It was inevitable that the #9 Louisville Cardinals (40-12, 19-8) would come back down to Earth after flying extremely high over the last few weeks, but it doesn’t make it any less timely. After seeing their nine game win streak snapped by the #2 Vanderbilt Commodores (41-10) in a tight-knit Battle of the Barrel, Louisville unfortunately followed that up with only their second road series loss of the season at the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers (29-21, 12-15).

After hitting double digit runs or hits in every game between the Clemson series finale on April 7th to the midweek affair against Western Kentucky on April 30th, the Louisville offense seems to have cooled down a notch once the calendar turned to May. In their last 7 games, the Cardinal Nine are only batting .243 as a team after they had gotten the team batting average to .303 by the end of April. While you could claim that this is a product of playing 6 of their last 7 on the road, Louisville actually sported a better winning percentage on the road than they did at Jim Patterson Stadium heading into this stretch. Their one home game so far in the month of May saw them batting at a .257 clip (9-35), but considering it was against the #2 team in the country against statistically their best pitcher, I will take this as a plus. Barring a complete regression back to their former selves earlier this season, the hitting should be able to bounce back for the final week of the regular season.

The pitching is another question. But it doesn’t come from a perceived dip in production (although they did give up double digit runs in two games to Virginia), it comes from a lack of a key piece. Starting pitcher Nick Bennett has been out of the rotation since the Notre Dame series, with the only publicly announced reason as arm soreness originally announced during the weekend of that series. One would think that there could be other forces at play as to his extended absence, but I am not so sure. In the weekend series vs. Miami where all games were moved up a day due to Easter, Bennett was the only starting pitcher would didn’t flex from their normal pitching day. Reasons listed were that Reid Detmers had no issue pitching on short rest and Bobby Miller has experience with it anyways in his time as a relief pitcher this season. So it could be a matter of giving him all the time he needs to be 100% healthy. Though hopefully that comes sooner rather than later, as freshman Glenn Albanese in lieu of Bennett has surrendered 3 earned runs in just 3.2 inning of starting pitching. Detmers & Miller still give Louisville a solid chance on the mound from a starter’s perspective, but getting Bennett back will ensure that Louisville will be at full strength going forward into this week and into the postseason.

With only one weekend left in conference play, here are how the standings break down by the Atlantic Division and the conference as a whole. For the division, the only two teams still in the running for it at this point in time are Florida State and Louisville. Fortunately, Louisville holds a 3 game lead over Florida State, so all the Cards have to do is win just one game over FSU, and they are Atlantic Division champs. Winning the regular season title however is a bit trickier. Louisville currently holds a 2 game lead over Georgia Tech, with the Yellow Jackets set to take on the worst team in the conference in Pitt for their final weekend. As long as Louisville wins at least 2 of the 3 games against Florida State, the Cards will be crowned the regular season champion and be gifted the #1 seed in the ACC Baseball Championship. If Louisville wins only 1 game against FSU, Georgia Tech must not sweep Pitt in order for Louisville to clinch. Louisville must not get swept by FSU, as that would put both UofL and FSU at 19-11 in the conference and would award the division to Florida State due to tiebreaker. Ultimately what it boils down to is: win the FSU series, and the rest will take care of itself.

News & Notes

  • Louisville falls to #9 in the polls (D1Baseball).
  • UofL’s 40 wins are the fourth most in Division I, and is the 8th season in a row in which Louisville has posted a 40 win season.
  • Nationally, the Cards are 21st in fielding percentage (.979), 10th in doubles (114) and 22nd in stolen bases (92).
  • Sophomore LHP Reid Detmers is 4th in the nation in WHIP (0.82), 5th in strikeouts (127), 12th in hits allowed per nine innings (5.40), 9th in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.06), 85th in ERA (2.59) and 86th in walks allowed per nine innings (1.94).
  • Junior first basemen Logan Wyatt ranks 4th in the nation in walks (57), 50th in runs per game (1.12) and 64th in on base percentage (.472).
  • Junior shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald ranks 26th in the nation in sacrifice flies (6) 19th in RBI (60) and 44th in hits (72).
  • Freshman third baseman Alex Binelas ranks 28th in the nation in slugging percentage (.681) and 49th in triples (4).

