Conference play has finally started, and while it wasn’t a perfect effort, the #8 Louisville Cardinals (11-4, 2-1) made positive strides with the competition starting to heat up. After a high scoring affair that saw the Cards overcome Morehead State (10-4), Louisville followed that up by winning the opening conference series against Boston College (8-6, 1-2) and coming just short of sweeping them.

Louisville showed how good of a team they were for the majority of the week. In every game but game 3 of the Boston College series, either the hitting or pitching willed the team to victory when the other seemed to struggle. Overall, they collected 29 runs on 45 hits while batting an impressive .326 with runners in scoring position and .317 with two outs. As a whole, the pitching seemed to cool off just a touch after getting off to a blazing start. In the first two games against BC where the 1-2 punch of Reid Detmers and Michael McAvene combined for 15 strikeouts, 1 allowed walk and 0 runs in game 1, and BC’s only runs in game 2 came in the resumed portion of the rain delayed game. On the flip side, in both the Morehead State game and the series finale against BC, they allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits. However, these pitching performances are not much cause of concern, as the pitching staff as a whole is still one of the best in the country.

Coming up this week, Louisville will conclude their 14 game home-stand and then embark on their first true road trip of the season. The Cardinal Nine will face their first top ten team of the season in the #9 Ole Miss Rebels (12-3), and then hit the road to take on the Duke Blue Devils (11-5, 2-1).

News & Notes

  • Louisville moves up 1 spot in the polls to #7 (D1Baseball)
  • Louisville’s 9 stolen bases against Morehead State were the most in a game for the Cardinals since they stole 10 bases on February 23rd, 2013 against Eastern Kentucky.
  • Louisville is 11th in the nation in stolen bases with 35.
  • Junior first baseman Logan Wyatt is second in the nation in walks with 23 (Duke Ellis, Texas: 25), and 9th in the nation in on base percentage (.580)
  • Sophomore left-hander Reid Detmers is 11th in the nation in ERA (0.33), 4th in the nation in strikeouts (41), and 2nd in the nation in WHIP (0.47)

The Week Ahead

Louisville will start the week at home for the midweek games, before hitting the road for the weekend series. Unlike normal midweek action, it will be a two game series instead of one game. The weekend series will have a normal slate of Friday-Saturday-Sunday games.

Home (Louisville, KY)

  • Tuesday, March 12th at 4:00pm vs. Ole Miss
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville or 1450 WXVW
  • Wednesday, March 13th at 12:00pm vs Ole Miss
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville

Away (Durham, NC)

  • Friday, March 15th at 4:00pm vs. Duke
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville or 1450 WXVW
  • Saturday, March 16th at 1:00pm vs. Duke
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville or 1450 WXVW
  • Sunday, March 17th at 1:00pm vs. Duke
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville or 1450 WXVW

Adjusting the ticketed entry plan first featured last season, 17 of this season’s 34 home games will revert back to free entry. Tickets can be purchased here. In case you cannot make it to the games, all 5 games will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra. Wednesday’s game against Ole Miss is the only game this week with a set radio station of 93.9 The Ville, as the other 4 games are day-of decisions.

Know The Foe

Midweek

School: University of Mississippi
Nickname: Ole Miss Rebels
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
Total Enrollment: 23,136
Head Coach (overall record): Mike Bianco (722-415-1)
2019 Record (conference record): 12-3 (0-0)
Ranking: 9th
RPI: 32nd
Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Ryan Olenek (.458)
  • RBI: Tyler Keenan (26)
  • HR: Thomas Dillard (7)
  • ERA: Connor Green (0.00)
  • Strikeouts: Zack Phillips (17)
  • Wins: Connor Green & Will Ethridge (3)

Weekend

School: Duke University
Nickname: Duke Blue Devils
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Total Enrollment: 16,294
Head Coach (overall record): Chris Pollard (209-151)
2019 Record (conference record): 11-5 (2-1)
Ranking: NR
RPI: 47th
Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Kennie Taylor (.366)
  • RBI: Kennie Taylor (18)
  • HR: Kennie Taylor & Michael Rotherberg (3)
  • ERA: Thomas Girard (1.00)
  • Strikeouts: Graeme Stinson (23)
  • Wins: Bill Chillari, Bryce Jarvis, Ben Gross & Graeme Stinson (2)

