While they were able to take care of business against arch-rival Kentucky (26-14), the #20 Louisville Cardinals (26-13, 10-11) could not deliver when it mattered most as they dropped yet another ACC series. The series loss at the hands of the Virginia Cavaliers (24-17, 9-12) marks their fifth conference series loss of the season, and the Cardinal Nine find themselves under .500 in conference play yet again.

The Cards looked extremely sharp against UK, holding one of the best hitting teams in college baseball to 2 runs on 3 hits while piling on the runs themselves. Which makes it even more inexplicable that they dropped the series against Virginia, who is no where near on Kentucky’s level. Louisville found themselves playing less than clean defensive baseball as obvious in game 2 of the Virginia series, and when it mattered most in the rubber match, Louisville just flat out could not hit even when their starting pitcher was on the verge of giving them a complete game shutout.

But what stood out the most this past weekend was the Cards’ base running, which has slowly regressed over the course of the season and culminated in game 3. The series finale featured a pickoff and at least 2 instances where a Cardinal should have not stretched out a play seeking extra bases, and was called out. This team ranks 6th nationally in stolen bases, but you wouldn’t have guessed it watching the Virginia series. Going forward offensively, this team is going to have to rally around Logan Wyatt and Danny Oriente, both of whom are batting .340 or higher and have at least 25 RBI.

Coming up this week, Louisville will take a break from the ACC and play two non-conference opponents. They’ll start with round 2 against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (19-20) in a home midweek game, then follow that up with a home weekend series against the Indiana State Sycamores (19-16).

All Louisville Baseball games are ticketed entry this season for the very first time, and can be purchased through Ticketmaster here. Berm seating is $5 with reserved chair back seating costing $10. In case you cannot make it to the games, all games this week will be featured on ACC Network Extra.

News & Notes

  • Louisville extended their home winning streak against Kentucky to six games, having not lost at home to UK since 2014.
  • Sophomore outfielder Jake Snider matched his career high in hits vs. Kentucky with three (3-5)
  • Sophomore designated hitter Danny Oriente set a new career high in RBI with 4 against Virginia in game 1. He drove in 4 of Louisville’s 5 runs that game.
  • Sophomore right-hander Shay Smiddy registered his first career save in game 1 of the Virginia series.
  • Freshman right-hander Bobby Miller set a new career high in innings pitched with 8.1, and was 2 outs away from Louisville’s first complete game shutout since 2016.
  • Sophomore third baseman Justin Lavey matched a career-high 3 hits in game 3.
  • As of game 3 of the Virginia series, Danny Oriente pushed his hitting streak to 13 games while sophomore Tyler Fitzgerald pushed his hitting streak to 12 games.
  • Devin Mann and Logan Wyatt are tied for 1st in the ACC and 6th in the nation in walks (40 each).
  • Logan Wyatt ranks #1 in the ACC and #14 in the nation in on base percentage (.500).
  • Sam Bordner ranks #1 in the ACC and #10 in the nation in saves (10).
  • Josh Stowers ranks #2 in the ACC and #9 in the nation in stolen bases (23).

The Week Ahead

Louisville will be at home all week, with the normal slate of games on Tuesday and Friday – Sunday.

Home (Louisville, KY)

  • Tuesday, April 24th at 6pm vs. Western Kentucky
  • Thursday, April 27th at 6pm vs. Indiana State
  • Friday, April 28th at 1pm vs. Indiana State
  • Saturday, April 29th at 1pm vs. Indiana State

Opponent Breakdown

Western Kentucky Indiana State Louisville
Base on Balls  189 (141)  193 (140)  18 (212)
Batting Average  85 (.278)  141 (.267)  107 (.273)
Hits  84 (366)  185 (322)  125 (347)
Home Runs  111 (27)  91 (30)  170 (20)
Runs  151 (208)  128 (217)  54 (254)
Slugging Percentage  123 (.394)  93 (.405)  117 (.395)
Earned Run Average  152 (4.78)  113 (4.34)  25 (3.33)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings  105 (8.4)  231 (7.1)  9 (10.2)
WHIP  178 (1.54)  99 (1.40)  52 (1.31)
Walks Allowed/9 Inn.  187 (4.44)  117 (3.96)  216 (4.71)
Key: Rank out of 297 (Value)

While WKU does have 4 players batting over .300, the rest of their position players aren’t really doing much to help those guys out as shown by their stats. They also only have 3 pitchers with an ERA under 3.00. The key to sweeping the season series against the Hilltoppers is going to be keeping junior outfielder Jacob Rhinesmith in check. The power hitter leads the Tops with 11 HR, 31 RBI, 50 hits, 91 total bases and a .572 slugging percentage. Striking him out and not allowing him to put the ball in play will be crucial for the Cards.

Indiana State represents a slightly better version of the non-conference teams that filled Louisville’s schedule for the first month of the season. Nothing on their quick stats really jumps off the page at first glance, but the Sycamores are ranked #88 in the RPI. Their starting position are a combination of hitters who do seem to do everything really well yet not one thing great, but they do have a duo of starting pitchers to keep an eye out for. Junior LHP Triston Polley (3.22 ERA, 64.1 IP) and junior RHP Tyler Ward (3.66 ERA, 64.0 IP) both have at least 5 victories on the season, and Ward carries a 55-13 strikeout to walk ratio. Indiana State doesn’t do a good job of striking batter out, so if the Louisville hitters can not be too aggressive at the plate, they will be in good shape.

Louisville was able to defeat the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green by utilizing a staff day from the bullpen, and I fully expect similar results at home in Jim Patterson Stadium. I predict that after beating WKU, Louisville will follow that up by winning 2 of 3 games against Indiana State to win the series.

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Matt McGavic

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