Record 6,235 see Louisville advance in Super Regional

Kade McClure looking like his old self, holding Kentucky to only four hits. (Cindy Rice Shelton photo)

The scary thing about playing the Kentucky baseball team is that five UK players are hitting .326 and better. The leadoff batter Tristan Pompey at 364, followed by Evan White at 370 and Zach Reks at 354.

Intimidating on paper and in person. One wonders how have they could have lost 22 games.

If the University of Louisville pitcher gets off to a shaky start, the Cardinals would face an uphill battle. Kade McClude, for example, who has more than his share of struggles the past couple of weeks, giving up 17 runs in four games.

Fortunately for UofL, the Kade McClure on the mound Friday closely resembled the Kade McClure who had a 12-0 record and was an All-American last season. Playing with a newfound confidence, he would allow the Wildcats only four hits but no runs.

Setting UofL up for a 5-2 win before a record crowd of 6,235 in the first game of the Super Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium. Improving his record to 8-3 while Louisville was tying its all-time high of 51 wins, against 10 losses.

Reassuring that Drew Ellis would finally shake off the doldrums, finally collecting his 18th home run, finally shaking the post-season slump. He would slap a 3-2 pitch at least 430 feet in the fifth inning, clearing the left field bleachers, driving in three huge runs.

Leadoff hitter Logan Taylor, who seems to depend more on bases on balls and being hit to reach base, getting UofL off to a good start with a two-bagger in the first inning.  Stealing second and scoring on a single by Devin Mann, getting Louisville off on the right foot.

Taylor would also collect a walk in the fifth inning and score on that Drew Ellis blast.

Louisville managing only four hits in the win, needing to pick up the pace on Saturday, needing to provide some hitting support for Brendan McKay in what will be his last home game on the mound at UofL.

Attendance of 6,235 for the first game of the Super Regional is an all-time record.

Devin Hairston just keeps on delivering for UofL Baseball

Devin Hairston is the man you want at the plate with UofL runners on base (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“When the lights are on, Devin Hairston’s the guy you want at the plate.”

The word coming from Dan McDonnell, coach of the University of Louisville baseball team following a 7-5 win in a game that clinched two out of three in a series against Wake Forest over the weekend.

That’s saying something when your team has players like Brendan McKay, with a hefty .388 batting average, and Drew Ellis, currently hitting .364. They get the attention of the professional scouts. Hairston gets the job done with runners on base.

Hairston is leading the team in runs batted in with 36 of them through 31 games. He is followed by Colby Fitch with 27, Ellis with 25, McKay with 22, Devin Mann and Logan Taylor with 21, and Colin Lyman with 16.

“Devin is just very even keel,” said McDonnell. “He just very confident in his ability as he should be. He’s just competing, he’s grinding out, he’s very consistent. When the lights are on, he has those very good at-bats.”

Hairston, who is currently batting .325, had three hits and drove in four runs, including a game-clinching two-run double in the eighth inning before a crowd of 4,056 at Jim Patterson Stadium. It was UofL’s 31st consecutive series win at home, including 13 straight against Atlantic Coast Conference foes.

“I’m really happy for him, and I’m happy for our guys,” said McDonnell. “We showed a lot of toughness today.”

The Cardinals are now 27-4 overall and 12-3 in the ACC. Clemson, meanwhile, moved into first place in the Atlantic Division with a 13-2 mark following a weekend sweep of Virginia Tech.