The University of Louisville baseball program is ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in school history after the unbeaten Cardinals ascended to the top spot in four different polls released on Monday — Baseball America Top 25, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30, Perfect Game Top 25 and USA Today Sports coaches poll.
Rising three spots from last Monday’s No. 4 ranking, the Cardinals were 4-0 last week and improved to 15-0 overall extending the program’s best start to a season since the 1957 team set a school record with a perfect 17-0 mark. The nation’s only remaining undefeated team, Louisville opened its Atlantic Coast Conference slate with a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh last weekend at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The highest previous national ranking for Louisville was No. 2 during the first two weeks of the 2016 season. The Cardinals were also the No. 2 national seed in last year’s NCAA Championship.
Under the guidance of head coach Dan McDonnell, Louisville has enjoyed a historic run by remaining ranked in at least one major national poll every week since the release of the 2012 preseason rankings — the longest such span in school history. Ranked in the top 12 in all six major preseason polls for 2017, the Cardinals have received a preseason top 10 ranking in five straight seasons (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and have earned a preseason national ranking in 10 straight seasons (2008-2017) overall.
While at the helm in Louisville, McDonnell has guided the Cardinals to three College World Series berths, six NCAA Super Regional appearances, nine NCAA Regional bids, seven regular season conference championships, two conference tournament titles and 29 All-Americans.
No. 1 Louisville returns to action against Xavier on Wednesday at noon ET on Elementary School Day at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals will close the week with a weekend series at home against Boston College, which begins Friday at 6 p.m.
Brendan McKay ACC Pitcher of the Week
University of Louisville lefthander Brendan McKay was named ACC Pitcher of the Week on Monday afternoon marking the the third career Pitcher of the Week honor and the first this season for the talented junior.
McKay had a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing only two hits in seven shutout innings to earn the victory in the Cardinals’ 3-0 series-opening win against Pitt last Friday. The native of Darlington, Pennsylvania, improved to 3-0 on the season and 24-7 in his collegiate career with the win. The 15 strikeouts were two better than McKay’s previous high of 13 and the outing marked the 20th time he has finished with eight or more strikeouts in a single game.
Moving into third in career wins at Louisville with Friday’s victory, McKay has allowed only one earned run in 18.0 innings (0.50 ERA) this season with 29 strikeouts and just five walks. In 19 career starts at Jim Patterson Stadium, McKay has a 17-1 record with a 1.48 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 127.0 innings. Joining McKay as a weekly award winner on Monday was Duke sophomore outfielder Jimmy Herron, who was chosen as the ACC Player of the Week.
Gallery vs. Pitt from William Caudill
Pittsburgh Game Recaps
Junior lefthander Brendan McKay had a career-high 15 strikeouts while also driving in a run as the No. 4 Louisville baseball team opened its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule with a 3-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium.
McKay was masterful in surrendering just two singles and issuing only one walk in seven scoreless innings to move to 3-0 on the season and 24-7 in his collegiate career. The 15 strikeouts for McKay were two better than his previous high of 13 in a win over Notre Dame on March 11, 2016. Friday’s outing marked the 20th time in his collegiate career McKay as finished with eight or more strikeouts.
Moving into third in career wins at Louisville with the victory, McKay has allowed only one earned run in 18.0 innings (0.50 ERA) with 29 strikeouts and just five walks. In 19 career starts at Jim Patterson Stadium, McKay has a 17-1 record with a 1.48 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 127.0 innings.
Following McKay on Friday was junior righthander Lincoln Henzman, who had three strikeouts in two no-hit innings of relief to earn his second save of the season and clinch Louisville’s fifth shutout in 13 games. In four appearances this season, Henzman has registered 11 strikeouts and allowed only one hit in 8.2 innings of shutout relief.
With the victory, Louisville moved to 13-0 overall extending the best start to a season since winning the first 13 games in 2010. The Cardinals have won 29 straight regular season home games while also winning their conference opener for the fourth straight season.
Offensively, the Cardinals out-hit the Panthers (7-5) 10-2 marking the 12th time in 13 games this season they have finished with 10 or more hits. Junior Drew Ellis paced the way going 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored, while senior Colin Lyman added two hits and drove in a run. Sophomore Devin Mann chipped in with his fifth straight two-hit performance and scored once, while McKay added a RBI sacrifice fly in the win.
Louisville opened the scoring Friday with a pair of runs in the first inning against Pittsburgh lefty Josh Mitchell. McKay plated the first run with his run-scoring flyout left to send junior Colby Fitch home. Ellis followed with a two-out RBI single to right to score Mann for the 2-0 lead. The Cardinals added the final run of the game in the third inning when Ellis reached base with a two-out double to right field before scoring on a RBI single from Lyman.
