Embarking on their annual Derby Weekend road trip, the #5 Louisville Cardinals (39-9, 18-6) traveled to South Bend, IN to do battle with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-26, 12-15) and proceeded to sweep the Irish on their home diamond. This marked Louisville’s 7th three game sweep of the season and their fourth in conference play. Counting the two game sweep of Ole Miss and season sweeps of Eastern Kentucky and Kentucky, it marked the 10th time that Louisville swept an opponent in the regular season. The sweep moved Louisville’s winning streak over Notre Dame to 19 straight, as the Cards have not lost to the Irish since joining the ACC.
Games 1 & 2 of the series were uncharacteristic for Louisville as of late, with the Cardinal Nine only plating 5 runs on 10 hits over those two games. The majority of these runs came off a single swing of a bat, with freshman third baseman Alex Binelas launching a 3 run home run in game 2. In his last 14 games, he is batting an astounding .450 with 5 homers and 27 RBI. The offense got back up and running for the sweep-clincher as 3 different Cards indulged in multi-RBI days with 6 Cards tallying base hits.
Fortunately for the Louisville offense, the pitching staff was on point over the entire weekend. In games 1 & 3, Louisville tossed 11 strikeouts with Reid Detmers, Michael Kirian and Michael McAvene combining to toss a shutout in game 1. While only 5 strikeouts were dealt in game 2, only 1 run was given up in Bobby Miller’s 8.0 inning start (his longest outing of the season). Overall, the pitching staff only surrendered 3 runs in the series, good for their lowest amount since allowing only 1 run in the James Madison series.
Louisville Shuts Out Notre Dame In Series Opener
In their first ACC road action since completing a series sweep at NC State, the Cardinals took their first step towards another potential sweep as they defeated the Fighting Irish in a 2-0 pitcher’s duel at Frank Eck Stadium. While the offense has been carrying the bulk of the weight in the last few weeks, it was the pitching that got the job done in the road affair as they tossed their sixth shutout of the season and second in 10 days.
For starting pitcher Reid Detmers, it was yet another opportunity to bolster his case to be a potential All-American. His 7 strikeouts on the day put him at 120 for the season, just 26 away from tying Brendan McKay’s single season strikeout record that was set in 2017. While he did allow 4 walks, the sophomore southpaw’s 1 hit allowed over 7.0 innings was the lowest he had allowed to a Power 5 school all season and lowest against all competition since he tossed 7.0 no hit innings vs. Brown on February 22nd.
The Cardinal Nine’s 4 hits were the fewest they had totaled since gathering only 2 hits in the series opener vs. Georgia Tech, but it was all that they needed. The Cards struck first in the second inning of the contest thanks to an RBI single from sophomore designated hitter Zach Britton, marking the 31st time this season that Louisville was the first to score in a game. This was yet another time that Britton displayed his clutch hitting prowess, as this RBI increased his batting average on the season to .375 with runners in scoring position.
Driving in the other run for Louisville was team RBI leader Tyler Fitzgerald. Adding an insurance run in the fifth, the junior shortstop struck Louisville’s only other RBI base hit of the game. This put him at 54 on the season, only 20 away from tying Dan Kopriva at #10 on the all-time single season UofL RBI list. While not quite driving in runs on their hits, first baseman Logan Wyatt and second baseman Justin Lavey tallied Louisville’s other two hits in the second and fifth innings respectively.
Notre Dame still did not have much of a chance once Detmers left the game. Over the eighth and ninth innings, Louisville’s two best pitchers (in terms of ERA) combined to continue the Irish shutout. Sophomore left-hander Michael Kirian and junior right-hander Michael McAvene combined to strikeout 4 of their 8 batters faced in 2.0 innings of relief. McAvene alone tossed three in the bottom of the ninth, earning his fifth save of the season in the process.
W: Reid Detmers (9-2), L: Tommy Sheehan (5-5), S: Michael McAvene (5)
Cards Clinch Series On Derby Day
With the city of Louisville celebrating
Maximum Security Country House’s win in the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, up the road in South Bend the Cardinal Nine celebrated a series win over Notre Dame after clinching the series in a 3-1 game 2 victory. It moved them to 5-2 in ACC series play for the season, and 8-3 in three game series’ overall.
