The long offseason is finally over, and it’s finally time for baseball season in the Ville! With that comes another season’s worth of my weekly preview segment, the 7th Inning Stretch. Like last season, each week I will cover some news and notes from the previous week, go over the coming week’s schedule, and preview each opponent accompanied by a breakdown of each one.

The hype has slowly been building up on what could be a very special Louisville Baseball team, so without further ado, let’s dive right in and enjoy opening weekend!

News & Notes

  • Juniors left-handed pitcher Nick Bennett, infielder Tyler Fitzgerald, catcher Zeke Pinkham, right-handed pitcher Shay Smiddy and first baseman Logan Wyatt were voted by the players and coaches as captains for the 2019 season.
  • Louisville has landed on six separate major college baseball preseason polls. This includes: 4th by D1Baseball, 8th by Perfect Game and USA Today, 9th by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and 11th by Baseball America.
  • Juniors Nick Bennett and Logan Wyatt have a combined seven preseason All-American selections. Wyatt was named a Second-Team selection by NCBWA, Perfect Game & Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, and a Third-Team Selection by D1Baseball and Baseball America. Bennett was named a Second-Team selection by NCBWA and a Third-Team selection by Perfect Game.
  • In a vote conducted by all 14 ACC head coaches, Louisville was voted to both win the Atlantic Division as well as the conference as a whole.
  • 93.9 The Ville returns for the fifth consecutive year as the flagship station for Louisville Baseball, with most regular season games and all postseason games airing on 93.9 The Ville.
  • Adjusting the ticketed entry plan first featured last season, 17 of this season’s 34 home games will revert back to free entry. Only the ACC conference games, and the game against Kentucky and Vanderbilt will charge admission.

The Week Ahead

Louisville will spend the entire week down in Lakeland, FL, and will play at Joker Marchant Stadium, the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers.

Away (Lakeland, FL)

  • Friday, February 15th at 6:00pm vs. UConn
  • Saturday, February 16th at 3:00pm vs. UConn
  • Sunday, February 17th at 1:00pm vs. UConn

Adjusting the ticketed entry plan first featured last season, 17 of this season’s 34 home games will revert back to free entry. Tickets can be purchased here. In case you cannot make it to the games, all three games will be broadcast on 93.9 The Ville. However, none of this weekend’s games will be featured on television.

Know The Foe

School: University of Connecticut
Nickname: UConn Huskies
Location: Storrs, Connecticut
Enrollment: 27,578 (total 2019 enrollment)
Head Coach (overall record): Jim Penders (525-367-5)
2018 Record (conference record): 37-22-1 (14-10)
Ranking: 20th
RPI: 20th
Team Leaders (2018):

  • Avg: Zac Susi (.335)
  • RBI: Isaac Feldstein (45)
  • HR: Isaac Feldstein (14)
  • ERA: Mason Feole (2.50)
  • Strikeouts: Mason Feole (120)
  • Wins: Mason Feole (9)

Statistical Breakdown*

Connecticut Louisville
Base on Balls 208 (195) 10 (333)
Batting Average 69 (.283) 31 (.292)
Hits 34 (587) 19 (625)
Home Runs 138 (38) 106 (42)
Runs 111 (332) 16 (443)
Slugging Percentage 126 (.397) 63 (.427)
Earned Run Average 76 (4.09) 27 (3.53)
Strikeouts Per 9 Innings 32 (9.1) 19 (9.5)
WHIP 119 (1.44) 39 (1.31)
Walks Allowed/9 Inn. 152 (4.13) 182 (4.37)
Key: Rank out of 297 (Value)

*2018 Stats are reflected above

Much like Louisville last season, this is a UConn team that lost most of their statistical leaders in the offseason. Both power hitter Isaac Feldstein, who lead the Huskies in home runs (14) and RBIs (45), and Troy Stefanski, who was the statistical runner up in batting average, slugging percentage and RBIs, graduated. While batting average leader Zac Susi (.335) and closer PJ Poulin (led team with 16 saves) left early for the draft. The biggest offensive threat left for the Cardinals to face comes in the form of infielder Anthony Prado, who in 2018 posted a slash line of .324/.388/.410 and also had 2 home runs and 23 RBIs. But the main threat for the Cardinal Nine comes from the mound. Starting left-handed pitcher Mason Feole, who lead UConn in most major statistical pitching categories, returns for his junior season. Baseball America’s #21 college prospect posted a 9-2 record over 16 starts while tossing 120 strikeouts over 100.2 innings pitched in 2018. UConn’s best chance to take down the Cardinals will come on the first day of the season when Feole is expected to start for the Huskies.

My prediction for the series is that after a very tight game 1 where the Cards come out on top, they’ll show their offensive prowess over the next two games and sweep the weekend series against the Huskies.

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