In the longest game of the season, the seventh-ranked Louisville baseball team outlasted No. 21 Indiana for an 8-7 victory in 12 innings at Bart Kaufman Field on Tuesday evening.
With runners on the corners and nobody out in the 12th, Alex Binelas rolled a groundball to the first baseman. The infielder hesitated with his throw before coming to the plate, but Tyler Fitzgerald dove in ahead of the tag for what would prove to be the game-winning run.
Luke Smith (5-0) walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom half of the inning, but followed it up with three consecutive strikeouts to seal the victory for the Cardinals. Smith was one of six pitchers out of the UofL bullpen on Tuesday night that combined for 17 strikeouts over nine innings, allowing just two unearned runs.
The Louisville pitching staff struck out 23 on the night, the most in a single game for the Cardinals since at least 2000. The 23 strikeouts were the third-most in Division I this season, trailing only Georgia and Clemson, which struck out 26 and 24 respectively in a 20-inning marathon on April 16. The 12-inning contest was also the longest for Louisville since it needed 13 innings to defeat Eastern Michigan in 2017.
Louisville (41-12) appeared to be cruising on Tuesday, jumping out to a 6-0 lead through the opening three-and-a-half innings. Logan Wyatt, Danny Oriente and Zach Britton each singled to load the bases in the second inning and Henry Davis drove in the first run of the game with a perfectly placed flair down the right field line. Justin Lavey then took advantage of the run-scoring chance with a fielder’s choice to double the advantage.
One inning later, one swing of the bat from Binelas blew the game open, as the freshman launched his 11th home run of the season to make it a 5-0 contest. Wyatt later drew a bases loaded walk in the fourth to give the Cardinals a 6-0 edge and looking like they were on the verge of an easy victory.
Indiana (33-19) came to life in the bottom of the fourth though. The Hoosiers plated five runs in the bottom of the frame and then tied the game up with two more runs in the seventh inning.
While the Louisville offense couldn’t get going in the later innings, the bullpen kept the Cardinals in the game. Garrett Schmeltz struck out the side in the eighth inning and Michael McAvene struck out five of the six hitters he faced in the ninth and 10th innings.
IU threatened against McAvene in the ninth with a runner advancing to second on a wild pitch with two outs. The Cardinals attempted to throw the runner out at second, but Zeke Pinkham’s throw sailed into centerfield. However, Lucan Dunn backed up the play and threw a strike to third to cut the man down for the final out of the inning to send the game to extra innings.
Smith took over in the 11th and kept the night going with a scoreless inning before finishing off the win in the 12th.
Oriente had three of the Cardinals’ 13 hits on the night, including a run-scoring single in the seventh. Binelas was 2-or-6 at the plate with four RBIs. All nine starters had at least one hit in the win.
Louisville will wrap up the regular season with three games against Florida State, starting Thursday night at Jim Patterson Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., ET.
|Stephen WilliamsAssistant Sports Information DirectorUniversity of Louisville Athletics|