By Rudy Salazar
(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – Bad weather wasn’t the only thing keeping University of Kentucky baseball fans down. The eighth-ranked – and host of the regional – Louisville Cardinals beat No. 22 UK Sunday night after nearly four hours of rain delay.
Despite a quality start from freshman pitcher Logan Salow the offense and bullpen couldn’t come through.
Salow was tagged with the loss but went a career high six innings while only allowing one run on five hits while walking three and striking out four Cardinals.
Redshirt sophomore Sam Mahar came in from the bullpen in the seventh and the Louisville offense started coming alive. The Cardinals were able to tack on three more runs off an error committed by Mahar, a RBI single by Alex Chittenden and a RBI double by Corey Ray.
Mahar didn’t make it through the inning as he was pulled for redshirt sophomore Zach Strecker who pitched the rest of the game only giving up two hits while walking one and striking out two.
The story of the game though was UK’s inability to get anything going offensively. Cardinals’ pitcher Josh Rodgers went six innings while only needing 81 pitches and giving up four hits, one run and five strikeouts with no walks.
They got solid work from their bullpen with Kyle McGrath and closer Nick Burdi pitching the final three innings while not allowing any hits.
The only run UK was able to push across came in the seventh inning when redshirt freshman Storm Wilson was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Redshirt junior Thomas Bernal followed with a walk. With senior Matt Reida up to bat, McGrath balked advancing both runners and brought Wilson in with a groundout to the right side of infield.
Despite leading the SEC in multiple categories including Slugging Percentage, On Base Percentage, Runs, RBIs and Home Runs, the offense fell flat in the Regionals. UK was only able to score 4.75 runs per game while hitting an anemic .246 with one home run.
In what will most likely be his final games with the team, National Player of the Year winner and Golden Spikes candidate, Junior A.J. Reed struggled at the plate but not on the mound. Reed, who led the SEC in Slugging Percentage, On Base Percentage, Home Runs and finished third in Batting Average, hit only .083 with one double. Reed did excel on the mound though throwing a complete game and getting the win Saturday against Kent State in an elimination game.
The big left-hander is expected to be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft later this week.