Kay HR helps Cards take down WKU

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Junior infielder Grant Kay delivered the decisive two-run homer in the seventh inning while junior righty Nick Burdi became the Cardinals' career saves leader in the No. 10 Louisville baseball team's 5-3 win at Western Kentucky on Wednesday.

With the score tied at 2-2, Kay (Omaha, Neb.) crushed a 2-1 offering from WKU reliever Brennan Pearson sending it over the wall in left field to score senior outfielder Cole Sturgeon (Owensboro, Ky.) and push Louisville (18-6) ahead for good. With his third home run of the season, Kay finished the night 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored.

After entering the game with two outs in the eighth inning, Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill.) needed just 16 pitches to retire all four batters he faced, including two by strikeout, to earn his fourth save of the season and the 20th all-time in a Louisville uniform surpassing Neil Holland (19 saves, 2008-10) as the Cardinals' career leader. A Perfect Game First Team All-American last season after earning 16 saves for Louisville's College World Series team, Burdi has 17 strikeouts in 9.1 shutout innings of relief this season.

Louisville also became the first team to defeat the Hilltoppers (13-12) at Bowling Green Ballpark, the downtown home of the Bowling Green Hot Rods, the single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. WKU had won each of its first six games at the ballpark, including three wins over the Cardinals and three over Kentucky.

The Cardinals struck first on Wednesday night when Kay delivered a two-out RBI single to left field to score senior third baseman Alex Chittenden (Indianapolis, Ind.) for the 1-0 lead. Chittenden led off the inning with a single to center and moved into scoring position at second on a single by junior shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa.).

Louisville added to its lead in the top of the sixth inning on a RBI single up the middle by freshman designated hitter Nick Solak (Woodridge, Ill.) to score Kay for the 2-0 lead. Kay started the scoring chance with a one-out walk from WKU righty starter Josh Bartley and advanced to third on a single by junior second baseman Zach Lucas (Louisville, Ky.) before scoring later in the inning.

The Hilltoppers then broke through for a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth on a RBI groundout by outfielder Anderson Miller and a RBI single by Leiff Clarkson to even the score at 2-2. However, the Cardinals responded quickly on the home run by Kay to regain command.

Western Kentucky cut the margin in half in the eighth inning when third baseman Thomas Peter connected for a two-out RBI double to score Miller, who tripled earlier in the frame. However, that was as close as the Hilltoppers would get as Burdi entered from the bullpen to strikeout pinch hitter Hunter Wood for the third out.

The Cardinals added a final insurance run in the ninth on a RBI double by Sturgeon to score Chittenden, who led off the inning by reaching on a fielding error at shortstop by Scott Wilcox. Sturgeon, who allowed one run on two hits in 1.2 innings of relief on the mound, was 2-for-5 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored.

Another highlight for the Cardinals on Wednesday night was the impressive first career collegiate start by freshman lefthander Josh Rogers (New Albany, Ind.), who allowed only two hits with two strikeouts in four shutout innings. Fellow freshman lefty Drew Harrington (Elizabethtown, Ky.) was credited with his first career win to move to 1-0 overall after allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts in two innings of relief. Reliever Tate Glasscock was charged with the loss for the Hilltoppers after allowing one run on one hit in an inning of relief.

Up next, Louisville host Xavier on Friday at 6 p.m., Butler on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., and Xavier again on Sunday at 1 p.m., Saturday's Louisville-Butler game will be preceded by a Butler-Xavier matchup at noon and admission is free throughout the week at Jim Patterson Stadium.

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