In a pitching duel between the two bitter rivals, No. 3 Louisville outlasted Kentucky (25-18) on Tuesday night in front of a Jim Patterson Stadium record crowd of 5,056. The Cats were in control for the better part of the game, but failing to stretch the lead cost them in the end.
UK pitchers Logan Salow and Dylan Dwyer were remarkable through the first eight innings, allowing just one hit. Although his usual niche is as a set-up reliever, Salow, a sophomore lefty, got the start and worked four innings with three strikeouts and one walk on 54 pitches. Dwyer took over in the bottom of the fifth and mirrored Salow’s stats over the next four no-hit innings, striking out three Cardinals.
While seven different Wildcats collected hits on the evening, only once did they string enough together to manufacture a run. Connor Heady led off the top of the third inning with a single and advanced to third on a Kyle Barrett single to right field. Freshman phenom Evan White then singled through the left side for the RBI to score Heady. The third inning was Louisville starting pitcher Sean Leland’s only real test, as Leland tossed seven strong innings with two K’s and one walk.
A great opportunity for an insurance run for the Cats came in the top of the ninth, with Dorian Hairston singling up the middle on a grounder that was just out of reach for his younger brother, Louisville shortstop Devin Hairston. Storm Wilson then walked to put UK runners on first and second with one out. However, Hairston was caught stealing at third base, giving the Cards the momentum they needed to get out of the jam.
Heartbreak ensued in the bottom of the frame, as the Cats were two outs away from a shutout victory. UK turned to closer Spencer Jack after Dwyer walked the leadoff man and Zach Strecker gave up a sac bunt. Louisville pinch runner Logan Taylor easily stole third and strolled home to the tie the game up 1-1 on a Nick Solak single to right field. In the 10th inning, Louisville’s Mike White singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by Heady. Then, pinch hitting for Ryan Summers, Blake Tiberi hit a line drive to center for the walk-off winner. Bummer.
Oh well, no time for a pity party with the Cards coming to Lexington for Part II of the Battle of the Bluegrass next Wednesday. As for now, the Cats gear up for another big test this weekend against No. 8 Vanderbilt at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch is set for Friday at 6:30 p.m.