The Week Ahead

Coming up this week, the Cardinals will start the week by traveling to Bloomington to take on the #25 Indiana Hoosiers (33-18) for the midweek game. They’ll follow that up with their final weekend of the regular season, taking on the Florida State Seminoles (34-18, 16-11) at home.

Away (Bloomington, IN)

  • Tuesday, May 14th at 7:00pm vs. Indiana
    • ESPNU
    • 93.9 The Ville

Home (Louisville, KY)

  • Friday, May 17th at 6:00pm vs. Florida State
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Saturday, May 18th at 4:00pm vs. Florida State
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Sunday, May 19th at 1:00pm vs. Florida State
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville

Adjusting the ticketed entry plan first featured last season, 17 of this season’s 34 home games will revert back to free entry. This week, the games against FSU will feature charged admission. Tickets can be purchased here. In case you cannot make it to any of the games, all 4 games this week will be broadcast on 93.9 The Ville. The Indiana game will be televised on ESPNU while the FSU series will be televised on ACC Network Extra.

Know The Foe

Midweek

School: Indiana University – Bloomington
Nickname: Indiana Hoosiers
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Total Enrollment: 43,710
Head Coach (school record): Jeff Mercer (33-18)
2019 Record (conference record): 33-18 (18-5)
Ranking: 25th
Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Matt Lloyd (.295)
  • RBI: Matt Lloyd (51)
  • HR: Matt Lloyd & Cole Barr (15)
  • ERA: Matt Lloyd (1.93)
  • Strikeouts: Andrew Saalfrank (90)
  • Wins: Pauly Mito & Andrew Saalfrank (7)

Weekend

School: Florida State University
Nickname: Florida State Seminoles 
Location: Tallahassee, Florida 
Total Enrollment: 41,362
Head Coach (school record): Mike Martin (2,021-731-4)
2019 Record (conference record): 34-18 (16-11)
Ranking: 23rd
Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Robby Martin (.341)
  • RBI: J.C. Flowers (47)
  • HR: Drew Mendoza (14)
  • ERA: J.C. Flowers (1.31)
  • Strikeouts: Drew Parrish (90)
  • Wins: Conor Grady (8)

Opponent Breakdown

Indiana Florida State Louisville
Base on Balls 89 (225) 2 (323) 17 (272)
Batting Average 215 (.255) 151 (.266) 27 (.296)
Hits 147 (445) 133 (452) 15 (539)
Home Runs 1 (84) 18 (65) 100 (41)
On Base Percentage 185 (.357) 20 (.400) 29 (.395)
Runs 38 (351) 34 (355) 10 (405)
Slugging Percentage 30 (.462) 38 (.450) 44 (.443)
Earned Run Average 21 (3.55) 110 (4.53) 23 (3.59)
Hits Allowed/9 Inn. 28 (7.78) 41 (8.08) 4 (7.02)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings 19 (9.8) 5 (10.5) 9 (10.2)
Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio 12 (2.94) 56 (2.34) 20 (2.78)
WHIP 13 (1.24) 75 (1.39) 9 (1.19)
Walks Allowed/9 Inn. 32 (3.34) 174 (4.47) 73 (3.68)
RPI 26 57 8
SOS 48 74 32
Home Record 18-4 27-9 25-6
Away Record 11-12 6-8 14-4
Key: Rank out of 297 (Value)

The Hoosiers are a power hitting team if there ever was one. As a team, they lead the nation in home runs with 84 and are in the top 25 in slugging percentage at .462. Seven players in their regular starting lineup have launched 7 or more long balls, with 3 of them tallying double digit homers. These three players: senior Matt Lloyd, junior Matt Gorski & sophomore Cole Barr, all also have triple digit total bases and are the top three on the team in walks, runs, RBI and doubles. The vast majority of the offensive production runs through these three players, with outfielders Elijah Dunham & Grant Richardson and infielder Drew Ashley providing solid support for them. Fortunately for Louisville’s pitching staff is that other than being a great slugging team, the Hoosiers don’t hit the ball exceptionally well. They have nearly 100 more strikeouts than hits, and as a team are only batting .255 at the plate. The key in this game will be for midweek pitcher Jack Perkins to deliver quality strikeout pitches and for him to work on his command of the zone so that he doesn’t give the Hoosiers a good pitch to launch over the fence.