Opponent Breakdown

Ole Miss Duke Louisville
Base on Balls 52 (77) 35 (82) 31 (84)
Batting Average 24 (.302) 128 (.264) 106 (.270)
Hits 35 (153) 55 (147) 95 (133)
Home Runs 10 (20) 47 (14) 202 (5)
Runs 13 (128) 38 (112) 79 (97)
Slugging Percentage 17 (.483) 78 (.412) 174 (.364)
Earned Run Average 119 (4.22) 34 (3.10) 11 (2.36)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings 135 (8.7) 4 (11.9) 16 (10.8)
WHIP 104 (1.38) 54 (1.26) 5 (.96)
Walks Allowed/9 Inn. 33 (3.08) 138 (4.34) 14 (2.76)
Key: Rank out of 297 (Value)

Ole Miss is without a doubt the toughest team Louisville will have faced so far this season. The meat of the Ole Miss batting order is as deadly as they come, with the Rebals boasting 4 extremely talented hitters who at any moment could send the ball deep into the gap or over the fence. Thomas Dillard, Tyler Keenan, Ryan Olenek and Cole Zabowksi all rank in the top 4 on the team in batting average, hits, RBIs, slugging percentage and total bases. Olenek and Dillard sport batting averages over .430, on base percentages over .590 and OPS’ over 1.100, with the latter having an insane slugging percentage of .906 and leads the team in home runs with 7 and walks with 15. Despite having a pitching staff that can compete with the best of them, even Louisville will have trouble containing these 4 batters. Fortunately, the Cards will still have a formula to beat Ole Miss, as the Rebels have somewhat average pitching staff. Only 5 pitchers that have seen action for Ole Miss carry an ERA less than 3, and two of them are unlikely to see action vs. Louisville as one is a normal weekend starter and the other is Ryan Olenek in a single inning of action. Two pitchers that the Cards willed to keep tabs on, especially for a midweek series, are relief pitchers Connor Green and Austin Miller. Between the two, they combine for only 1 earned run, 24 strikeouts and only 2 allowed walks in 25.2 innings pitched. If Louisville sees either pitcher warming up in the bullpen, the hitters due up will need to be well disciplined if they expect to get on base vs. these guys.

Duke might not have the hitting prowess that Ole Miss does, winning on the road in your first true road environment on the season always requires your best efforts. Especially when over the last week, the pitching had didn’t have that great of a week and you’re facing a guy like Duke’s Kennie Taylor. The senior outfielder leads the Blue Devils in all three slash line categories (.366/.430/.620), hits (26), doubles (7), home runs (3), RBIs (18) total bases (44), and stolen bases (6). On top of a perfect fielding percentage and zero errors committed on the season, he’s as close to a five-tool player as they get. Even though the rest of the Dukies batting a collective .249, playing in a tough road environment will still require the pitching staff to remain focused if they wish to have a bounce-back weekend. On the other side of the ball, Duke’s pitching staff is nearly just as good as Louisville’s. While they don’t have a marquee guy like Reid Detmers or Nick Bennett, they all collectively do their job and do it well. Six Duke pitchers have tossed 20 or more strikeouts, and they have a solid station weekend rotation. Over a combined 12 starts and 15 appearances, lefties Bill Chillari & Graeme Stinson and righty Bryce Jarvis have a combined ERA of 2.08, a WHIP of 1.00, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 67-21. Comparatively speaking, the rest of Duke’s pitching staff has a combined ERA of 3.77, so the keys for the Louisville hitters are going to be aggressive early.

My prediction for the week is that after Louisville splits the two game series with Ole Miss, they will win the Duke series but avoid the sweep to go 3-2 on the week and move to 14-5 overall.

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Matt McGavic

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