Around the Bases: April 18, 2017
It was another week of dominance for Louisville baseball, as the Cards reeled off another 4-0 mark with a sweep of Purdue and their road trip in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. The Cardinals enter this week with an astonishing 31-4 record, and now a full game ahead of Clemson for the ACC Atlantic Division lead.
Up next, the Cardinals look to continue their stretch with a trip down I-64 to face #10 Kentucky, and a weekend matchup against Duke.
The Batting Order
1. McKay Earns Third ACC Pitcher of the Week Honors
For the third time in 2017, Brendan McKay earned ACC Pitcher of the Week honors with a one-hit shutout performance at Georgia Tech on Thursday. The junior allowed only one hit in the fourth inning, while walking two batters and striking out eight in the 5-2 win. McKay also had a leadoff home run in the ninth inning to spark a comeback win against GT on Saturday, and had a career-high five RBI in last week’s win v. Purdue.
2. U of L Looking to Extend In-State Home Streak
Tonight’s game at Kentucky is another in-state matchup for the Cardinals, who look to extend their winning streak to 14 games against teams from the Bluegrass State. U of L has also won six straight against the Wildcats, but had a near scare last time as the Wildcats failed to beat U of L with the game-tying run at the plate.
3. U of L Continues Their Hottest Start
With their 31-4 record, the Cardinals are continuing their hottest start in program history, surpassing 2010’s record of 29-6 through 35 games. The Cardinals are now a consensus #2 team in all six major polls, only behind #1 Oregon State (30-2).
4. Henzman Continuing to Save U of L
Entering this week, U of L closer Lincoln Henzman has recorded 11 saves, which is sixth among single-season marks in school history and currently leads the ACC in that category. Henzman leads a bullpen that is currently 15-0 with 139 strikeouts, and has yet to blow a save in 2017.
5. Stowers, Taylor a Formidable Duo On the Bases
Both Josh Stowers and Logan Taylor currently sit in the top five in the ACC in stolen bases, with each having 15 and 14 stolen bases, respectively. As a team, U of L is 59-70 on stolen bases for 2017, ranking 21st in the NCAA.
6. Weekend Pitching Trio Leading in Batting Average
As mentioned, a key figure to Louisville’s incredible start is the stellar pitching, be it the bullpen or starters. All three of Louisville’s weekend starters (Brendan McKay, Kade McClure and Nick Bennett) currently sit in the top ten in the ACC in opposing batting average (.168, .210 and .215), and each of them are also ranked in the top ten in numerous categories.
7. Colby Fitch With a Solid Streak Going
Catcher/DH Colby Fitch had a stellar weekend in Atlanta. The junior batted 5-of-13 at the plate with three runs (including a 3-for-5 showing on Friday), two RBI and a home run, and has reached base in 14 straight games.
8. Defense Wins Championships
It should come as no surprise, but the top four teams (Oregon State, Louisville, North Carolina & Clemson) each rank in the top 11 in ERA. In fact, much like the rankings, only Oregon State is ahead of Louisville in ERA, while Louisville is 20 spots ahead of the Beavers in batting average (U of L 33rd, Oregon St. 53rd). Among top 25 teams, only St. John’s currently ranks in the top ten in both categories, nationally.
9. About Kentucky and Duke:
Since dropping the rivalry game two weeks ago, the Wildcats dropped two of three at Mississippi State, but rebounded with taking the series against Missouri, both ranked opponents.
Duke enters the week with a 19-19 record, but will host North Carolina Central before traveling to Louisville. Griffin Conine leads the team with 46 RBI and a .338 average at the plate, while Jimmy Herron has won ACC Player of the Week with some gaudy numbers in mid-March. Pitcher Ryan Day has a 3-2 record, but boasts a solid 2.23 ERA with 28 strikeouts and only allowing a .213 batting average.
How to Watch/Listen:
Tonight’s ranked matchup against the Wildcats starts at 7:00 ET, with coverage on the SEC Network and on 93.9 The Ville. The weekend series against the Blue Devils is set to start at 6 p.m. on Friday, with a 1 p.m. start on Saturday and Sunday as well. All three games will air on ACC Network Extra (available on WatchESPN) and 93.9 The Ville, with free admission throughout the weekend.