The second-seeded University of Louisville baseball team begins pool play at the 2022 ACC Championship on Wednesday and Thursday taking on 11th-seeded Pitt and seventh-seeded Georgia Tech. First pitch of both games is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET at Truist Field in Charlotte, N.C. Pool play games are televised on regional sports networks, including Bally Sports South in Louisville. Both games can be heard on 93.9 The Ville.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS
Louisville closed out the regular season with a series victory over No. 10 Virginia that helped the Cardinals clinch their fifth ACC Atlantic Division title in seven full seasons as members of the league.
The Cardinals are looking to capture their first ACC Championship this week. Louisville is 7-9 all-time in the ACC Championship, including a runner-up finish in 2018.
Louisville and Pitt played a three-game series in Pittsburgh in April with the Panthers winning two of three. The Cards did not play Georgia Tech this spring.
The Cardinals have played Pitt once previously in the ACC Championship, defeating the Panthers 5-2 in the 2018 semifinals. Louisville lost its only ACC Championship meeting with Georgia Tech 9-8 in 12 innings last season in pool play.
- Louisville owns 145 conference wins since joining the ACC in 2015, the most conference wins during that time of any Power Five school.
- UofL’s offense has been explosive so far this season, plating four or more runs in an inning 42 times, surpassing its total of 19 in 2021.
- Louisville has scored 10 runs or more 21 times this season and registered at least 10 hits in 33 games.
- UofL is 32-2 this season when it tallies more hits than the opposition. During Dan McDonnell‘s 16 seasons at Louisville, the Cardinals are 549-62 (.899) when they record more hits.
- Louisville has used 21 different pitchers this season, 20 of which have thrown double digit innings.
- Dalton Rushing has been a constant power threat in the middle of the order this season. The junior has homered in seven of the last 10 games and has taken over the team lead with 19 long balls on the year. Rushing is currently fifth in the ACC in home runs and also fourth in walks, fourth in hit by pitch, ninth in on-base percentage and ninth in slugging percentage.
- Jared Poland started his time at Louisville as a two-way player, playing second base and pitching out of the bullpen before moving into a pitcher-only role in 2021. The right-hander was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week after tossing seven scoreless innings against No. 1 Notre Dame, striking out 10. Poland put together an 18-inning scoreless streak from March 8-26, which included starts against ranked opponents TCU and Notre Dame. His best start was a career-long eight shutout innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts against Clemson. Poland struck out double digits in four ACC starts and ranks top 10 in the ACC in strikeouts (4th), ERA (5th) and strikeouts per nine innings (6th).
- Jack Payton played sparingly as a freshman, appearing in 13 games with seven starts. Payton tallied just six hits and two RBIs in his first season. He is currently leading the team with 25 multi-hit games on the season, including nine with three hits. Payton ranks among the best in the ACC in doubles (3rd) and hits (8th).
- Isaac Humphrey has quietly put together an excellent season for the Cardinals after not seeing action during the 2021 season. Humphrey is currently the team leader and ranks eighth in the ACC with a .474 on-base percentage. The sophomore is 40-for-103 (.388) over his last 31 games, surging his average up to .343. Humphrey has been Louisville’s best hitter this season with runners in scoring position, hitting .393 (22-for-56) and reaching base at a .537 clip in that situation.
- Ben Metzinger returned fully healthy in 2022 and has been one of the pillars of the Louisville lineup. Metzinger is top 10 in the ACC in walks (6th), home runs (9th), total bases (9th) and RBIs (10th). He earned ACC Player of the Week honors after tallying four straight multi-hit games against Lipscomb and Boston College. Metzinger owns walk-off home runs against Morehead State and North Carolina this season, the first walk-off blasts for the Cardinals since Nick Solak’s home run beat Notre Dame on March 11, 2016.
- Ben Bianco has already turned in a career season this spring setting career highs in runs (37), hits (53), triples (3), home runs (11) and RBIs (49). The fifth-year senior had five hits in the finale against Dartmouth, becoming the first Cardinal with five hits in a game since Alex Binelas did so against Alabama A&M on April 26, 2019. Bianco also homered in all three games of the weekend series against North Carolina, including a go-ahead grand slam in game two and a leadoff shot that helped sparked Louisville’s ninth-inning rally in the finale. He hit a solo homer in Louisville’s 1-0 win over Vanderbilt and is currently 21st in the ACC in RBIs.
- Tate Kuehner began the 2022 season as Louisville’s Friday night starter, working in that role for the first eight weekends of the year. The southpaw moved back into his previous bullpen role during the Florida State series and has been one of the Cardinals’ best pitchers since. Kuehner has made 11 relief appearances, allowing just seven earned runs in 25.1 innings for a 2.49 ERA and has tallied a pair of saves. Kuehner worked 14.2 consecutive scoreless innings across six appearances against Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Indiana, Virginia Tech, Eastern Kentucky and Virginia.
