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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Racers battle with Cardinals, fall short 8-3

Senior outfielder Brock Anderson takes a hack against Louisville. (Photo courtesy of Darren Dedman)

Simon Elfrink

Sports Editor

[email protected]

Murray State baseball got another taste of top-tier competition against No. 10 University of Louisville.

While the Racers battled early on in the game, the Cardinals outscored Murray State 8-3 for Murray State’s fourth consecutive loss. 

“We went blow for blow with them and if you look at the box score we only gave up runs in two innings,” said Head Coach Dan Skirka. “We had a bad second inning…the second inning got away from us [and] they have phenomenal team speed and we got exposed, I guess, with that. But take away those two innings, we did a great job putting up a bunch of zeroes.”

The Racers came out of the gate ready to do some damage on the scoreboard. With two outs in the first inning, senior second baseman Jordan Cozart reached on a fielding error and advanced all the way to third base on a single by senior outfielder Brock Anderson. Cozart scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch to give the Racers a quick 1-0 lead. 

The Racers’ starting pitcher, freshman right-hander Cade Vernon, held the Cardinals through the first inning, and the Racers scored again in the top of the second inning. Senior catcher Alex Crump led off with a walk, only to advance to second on a balk by the pitcher. Crump advanced to third on a groundout to the shortstop before being driven in by senior outfielder Ryan Perkins, who grounded out on the first pitch of his at-bat, giving the Racers a 2-0 lead. 

Louisville responded in the bottom of the second inning with four singles in a row, scoring two in the process. Sophomore right-hander Ryan Fender came in the game to pitch with one out in the second, but he didn’t stay long. Fender struggled to catch a break on the mound, throwing the ball away on a pickoff attempt, giving up a base in the process. The same baserunner, freshman infielder Christian Knapczyk, later scored on a wild pitch. Fender’s first batter, sophomore infielder Cooper Bowman, hit a solo home run, pushing the score to 4-2 in favor of the Cardinals. Following a walk, junior righty Nathaniel Gorczyca took Fender’s spot on the bump. 

Skirka said his pitchers’ troubles, and the troubles on the scoreboard, could be traced back to the free bases allowed by the Racers’ pitching staff early on in the game. 

“We struggled throwing strikes,” Skirka said. “And anytime you give a team with great speed free bases they’re going to take advantage of that. We walk guys, they steal second, steal third, all of a sudden they’re scoring runs when they didn’t even get a hit.” 

Skirka said he fully expects his younger pitchers who started the game to bounce back in productivity as the season goes forward. 

The Cardinals’ added another run during the second inning, making their lead 5-2. 

The Racers’ bats were almost silent during the top of the third, with the first two batters grounding and striking out. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Seth Gardner got his first hit as a Racer in dramatic fashion, hitting a solo shot over the left field fence. 

“Seth’s done a good job for us,” Skirka said. “Started off a little bit slow, so he hasn’t got as many opportunities but he’s done better lately and [I] was proud of him going out there and doing that against Louisville. Definitely what he’s capable of, so [we’re] happy for him.”

Scoring died for both teams until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Cardinals got a two-out rally after a walk and an error put two men on for Bowman, who struck again with a big swing that manifested in a three-run home run, putting the Racers down 8-3. 

The Racers’ record falls to 5-7 after the loss against Louisville. Skirka and his team hope to turn things around in the three-game series against Eastern Illinois University on Friday, March 12, and Saturday, March 13, in Charleston, Illinois.

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