As we roll into mid-March (and March Madness!), it seems as if the Cardinals have given up losing for Lent. U of L reeled off another four wins, the last two needing late game heroics from Devin Hairston and Jake Sparger, to push their undefeated mark to 11-0.
Up next, the Cards begin a stretch where they play five games in the next six days, starting with Tuesday’s road clash at EKU. Louisville will follow that up with another four-game home stand against Fort Wayne and begin conference play against Pitt.
1. Cardinals in Elite, Undefeated Company
With eleven straight wins to start 2017, Louisville enters today’s game at EKU as one of two undefeated teams remaining. Harvard also enters the week 4-0, while the Cards are 11-0 after the first three weeks of the season. The 11-0 mark also means Louisville is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the ACC.
2. Cardinals Begin ACC Play as Two-Time Champs
The Cardinals begin ACC play this weekend against Pitt. U of L enters 2017 as the two-time defending ACC Atlantic Division champions, but have went 1-2 in each of their first two seasons in the conference tournament. However, Louisville has yet to lose a conference series at home since joining the ACC.
3. McKay’s Torrid Start
To start 2017, Brendan McKay has played exceptionally well. Despite missing his first start of the season on Friday, the junior is currently batting .621 with four home runs (two grand slams), 14 RBI and prior to Sunday, had produced more walks and HBP than actual outs during his at-bats.
4. Walk-Off Win For Louisville
Louisville’s 3-2 win over Eastern Michigan needed a walk-off from Devin Hairston (sac fly) to save the Cardinals, but it is not the first time the junior has come through in the clutch. Hairston also delivered Louisville’s last prior walk-off win, an RBI single that helped the Cards defeat Kentucky last April.
5. Home Dominance Continues
The sweep against Eastern Michigan also meant that U of L has won 28 consecutive regular-season home series. Their last weekend series loss was in March 2013, when the Cards dropped two of three to Rutgers.
6. Louisville With a Chance to Reach Hottest Start Ever
Sitting at 11-0 heading into their five-game stretch in the next six days, a 5-0 mark during that stretch leave them one shy of the hottest start in program history. The 1957 Cardinals hold the record currently at 17-0. Cardinals have also won 16 consecutive midweek games, their last loss in 2015 against Vanderbilt.
7. Cardinals Enter Top Five in All the Polls
Entering this week, the Cardinals find themselves as a consensus top five team in all major polls. U of L is ranked as high as fourth on three different polls (Perfect Game, Baseball America and NCBWA), and fifth in the D1 Baseball, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and coaches polls.
8. Devin Mann Rebounds With Solid Play
After a cold start where he started with a .200 batting average entering the weekend, Mann finally broke out of the slump with a solid showing against Eastern Michigan. The sophomore batted 6-of-13 during the weekend series with three RBI, a double and his first home run of 2017 on Sunday. Mann also stole two bases and raised his average to .279 entering today’s game against EKU.
9. About EKU, Fort Wayne and Pitt:
Since the 19-3 loss two weeks ago at Louisville, EKU has won six of their last seven, including sweeps of Oakland and Youngstown State. These were the Colonels’ first sweeps in out-of-conference play since 2014, while pitcher Jack Piekos earned the OVC Pitcher of the Week award.
Fort Wayne will enter Wednesday’s game 3-9, the lone wins in a doubleheader sweep against Alabama A&M and against NJIT. Jake Weber will be one to watch at the plate, as he currently leads the Mastodons in batting average (.422), RBI (9) and doubles (5). Weber may also appear at the mound as a reliever, but is 0-1 with a 7.62 ERA.
Pitt will enter the weekend series against U of L 7-4, with a five day rest before their conference opener on Friday. However, Pitt has lost three of their last four to Wofford, USC Upstate and Wright State. The Panthers have yet to play a game at home this season, and one of their seven wins include Big Ten opponent Ohio State. Pitt is currently fifth in the ACC in ERA (2.88), but 11th in batting average (.251).
How to Watch/Listen:
Today’s road game at EKU starts at 4 p.m. ET (update: has now been postponed), while tomorrow’s return home against Fort Wayne will start at 4 p.m. ET. Both games will be covered on 1450 AM and 96.1 FM.
The ACC opener against Pitt will start at 6 p.m., with 1 p.m. starts on Saturday and Sunday. All three games will be aired on 93.9 The Ville, and on ESPN3 (along with the Fort Wayne game).