On the mound, the Hoosiers are just as good as the Cardinals. They boast a team ERA of 3.55, good for third in the Big Ten and 21st in the nation. Much like Louisville, their starting midweek pitcher has been up in the air for a majority of 2019 before finally coming to solid choice in the last quarter of the season. Out of all the non-weekend starting pitchers on Indiana’s pitching staff, LHP Tommy Sommer leads the Hoosiers in strikeouts and innings pitched with 40 over 40.1 IP. The sophomore’s ERA of 3.12 is also good for third best on the team among pitchers who have started a game this season. However, once he exits the contest, Indiana starts to run out of viable relief options. Matt Lloyd, the go-to slugger for the Hoosiers, poses a decent threat with a 1.93 ERA and 17-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but Connor Manous remains the best relief arm in the Hoosier bullpen. In 37.1 innings, the sophomore right-hander has tallied 32 strikeouts to just 12 walks, while sporting an ERA of just 2.89. Beyond him and Lloyd, most of IU’s relievers either have ERAs of over 3.50 or subpar strikeout-to-walk ratios. The Cardinal Nine will need to be patient at the plate if they are break out of their mini-slump and emerge victorious.

Ever since their induction into the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Florida State Seminoles have been a thorn in Louisville’s side. The Cards are 4-10 against FSU since their inaugural year in the conference, with only one series win against them. When you see who is manning the ship for the Seminoles, it’s not hard to see why. Head Coach Mike Martin is the all-time winningest coach in college baseball history, having passed the legendary Augie Garrido last season. Martin’s final Florida State isn’t the most loaded it has ever been, but it still has talent. Outfielder J.C. Flowers and third baseman Drew Mendoza lead the Seminoles in home runs and RBI, with both having at least 11 home runs and 46 RBI. Mendoza also has a whopping 58 walks on the season, just one more than what Logan Wyatt has. Outfielder Robby Martin & infielder Mike Salvatore are the other noteworthy players to watch, with both of them being the other two players on the team with a batting average over .315 and 40+ RBI. Beyond these four players, the talent begins to taper off as Florida State is only batting .266 as a team. As long as Louisville’s pitchers can deal with the top half of Florida State’s lineup, they should be in solid shape. Especially when taking into account that FSU is just 6-8 on the road this season.

Talent-wise, FSU’s pitching isn’t nearly as good as their hitting counterparts but do excel in some regards. Their team ERA of 4.53 is just 9th in the ACC but their team strikeouts per nine innings rate of 10.5 is first in the league. Their first two pitchers in the starting rotation are superb, with LHP Drew Parrish and RHP C.J. Van Eyk combining for 177 strikeouts to just 57 walks and an even 4.00 ERA. Sunday starter LHP Shane Drohan has struggled some, as he has walked 45 batters while only striking out 69, and the bullpen doesn’t get much better. FSU has only 3 relievers with an ERA under 4.00, with J.C. Flowers being one of them (1.31 ERA, 20.2 IP, 20 K, 7 BB). The other two pitchers, Chase Haney & Conor Grady, have combined to throw 95 strikeouts to only 27 walks over 80.0 innings pitches, while amassing a collective 3.49 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Beyond these two, most of FSU’s relievers struggle with giving up runs at a much higher clip, so the Cards batters will have to take advantage of the pitching matchups whenever they’re presented

I predict that after losing at Indiana in the midweek game, Louisville will bounce back with a series win vs. FSU to clinch the Atlantic Division and the regular season title.

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