The Cardinal Nine’s first weekend is officially in the books, and they are off to another 3-0 start after winning against Richmond, The Citadel and George Mason in the Charleston Crab House Challenge (full recap here). This week they come home for their first action at Jim Patterson Stadium for the 2018 season, this time facing against Eastern Kentucky and against Youngstown State in a three game series.

All Louisville Baseball games are ticketed entry this season for the very first time, and can be purchased through Ticketmaster here. In case you cannot make it to the games, all 4 games this week will be featured on ACC Network Extra.

News & Notes

  • Louisville’s victory on Friday against Richmond marked the 5th consecutive year in which the Cards won their season opener
  • In his first ever collegiate at-bat in the game against Richmond, sophomore outfielder Ethan Stringer hit a home run on the very first pitch.
  • Sophomore 1st baseman Logan Wyatt set a career mark with 3 RBI against The Citadel
  • Freshman reliever Bobby Miller in his first collegiate appearance allowed only 1 hit and struck out 5 batters in 3 innings of relief against George Mason
  • The 6-0 deficit that Louisville faced in the game against George Mason marks their largest comeback win since February 21, 2015 (8-1 vs. Arkansas State, won 14-8)
  • All three games over the weekend featured a Cardinal making their first ever collegiate pitching start
  • After the first three games, junior 2nd baseman Devin Mann leads the team in batting average (.556), on base percentage (.667), slugging percentage (.889), hits (5) and RBIs (7).

The Week Ahead

All games featured this week will take place at Jim Patterson Stadium

Home (Louisville, KY)

  • Tuesday, February 20th at 4pm vs. Eastern Kentucky
  • Friday, February 23rd at 3pm vs. Youngstown State
  • Saturday, February 24th at 1pm vs. Youngstown State
  • Sunday, February 25th at 1pm vs. Youngstown State

Opponent Breakdown

Eastern Ky. Youngstown St. Louisville
Base on Balls 149 (12) 66 (16) 66 (16)
Batting Average 195 (.219) 220 (.204) 85 (.284)
Hits 195 (21) 209 (20) 131 (27)
Home Runs 164 (1) 164 (1) 88 (2)
Runs 171 (13) 203 (11) 33 (27)
Slugging Percentage 227 (.281) 230 (.276) 72 (.421)
Earned Run Average 55 (2.81) 138 (4.32) 112 (3.81)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings 81 (9.8) 187 (7.6) 14 (12.1)
WHIP 146 (1.48) 208 (1.72) 137 (1.46)
Walks Allowed/9 Inn. 115 (3.86) 199 (5.40) 208 (5.54)
Key: Rank out of 295 (Value)

For Eastern Kentucky, the one stat that jumps out for me is their ability to strikeout opposing batters, as they rank in the top 100 in strikeouts per 9 innings. While they do have a high WHIP due to their ability to give up walks at a decent rate, they have been able to work their way out of jams since they’re knocking on the door of a top 50 ERA ranking. As long as the Cards don’t go wildly swinging at every pitch, they should have no problem putting the bat on the ball. A couple players to keep an eye out for are infielder Cornell Nixon and outfielder Alex Holderbach. Once on the base paths, Nixon is a surefire threat to steal, as he swiped 17 bags last season. Holderbach ranked second on EKU’s squad in home runs and slugging percentage last season, but with Louisville striking out an average of 12.1 batters a game, look for solid strikeout pitches when he comes up to bat.

In any given series, the goal a team typically shoots for is to win at least 2 of the 3 games you play. The upcoming 3 game home series against Youngstown State however seems to be one that you would hopefully expect the Cardinal Nine to win all 3. Outside of senior infielder Andrew Kendrick (who ranked 30th in home runs and 114th in slugging percentage last season), no one players seems to jump out and separate themselves from the others. On top of being in front of a (hopefully) raucous home crowd itching to see some baseball action after a long offseason, I don’t see how Louisville drops a game to them.

My prediction for the week is that Louisville moves to 7-0 on the season.

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