Another week in the books for the Cardinals, who remain the #2 team in five of the six major polls in the country after a 3-1 week against top-20 opponents Kentucky and Wake Forest. Louisville survived a late rally from UK to win their sixth straight game in the rivalry, while Louisville needed a pair of close victories to take the Wake Forest series.
Up next, U of L will host Purdue before taking a road trip to face Georgia Tech.
The Batting Order
1. Rivalry Dominance Continues
With the 5-3 win over UK on Tuesday, the Cardinals have won six straight games against the Wildcats, and have won 13 straight against in-state foes. The Cards have three games remaining against foes from the Bluegrass State; two on the road against Kentucky and EKU, and a matchup against Northern Kentucky at Slugger Field in the next three weeks.
2. New Attendance Record Set on Tuesday
Also of note, the Tuesday game between the Cards and Cats set a new attendance record with 6,210 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium. It should be noted that there were fans watching from the overpass next to the stadium, as well as the Cardinal Caravan situated at nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium due to gates being shut at JPS.
Athletic director Tom Jurich has noted that he wants to expand Jim Patterson Stadium, but has not released finer details on the future expansion yet.
3. Closing Series Games Strongly
In each of Louisville’s conference games up to this point, the Cardinals have won the Sunday games to close the series with momentum. This should come as no surprise, as Louisville is 24-1 in Sunday ACC matchups.
However, Louisville will not play on Easter, as the weekend series with the Yellow Jackets stretches from Thursday-Saturday
4. Friday Loss Notes
Louisville’s lone loss during the week came with a 2-1 defeat against Wake Forest. This was the first time the Cardinals had lost a regular season game at Jim Patterson Stadium since March 2016, breaking a 37-game regular season home winning streak. Wake Forest pitcher Parker Dunshee earned ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors with 7.0 innings of work, only allowing one run on five hits and striking out six.
5. Hairston Yet Again
Junior Devin Hairston has had a notorious penchant for saving the Cardinals with big-time at-bats, and a reason why the Cardinals (27-4) are enjoying their hottest start ever. Hairston has had four game-tying or go-ahead at-bats in 2017,
6. Josh Stowers Has a Streak Going
Not to be outdone himself, sophomore outfielder Josh Stowers has reached base safely in 19 straight games. Stowers had a big day in Saturday’s comeback victory against Wake Forest, batting 3-for-4 with three runs, two stolen bases and the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning. Stowers currently is tied for the team lead with 14 stolen bases; teammate Colby Fitch has also reached base in ten straight games.
7. Bullpen Coming Up Big As Well
One of the main reasons for Louisville’s incredible start to open 2017 has been the stellar performance of the Cardinal bullpen. The Cards have yet to blow a save opportunity in 2017, while the bullpen currently sits at 14-0 as a team with a 2.38 ERA and allowing a .193 batting average. Only starting pitchers (McKay 2, McAvene and McClure 1) have suffered a loss for Louisville so far.
One more save from Louisville closer Lincoln Henzman would tie for seventh in single-season saves with ten.
8. McKay Career Pitching Records Update
Despite the loss on Friday, McKay is now tied for eighth in career starts (37), eighth in innings pitched (251.1), third in wins (25), and second in strikeouts (313). McKay has also slipped below .400 for the first time in 2017, but still leads the team in batting average (.388) while hitting seven doubles and five home runs.
9. About Purdue and Georgia Tech:
The Boilermakers enter tonight’s game with a 17-14 record, going 5-4 in their last nine games. In a weird twist, the Cardinals will have played Purdue in men’s basketball, baseball and football in a nine-month stretch. Jacson McGowan is a utility player to watch in tonight’s game, leading the team in doubles (10), home runs (5) and RBI (36). Batting .248 for the year, McGowan could also appear at the mound, with four appearances throughout 2017.
Georgia Tech will travel to face rival Georgia before their weekend series, but currently sit at 17-14. Louisville will face one of the nation’s best sluggers in catcher Joey Bart, who has 11 home runs with ten doubles on top of a .323 batting average. Bart has already earned ACC Player of the Week honors on March 6th.
How to Watch/Listen:
Tonight’s game against Purdue will start at 6 p.m., with free admission to the game and extra coverage on 93.9 and ACC Network Extra (available on WatchESPN).
The weekend series at Georgia Tech will start at 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with a 1 p.m. start on Saturday. All three games will also air on 93.9 and ACC Network Extra.