Louisville Sweeps Doubleheader vs. Western Illinois to Clinch Series

The Cardinals respond after dropping the series opener on Friday.
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(Photo of Adam Elliott: William Caudill via University of Louisville Athletics)

Game 1

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W: Michael Kirian (1-0), L: Jace Warkentien (0-1), S: Jack Perkins (1)

Game 2

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W: Luke Smith (2-0), L: Chandler Fochs (0-1), S: Kaleb Corbett (2)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Following an upset loss in game one of their three-game series against Western Illinois, the Louisville baseball program got back in the right direction, taking both games of a doubleheader against the Leathernecks, 4-1 and 9-4 respectively, to clinch the weekend series.

The No. 2 Cardinals (6-1) move to 86-7 in non-conference home games over the last six seasons, and 43-1 in non-conference home series during the same span.

After giving up eight runs on 15 hits in the series opener, Louisville had much better pitching in game two. Making just the second start of his collegiate career, junior left-hander Michael Kirian tossed four scoreless innings, gave up just three hits and struck out four batters - which tied his career high.

Senior left-hander Adam Elliott made his return to the bullpen after getting the start in game two of last weekend's series, and picked up where Kirian left off. He tossed 4.0 solid innings, and did not allow a hit until the eighth inning. Western Illinois plated a run during this inning, but it was unearned due to a fielding error.

While Louisville might not have had explosive bats in game two, it was enough to get the job done. Sophomore infielder Cooper Bowman (0-2, RBI. SF) drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in the second inning and freshman infielder Christian Knapczyk (1-3, R) scored on a balk in the fifth to get the scoring started.

Junior shortstop Lucas Dunn (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2B, R) had arguably his best day of the young season, launching a solo home run in the sixth and striking an RBI double down the right field line in the eighth.

Junior outfielder Cam Masterman (2-3, R, BB) also continued with his hot start to the season, and was the first Cardinal the season to reach double digit base hits.

Sophomore right-hander Jack Perkins took to the mound in the ninth inning, tossing a scoreless frame to earn Louisville's first save of the season. He struck out one and allowed just one baserunner.

For the final game of the series, Louisville's bats finally started to wake up. The Cardinals plated a run in five separate innings, including a five-spot in the third inning to break open the game early.

Luke Brown (2-5, R), Levi Usher (2-4, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Cooper Bowman (2-4, 2B, R) had multi-hit games, while Usher and Henry Davis (1-3, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB) drove in multiple RBIs.

Making his second start of the year, senior right hander Luke Smith had another solid outing, as he struck out three over 5.0 innings, and surrendered just one run on five hits.

Freshman left-hander Riley Phillips was inserted to start the sixth, and Western Illinois immediately jumped on the pitching change. The southpaw pitched just 0.2 innings, but gave up three earned runs before Kaleb Corbett was inserted. He would pitch the remaining 3.1 innings, tossing seven strikeouts and surrendering just a single hit in the process.

Next up for Louisville, they'll play a midweek game against Morehead State before starting conference play. First pitch is slated for Tuesday, Mar. 2 at 3:00pm EST, and will be broadcast on 1450 WXVW.

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