Like Detmers the day before, starting pitcher Bobby Miller also had a successful outing against the Irish. Going 100 pitches deep over 8.0 innings pitched, the sophomore right-hander struck out 5 batters for his most punch outs in a road start this season and his most vs. a Power 5 school since 3/31 vs. Wake Forest. Out of the 28 batters he faced, only 4 made it on base.
Second baseman Justin Lavey enjoyed Louisville’s only multi-hit game as he went 2-3 and Lucas Dunn enjoyed a 1-2 game with a pair of walks, but it was Alex Binelas who shined the brightest for the Cardinal Nine on the cloudy day in South Bend. Facing a 1-0 deficit with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and two runners on base, Binelas put the Cards up with one swing of the bat. The reigning ACC & National Player of the Week launched a 3 run homer for his 9th long ball of the season (team lead) and his 20th RBI over his last 7 games.
Combining for scoreless relief innings in the second straight game, Michael Kirian and Michael McAvene once again shut the door on Notre Dame. It wasn’t without some drama though, as Louisville had some trouble recording the final out. Two straight singles, a balk and then a walk would load the bases for the Irish to put the winning run on first base. McAvene would inherit the bases loaded jam and draw a grounder to end the game and record his second straight save and sixth of the season.
W: Bobby Miller (4-0), L, Tommy Vail (2-2), S: Michael McAvene (6)
Offense Returns To Form To Clinch Sweep
Hoping to cash in on their 10th opponent sweep of the season, the offense whipped back into shape and helped power an 8-2 victory over the Irish. Louisville plated more runs in game 3 than they had in games 1 & 2 combined, with team RBI leader Tyler Fitzgerald paving the with a 3-5 and 2 RBI day at the plate. Outfielders Jake Snider and Danny Oriente also enjoyed 2 RBI days in the sweep-clinching affair.
Scoring in the opening frame for the first time in the series, Louisville began the series finale by plating a run in each of the first 5 innings of the game, including plating 3 straight runs in 3 straight innings before Notre Dame could crack the scoreboard. Logan Wyatt got the scoring started with a groundout RBI in the first inning, followed by an RBI single in the second from Justin Lavey. Then finally in the third, outfielder Jake Snider was able to scurry home off a fielder’s choice RBI from fellow outfielder Danny Oriente.
Hoping to salvage the weekend any way they could, Notre Dame wasn’t about to go down without a bit of a fight. Making his first career collegiate start, right-hander Glenn Albanese did a solid job keeping the Irish at bay up until the bottom of the third. The Irish would post their first crooked number inning of the series, thanks to a 2 run home run to pull the game within 1 run of Louisville.
The Cards responded immediately to Notre Dame’s home run by putting up a crooked number inning of their own. With the bases full of Cards, Jake Snider proceeded to draw a bases loaded walk, with Tyler Fitzgerald following that up with a 2 RBI single. After Snider advanced to third, Danny Oriente would send him home via the sacrifice fly to complete the 4 run fourth inning for the Cards.
Louisville plated an additional insurance run in the fifth thanks to yet another bases loaded walk from Jake Snider, but it was the pitching staff’s time to shine from this moment onward. Right-hander Bryan Hoeing took over to start the fourth after Glenn Albanese surrendered a two-run jack, and he tossed a gem in relief. The senior tossed 6 strikeouts in 3.2 scoreless innings for his longest scoreless outing and most strikeouts since he tossed 9 in 7.0 shutout innings against James Madison on March 2nd, 2019.
Junior right-handers Adam Elliott and Shay Smiddy closed out the series against the Irish by combining to toss 2.1 shutout innings to end the game. Both Elliott and Smiddy tossed a strikeout a piece, with Smiddy not allowing a base runner in his 0.2 inning outing.
W: Glenn Albanese (1-0), L: Cameron Brown (3-6)