HOUSTON - On the final day of a showdown weekend in the Lone Star State, the 10th-ranked Louisville baseball team completed an impressive series sweep of No. 7 Houston with a 10-3 victory in Sunday’s finale at Cougar Field.
Having already earned the series victory with Saturday’s 3-2 win, the Cardinals (27-8, 7-2 American) finished off their fifth straight series triumph over a top 10 foe by earning the second weekend sweep of the season. In suffering its first series defeat of 2014, the Cougars (26-9, 4-5 American) saw their home loss total more than double after entering the weekend at 19-2 in their on-campus ballpark.
Junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) led the way for the Louisville offense going 2-for-4 with three RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base, while freshman designated hitter Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) singled, walked, stole a base and scored three times. Junior first baseman Grant Kay (Omaha, Neb.) chipped in going 2-for-4 with two RBI, two stolen bases and a run scored as the Cardinals out-hit the Cougars 12-8.
On the mound, sophomore righthanded starter Anthony Kidston (Defiance, Ohio) earned his eighth career win and improved to 3-0 on the season after finishing with six strikeouts and allowing three runs on six hits in 5.0+ innings. Junior lefty Kyle McGrath (Louisville, Ky.) continued his stellar work out of the bullpen with three innings of shutout relief to extend his career-best scoreless streak to 22.2 innings.
For the first time in the weekend series in Houston, Louisville scored first plating a run in the opening inning on a two-out RBI single to left field by Lucas. Solak started the two-out rally with a walk from Cougars lefty Jared West and then took second on a single to right by senior outfielder Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky.) before scoring the first run.
Louisville pushed its lead to 2-0 in the second inning on a RBI sacrifice fly to left field by senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) to score senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.), who reached base earlier in the frame on a throwing error by Houston third baseman Justin Montemayor. After advancing to second on a walk to freshman outfielder Logan Taylor (Lexington, Ky.), Chittenden took third on a single to right field by junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.).
The Cougars plated their first run of the afternoon in the bottom of the second when outfielder Ashford Fulmer sent a 2-2 offering from Kidston over the left field wall for this third home run of the season to lead off the inning. Following a scoreless third inning, Houston pulled even at 2-2 with a run in the fourth on a RBI single up the middle by first baseman Casey Grayson to score Fulmer.
Louisville answered the game-tying run for the Cougars by scoring four runs in the top of the fifth to regain command for good. The first run of inning came on a 1-out bases loaded walk to Lucas to plate Sturgeon for the 3-2 lead. Kay followed with a RBI sacrifice fly to centerfield allowing Solak to score for the two-run cushion. Freshman catcher Will Smith (Louisville, Ky.) finished the scoring with a two-out, two-run single down the right field line off Houston closer Chase Wellbrock sending Gardner and Lucas home for the 6-2 lead.
Houston got one of the four runs back in the bottom of the fifth inning on a RBI single through the right side by shortstop Josh Vidales. The Cougars threatened for more with two runners in scoring position and only one out, but a terrific defensive play at third by Chittenden on a slower roller recorded the second out and a strikeout by Kidston provided the final out of the frame.
The Cardinals added to the lead in the seventh inning scoring two runs against Wellbrock for the largest advantage of the weekend at 8-3. Solak started the inning with a leadoff single to right, moved to second with his third stolen base of the season, advanced to third on a groundball to the right side and scored on a RBI single up the middle by Lucas. After Lucas took second base with his fifth stolen base of the season, he scored the second run of the inning on a RBI single to right field by Kay.
Louisville plated its final two runs of the day in the ninth inning on a RBI single up the middle by Chittenden and a passed ball by Houston. West was charged with the loss for the Cougars dropping to 2-2 on the season after allowing five runs, though just one earned, on four hits with three walks in 4.1 innings of work in the starting role.
Up next, Louisville returns home to host rival Kentucky on Tuesday at 6 p.m., ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.
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