After a school-record 19-0 start to open 2017, the Cards set their sights on the road for their first true road game out of Louisville.
Unfortunately, U of L suffered some roadblocks along the way this week. Louisville would drop their first regular-season weekday game since 2015 with a 6-3 loss at Cincinnati, and then fall 3-1 on Friday at NC State. U of L responded with taking two out of three in Raleigh, ultimately winning the series against the Wolfpack.
Up next, Louisville returns home tonight to play WKU, while returning on the road for a weekend series against Virginia.
The Batting Order
1. Cards Fall Out of #1 Ranking
With going an even 2-2 last week, the Cardinals still maintain an impressive 21-2 record entering tonight’s game against WKU. The Cards only fell one spot in every poll despite the two losses, entering this week as the #2 team in five of the six major polls. Only the Coaches Poll does not have U of L in the runner-up spot, as the Cards sit at third behind consensus #1 Oregon State and Texas Tech.
2. U of L with an Impressive ACC Record
Since joining the ACC, Louisville has won 20 of its 23 series against conference foes, after taking two of three at NC State. All of Louisville’s three series losses have been on the road.
3. Nick Bennett Shining as Sunday Starter
With the series-clinching win on Sunday, freshman Nick Bennett has flourished in the weekend rotation since earning a Friday start against Eastern Michigan. Bennett is currently 3-0 with an ACC-leading .69 ERA, .138 opposing batting average and 25 strikeouts as a freshman. Bennett has assumed the Sunday spot in the pitching rotation since then, and has earned the win in two of his three Sunday appearances.
4. Another Clutch At-Bat for Hairston on Saturday
Saturday’s 7-6 win over NC State needed more late-game heroics from junior Devin Hairston. The junior hit a go-ahead RBI single in the tenth inning to give the Cardinals the deciding run in extra innings, giving Hairston his third game-winning at-bat in the last 50 games. Hairston also scored an RBI sacrifice that helped Louisville pull out a 3-2 win over Eastern Michigan on March 4th, as well as a walk-off against Kentucky last season.
Hairston currently leads the team with 25 RBI and is batting .337 for the season.
5. Cancer Awareness Night Promotion:
With tonight’s game being the home game scheduled for the Cards, U of L is having their cancer awareness night promotion at Jim Patterson Stadium. The first 500 fans in attendance will receiver Cancer Awareness shirts for the game, while also having a chance to win prizes as well as buying game-worn jerseys from previous games.
6. First Ranked ACC Test for Louisville
The Cards will travel to Charlottesville to face Virginia, which will be their first ranked opponent in ACC play (and as a true road series). U of L is currently 1-0 against ranked teams in 2017, beating then #22 Maryland 10-7 on February 18th in a neutral-site game. Since joining the ACC, Louisville is 13-9 against ranked teams away from home.
7. Kentucky Game Tickets
Next week’s game against Kentucky will be one of two games where admission is charged. Fans can buy tickets to the game on April 4th, with $12 tickets for a reserved chairback seat and $8 for a general admission seat in the Berm.
Fans can also buy tickets for U of L’s upcoming game against Northern Kentucky at Louisville Slugger Field on April 26th, as well as the ACC Baseball Championship from May 23-28.
8. U of L Looking to Push In-State Winning Streak
Louisville has won 11 straight against in-state foes, their last win a 20-2 landslide victory against Morehead State. U of L will look to make it 12 against WKU, who is the last team from the Bluegrass State to beat the Cardinals (a 7-3 WKU win at Jim Patterson Stadium in 2015).
9. About Western Kentucky and Virginia:
WKU enters tonight’s game with a 9-16 record, coming off taking two of three on the road against Middle Tennessee State. The Toppers have a stellar one-two power hitting duo in Hunter Wood and Thomas Peter, who lead the team in batting average (.310 and .306, respectively). Wood also has seven doubles and four home runs, while Peter has six doubles and five home runs in 2017.
Virginia, as mentioned, will be Louisville’s first true road test this week. The Cavaliers enter this week ranked as high as 16th in the NCBWA and Coaches Poll, having won four of their last five (the lone loss last Friday in a 19-3 blowout against Duke). UVA reached the College World Series four times since 2010, including a runner-up finish in 2014 and winning it all the following year. UVA was also the only team to beat Louisville at home in the regular season.
Adam Haseley figures to be the main focal point for UVA this weekend, as like McKay, he is a two-way player for the Cavaliers. Haseley is batting .409 (tied for second in the ACC behind McKay) with eight home runs, and is also 4-1 at the mound with a 3.60 ERA and 26 strikeouts. Outfielder Jake McCarthy also leads the ACC in stolen bases, taking 16-of-17 in 2017.
How to Watch/Listen:
Tonight’s game against the Hilltoppers starts at 6 p.m., with radio coverage on 93.9 and on ESPN3 with free admission to the game at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The weekend series against UVA starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, with coverage on ESPN3 and on 93.9 throughout the weekend. Saturday and Sunday will start at 4 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.