- Michael Prosecky has taken over as the Louisville closer for the 2022 season after pitching in a variety of roles during his first two years. The southpaw recorded the final six outs in each of Louisville’s first two victories, earning his first two career saves. Prosecky has continued his strong work out of the bullpen and put together 15 consecutive scoreless innings before allowing two unearned runs against North Carolina. The junior is second in the ACC with 10 saves.
CARDS CLAIM FIFTH ACC ATLANTIC DIVISION TITLE
With a victory over Virginia in the final game of the regular season, the Cardinals captured the 2022 ACC Atlantic Division championship.
Since Louisville joined the ACC in 2015, the Cards have five division titles. No other ACC team has more than two during that time.
The ACC has had divisions for 15 seasons. Despite having only been in the league for seven of those, Louisville owns the third-most division titles in the league.
EIGHT CARDS NAMED ALL-ACC, USHER DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Louisville collected a slew of honors when the ACC postseason awards were announced.
Levi Usher took home the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award and was one of eight Cardinals named to the All-Conference teams. Louisville lead all programs with the eight selections and are the most for the Cards since also getting eight in 2017.
Usher, Jared Poland, Michael Prosecky and Dalton Rushing were all second team selections. Christian Knapczyk, Cameron Masterman, Ben Metzinger and Jack Payton were each named to the third team. Logan Beard was also voted to the ACC All-Freshman team.
Usher was the second Louisville player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, joining Devin Hairston who took home the first-ever ACC DPOY honor in 2017.
USHER ASCENDING LOUISVILLE’S STOLEN BASE LEADERBOARDS
Senior outfielder Levi Usher has been among the top stolen base threats in the country since his arrival on campus in 2020. Usher ranked 10th nationally with 11 steals in the shortened 2020 season, and then led the ACC and finished 13th in the country with 26 in 2021. This season, Usher is once again leading the ACC with 33 stolen bases, which is good for 10th nationally.
The Fairfax, Iowa, native has steadily climbed Louisville’s single-season and career stolen base lists over the course of the spring. Usher’s 33 bags this season are the seventh-most in program history, while his 70 career steals are currently seventh-most as well. Usher is 70-for-76 on the basepaths in 120 games with the Cardinals.
Next up on the single-season list is Corey Ray, who swiped 34 bases in 2015, while the next milestone on the career leaderboard is 79, held by Mike Hook (1999-2001) and Sutton Whiting (2012-15).
CARDINALS FEATURE FOUR DOUBLE-DIGIT HOME RUN HITTERS
Ben Bianco slugged his 10th home run of the season at Vanderbilt, lifting the Cardinals to a 1-0 victory in the Battle of the Barrel.
In doing so, Bianco became the fourth Cardinal to reach double figures in home runs this season. He joined Ben Metzinger, Cameron Masterman and Dalton Rushing with 10 or more.
This is the first Louisville team to have at least four players with 10 home runs since the 2010 Cardinals had five do so – Phil Wunderlich (21), Ryan Wright (16), Stewart Ijames (14), Andrew Clark (13) and Adam Duvall (12).
NO GAME IS OVER FOR THE CARDS
Louisville has had a knack for rallying back after falling behind in games this season.
The Cardinals have now won 19 games during which they trailed, including nine of their 18 ACC victories. UofL has won six games in which it trailed in the seventh inning or later, four of which were in ACC play.
Louisville has excelled at the plate in the late innings, scoring 177 runs in the seventh inning or later and outscoring opponents 118-53 from the eighth inning on.
LOUISVILLE LINEUP SHOWING DEPTH TOP TO BOTTOM
Louisville’s offensive attack has drawn headlines for its performance this season and the Cardinals are doing it by committee with strong production up and down their lineup.
All nine of Louisville’s regulars are hitting better than .275 this season, the only lineup in the ACC with nine qualified hitters above that mark. Louisville’s starting nine all have at least 50 hits and 30 runs scored, the most of any team in the ACC in either category.
LOUISVILLE SHOWING OFF RARE COMBO OF SPEED AND POWER
Louisville’s offense has showed off its versatility this season, beating teams with power at the plate and speed on the basepaths.
The Cardinals have tallied 89 stolen bases and 84 home runs, making them one of only two teams in the country (Campbell) with at least 85 bags and 80 long balls.
All nine of Louisville’s regular starters have at least two home runs and a stolen base.
CARDINALS FEATURE ONE OF NATION’S TOP OFFENSES
The 2022 Louisville offense has been arguably the most potent in Dan McDonnell‘s 16-year tenure. The Cardinals have more runs (486), home runs (84), walks (303) and a higher on-base percentage (.416) through 55 games than any other Louisville team to this point in the season under McDonnell.
Louisville currently ranks 12th the country in scoring at 8.8 runs per game. The Cardinals rank ninth nationally in runs, 10th in hits, 12th in walks, 13th in on-base percentage, 15th in triples, 15th in slugging percentage, 20th in batting average, 25th in home runs, 29th in hit by pitch, 31st in doubles and 31st in stolen bases.