It’s still a long way to go before Louisville matches its 19-0 start from last year, but they have had an impressive run to begin its 2018 campaign.
Louisville (7-0) enters this week ranked as high as tenth (per Collegiate Baseball Newspaper), and remains undefeated after last weekend’s sweep of Youngstown State.
Stats & Trends
Devin Mann has had an impressive start to this junior season, tied for the team lead in batting average (.391) after seven games. He also leads the team in home runs (two), slugging percentage (.652), and his 14 RBIs currently put him in an eight-way tie for 12th in the NCAA.
Two newcomers that have been impressive in the opening weeks are outfielders Drew Campbell and Ethan Stringer. Both are averaging over .300 at the plate (.389 and .308, respectively), and had quality outings last week. Campbell finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs in Sunday’s win against Youngstown State, and is one of two qualified batters in Louisville’s lineup with a recorded triple. Stringer went 3-for-11 with four RBIs and two doubles in the series against the Penguins, and currently leads the team with four doubles. Though not a newcomer, Jake Snider also leads the team in batting average (.391) and stolen bases (five).
At the mound, Louisville seems to have settled into its weekend rotation. Adam Wolf starts the season 2-0, with 12 scoreless innings and 13 strikeouts. Riley Thompson currently has a 0.93 ERA with eight strikeouts, and had five shutout innings in Saturday’s win against Youngstown State.
Reid Detmers got the Sunday start last weekend, pitching 4.2 innings with four strikeouts, five walks, and two runs on four hits allowed. Detmers currently averages 12.91 strikeouts per nine innings, which includes seven in his college debut against George Mason. Sam Bordner has already recorded two saves in as many appearances, and has not allowed a run in 24 of his last 25 showings.
Meet the Opponents
Xavier (3-4): The Musketeers enter today’s game looking for revenge. The Cardinals edged out an 8-7 win in last year’s NCAA Regional final, a win that was one of Louisville’s most dramatic en route to its College World Series run.
In 2018, the Musketeers are 3-4, but have won those games in three of their last four. This includes a 3-2 win at Kentucky in extra innings, with Natale Monastra delivering the game-winning RBI sac fly. The Musketeers have also won the last two Big East conference tournaments, so they’ll have more big game experience than their previous opponents.
Joe Gellenbeck is off to a hot start, averaging .481 at the plate with .741 slugging (three doubles and two triples, also). He is a big-time power hitter in the Musketeers lineup, posting 11 home runs last year and led the Big East with 56 RBI. Conor Grammes (.333 batting, two RBIs, one HR) and Nate Soria also had big games in last year’s regional final, and are other players to watch.
Freshman Henry Miller had an excellent showing against Kentucky, pitching four innings with one run allowed and striking out six. He’ll likely start against Louisville today, providing them with a good test against a young pitcher.
Western Carolina (1-6): The Catamounts will host Appalachian State and UNC Asheville, before making the trip to Louisville for the weekend series. Their only win to date is a 6-2 decision over Morehead State on February 20th. Justice Bigbie (.333 batting, one double, five RBIs) is the only Catamount hitter above the .300 line, while they have allowed .294 batting at the plate.
At the mound, Zach Franklin could make an appearance at some point for the Catamounts. The freshman currently holds a .96 ERA, striking out eight and allowing only one run in 9.1 innings pitched.
How to Watch / Listen: Today’s game against Xavier starts at 3 p.m., with coverage on ESPN3 and on 1450 AM radio.
The weekend series against Western Carolina starts at 3 p.m. Friday, with 1 p.m. starts for Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s game will also air on 1450 AM, with the other two games available on 93.9 The Ville FM.
All three games will air on ESPN3, and tickets are available starting at $5 on GoCards.com.