LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 11th-ranked Louisville Cardinals took advantage of 16 hits, 14 singles, to take down #26 WKU, 7-4, Wednesday night in Louisville, Ky, despite a late Hilltopper rally. The loss is WKU's fifth-straight against Louisville and drops the Hilltoppers' record to 28-13 on the season. Louisville improves to 30-6 with the win.
Matt Rice had two of WKU's nine hits, and Casey Dykes had a hit and two runs. Kory Petri and Blake Crabtree each drove in ninth-inning runs as well.
In sharp contrast to Tuesday night's game against Kentucky, in which WKU scored 22 runs on 19 hits in its first three at-bats, the Hilltoppers were held scoreless on two hits through three innings against Cardinal starter Justin Amlung. In the inning, Rice singled with two outs in the first inning and Petri singled with one away in the third but was erased on a caught-stealing.
Tanner Perkins, making his 10th start of the season but first in the midweek, was solid in three innings of work. He got two quick flyouts in the first inning before allowing a single, but the left-hander induced an easy groundout to end the inning. He again gave up just a two-out single in the second, and Louisville finally broke through for a pair of runs on four hits in the third inning to lead, 2-0, after three frame. Perkins loaded the bases in the third with no outs before getting a strikeout, and Ryan Wright and Phil Wunderlich singled and hit a sacrifice fly, respectively, to score two runs. With two runners still on base, Perkins got another big strikeout to end the inning with both still aboard.
Taylor Haydel entered the game in relief in the bottom of the fourth inning and loaded the bases with one out, before Matt Payton made a good play on a ball up the middle to start an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
The Hilltoppers plated a run in the top of the fifth to cut the Louisville lead to 2-1. Dykes walked to start the inning, and Jake Wells singled after Dykes stole second base to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Logan Robbins stepped up and laid down a bunt that scored Dykes before he was retired at first.
But the Cardinals got that run back in the home-half of the fifth and increased their lead once again to two runs. Andrew Clark and Wright both singled, but Haydel got Wunderlich to ground out into a run-scoring double play to clear the bases. After another single, Louisville's 11th of the game, Haydel got a strikeout to keep the score 3-1 in favor of Louisville after five innings.
Louisville broke the game open with four runs on five hits in the bottom of the sixth, all coming with two outs, and led 7-1 after six innings. WKU used three pitchers to get through the inning, and Louisville strung together four-straight hits and saw six hitters reach base in a row to account for the scoring.
Rye Davis entered in the bottom of the eighth and set down the Cardinals in order for the first time in the game.
The Hilltoppers did not go down without a fight, as Petri doubled home two runs with two away in the ninth inning and Crabtree followed with an RBI single that cut the Louisville lead to 7-4. Louisville then went to its bullpen and brought in Brian Feekin with two outs in the ninth, who retired Jared Andreoli to end the game.
Perkins took the loss for WKU and falls to 3-4 on the year.
WKU hitters struck out 13 times in the game.
Up Next: WKU returns to Sun Belt Conference play this weekend when it hosts FIU in a three-game series at Nick Denes Field Friday-Sunday. Friday's game starts at 6:00 PM, Saturday's contest begins at 3:00 PM and Sunday's series finale is at 12:00 PM. WKU and FIU are tied in the Sun Belt Conference standings with identical 9-6 league records.