Reaching the midway point of the regular season, the #10 Louisville Cardinals (22-6, 9-3) finished the first half strong with a three game home sweep against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (15-14, 5-7). It marks their fourth three game sweep of the season and their second against ACC competition.
Against yet another hot offensive ACC team, the pitching staff was once again able to hold their own. Sophomore southpaw Reid Detmers registered his 5th double digit strikeout game in the series opener, Jack Perkins & Michael Kirian were able to contain the Deacs to allow Louisville to make a comeback in game 2, and Bobby Miller tied his career mark in strikeouts in the series finale.
While the pitching in the series was solid for a majority of the the three games, the series was mainly marked by a surge in Louisville’s power hitting. Ranked just 139th in home runs and 185th in slugging percentage heading into the weekend, the Cardinal Nine register 5 doubles and 5 home runs over the three game series, including 3 in the series finale. Zach Britton, Alex Binelas, Justin Lavey and Logan Wyatt all went yard, with the latter launching 2.
Cards Dominate Deacs From Start To Finish
Getting a much a better offensive showing than in their last game with Reid Detmers starting, both Louisville’s pitching and hitting contributed to a winning effort, as the Cards took down Wake Forest in the series opener and first half of a Friday doubleheader, 6-1. Every starter reached base safely, and three hitters tallied multiple hits. Both of Danny Oriente’s hits in the contest wound up as doubles, tying his career high for most doubles in a game with 2.
After seemingly getting back on track in their midweek game against the Miami (OH) Redhawks, the Louisville offense was back to business to start off the weekend series against the Demon Deacons. They put up a pair of crooked numbers in the first two innings, with both innings having the scoring come from one batter. With baserunners on first and second in the opening frame, junior designated hitter Danny Oriente sent them both home with his sixth double of the year, good for best on the team, In the very next inning, junior shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald also sent a pair of base runners home, this time off his first triple of the season to give the Cardinal Nine an early 4-0 advantage.
With it being the opening game of a weekend series, of course the opposing hitters were given the daunting task of facing sophomore southpaw Reid Detmers. While he did allow 6 hits to tie for a career high, he only allowed 1 run in the fourth inning over his 7.1 inning start. His 10 strikeout/0 walk performance was the 5th time this season over his 7 starts that he had struck out double digit batters. By the time his exited the contest, his strikeout-to-walk ratio had ballooned to an amazing 86-8 with a season ERA of 0.96.
A pair of insurance runs were added in the eighth by a pair of hitters who had far exceeded their 2019 expectations. Chipping in with his second hit of the day, freshman catcher Henry Davis sent the inning’s first baserunner home to improve his season batting average to .327 (second on the team at this point). Capping off Louisville’s scoring efforts for the game, junior Justin Lavey also notched an RBI base hit for his second hit of the game. This continued a bit of a hot streak for Lavey, as the third/second baseman hybrid had batted .473 up to this point in his last 5 games.
Taking over relief duties once Detmers exited the game was once again fireballing right-hander Michael McAvene. Striking out a single batter, the junior allowed 1 base runner in his 1.2 inning relief outing, and also earned his second save of the season.
W: Reid Detmers (5-1), L: Colin Peluse (1-4), S: Michael McAvene (2)
Offense Mounts Impeccable Rally To Clinch Series
Scoring in their final five innings at bat, the Louisville Cardinals overcame an early 4 run deficit to sweep the Friday doubleheader and clinch the weekend series against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The 10-7 victory was assisted by a pair of crooked number innings, especially the 5 run seventh inning which took the lead from the Demon Deacons.
Being stymied in the first game of the series, Wake Forest’s bats woke up and struck fast in game 2. Going 3 up-3 down in the first two innings of the contest, Wake Forest then exploded for 4 runs on 5 hits in the third inning against starting pitcher Nick Bennett. Unable to properly locate the edges of the zone for most of his start, the junior tied for his shortest start of 2019 and his most allowed walks so far this year. After giving up a solo shot to Wake’s leading home run hitter in the fifth and driving the pitch count up to 96, the end of the fifth would spell the end of his day on the mound.
Meanwhile at the plate for the Cards, they didn’t get rolling until the middle innings and had to chip and claw at Wake Forest’s lead. A pair of runs were plated by the Cards in the fourth, thanks to junior first baseman Logan Wyatt’s first extra base hit since March 1st, and a wild pitch then passed ball to send him home. A leadoff home run from Justin Lavey in the fifth and an RBI base hit from freshman Jared Poland in the sixth would pull the Cardinal Nine to within 1 of the Deacs.
Like Wake Forest had in the fourth, the seventh inning was Louisville’s turn to explode. The Cardinal Nine would plate 5 runs in this inning for their sixth inning of 5 or more runs in 2019. With Justin Lavey, pinch runner Trey Leonard, and junior outfielder Ethan Stringer loading up the bases with no outs, Louisville would bring home a runner on their next four plate appearances. Tyler Fitzgerald would register his second 2 RBI extra base hit of the doubleheader, junior outfielder Jake Snider would plate a runner on a groundout, and Danny Oriente would perfectly execute a suicide squeeze to bring home a runner and free up all the bases.
Putting a bow on the inning, Logan Wyatt would launch his first home run since the third game of the season, and complete the seventh inning five-spot. In the final inning at bat for the home squad, freshman catcher Henry Davis plated their 10th run of the contest for Louisville’s 8th game with double digit runs.
The Demon Deacons were able to rattle Nick Bennett, but didn’t fare as well against right-hander Jack Perkins and left-hander Michael Kirian. In their 4.0 combined innings of work, the duo struck out 3 batters and allowed only 2 run off 4 hits. Kirian was also credited with his first save of his collegiate career.
W: Jack Perkins (1-0), L: Jared Shuster (4-0), S: Michael Kirian (1)
Long Ball Secures Sweep
In their lowest offensive output of the weekend, the home run ball was the recipe for success as solo home runs from Logan Wyatt, Zach Britton and Alex Binelas fueled the Louisville hitters in a 5-4 sweep clinching victory over the Demon Deacons. That combined with an excellent outing from starting pitcher Bobby Miller were enough to overcome a late inning rally mounted by Wake Forest.
Like they have been for the vast majority of the season, Louisville wasted very little time getting on the scoreboard. Thanks to a passed ball from Wake Forest, outfielder Jake Snider was able to scamper home in the opening frame, good for Louisville’s 18th time in 28 games that they would plate a run in the first inning.
Making just his second start all season after being primarily a relief pitcher all season, Bobby Miller looked just as sharp as he had been in his freshman campaign. The sophomore had his longest outing of the season, tossing 7.0 no-hit shutout innings and tying his career high in strikeouts with 8. His 2 walks were the only baserunners allowed while he was on the mound, as Louisville’s defense did their job as well in keeping the Demon Deacs off the base paths.
The Cardinal Nine would really get the fireworks started in the fourth inning, as they would lead off the inning with back-to-back home runs. Junior first baseman Logan Wyatt would jump at the first pitch of the inning and send that ball over the wall for his second long ball of the weekend, and sophomore designated hitter Zach Britton would launch his second homer of the season off a 3-0 count. Later in the inning with the bases loaded, team RBI leader Tyler Fitzgerald would reach base off a fielding error to bring home the inning’s third run, and fellow junior Danny Oriente would come within feet of Louisville’s first grand slam of the season, but the wind would not do him any favors and blow it back into the field of play to end the inning.
Facing a 5-0 deficit after freshman Alex Binelas launched his 3rd home run of the season in the sixth, Wake Forest immediately chased after the Louisville pitchers upon Miller’s exit from the game. The eighth inning saw three different pitchers see action, as freshman Jared Poland and juniors Adam Elliott & Michael McAvene all recorded one out, with Wake’s 2 runs in the inning being credited to Poland. Though with a two-out, runners on the corners jam, McAvene was able to pickoff the runner at first and stop the bleeding. The Demon Deacons were able to launch a 2 run home run to make things interesting, but McAvene settled down and was able to close the door against the Deacs and secure the sweep.
W: Bobby Miller (1-0), L: Morgan McSweeney (3-2), S: Michael McAvene