The 19th-ranked Louisville Cardinals plated three runs in the top of the first inning and got a dominating outing from starter Jared Ruxer, posting a 12-0 win over No.1 Kentucky, snapping UK’s 21-game non-conference winning streak to open the year.
Kentucky (30-4) suffered its first non-conference loss of the season, as UK had opened up with a 21-0 mark in non-league action. UK entered the two-game series with the Cardinals having won the last two meetings, before Louisville claimed the opener of the 2012 series.
The Wildcats mustered a season-low four hits in the game, with Lucas Witt, J.T. Riddle and Thomas McCarthy delivering singles, with McCarthy adding a double late in the game. UK also got walks from Luke Maile and Michael Williams.
UK starter A.J. Reed (4-1) took his first career loss, allowing nine hits and five runs in 2.2 innings, striking out four. Freshman southpaw Sam Mahar took over in a difficult position in the third inning, working three innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out three. Tim Peterson worked a career-long equaling 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and walking one with three strikeouts. Freshmen Jeff Boehm, Chandler Shepherd and Taylor Martin also worked in relief.
Louisville (24-9) starter Jared Ruxer (5-0) tossed six shutout innings, his second splendid outing against a Southeastern Conference foe, as the freshman tossed over five strong innings against Ole Miss earlier in the year. Ruxer allowed only three hits and one walk, striking out six. Cole Sturgeon worked 1.2 shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk with one strikeout. Matt Koch finished off the game in relief.
UK will return to action with a three-game weekend series at No. 9 Arkansas, starting Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET at raucous Baum Stadium. The three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
Louisville hit the ground running as Nick Ratajczak hit a one-out double down the leftfield line in the top of the first. Zach Lucas stepped up and hit a single to the left to put runners on first and third with one out. Stewart Ijames recorded Louisville’s third straight hit and put the Cardinals on the scoreboard in the top of the first with a single to rightfield, scoring Ratajczak and gaining a 1-0 lead. Ty Young was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out for Louisville. The Cardinals extended their lead on a sacrifice fly to centerfield from Alex Chittenden, extending the lead to 2-0. With two outs, Zak Wasserman delivered a bloop single to score Ijames and give Louisville a 3-0 lead after half an inning.
With Kentucky scoreless through the first two, Louisville tacked on more in the top of the third as Young’s home run to left center gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. Wasserman singled down the rightfield line with two outs before Kyle Gibson followed with a Gibson single up the middle. Sturgeon singled to left for Louisville, scoring Wasserman and leading to a pitching change, Mahar in to replace Reed. Mahar forced a fly out from the first batter he faced as Kentucky headed to the bottom of the third trailing 5-0.
Sturgeon led off the Cardinals in the top of the sixth with a double to right center before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Engel hit a second consecutive double for Louisville, scoring Sturgeon and putting the Cardinals up 6-0 with no outs in the top of the sixth. Mahar earned his first out of the inning on a strikeout but allowed Engel to advance to third on a blotched pickoff play. With one out and a runner on third, Peterson took the mound for the Wildcats. After a strikeout and an infield fly out, Peterson left Adam Engel stranded on third and took the Wildcats into the bottom of the sixth down 6-0.
Louisville put more on the scoreboard after Sturgeon led off in the top of the eighth with a single to rightfield. A strikeout gave the Wildcats their first out but Ratajczak reached base on a fielding error, advancing Sturgeon to third and Ratajczak to second. Peterson’s night would end after a walk to Lucas that would load the bases with one out. Facing his first batter, Boehm threw a wild pitch, scoring Sturgeon and advancing Ijames to third and Young to second. Ijames walked to load the bases and a second consecutive base on balls scored the Cardinals’ second run of the eighth. With one out and the bases still loaded, Shepherd replaced Boehm on the mound. White grounded to second and after a force out at second, a throwing error on an attempted double play led to the Cardinals scoring Ijames and Young from second. Kentucky left the top of the eighth trailing 10-0.
UL added a run in the top of the ninth inning, as Lucas doubled home Engel with a ball into the right-centerfield gap. After a called third strike for the final out, UK dropped the third strike and the throw to first went as an error, scoring another run.