Devin Hairston’s two-out RBI single in the 10th inning scored Tyler Fitzgerald and lifted the No. 1 Louisville baseball team to a 7-6, series-evening victory over NC State on Saturday afternoon at Doak Field.
After the Wolfpack (13-11, 4-3 ACC) had tied the game with a dramatic two-out, three-run homer in the ninth inning, the Cardinals (20-2, 7-1 ACC) answered the challenge in the 10th regaining the lead for good on Hairston’s third hit of the day. Fitzgerald led off the 10th with a double off the left field wall and moved to third on a groundout before Hairston drove him home with his infield hit. The junior shortstop rolled a 0-1 pitch from Austin Staley to the left side and reached first safely ahead of the throw from NC State’s Joe Dunand by Fitzgerald scored the game-winner.
The teams will play the deciding game of the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m., ET and the finale will be televised on ACC Network Extra. With Saturday’s victory, Louisville reached the 20-win plateau in its 22nd game of the season matching the 2010 team as the fastest in school history to reach 20 wins.
“I told our kids in the outfield that if they haven’t figured it out yet, this is life in the ACC, which is what we leave about the league. The players are too good and the programs have too much pride for the players to just quite,” said Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell. “They showed a lot of fight, like they did last night and I’m proud of how our guys responded throughout today’s game. We kept fighting even after the home run in the ninth and we found a way to get a tough, road win.”
Hairston closed the game 3-for-5 and drove in two runs to increase his team-leading RBI total to 25. Fitzgerald was 2-for-4 in the game for his second two-hit performance of the weekend. Junior Colby Fitch also had a big day at the plate for the Cardinals as the catcher was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, while sophomore Devin Mann added a two-run homer.
The Cardinals appeared to be on their way to a traditional, nine-inning win holding a 6-3 cushion entering the final frame. However, Dunand ended that chance as the Wolfpack shortstop powered a 0-1 offering from Louisville junior righthander Lincoln Henzman over the left field wall scoring both Will Wilson and Brad Debo to even the score. Henzman followed the home run by getting an inning-ending lineout from Brett Kinneman to extend the game to the 10th inning.
Henzman, who had not allowed a run in 14.1 innings of relief this season prior to the game-tying homer, registered the win to move to 1-0 on the season after closing the game with a scoreless 10th inning. Louisville sophomore lefthander Adam Wolf had two strikeouts in 2.1 innings of no-hit, shutout relief and sophomore righty Sam Bordner added an inning so shutout work from the bullpen for the Cardinals.
For the third straight game and the second consecutive day in Raleigh, Louisville faced a first inning deficit as NC State took a 1-0 lead on a RBI single to center by Debo to send Wilson home. The Wolfpack extended the lead to 2-0 in the second on a two-out RBI single by Wilson that dropped into left center field allowing Andy Cosgrove to score.
The Cardinals answered in the third inning scoring four runs on five hits off NC State lefty starter Brian Brown. Fitch provided the first scoring punch with a two-run single down the right field line to plate juniors Brendan McKay and Drew Ellis. Mann followed by crushing a 0-1 offering over the left field wall for his third home run of the season and a 4-2 lead.
The Wolfpack cut the deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the third inning on a controversial RBI single by Brett Kinneman. With runners at first and second and one out, Kinneman put a ball in play to the right side where play was halted by the umpires, who called Joe Dunand, the baserunner at first, out on the play after it appeared he was hit by the batted ball. Following a long meeting of the umpires, the crew changed the call saying the ball did not hit Dunand and they allowed the runner at second, Evan Mendoza, to score on the play.
The scoreboard was quiet for both sides in the fourth, fifth and sixth before Fitch added to the Louisville advantage in the seventh inning when he sent the first pitch from righty Michael Bienlien into the pine trees beyond the wall in right center for a 5-3 lead. The Cardinals added what proved to be an important insurance run in the eighth inning on a RBI sacrifice fly to center off the bat of Hairston to score senior Colin Lyman.
Louisville improved to 2-0 this season in extra-inning games having also earned a 3-2 win in 13 innings against Eastern Michigan on March 4. Last season, the Cardinals were 1-1 in extra-inning games.
Fans can follow Louisville baseball on Twitter (@UofLBaseball) at http://twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.
Assistant Sports Information Director
Baseball | Men’s Soccer | Rowing
University of Louisville Athletics