The University of Louisville baseball team heads down the road to Lexington on Tuesday to take on Kentucky in the first Battle of the Bluegrass game in 2023. The game will be televised on SEC Network with radio coverage available on 93.9 The Ville and 970 WGTK.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS
Louisville enters Tuesday night having lost four consecutive games after taking three losses at Duke over the weekend. This is the first time the Cardinals have lost four straight since losing eight in a row May 3-14, 2011.
The Cardinals lost all three games at Duke by just one run. It marked the first time Louisville has lost three straight by a single run since April 22-25, 2006 when it lost twice to West Virginia (10-9, 6-5) and then Western Kentucky (4-3).
Tuesday will be the 114th Battle of the Bluegrass contest. Kentucky leads the all-time series 64-48-1 and holds a 35-18 edge in Lexington. The in-state rivals have met in all but two seasons since 1985. The two teams did not meeting in 2020 because of the cancellation of the season due to COVID and had both matchups rained out in 2002.
Louisville won the only meeting between the two last season, defeating the Wildcats 4-2 in Louisville. Jack Payton had a two-run single to lead the Cards while Carson Liggett, Kade Grundy, Tate Kuehner, Ryan Hawks and Kaleb Corbett all made scoreless relief appearances.
- Louisville has an .847 winning percentage (150-27) in regular season non-conference games since the start of 2016, including a 121-14 (.896) mark in regular season non-conference home games.
- Louisville had just 12 stolen bases through the first 14 games, but has stolen 58 in the last 25.
- The Cardinals rank top 25 nationally in earned run average (4.07) and hits allowed per nine innings (7.67).
- The Cardinals have held the opposition to two runs or fewer 16 times this spring. Louisville limited opponents to two or less 14 times in 2022.
- Louisville has been excellent early in games this spring, outscoring opponents 111-56 in the first three innings.
- Through 39 games, the Cardinals have started 37 different batting orders and 33 different defensive alignments.
- JT Benson hit cleanup in the 2022 Opening Day lineup in his first collegiate game. However, a pair of fluke injuries derailed his sophomore campaign and limited him to just 14 starts. A fully healthy Benson has been excellent in 2023, hitting .318 with 13 extra-base hits and 25 RBI. Benson has also been good on the bases, swiping 11 bags in 13 tries.
- Ryan McCoy has provided a power presence in the middle of the Louisville lineup in his first season with the Cards. The junior leads the team in runs, home runs and RBIs and is second in walks. McCoy was 6-for-12 with three home runs and seven RBIs in the series at Duke, including a multi-homer game in the series opener. The first baseman also launched a 480-foot game-tying two-run home run on Saturday, the longest Louisville homer measured on Trackman since it became available in 2019.
- Jack Payton finished with an ACC-best 23 doubles in 2022, but homered just four times. The junior is still racking up the doubles with nine this season. However, Payton has shown more power this spring, matching his total from last year just 10 games into 2023 and sitting with double that number entering Tuesday. He recorded his first multi-homer game at Cincinnati, homering in the each of the first two innings, and currently leads the Cards with 15 multi-hit games including six with three hits.
- Christian Knapczyk is the catalyst at the top of the Louisville lineup and currently ranks third in the ACC with 16 stolen bases and 13 HBPs. The junior has a hit in 29 of the 34 games he’s played this season and has reached base in all but three contests. Knapczyk has missed the last four games due to injury.
- Brandon Anderson made just seven starts during his freshman season, posting a .316 average with all 12 of his hits going for singles. Anderson was Louisville’s Opening Day starter at third base but started only sporadically through the first month of the season. The sophomore has started each of the last 11 games and has been excellent when he’s been in the starting lineup this season, hitting .347 (25-for-72) with 15 RBIs in his 21 starts.
- Carson Liggett earned the Sunday starting role to open the season and has been terrific through the first half of the season. The sophomore is 7-0 and leads the ACC with a 1.64 ERA. The right-hander has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his 10 starts, and is the first Louisville pitcher to win his first seven decisions in a season since Kade McClure finished the 2016 season 12-0.