Junior righthander Kade McClure twirled six strong innings and the offense delivered a balanced effort as the No. 4 Louisville baseball team remained unbeaten with an 8-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Cardinals improved to 14-0 overall extending the program’s best start to a season since the 1957 team set a school record with a perfect 17-0 mark. The nation’s only unbeaten team, Louisville clinched its 29th consecutive regular season weekend series victory while also winning its 30th straight regular season home game.
McClure finished with six strikeouts and allowed just four hits in six scoreless innings to improve to 2-0 on the season and 15-1 in his collegiate career. A native of Mentor, Ohio, McClure has a 2.08 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 21.1 innings pitched this season. McClure has allowed just one earned run on nine hits in his last three starts covering 18.0 innings.
Five different Cardinals had two hits on Saturday as Louisville scored five runs in the first three innings to take command. Senior Logan Taylor paced the way finishing 2-of-4 with a double, two RBI, two stolen bases and a run scored. Junior Colby Fitch was 2-for-4 with his third home run of the season, while freshman Tyler Fitzgerald finished 2-of-3 with a walk and scored twice. Junior Brendan McKay added a pair of hits and scored once and senior Colin Lyman finished 2-for-3 with a double, one walk and one run scored. UofL out-hit the Panthers (7-6, 0-2 ACC) 13-6 while reaching double-figures in hits for the 13th time this season.
Louisville, which improved to 2-0 in the ACC for the second straight season, opened the scoring in the first inning on a RBI single to left field by sophomore Devin Mann to plate Taylor. An inning later, Taylor connected for a two-out, two-run double down the left field line to send sophomore Josh Stowers and Fitzgerald home for the 3-0 lead. Devin Hairston pushed the advantage to 5-0 in the third inning on a two-out, two-run double off the top of the left field wall to score McKay and Lyman.
The Cardinals added their sixth run of the day in the sixth inning when Stowers scored from third on a groundout by Taylor. Louisville closed its scoring in the eighth inning when Fitch followed a walk to Fitzgerald by powering a 2-2 offering from Yaya Chentouf over the right field wall for his third home run of the season. Pittsburgh plated its first two runs of the series in the ninth inning on a RBI sacrifice fly by Alex Amos and a RBI single from Nico Popa.
Freshman lefthander Nick Bennett worked six dominant innings and sophomore outfielder Josh Stowers had a pivotal two-run single to lead the No. 4 Louisville baseball team to its 15th straight win with Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Cardinals improved to 15-0 overall extending the program’s best start to a season since the 1957 squad set a school record with a perfect 17-0 mark. The nation’s only undefeated team, Louisville also won its 31st consecutive regular season home game while moving to 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A native of Cincinnati, Bennett allowed only two hits with one walk and four strikeouts in six shutout innings to win his second straight weekend start and move to 2-0 on the season. After surrendering a one-out bunt single in the second inning, Bennett retired the final 14 batters he faced while lowering his season ERA to just 0.56. Bennett also extended his scoreless streak to 14.0 consecutive innings with Sunday’s outing.
Following Bennett’s dominant start, sophomore righty Sam Bordner retired all six batters he faced, including three by strikeout, to get Louisville to the ninth inning. Sophomore Riley Thompson recorded the first two outs of the ninth before junior righty Lincoln Henzman locked down the final out of the game and his third save of the season with a strikeout.
In the three-game sweep of the Panthers (7-7, 0-3 ACC), Louisville’s trio of starting pitchers – Brendan McKay, Kade McClure and Bennett – did not allow a run while combining for 25 strikeouts and just eight singles in 19.0 innings. Overall, the Cardinals pitching staff surrendered just three runs against Pittsburgh decreasing their season ERA to 1.75.
Stowers was 1-for-3 in Sunday’s win and provided the biggest hit of the game delivering a two-out single to score a pair of runs in the sixth inning to push the Louisville lead to 3-0. McKay finished 2-for-3 at the plate and scored once to continue his hot start, which includes a .548 batting average, .621 on-base percentage, .905 slugging percentage and 14 RBI.
The scoring started in the fourth inning on Sunday when junior Devin Mann scored from third on a RBI groundball off the bat of junior Devin Hairston. The Cardinals pushed their lead to 3-0 in the sixth inning on Stowers’ single up the middle to plate McKay and senior Colin Lyman. The Panthers plated their only run of the day in the ninth on a RBI single by Nick Banman.