Louisville routs Notre Dame in ACC baseball tournament opener – The Courier-Journal
Brendan McKay clubbed a grand slam and Drew Ellis walloped a towering solo home run to lead top-seeded Louisville past No. 12 seed Notre Dame, 10-3, in the Cardinals’ ACC Baseball Tournament opener Thursday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
Louisville (47-9) will play eighth-seeded Florida State (36-20) for the top spot in Pool A and the right to advance to Saturday’s tournament semifinals. U of L hasn’t reached the ACC semifinals since joining the league for the 2014-15 school year.
“This is fun,” U of L coach Dan McDonnell said. “This is the joy of playing in the ACC. … (FSU) is playing well. They’re in a good spot with the NCAA (Tournament) and the regionals.”
It wasn’t McKay’s best night on the mound, but the left-handed junior struck out eight batters and lasted six innings, escaping several jams. He gave up three runs on seven hits and walked four, throwing 119 pitches and stranding seven Notre Dame runners.
But his bat made up for the runs he allowed. Devin Hairston walked to load the bases after Notre Dame first baseman Daniel Jung and catcher Ryan Lidge let a foul ball drop between them near U of L’s dugout.
McKay blasted the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence, clearing the bases and giving Louisville a 5-0 lead in the third inning.
“It feels great after three tough results before that,” McKay said.
Ellis’ high flyball just cleared the left-field wall an inning earlier to break a scoreless tie.
Notre Dame (26-32) scratched back two runs in the third from Matt Vierling’s double to left and a third run on a McKay wild pitch.
The Irish threatened again in the eighth inning against U of L freshman reliever Adam Elliott, but it wasn’t enough to avoid their second loss in as many days at the ACC Tournament.
“It was a difficult loss, especially the way it got away there,” Notre Dame coach Mik Aoki said. ” … Things snowballed a little bit there at the end.”
Josh Stowers’ double to right field scored Jake Snider in the ninth, and Devin Hairston brought in Logan Taylor with a sacrifice fly. Ellis notched his second RBI with his own sacrifice fly that scored Stowers, who was 4-for-5.
Stowers had a moment in the field, too, throwing a dart to home plate to nab Notre Dame’s Eric Gilgenbach as he slid.
Louisville played Florida State this past weekend, dropping the first two games of the final regular-season series before the third matchup was rained out.
The Seminoles topped Notre Dame, 5-3, in 12 innings in the only game played through sketchy weather on Wednesday.
Louisville is expected to throw right-handed junior Kade McClure against FSU. McClure (7-2, 2.99 earned-run average) had a solid outing in Friday’s 8-3 loss to the Seminoles, giving up three unearned runs and striking out five in seven innings.
“Hitting-wise, there were just some adjustments we needed to make,” Stowers said. “With the work we’ve put in, I feel like we’ll come out a lot stronger, with more energy.”
Fitch out: McDonnell said catcher Colby Fitch, who played in all 55 games during the regular season, is “day to day” after missing Thursday’s game. The junior was shaken up in a collision during a team scrimmage earlier in the week.
McDonnell didn’t seem concerned about Fitch, saying U of L could afford to be cautious with the NCAA Tournament starting next week.