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Bats come alive as Louisville beats Georgia Tech, Cards win series 2-1

The Cards pounded out 13 hits on Sunday to beat the Jackets 9-3

If you look back at Dan McDonnell’s tenure as the head coach at Louisville (17-2, 2-1 ACC), one reason for the success of his program is their ability to win games rubber games, which was on full display Sunday. With the 9-3 victory over Georgia Tech (14-6, 3-3 ACC), Louisville improved to 21-8-1 in rubber games since joining the ACC in 2015.

This weekend saw two of the premier offenses in the country, both of them averaging 8+ runs a game entering the series. Louisville got the best of Georgia Tech on Friday and the Jackets returned the favor on Saturday, creating a Sunday showdown on a cold day at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Carson Liggett (W, 4-0) got in a bind in the 4th inning, but was able to limit the damage and throw two additional innings to help preserve the bullpen. Liggett has been rock solid in his five starts this season, allowing just 5 earned runs in 25.2 innings of work, striking out 27 while walking 8.

On Sunday, Liggett (6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K, 3 BB) bounced back after being forced to exit the game last weekend when he took a line-drive off his elbow against Dayton.

Freshman Tucker Biven (1.2 IP, 2 H, K, BB) took over on the mound for Liggett and once again threw up another zero on the board. Biven has been a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen this season, posting a 0.84 ERA in the first five outings in his young career.

Tate Kuehner (S, 2) would enter in the 8th inning and throw the final 1.1 innings to complete the series win. Kuehner (1.1 IP, 2 K), who has seen his workload increase after recovering from an injury, picked up the win on Friday night against Georgia Tech and appears that he is settling into the closer role.

At the plate, the Cards scored early and often, crossing home plate in six of their eight at-bats. It should not come to surprise that Jack Payton (3-5, RBI) led Louisville with 3 hits, while increasing his batting average to .427 on the season.

The most encouraging thing about the offense this season is the different ways they can beat you. Logan Beard (2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), JT Benson (2-4, RBI, 2B), and Gavin Kilen (2-4, RBI, 2B) each had stellar weekends in the box. With a lineup that has a lot of versatility and many options at each position, these three are cementing themselves in the everyday lineup.

Kilen and Benson each had 5 hits this weekend while Beard chipped in with 4.

Even with the 13 hits and 9 runs, the most impressive stat on the afternoon was the Cards ability to swipe 8 bases against the Yellow Jackets. Payton and Christian Knapczyk led the way with 3 stolen bases apiece, while Ryan McCoy and Eddie King Jr. each had one.

Although the games across the country on Sunday evening are not complete so these numbers will change, Louisville has moved up 9 spots this week to No. 54 in the RPI and 171 in SOS, which is up nearly 80 spots after playing Georgia Tech.

Here are the current ACC standings:

Louisville will host Western Kentucky (15-6, 1-2 C-USA) on Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM before hitting the road to South Bend for their first ACC series away from Jim Patterson Stadium this season. Notre Dame (9-8, 2-4 ACC) is struggling in their first year post-Link Jarrett, who bolted to his alma mater Florida State after taking the Fighting Irish to the College World Series last season.