LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Juniors Devin Hairston and Drew Ellis combined for five hits and four RBI to lead the No. 2 Louisville baseball team to a 5-3 victory over No. 8 Kentucky in front of a school record crowd of 6,210 on Tuesday night at Jim Patterson Stadium.
In the first meeting this season in the annual two-game Battle of the Bluegrass series, the Cardinals (25-3) scored five runs in the first three innings before holding off a ninth inning rally by the Wildcats (21-9). Tuesday’s result marked the sixth straight win for Louisville against Kentucky and was the Cardinals’ 13th straight victory against in-state foes. Louisville also extended its regular season home winning streak to 37 straight games.
The standing-room only crowd for Tuesday’s game was surpassed the previous school attendance record of 6,138 against Florida State in 2015. It marked the fourth time in school history the Cardinals have played in front of a crowd of at least 6,000 at Patterson Stadium.
Hairston, a Lexington native, was 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and scored once, while Ellis finished 2-of-3 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and a run scored. Hairston leads the Cardinals with 32 RBI while hitting .333 overall this season. Ellis, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games, leads Louisville with 10 doubles and has a .392 batting average.
On a staff day for the Louisville pitchers, senior righthander Shane Hummel was credited with the win and moved to 3-0 on the season after working two scoreless innings with three strikeouts in his second start of the season. Five Cardinals relievers combined to follow Hummel and cover the next 6.1 innings, highlighted by freshman lefty Adam Elliott, who worked around two hits to deliver three scoreless innings. Junior righty Lincoln Henzman closed the game with the final two outs for his eighth save of the season.
In just the second meeting all-time in the series with both teams ranked in the top 10 (previous was in 2013), the Cardinals started fast plating a pair of runs in the first inning. After a two-out fielding error by Kentucky third baseman Tyler Marshall on a groundball from Hairston extended the inning, junior Brendan McKay singled to the right side before Ellis drove both players home with a two-run double down the left field line.
Louisville added to the lead in the second inning when Hairston delivered a two-out, two-run double to score senior Ryan Summers and sophomore Josh Stowers. Summers started the scoring chance with a two-out walk from Zack Thompson, the first of three straight walks to load the bases. Hairston followed a walk to junior Colby Fitch by sending a 2-1 pitch into left center field where it bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double and a 4-0 lead.
The home side plated their fifth two-out run of the day in the third inning when Stowers was hit by a pitch by an 0-2 pitch from Thompson with the bases loaded to send Ellis home for the 5-0 cushion. Ellis started the inning with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from senior Colin Lyman before back-to-back walks by Thompson loaded the bases.
The Wildcats broke through fall three of their runs in the ninth inning as Tristan Pompey drove in Marcus Carson with a RBI single and Zach Reks added a two-out, two-run single to plate Zeke Lewis and Connor Heady. In an attempt to move the tying run into scoring position, Reks tried to steal second but thrown out as Fitch combined with Hairston for the game-ending caught stealing.
Up next, the No. 2 Cardinals continue their five-game homestand at Jim Patterson Stadium with a weekend series against No. 17 Wake Forest, which begins Friday at 6 p.m., ET with the annual Patriotic Game.