LOUISVILLE, KY – Behind Drew Ellis’s three-run home run and Kade McClure’s shutout start, the Louisville Cardinals took Game 1 of the Super Regional by beating Kentucky 5-2 on Friday afternoon.
Ellis’s 18th jack of the season came off reliever Zach Logue in the fifth inning and gave Louisville some insurance runs, extending its lead to 5-0. Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione decided to bring in Logue mid-at-bat after reliever Chris Machamer fell behind in the count 2-0 to Ellis.
Ellis had been struggling of late, but he said, “I trust my ability. I work extremely hard at my craft.” He also mentioned his stronger batting practice sessions lately that have helped him the past week.
The Cardinals kicked off the scoring in the second inning when Logan Taylor – who knocked a double down the left field line to lead off the inning – scored on a Devin Mann RBI-single. Brendan McKay was hit by a pitch, then Ellis knocked in Mann on a ground out.
McClure exited the game in the sixth after only 75 pitches and never faced more than four batters in an inning. His final line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO.
Kentucky’s biggest scoring threat was in the fifth inning after the first two batters reached on singles, but a failed sacrifice bunt and a caught stealing enabled McClure to strikeout Connor Heady to end the inning, stranding a runner at third.
UK starting pitcher Zack Thompson got out of major trouble in the fourth inning. After he retired the first two batters, two walks and a single loaded the bases, but he struck out Jake Snider to end the threat.
Kentucky’s first run came on a solo home run by Evan White in the top of the ninth inning. Tyler Marshall knocked in Riley Mahan as well in the ninth before Lincoln Henzman struck out T.J. Collett to end the game.
About tomorrow’s elimination game, UK catcher Kole Cottam said, “We just trust in the brotherhood we have here…We trust the process we’ve been through.” Kentucky had its back against the wall last weekend and had to win three straight elimination games to win its own regional.
When asked about the atmosphere and the record-setting crowd, Mingione said, “Anytime we’re doing good in baseball – and them – it’s great for our state.” A school record 6,235 fans were in attendance for Friday’s game.
“We grinded out at-bats,” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said. “We fouled a lot of balls. We competed.”
After the game, he announced that McKay will be tomorrow’s starting pitcher.
For the fourth year in a row, Louisville is hosting a Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium. This is Louisville’s fifth straight Super Regional appearance; it is Kentucky’s first in program history.
McDonnell – in his 11th year leading the Cardinals – is attempting to lead his program to its fourth-ever appearance in the College World Series, its third in five years and its first since 2014. It can punch another ticket to Omaha tomorrow.
Louisville Super Regional TV Schedule
Game 2: Saturday, June 10 – Noon (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, June 11 – Noon (ESPN or ESPN2)