doubles, one triple and a home run.
Up next, Louisville looks to secure a season sweep of Kentucky on Tuesday. The Cards travel to Lexington to face the ‘Cats in brand new Kentucky Proud Park for the first time.