Cards crush Morehead State, 20-2
The Cardinals continued their hot streak to the young season by pounding out a season-high 16 hits and scoring a season-best 20 runs in a resounding win against the in-state foe.
The win, which marked the 17th straight against the Eagles, was highlighted with four different Cardinals connecting for a home run on a windy evening at Jim Patterson Stadium. Seniors Colin Lyman and Michael Bollmer both connected for their first career home runs, with Colby Fitch and Drew Ellis also going yard for the Cardinals.
Lyman and Fitch, along with Brendan McKay enjoyed a hit-three outing, while Logan Taylor connected for a pair of hits to lead the offensive barrage. Ellis, highlighted by a grand slam, topped the team with five RBI. Fitch plated four, with Lyman and Bollmer each driving in three.
Bryan Hoeing made the mid-week start for the second consecutive week and tossed 76 pitches in 4.1 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out one. Jake Sparger picked up his second win of the season after working 1.2 innings without allowing a run. Rabon Martin, Adam Elliott and Chandler Dale each worked a scoreless inning to close the game.
Louisville improves to 8-0 on the season which is the best start since the 2010 squad started 13-0.
When Drew Ellis stepped up to the plate for the fourth time against Morehead State, he was still in search of his first hit of the game. The prior three trips saw him make great swings on the ball, sending drives to the warning track each time.
Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, Ellis remained focused in on the pitch and wasn't aware that the bases were full of teammates. It wasn't until he rounded third and saw Devin Mann, Colby Fitch, Logan Taylor, along with on-deck hitter Colin Lyman, waiting for him to cross the plate that he realized what just happened.
"To be honest, I didn't even know the bases were loaded, but when I saw four guys at home plate, including Lyman who was on deck, I was like, 'I just hit a grand slam, this is pretty cool.' With them greeting me and giving me hugs, it was awesome."
It was the second grand slam for the Cardinals this season. Brendan McKay connected for a first inning slam last week against Eastern Kentucky.
After hitting .308 as a freshman and improving that to .333 as a sophomore, junior two-way All-American Brendan McKay has taken things to another level during the early stages of the 2017 campaign.
McKay was a perfect 3-for-3 against Morehead State to improve his batting average to .667 through eight games, makes him the hottest hitter in the nation and places him at the top of the national statistical rankings. His slugging percentage (1.083) and on base percentage (.714) also rank among the nation's top five.
"He's just a real good hitter," said McDonnell. "Everybody knew he was a superstar on the mound because he's throwing on Friday night for the University of Louisville. I thought his offensive numbers last year didn't really show what a complete hitter that he really is, but pro ball is aware of it. It's fun to see what's going to happen."
His 13 RBI top the team and his three home runs are equal to Ellis for tops on the team.
Through eight games the Cardinals offense has connected for 10 or more hits. The team's 104 total hits - good for an average of 13 per outing -places them among the nation's top hitting groups. Louisville's team average of .365 is fifth best nationally.
Head coach Dan McDonnell credited his assistants and the work ethic of players for the surging offense.
"We feel like we've got balance up and down the order," said McDonnell. "Coach Snider and Coach Vrabel do a phenomenal job. We've got a lot of older hitters and these guys work extremely hard."
"All of our guys are doing really well at the plate," said Ellis. "We succeeding and if we keep this thing rolling we'll be really good in the long run."
"Everyone has good at-bats in this lineup, top to bottom," added Lyman.
Louisville welcomes Eastern Michigan for a three-game set this weekend. It will be the first meeting between the two programs since 2011. The Cardinals hold a 5-4 all-time series lead.
First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3p.m., with Saturday's game set for 1p.m. and Sunday slated for a noon start.