Louisville, Ky. — Louisville scored three times in bottom of the eighth to take its first lead of the game as the Cardinals came back from an early 5-0 deficit to pick up an 8-7 win over the Western Kentucky University baseball team Wednesday evening at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The loss dropped the Hilltoppers to 24-20 on the year, while U of L improved to 28-16.
With the game tied 5-5 going to the eighth inning, Chad Cregar moved the Hilltoppers back in front with a towering two-run homer to right as they took a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the eight. After putting two men on with one out in the bottom of the inning, John Dao picked up his fourth hit of the game with a single to drove in Josh Richmond to make it a one-run game. After Evan Teague came out of the bullpen and struck out Stewart Ijames, Justin McClanahan was hit by a Ben Paxton pitch to load the bases. Chris Dominguez then hit a grounder that was misplayed for a two-run error allowing the Cardinals to take their only lead of the game. B.J. Rosenberg came in a struck out the side in the ninth to record his fourth saves of the year.
The Hilltoppers wasted no time jumping out in front as they plated a pair of first-inning runs off U of L starter Bob Revesz. WKU manufactured its first run as Scott Kaskie led off the game with a double, moved to third on a Terrence Dayleg sacrifice bunt, and scored on a groundout by Cregar. With two outs, a double from Wade Gaynor and a J.B. Paxson single put runners at the corners. Jeremy Coleman then blooped a single into right to drive home Gaynor to give the Toppers an early 2-0 lead.
WKU got some offense from an unexpected source to start the second inning as Rye Davis — who was making his first start anywhere other than the pitchers mound, and who had just one at bat all season — homered to center field to make it a 3-0 game.
The Hilltoppers’ continued the early offensive onslaught in the third as Cregar led off with a single and came all the way around to score when Gaynor tripled off of reliever Gabriel Shaw. Paxson then drove in Gaynor with a double to stretch the WKU advantage to 5-0.
The Cardinals got on the board against WKU starter Matt Hightower in the third when Drew Haynes was hit by a pitch and came all the way around to score on a John Dao triple to right. Louisville followed that up with a three-run inning in the fourth as Chris Dominguez tripled and scored on an Andrew Clark single. With runners at the corners, a double steal produced the second run of the inning, and Josh Richmond was able to double home a run to cut the Topper lead to 5-4.
U of L was able to complete the comeback in the sixth. After a leadoff walk to Clark, a two-run double by Richmond brought him around to score and even things up at 5-5 before the events of the eighth inning.
Offensively, Cregar led the Hilltoppers with three hits and three RBI, while Gaynor, Paxson and Payton had two hits each. Dao’s four hits led the Cardinal 10-hit attack.
WKU will finish off its seven-game roadtrip this weekend as it visits UALR for a three-game Sun Belt Conference series. First pitch of Friday’s opener is slated for 6 p.m. (CDT) in Little Rock.