LEXINGTON, Ky. - Senior catcher Kyle Gibson connected for his first career collegiate home run but it was not enough as the No. 8 Louisville baseball team lost 8-3 at 17th-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
In the second inning of a scoreless game, Gibson (Henderson, Ky.) sent the first offering he saw from UK lefty starter Dylan Dwyer over the left field wall scoring junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) for a 2-0 advantage for the Cardinals (21-7). However, the Wildcats (20-9) answered by scoring the game’s next seven runs to clinch their first home win over Louisville since 2011.
“Twice we had the bases loaded tonight and came away with a total of one run, so those two innings really hurt us,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “At the plate, you know about the top half of their lineup and we did a really nice job of attacking those guys, but we struggled with the bottom of the lineup tonight and you have to give them credit. Now, we’ll turn our focus to Memphis and an important conference series at home but we know we’ll get Kentucky again in a couple of weeks at our ballpark.”
The two-run second inning for the Cardinals started with a one-out single by Lucas, who moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by freshman outfielder Colin Lyman (Algonquin, Ill.) before scoring on the Gibson home run. Louisville had a shot for even more in the inning after loading the bases with two outs, but a flyout to left field ended the inning in the first of two times in Tuesday’s game the Cardinals would end an inning with the bases loaded.
The Wildcats answered in the bottom of the second scoring two runs of their own to even the score at 2-2. Designated hitter Thomas Bernal delivered a RBI single to plate catcher Michael Thomas for the first run, while second baseman JaVon Shelby followed with a RBI single to score outfielder Kyle Barrett for the second run.
Following a scoreless third inning, Kentucky gained its first lead of the night in the fourth when Bernal connected for his first career home run, a three-run shot to left field off Louisville freshman lefty Josh Rogers (New Albany, Ind.) for the 5-2 advantage. The Wildcats added to the lead in the sixth with a two-run inning on a bases loaded RBI walk for Shelby and a RBI sacrifice fly by outfielder Austin Cousino for the 7-2 cushion.
After loading the bases with no outs in the seventh inning, the Cardinals cut into the deficit after senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.) scored on a RBI sacrifice fly by senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.). Like the second inning, Louisville had a chance for more in the seventh but a soft lineout with two in scoring position and a strikeout with the bases loaded ended that threat.
The Wildcats added their final run of the night in the eighth inning after Shelby connected for his third home run of the season, a solo shot to left field for the 8-3 lead. Shelby, who finished the night 2-for-2 with three RBI and a run scored, and Bernal, who was 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs, proved to be the difference for Kentucky.
Rogers suffered his first career collegiate loss allowing five runs on five hits in four innings to fall to 0-1 on the season. Dwyer earned the win for the Wildcats and moved to 2-1 on the season after allowing two runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. Spencer Jack worked 2.2 innings of shutout relief to earn his second save of the season.
Up next, eighth-ranked Louisville returns home to host American Conference foe Memphis in a three-game series at Jim Patterson Stadium. The weekend will begin on Friday at 6 p.m., with the annual Patriotic Game presented by Kentucky National Guard. The series will continue on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., each day and admission is free throughout the weekend.
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Louisville Postgame Notes
- Tuesday’s matchup was the first of two midweek games scheduled between the Cardinals and Wildcats with the return game set for April 15 at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville.
- Prior to Tuesday, the Cardinals had won each of their previous two games in Lexington by a combined score of 24-5.
- Including Tuesday’s result, Louisville is15-2 this season when scoring first.
- The Cardinals are 0-6 this season when scoring three or less runs in a game.
- Louisville played error-free baseball for the 10th time this season and lost for just second time when doing so.
- Senior Kyle Gibson, who connected for a Henderson County High School record 25 home runs as a prep star, delivered his first collegiate home run in his 363rd at-bat in the Louisville uniform.
- Tuesday marked the first time this season senior Cole Sturgeon has not reached base safely ending a stretch of 33 games overall dating back to last season.
- Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Louisville players, coaches and support staff visited Kosair Children’s Hospital in downtown Louisville in what has become an annual event.