“It was a definite challenge,” head coach Mike Martin said. “This is undoubtedly one of the toughest places to play in our league. With the success Louisville has had, for us to come in and win the first series they have lost all year, is quite an accomplishment.
“But we’re not satisfied. We want to play well tomorrow and get it done.”
Holton (8-2), a four-time ACC Pitcher of the Week, had another outstanding performance for the Seminoles (35-20, 14-14 ACC). After a two-hour lightning delay held up the start of the game, Holton walked the first batter of the game before retiring the next 10. The Cardinals got their first hit in the fourth on a single from Devin Hairston, and broke Holton’s streak of 15.2 innings without allowing a run in the seventh inning.
“I’m approaching every game like it’s the last,” Holton said. “This is when it gets fun. You’ve got to win and move on, and that’s how we’re approaching these games.”
Holton’s 11 strikeouts are the fourth time this season he has reached double-digit strikeouts, becoming the first Seminole since Sean Gilmartin in 2011 to do so four times in one season. In five games against ranked opponents this season (#8 North Carolina, #4 Clemson, #14 Virginia, #20 Wake Forest and #2 Louisville), Holton has allowed just six earned runs in 36.1 innings, with 38 strikeouts, eight walks and a 1.49 earned run average.
For Louisville (46-9, 23-6 ACC), starting pitcher Kade McClure (7-2) matched Holton for much of the game, allowing three unearned runs over seven innings. Taylor Walls opened the game with a single, but FSU did not get another hit until J.C. Flowers’ single in the seventh inning.
The Seminoles struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on a pair of walks, an error and a sacrifice fly. Jackson Lueck drew a walk and Quincy Nieporte reached on an error by Louisville shortstop Hairston, just his second in over 200 chances this season. After Cal Raleigh walked to load the bases, Drew Mendoza’s third sacrifice fly of the year gave FSU the lead.
In the seventh, FSU added two more unearned runs against McClure. Mendoza reached on an error by second baseman Devin Mann, followed by Nick Derr getting hit by a pitch and Flowers’ single to load the bases. With two outs, Walls laced a two-run single down the line to give FSU a 3-0 lead.
Louisville got one back in the bottom half of the inning, but the damage was limited after Lueck’s first outfield assist of the season. Drew Ellis walked, stole second base and scored on Colin Lyman’s single. Josh Stowers, who hit a three-run home run in Thursday’s opener, hit a double to left field, but Lueck relayed to Walls, who threw to Raleigh at the plate to get Lyman trying to score.
In the eighth, Logan Taylor walked, but Holton’s 11th strikeout of the game, on his 104th pitch, was coupled with a caught stealing from Raleigh to retire Taylor and end the frame.
FSU added five runs in the top of the ninth off Adam Elliott to secure the victory. Matt Henderson hit a bases loaded single to score Mendoza; Lueck singled in a run and another scored on the Cardinals fourth error of the game; and Nieporte knocked his fourth double of the weekend, a two-run shot that put FSU’s final runs on the board.
Andrew Karp took over for Holton in the ninth, allowing a run on Brendan McKay’s double, but Lueck’s second assist of the game retired McKay reaching for a triple. Karp struck out Lyman swinging to end the game.
With the win, FSU improved its ACC record to 14-14. The Seminoles improved to 6-3 against the Cardinals since Louisville joined the league in 2015.
Walls was the only Seminole with multiple hits, and he and Nieporte each tallied two RBI.
Holton’s earned run average dipped to 2.55. Over the past two games, Holton has allowed nine hits and one run in 17.0 innings, with 20 strikeouts, against No. 20 Wake Forest and Louisville.