No. 20 Louisville took advantage of a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first inning, opening the game up with a six-run third inning for a 10-2 win over No. 1 Kentucky to sweep the two-game season series, on an overcast Tuesday night in front of a UL season-high 3,862 at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (35-7) suffered just its second non-conference loss of the year, with both coming at the hands of the Cardinals. The Wildcats sport a sparkling 22-2 record vs. non-SEC foes this year. UL posted a resounding 12-0 win earlier in the year in Lexington. The series sweep avenges UK’s sweep over the Cards last year, when the Wildcats claimed both meetings.
UK starter Sam Mahar (3-2) worked into the third inning in his second career start, tossing two innings, before loading the bases and walking in a run to end his game. He allowed five hits and six runs – four earned – in his two innings, walking two without a strikeout. Freshman Chandler Shepherd replaced Mahar with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the third inning, struggling to get out of the inning, allowing the first four hitters he faced to reach base before recording an out. Shepherd worked 2.2 innings, allowing four hits and three runs, walking three and striking out one. Freshman A.J. Reed worked 1.1 shutout innings with a strikeout, with junior righty Walter Wijas also tossing a shutout frame. Tim Peterson worked the eighth inning for the Wildcats
The Wildcats collected five hits in the loss, with UK getting singles from Jeff Boehm, Thomas McCarthy, Zac Zellers and Cameron Flynn. Michael Williams also collected a hit and drew a walk, with Austin Cousino recording an RBI groundout and drew a walk.
Louisville (29-12) starter Chad Green (3-0) worked three innings, allowing two hits and one run, walking one and striking out one. Travis Tingle took over to start the fourth inning, tossing two shutout innings, allowing only one UK hit and one walk, striking out two. Cody Ege, Dace Kime, Cole Sturgeon and Derek Self also pitched in relief for UL.
UK returns to action on Friday, traveling to defending SEC Champion Vanderbilt for a three-game series. The series will begin on Friday at 7 p.m. ET in Nashville, with the games broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, available live in Central Kentucky on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
After a scoreless top half of the first for the Wildcats, Louisville was the first on the scoreboard. Nick Ratajczak got the Cardinals started by reaching on an error. With two outs, Ty Young singled to right field, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Mahar walked Stewart Ijames to load the bases before Alex Chittenden hit a single up the middle to score Ratajczak and Young. Cousino threw out Ijames trying to advance to third on the single but not before the Cardinals had two runners cross and take a 2-0 lead.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the top of the third as Williams led off with a base on balls. Williams advanced to second with one out on a well-executed sacrifice bunt from Reida. Williams advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on a ground out from Cousino. Kentucky entered the bottom half of the third trailing by just one at 2-1.
Ratajczak got Louisville started in the bottom of the third with a leadoff double to left center. Lucas followed with a single through the left side to put runners on first and third with no outs. Young was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Mahar walked Ijames to score Ratajczak, the Cardinals third run of the evening with the bases still loaded and no outs. Shepherd entered the game in the top of the third and hits the first batter he faced, bringing home the Cardinals’ second run of the inning. Jeff Gardner followed up with a ground-rule double down the right field line, scoring Ijames and Young and leaving Gardner and Wasserman on second and third. Kyle Gibson walked for Louisville to load the bases once again, still no outs. On a high, chopping groundball, Matt Helms reached safely on an infield single, scoring Wasserman and leaving the bases still loaded. Shepherd recorded Kentucky’s first out of the inning with a fly ball to center, the sacrifice fly extended Louisville’s lead to 8-1 with Gardner crossing the plate. Shepherd got the Wildcats out of the bottom of the third with a pop up in foul territory and a fly out to left but the damage was already done as Louisville took an 8-1 lead.
Louisville added it on in the bottom of the fifth as Shepherd surrendered a one-out walk to Helms, the fifth walk of the night by the Kentucky pitching staff. Cole Sturgeon reached on an inside single to shortstop and Ratajczak walked to load the bases with one out. Lucas plated the Cardinals’ ninth run of the night with an RBI fly out to center, scoring Helms. Reed took the mound for the Wildcats with two outs and runners on first and second and used just one pitch to get Kentucky out of the inning. Louisville claimed a 9-1 lead.
Kentucky made some noise in the top of the seventh. Boehm led off the Wildcats with an infield single to second base. Williams followed Boehm with a single through the right side. Reida reached on a fielder’s choice to leave runners on first and third with one out. Kentucky loaded the bases with one out after a Cousino walk. McCarthy knocked in the Wildcats’ second run of the night with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Boehm. With runners on second and third Maile flew out to deep right center to end the inning for the Wildcats. Kentucky got one run back in the top of the seventh, but still trailed 9-2.
Louisville added a run in the bottom of the eighth, as Young doubled with one out, scoring after Mike White blooped a single down the leftfield line with two outs.