After 5 innings of play, Louisville (16-1, 1-0 ACC) was in cruise control in their ACC opener against Georgia Tech (13-5, 2-2 ACC). Ryan Hawks (5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 7 K) was recording yet another impressive outing for the Cardinals ace, then the Yellow Jackets bats woke up.
Facing a 5-0 deficit, Georgia Tech began the 6th inning with five consecutive singles, including one that was misplayed by Haven Mangrum in left field, allowing three runs to score.
They would ultimately score 6 runs in the inning to claim their first lead of the evening, followed by an insurance run in the 7th, increasing the lead to 7-5. Fortunately for Louisville fans, this would conclude the scoring for the Yellow Jackets.
In the home half of the 7th inning, Mangrum hit a grounder to first base, scoring Ryan McCoy (1-1, HR, 4 BB, 3 R) who walked earlier, to pull Louisville within a run.
Fast forward to the bottom of the 8th, the Cards loaded the bases with one out and the heart of their lineup at the plate. Patrick Forbes (1-4, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 3B) drew a walk to tie the game at 7 runs apiece. Louisville had an opportunity to blow the game open, but Isaac Humphrey and Brandon Anderson struck out on six consecutive pitches to end the threat.
Riley Phillips and Tate Kuehner (W, 1-0) kept the Yellow Jackets off the board in the top of the 9th, giving the offense an opportunity for a walk-off victory, the first since April 10, 2022 against North Carolina.
With two outs and the nine-hole hitter at the plate, Logan Beard would draw a walk and advance to second on a wild pitch, followed by another walk to Christian Knapczyk.
Then, the All-American went to work. With the game on the line, Jack Payton (3-6, RBI, R) lined a ball into center field, scoring Beard for the game winner. Louisville completes the comeback, 8-7.
Forbes set the tone early in the game with a bases loaded triple in the third inning to give the Cards a 3-0 lead. It’s not often that you see a freshman cleanup hitter in a Dan McDonnell offense, but Forbes continues to get better and better as he shows a lot of maturity for his age.
After belting 4 home runs in his first 7 games, Ryan McCoy had not hit one in the last 9 games, but his power was on full display Friday night. McCoy hooked a ball just inside the right field foul pole for his 5th home run of the season.
Although Hawks didn’t have his best stuff Friday night, Will Koger, Phillips, and Kuehner combined for 4 innings of one run baseball against a very impressive offense that is top 15 in the country in runs scored.
To see the bullpen pick Hawks up on an off night was very encouraging as this team found yet another way to win a baseball game. These moments will play huge dividends at the end of the season. Louisville pitchers did not walk a single batter.
Louisville will go for the series win tomorrow at 1:00 PM. Greg Farone (1-0, 2.12 ERA) will get the ball for the Cards, but Georgia Tech is yet to announce their starter. The game will be televised on ACC Network Extra and 93.9 The Ville/970 WGTK.