Around the Bases: Week Three

Louisville rebounded from an opening weekend series loss to Connecticut with a stellar showing to start their homestand. The Cards finished last week 4-0, earning a midweek win over Eastern Kentucky (5-1) as well as a sweep of the Ivy League’s Brown Bears (7-0, 5-4 in ten innings, 13-2 across a two-day stretch).

Friday’s 7-0 shutout win of Brown was almost a historic one for Louisville. The Cards were one out away from a combined no-hitter by Reid Detmers and Jack Perkins, but a single to right field thwarted Louisville’s opportunity to close it up.

The Polls

Pitching Set the Tone for Louisville Last Week

The most notable performance by far was the combined effort of Reid Detmers and Jack Perkins last Friday. Both combined for only one hit and two walks (which came with two outs in the top of the ninth), and struck out 13 batters in a 7-0 shutout of Brown.

Detmers led the charge as the starting pitcher, throwing a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings. It was enough to earn him ACC Pitcher of the Week honors on Monday, the first award for a Louisville player in 2019.

Louisville’s strong pitching was the main factor in the Cardinals coming out of last week with a perfect 4-0 mark. In addition to the career day from Detmers, Bobby Miller had four solid innings in relief duty during the second game of Friday’s doubleheader with Brown. The sophomore only allowed one hit and one walk, striking out eight in the process.

Additionally, Louisville struck out at least ten batters in all four of their games last week. Nick Bennett had six K’s in their 5-4 comeback win over Brown on Friday, contributing for almost half of Louisville’s 14 strikeouts in that game. Bryan Hoeing had seven of Louisville’s ten strikeouts in a five-inning showing during Saturday’s portion of the 13-2 win over Brown.

In Louisville’s 5-1 win over Eastern Kentucky, the Cardinals also struck out ten batters, led by starter Luke Smith (6.0 IP, six strikeouts, one run, two hits and two walks).

Other Notable Stats & Feats

Logan Wyatt continues to set the tone for Louisville at the plate to start 2019. Wyatt has delivered a hit in all seven games this year, leading the team with a .435 batting average and already has ten walks.

Justin Lavey delivered Louisville’s first walk-off win of the season, closing the second game of their double-header with Brown via walk-off single in the tenth inning. It was the first time that Louisville has both had a walk-off win in 2019, and gone to extra innings.

Tyler Fitzgerald had a solid week at the plate, averaging .333 (5-for-15) against EKU and Brown. The junior also had a notable 2-for-3 showing in the 7-0 win over Brown, driving in four RBIs as well.

Other notable performances during the week come from Jake Snider, Danny Orientez and Zeke Pinkham. Snider had a perfect 4-for-4 outing in Friday’s 7-0 win over Brown. Oriente was a perfect 3-for-3 in the 13-2 win over the Bears, while Pinkham went 3-for-4 with two runs.

Through two weeks of the season, Wyatt, along with Lucas Dunn (.375), