The No. 2 Louisville baseball team takes to the road for the first time in 2016 with a weekend visit to No. 21 Ole Miss for an intriguing three-game non-conference series at Swayze Field. All three games will be televised by SEC Network+ through WatchESPN. Radio coverage of Friday’s opener (5 p.m., ET) will be begin on 1450 WXVW before transitioning to 93.9 The Ville at 6 p.m., while the final two games of the weekend will be aired on 93.9 The Ville.
Ranked No. 2 in each of the major national polls after week one, Louisville remained unbeaten to begin week two with Tuesday’s 14-2 victory over Eastern Kentucky. Junior outfielder Corey Ray, named ACC Player of the Week on Monday, is pacing the way for the Cardinals hitting .733 with three home runs, nine RBI, six stolen bases and 13 runs scored in four games. The Cardinals have scored 10 or more runs in each of their first four games this season matching the longest such streak to open a season in school history equaling also accomplished in 1987 and 1950.
Ole Miss enters this weekend’s series at 4-0 on the season with a three-game sweep of FIU and a midweek victory against Arkansas State. Guided by 16th year head coach Mike Bianco, the Rebels were 30-28 last season and finished fourth in the SEC West with a 15-14 conference mark. Ole Miss received an at-large invitation to the 2015 NCAA Championship and was 0-2 in the NCAA Regional hosted by UCLA.
Ole Miss holds a 6-5 edge in the all-time series against Louisville, which dates back to 1991. Under head coach Dan McDonnell, the Cardinals are 4-3 against the Rebels, including winning two of three in their last visit to Oxford duing the 2010 season. Last season, the teams split a pair of midweek games in Louisville.
NINE STRAIGHT REGULAR SEASON SERIES WINS AGAINST RANKED FOES
The Cardinals enter this weekend’s matchup having won nine straight regular season series against ranked foes, including five last season. Louisville’s last regular series loss to a ranked opponent came on May 13-14, 2012 when they lost two of three at No. 15 UConn.
OLE MISS CONNECTION FOR THE CARDINALS
The Louisville baseball program has a significant connection to Ole Miss as head coach Dan McDonnellspent six seasons with the Rebels as an assistant before being hired by the Cardinals. While in Oxford, McDonnell worked with Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco to lead the Rebels to five NCAA appearances, including two Super Regionals, as well as the SEC regular season title in 2005 and the tournament championship in 2006.
TEAM NOTES AND TRENDS
• The Cardinals have scored two or more runs in the first inning in each of their first four games this season.
• Louisville was 31-0 last season when scoring first and 15-0 when scoring in the first inning.
• Through the first four games, Louisville’s starting pitchers are 4-0 with a 0.86 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 21.0 innings.
• Louisville has won 143 straight games when entering the ninth inning with a lead dating back to May 2012. The Cardinals were 43-0 last season and 46-0 in 2013 when leading after the eighth.
• The Cardinals were 11-for-11 on stolen bases during the opening weekend continuing the aggressive approach from head coach Dan McDonnell. Louisville was fourth nationally with 127 stolen bases last season, was second in the nation in 2014 with 133 and second in 2013 with 150.
• Through the 65-game season in 2015, the Louisville bullpen had a 1.82 ERA with a 22-2 record, 229 strikeouts to just 97 walks in 222.0 innings and opposing batters hit only .175.
• In 30 ACC games last season, the Cardinals had a staff ERA of 2.66 with 258 strikeouts in 277.0 innings.
• The Cardinals allowed two or fewer earned runs in 36 of 65 games last season. In 2014, they did it in 40 of 67 games, while in 2013, they accomplished the feat in 36 of 65 games.
• From March 21 to April 10 of last season, the Cardinals played 83 consecutive innings against ACC opponents without trailing.
PLAYER NOTES AND TRENDS
• Corey Ray was named ACC Player of the Week on Feb. 22 after hitting .667 (6-for-9) with two home runs, seven RBI, nine runs scored and was 6-for-6 on stolen bases in three games against SIU Edwardsville.
• Ray is 4-for-4 in the first inning this season with a home run, double and four runs scored.
• Eight of Ray’s 14 career home runs have either tied the score or given Louisville a lead.
• Kyle Funkhouser continues his climb up Louisville’s career pitching charts ranking second in wins (27), second in strikeouts (284), fourth in starts (42) and fifth in innings pitched (292.1). He also holds the school record for single season wins with 13 in 2014.
• As the first player in Dan McDonnell‘s tenure as head coach to start on the mound and play virtually every day as a position player/hitter, Brendan McKay was 9-3 with four saves, a 1.77 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 96.2 innings pitched. At the plate, he hit .308 with four home runs, 34 RBI, 32 runs scored and 38 walks in 58 starts as a hitter.
• On Feb. 20, McKay recorded eight strikeouts in earning his 10th collegiate victory marking the eighth time in his young career the lefty has finished with at least eight strikeouts.
• Nick Solak set a school record for walks in a single game earning five free passes in Louisville’s 12-0 win over SIUE on Feb. 20.
• Highlighted by a career-best 20-game hitting streak last season, Solak was one of the team’s best offensive players hitting .324 average with a team-high 15 doubles, three home runs, 40 RBI, 47 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.
• Making his sixth career start and the first on a weekend, Drew Harrington matched a career-high with nine strikeouts and did not allow a run in a career-best six innings in the win over SIUE on Feb. 21. The lefty did not issue a walk and allowed just three hits in the outing.
LOUISVILLE IN NATIONAL POLLS EVERY WEEK SINCE BEGINNING OF 2012
The Louisville baseball program has enjoyed a historic run by remaining in at least one of the major national polls every week since the release of the 2012 preseason rankings — the longest such span in school history. The unanimous choice as the No. 2 team in the nation in the six national preseason polls, the Cardinals have received a preseason top 10 ranking in four straight seasons (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and have earned a preseason national ranking in nine straight seasons (2008-2016) overall. The No. 2 ranking is the highest preseason ranking in program history for Louisville, two spots better than their previous preseason high of No. 4 by Baseball America during the 2013 College World Series season. The No. 2 ranking also equals the best overall ranking in history.
CARDINALS OPENED AT HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2010
The three-game sweep of SIU Edwardsville on Feb. 19-21 marked the first time Louisville has opened a season at home since earning a weekend sweep against Bowling Green State in 2010. The Cardinals have opened each of the last seven seasons by winning at least two of their three games during the opening weekend.
LOUISVILLE TABBED AS ACC FAVORITE BY CONFERENCE HEAD COACHES
Louisville was selected as the 2016 ACC preseason favorite in a vote of the conference’s 14 head coaches. The Cardinals were a unanimous selection as the team to beat in both the Atlantic Division and in the conference. Louisville, which set an ACC record for conference wins with a 25-5 mark last season, tallied 98 points while Florida State was the second choice in the division with 74 points. NC State was third (72) and was followed by Notre Dame (50), Clemson (46), Wake Forest (35) and Boston College (17). Miami, which reached the College World Series last year, was named by 13 coaches as the favorite in the Coastal Division. Defending national champion Virginia received one vote for first place in the division and was second with 80 points, followed by North Carolina (71), Georgia Tech (58), Duke (38), Virginia Tech (30), and Pitt (18).
FIVE CARDINALS RECEIVE PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA RECOGNITION
Senior pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, junior pitcher Zack Burdi, junior infielder Nick Solak, junior outfielder Corey Ray and sophomore pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay earned preseason All-America accolades from various organizations for 2016. Burdi, Funkhouser, McKay and Ray were named preseason All-Americans by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball newspaper, D1Baseball, National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Perfect Game. Additionally, Solak was named as a preseason All-American by D1Baseball and Perfect Game.
BURDI, SMITH AND SOLAK NAMED TEAM CAPTAINS FOR 2016
Junior righthanded pitcher Zack Burdi, junior catcher Will Smith and junior infielder Nick Solak were chosen by Louisville players and coaches as team captains for the Cardinals baseball team in 2016. Burdi was a Third Team Louisville Slugger All-American and All-ACC First Team selection last season while earning a 6-1 record with nine saves and a 0.92 ERA in 20 relief appearances. Smith started 47 games behind the plate in 2015 hitting .242 with two home runs and 15 RBI. Solak emerged as one of Louisville’s top offensive players in 2015 hitting .324 with three home runs, 40 RBI, 15 doubles and 18 stolen bases while starting all 65 games.
GAME DAY INFORMATION
#2 Louisville at #21 Ole Miss
Date: February 26-28
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Swayze Field (10,323)
Series History: Ole Miss leads 6-5
Game Notes: Louisville | Ole Miss
Friday, February 26 | 5:00 p.m. ET | Live Stats
TV: SECN+ | Radio: 1450 WXVW/93.9 The Ville (Listen)
LOU: Sr. RHP Kyle Funkhouser (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
MISS: Jr. RHP Brady Bramlett (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Saturday, February 27 | 2:30 p.m. ET | Live Stats
TV: SECN+ | Radio: 93.9 The Ville (Listen)
LOU: So. LHP Brendan McKay (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
MISS: Jr. RHP Chad Smith (0-0, 7.36 ERA)
Sunday, February 28 | 2:30 p.m. ET | Live Stats
TV: SECN+ | Radio: 93.9 The Ville (Listen)
LOU: Jr. LHP Drew Harrington (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
MISS: Jr. RHP Sean Johnson (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
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