No. 6 Louisville jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on a home run from Brendan McKay and a six-run sixth inning blew the game open as the Cardinals cruised to a 10-4 victory over Ball State on Sunday afternoon at Spectrum Field in sunny Clearwater, Fla.
With its victory over Ball State, the Cardinals notched wins over teams projected as the overall or division favorite by the respective league coaches. Alabama State (SWAC) and Maryland (Big 10) were both picked to win their conferences, with Ball State (MAC) forecast to win its division and finish second.
Louisville improves to 3-0 on the season.
For the second time in three games, Brendan McKay receives MVP honors.
The junior All-American, who made the start at first base, connected for second home run of the season. The third inning to right field left cleared the far fence at Spectrum Field and plated Devin Mann to give U of L an early 3-0 advantage. He also drew a bases loaded walk in the sixth to plate Logan Taylor. He later scored during Louisville's six-run sixth inning.
*** Freshman Michael McAvene worked 3.2 innings, throwing 78 pitches, 40 for strikes. He surrendered one run on three hits and three walks, while striking out four.
*** Senior righty Shane Hummel entered the fourth inning with two out and bases loaded, and quickly ended the Ball State threat with a strikeout. He worked 1.1 innings, allowing no hits.
*** After spending last season as a redshirt while continuing to rehab from injury, right-handed closer Riley Thompson entered the game with two out, two on in the eight inning and ended the threat with a strikeout. Hitting 98 mph on the radar twice in the ninth, Thompson struck out three more, with one HBP..
*** Freshman Danny Oriente started in left field but left the game in the third after injuring his wrist while diving for a bloop shot in shallow left field. He connected for a double in his only plate appearance.
*** Sophomore Josh Stowers, who made his first career start on Saturday, replaced Oriente in the left field. The Chicago product went 1-for-2 at the plate, also drawing a walk and scoring twice.
*** Making his first start behind the plate, sophomore Zeke Pinkham went 1-for-4 at the plate and contributing a pair of RBI.
The Cardinals welcome in-state foe Eastern Kentucky for the program's home-opener on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch at Jim Patterson is slated for 3 p.m.