BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Tenth-ranked Louisville held off WKU’s late charge Wednesday night at the Bowling Green Ballpark, ending the Hilltoppers six-game winning streak at the downtown facility with a 5-3 decision in front of a crowd of 1,108.
WKU (13-12) had sophomore third baseman Thomas Peter in scoring position with two outs and 4-3 deficit in the eighth inning, but Louisville’s All-American closer Nick Burdi struck pinch hitting freshman Hunter Wood out to end the Hilltopper threat. The top of the lineup came to the plate for WKU in the ninth, but Burdi mowed it down in order to preserve the Cardinals’ (18-6) victory.
Sophomore right-hander Josh Bartley worked 5.2 innings and surrendered two runs on five hits while striking out four batters, but the Hilltoppers trailed 2-0 during his sixth-inning exit. WKU strung together a two-run, two-out rally in the sixth inning to even things up at 2-2 with an RBI groundout from sophomore outfielder Anderson Miller and an RBI single from freshman shortstop Leiff Clarkson.
Louisville answered immediately in the seventh as first baseman Grant Kay towered a two-run home run to left field to put the Cardinals back in front, 4-2. The Hilltoppers used some more two-out magic in the eighth inning, getting a two-out triple from Miller and an RBI double from Peter to trim the Cardinals’ advantage to 4-3. Peter’s two-out RBI improved his total to a team-high nine in 2014 while WKU registered it 51st and 52nd two-out RBI of the year.
The Cardinals had some two-out success of their own in the ninth as Cole Sturgeon tacked on a key insurance run in the ninth with an RBI double that scored Alex Chittenden to make the score 5-3 in Louisville’s favor. WKU sent the top of its lineup to bat in the ninth, but Burdi retired the Hilltoppers in order.
Junior relievers Tate Glasscock, Brennan Pearson and Ian Tompkins worked an inning of relief behind Bartley, with all giving up one hit and one run. Glasscock was tagged for his first loss of the year. Louisville’s Drew Harrington earned the decision after striking out three in two innings of relief behind starter Josh Rogers. Rogers puzzled the Hilltopper bats in his four innings on the mound as he allowed just two hits while striking out a pair.
The loss was WKU’s first regular-season defeat at the Bowling Green Ballpark as it had won the previous six meetings with Louisville and Kentucky. The Hilltoppers will try and end their three-game skid Friday as they travel to No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette, who boasts the nation’s longest winning streak at 14 games. Friday’s first pitch between the Hilltoppers and Cajuns is set for 6 p.m. and can be heard on WKUSports.tv or ESPN 1450 AM. For more information on WKU Baseball, follow the team on Twitter at @WKUBaseball or visit WKUSports.com.