We are entering the homestretch of the 2017 regular season, as the Cardinals continue to roll entering Derby weekend. Louisville went undefeated in a five-game, six-day stretch that included a plethora of home runs and come-from-behind victories.
Up next, the Cardinals host another MAC foe in Miami of Ohio, before heading up I-65 and US-31 to take on Notre Dame in South Bend.
The Batting Order
1. McKay With a Superhuman Week
To say that Brendan McKay had a stellar week of baseball may be quite the understatement. The junior belted out six home runs in U of L’s five-game stretch, including tying the school-record (4) in Tuesday’s win at EKU. The performance nabbed McKay his sixth ACC Player of the Week award, tying a conference record. McKay also earned the National Player of the Week award from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, and delivered 12 strikeouts in Friday’s win over Toledo.
2. Ellis Also Had a Solid Week
Not to be outdone, slugger Drew Ellis was also named National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball. Ellis had a great week, hitting .611 with four home runs, two doubles, a triple, seven RBI and a 1.500 slugging percentage. Ellis now leads the ACC in batting average (.403), and is tied for the team lead in home runs (13) with McKay.
3. U of L Sending Home Runs to Orbit
It was a week characterized by power baseball, as Louisville hit 14 home runs during their five-game stretch. Additionally, the Cardinals had four of five games where they had a batter hit multiple home runs in a game (McKay two, Ellis and Josh Stowers one).
Despite the dominant week of home runs for Louisville, the Cardinals stay fifth in the ACC in slugging (.467), and tied for fifth in home runs (48).
4. Lincoln Henzman Named to Postseason Award
Closer Lincoln Henzman was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list, given to the best relief pitcher in the country. Henzman has delivered 13 saves this season for the Cardinals, tied for fourth in the country as of today. The closer also has a 1.48 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 17 appearances.
5. Back to a Consensus Ranking
With a 5-0 stretch last week, Louisville returned to their consensus #2 spot in the polls, still behind top-ranked Oregon State. Additionally, fellow ACC brethren North Carolina is a consensus #3 behind the Cardinals, while Kentucky is ranked as high as fourth in the D1baseball poll.
6. Timely Home Runs for Josh Stowers
While Josh Stowers has been known for stellar small ball and defense, it was a weekend for the sophomore to get his own spotlight. Stowers hit two well-timed home runs to push Louisville past Toledo on Friday, the first of his career. The outfielder also had a spectacular diving catch in the win.
Stowers is currently batting .299 with 16 stolen bases, second on the team.
7. Taylor, Stowers Potentially Climbing Single-Season Chart
With 19 stolen bases and 16 respectively, Logan Taylor and Josh Stowers may have a chance to climb the single-season mark for bases swiped. Both are ranked within the top five in the conference in that stat, and two more from Taylor would enter him in a five-way tie for seventh among base stealers in U of L single-season history.
8. The Long Road Ahead for Louisville:
If the Cardinals sweep out the rest of the regular season, they will have an opportunity to reach 50 wins for the fifth time in the McDonnell era, but the first before any postseason play. However, to do so, U of L faces a grueling road ahead. The Cardinals finish the final two weeks of the regular season with RPI top-30 teams (v. #28 Vanderbilt, at #4 Clemson, at #22 Indiana, v. #29 Florida State).
The most wins any U of L team has posted in the Dan McDonnell era is 51, from the 2013 College World Series team.
9. About Miami (OH) and Notre Dame:
Miami of Ohio (19-26) has won four of their last six games, including a weekend series win over conference foe Bowling Green. Adam Yacek, the Redhawks’ leading batter (.333 BA, 18 doubles), was named MAC East Player of the Week in early March, and figures to be an all-conference candidate.
Notre Dame (22-23), despite their under .500 record, has went 14-5 at home this season. The Fighting Irish have also won four of their last five games, and will host Northwestern before taking on U of L. Matt Vierling enters the week as the only Irish batter over .300, but preseason All-American pitcher Peter Solomon might be of note to watch.
How to Watch/Listen:
Tonight’s game against Miami (OH) will start at 6 p.m., with coverage on 93.9 The Ville and free admission. Friday’s series-opener at Notre Dame also starts at 6:05 p.m. with a 4:05 start on Saturday, and coverage on 1450 AM/96.1 FM. Sunday’s finale will end with a 1:05 start time and 93.9 The Ville broadcasting the game. All four games are scheduled to air on WatchESPN as well.