(Press Release Garrett Wall)
First pitch set for 3 p.m., ET and admission is free; Kade McClure gets the start for the Cardinals
ABOUT THE CARDINALS
|GAME DAY INFORMATION
#2 Louisville vs. Eastern Kentucky
Date: February 23
Location: Louisville, Ky.
Venue: Jim Patterson Stadium (4,000)
Twitter Updates: @UofLBaseball
Series History: No previous meetings
Game Notes: Louisville | EKU
Louisville remained at No. 2 in each of this week’s national polls after opening the season with a three-game home sweep of SIU Edwardsville last weekend. The Cardinals outscored the Cougars 43-5 while producing the highest scoring three-game series in head coach Dan McDonnell‘s 10 seasons. Junior outfielder Corey Ray paced the way for Louisville and was named ACC Player of the Week after hitting .667 (6-for-9) with two home runs, seven RBI, nine runs scored and was 6-for-6 on stolen bases in the three games. The preseason All-American connected for home runs and was 3-for-3 on stolen bases in each of the final two games against the Cougars.
ABOUT THE COLONELS
Eastern Kentucky was 21-29 last season and finished eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 12-17 league mark. Under the guidance of first year head coach Edwin Thompson, the Colonels dropped two of three games last weekend at Lipscomb. Prior to the season, EKU was picked to finish eighth in the OVC in 2016 by the league’s head coaches.
Louisville holds a 64-48-1 advantage in the all-time series with EKU, which dates back to 1927. The Cardinals have won seven straight and 15 of the last 16 games against the Colonels, including 7-6 and 5-2 home wins last year. Louisville has won 16 straight home games against EKU with the last loss coming on March 25, 1998.
OPENING AT HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2010
Last weekend’s series marked the first time Louisville opened a season at home since earning a three-game 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 ENTERED 2016 WITH PROGRAM’S HIGHEST PRESEASON RANKING
The Cardinals entered the 2016 season as the unanimous choice as the nation’s No. 2-ranked team after landing in the second position in each of the six preseason national polls. The No. 2 ranking was 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.
TEAM NOTES AND TRENDS
• The Cardinals have scored 10 runs or more runs in each of their first three games, their longest streak since the 1987 team opened with four straight games with at least 10 runs.
• Louisville has won 142 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.
• Louisville was 31-0 last season when scoring first and 15-0 when scoring in the first inning.
• 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.
• Eight of Ray’s 13 career home runs have either tied the score or given Louisville a lead.
• Ray led the Cardinals in numerous offensive categories last season highlighted by his .325 average, 11 home runs, 56 RBI, 15 doubles, five triples and 34 stolen bases.
• 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.
CARDINALS 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. Monday’s ranking extends a record-setting run for the Louisville baseball program, which has remained ranked in at least one major national poll every week since the release of the 2012 preseason rankings — the longest such stretch in school history.
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.