Ryan Hawks (W, 2-0) tossed 7.1 strong innings for his second win in as many weeks, dominating the Falcons in a game that took just 1 hour and 46 minutes. This was the fastest 9 inning game on record for Louisville since at least 2000. Hawks tallied 8 strikeouts, allowing 4 hits, and 1 unearned run. He did not walk a single batter.
In this young season, Greg Farone (S, 1) looks like he is going to be one of the more reliable arms in the bullpen. He twirled the final 1.2 innings, striking out 3 batters, not allowing a hit, run, or walk.
So far this year, Farone has thrown 4.2 innings, striking out 11 (out of 14 possible outs), allowing 3 hits with a 1.93 ERA. It’s safe to say his transition to D1 has worked out well.
As good as the pitching looked, the defense was not up to Coach McDonnell’s standard on Friday. The Cardinals committed 3 errors, one each by Jack Payton, Logan Beard, and Ryan Hawks. Fortunately, the Falcons were only able to capitalize on one of them and minimize the damage.
At the plate, Louisville mustered just 4 hits, but it was enough to claim the win behind two stout pitching performances.
Jack Payton (2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R) was the highlight at the dish, picking up half of the Cardinals hits. The Falcons pitcher left a curve ball up in the zone in the bottom of the first inning and Payton knew exactly what to do with it. He hit a moon shot that kept carrying over the left field wall into the berm, giving Louisville and early 1-0 lead.
Bowling Green plated an unearned run in the 6th inning to tie the game, but Louisville would answer in the home half of the 7th with the go-ahead and final run of the afternoon.
Payton would double to lead off the inning, move to third on a ground ball by Ryan McCoy, and later score on a single by Eddie King Jr. Fundamental baseball at its best.
To me, this was the most encouraging game of the young season. Not only was it 1 hour and 46 minutes, but Louisville showed they can win a pitchers duel, after winning a slugfest 12-8 on Wednesday. Winning games of this capacity is a huge confidence booster for the pitching staff and proves they don’t need high scoring affairs to win every game.
Sure, competition is going to increase as the season goes on, but confidence goes a long way, and it appears they have found their ace in Ryan Hawks. Combine that with the emergence of Farone and Tate Kuehner, once available, this team has a path to win a lot of games this season.
The second game of the weekend is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM. Riley Phillips (1-0, 2.70) will take the mound for the Cards and face Tyler Hays, who was 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA last season.
The game will be televised on ACC Network Extra and 970 AM. Admission is free.