March 25, 2003
BOWLING GREEN, KY - A ninth-inning rally fell just short as the University of Louisville baseball team was eclipsed by Western Kentucky 4-3 on Tuesday. Louisville had defeated the Hilltoppers 18-1 in Louisville two weeks prior.
The Hilltoppers took a 1-0 lead, plating an unearned run in the first on an RBI single by Antone Towns. Shortstop Travis Brown lead off the second with a solo home run to left for a 2-0 advantage for Western.
In the top of the fourth, Cardinal third baseman Greg Taylor was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a towering double off the base of the wall in left center by Josh Bolen to cut the lead in half.
Western answered in the bottom half of the frame when Matt Johnston walked, stole second and scored on a double by Matt Gunning for a 3-1 lead.
The lead increased to 4-1 in the fifth on an RBI infield single by Rafael Vallejo. In every inning WKU scored, Cardinal pitchers retired the first two men to step to the plate.
In the ninth, U of L catcher Ron Braun was hit by a pitch with one out, and Mark Jurich reached on a fielder's choice.
After DH Curt Stewart lined out to the shortstop, Luis Pardo stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter.
With a 1-2 count, Pardo launched a high fly ball deep to the gap in left center that hit just below the top of the wall. Braun and Jurich scored easily, as Pardo's heroic bid for a game-tying home run came up just inches short.
Nick Haley was struck out on a check-swing third strike to end the ballgame.
Grady Hinchman (3-0) allowed a run on three hits and four walks while fanning six in seven innings to pick up the win.
Matt Wilhite, making his school-record 85th career appearance for WKU, pitched the ninth, allowing two runs on a hit while striking out one to pick up his fifth save.
Louisville placed six different pitchers on the mound on a staff day, with starter Zach Jackson (1-3) taking the loss by giving up one earned run on three hits and a walk in two innings of work.
Chase Cruse allowed a run on two hits and two walks while striking out three in two innings.
Skylar Meade was touched for a run on three hits while tossing the fifth.
Jon Harbridge, Steve Ayers and Brian Halford each had a scoreless inning of relief with Halford setting the side down in order in the eighth.
The Cards managed just four hits on the day.
Louisville will host South Florida for three games over the weekend beginning Friday at 6:00 p.m. Admission is free, as is parking for those who enter gate four a the KFEC.
Radio broadcasts of all home games can be found on WAVG 1450 and on line at www.UofLsports.com.