Relievers lift Kentucky to 4-2 win, two-game series sweep of Louisville
LOUISVILLE -- Freshmen Zack Brown and Logan Salow combined to work six shutout innings in relief and Kyle Cody came on to earn his third save of the year with a shutout ninth, as No. 19 Kentucky posted a 4-2 win at No. 9 Louisville to sweep the two-game series, on a bitterly cold Tuesday night in front of 2,597 at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Kentucky (24-13) and Louisville battled in the finale of the two-game, home-and-home midweek series, after UK won the opener on April 1, 8-3 at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The win for the Wildcats marks the first UK sweep of Louisville since the 2011 season, with the Cardinals entering the game on a five-game winning streak that included a sweep at No. 7 Houston last weekend.
"Well it's good to win," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "It's a game we want to win every year, just like they do. It's a rivalry game. It's not more important than a league game. I get that every year, twice a year. But we're very glad to win, just like we are every other midweek or in-state team. But Louisville's a good club, Dan [McDonnell] does a great job and it's a good win for us. It's always good win a tight game on the road because it gives your kids confidence going forward."
The Wildcats jumped out to a one-run lead after getting a tally in the second inning. The Cardinals bounced back to chase UK starter Ryne Combs from the game in the bottom of the third inning after loading the bases with no outs, taking a 2-1 lead. UK then plated two runs in the top of the fourth inning, spearheaded by a leadoff walk from All-American A.J. Reed. UK got valuable innings in the middle of the game from Salow (2-1) who worked 3.2 shutout innings, striking out three.
UK added an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning, with Brown coming out to start the ninth having worked 2.1 shutout innings in relief of Combs and Salow. Brown walked the leadoff hitter on four pitches, with UK turning to Cody to try and lock down the save. Cody got a key strikeout of the No. 1 hitter Sutton Whiting, before allowing a hard-hit single down the rightfield line, with Kyle Barrett making a nice play, to put runners on the corners and one out for a pinch hitter. Cody got Danny Rosenbaum to hit into a game-ending double play up the middle, with UK senior shortstop Matt Reida stepping on the bag and firing to first to end the game. It marked the second UK win in Louisville that ended on a double play, as the Wildcats posted a win in 2011 that concluded on a strikeout, caught stealing double play.
A sophomore southpaw, Combs worked in two innings, with his outing ending after loading the bases with no outs in the third and walking in a run. Combs finished with one hit and two runs allowed in his two innings, walking three and striking out two.
A native of Ashland, Ky., Salow came on a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third, allowing an RBI fielder's choice before getting out of the jam with a strikeout-throw-out double play. Salow worked 3.2 shutout innings, allowing five singles and striking out three.
Brown came on with two on and two outs in the sixth, escaping the jam. Brown finished with 2.1 shutout innings, allowing just one hit and two walks, striking out a career-high three.
"It was big," Brown said. "It's a big rivalry for the state kids and coming from Indiana you always know the rivalry exists but you really don't know how it feels. Definitely being on the mound I got that feeling. [It's] Pretty significant. Definitely with Louisville coming off that sweep of Houston and coming over here and winning 4-2, it was a good team win. We didn't really swing the bats well but we found four runs and our `pen came in and shut them down."
The Wildcats were limited to five hits in the game against a stingy Louisville pitching staff, with Austin Cousino, Max Kuhn, Thomas Bernal, Kyle Barrett and JaVon Shelby each notching singles. UK got a run from Reed, Micheal Thomas and Ka'ai Tom, with Tom and Shelby each driving in runs.
Louisville (27-9) starter Josh Rogers (0-2) worked 3.1 innings, allowing two hits and three runs, walking two and striking out a career-high six. Jake Sparger came on in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth, escaping the jam. Sparger worked 2.1 strong innings, allowing two singles and one walk, striking out one. UL then used lefty Drew Harrington and Jonah Philley to get out of the sixth inning, with Philley getting a huge out to escape the jam. Kyle McGrath started the seventh, getting an out before leaving with an injury. Cole Sturgeon took over to get out of the frame, working 1.2 hitless innings, walking one and striking out three. Robert Strader and Zack Brudi worked the ninth inning for the Cards.