Jeff Gardner got things started for the University of Louisville baseball team with a solo home run to right field, while Ty Young drove in three runs as the Cardinals rallied for a win in the final series of the regular season.
The Cardinals trailed 1-0 when Gardner hit the home run in the bottom of the fourth and Young added a two run single later in the inning that led to a 5-2 victory in the weekend opener before 2,171 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.
"That puts some wind in our sails going into tomorrow," Young said. "This alleviated some pressure but we're not really looking at the big picture. We're just looking at one game at a time."
U of L (44-10, 18-4) has now won 14 games in a row, which is the longest current winning streak in the nation, and will host the Panthers (40-13, 18-4) on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at noon.
If the Cardinals win one of the two final games and they tie for the title and will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Big East tournament. A sweep and the Cardinals would win the title outright.
Chad Green (9-2) started the game and didn't allow an earned run for the third straight outing. He worked five innings and allowed eight hits and struck out five. The Panthers run came in the top of the first after a single to center and an error by center fielder Adam Engel.
But the Cardinals picked up nine hits and plated four runs in the fourth. Gardner started it with a leadoff home run to left followed by a singles from Cole Sturgeon and Shane Crain. Zac Wasserman then reached on a fielders' choice.
Sutton Whiting then walked to loaded the bases before Engel drove home Crain with an infield ground out. Nick Ratajczak was hit by a pitch before Young singled, driving in two runs for a 4-0 lead.
Two solid relief stints came from Jonah Philley, who struck out Sam Parente with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. Cody Ege pitched a scoreless inning and then Nick Burdi got the final four outs and his 13th save.
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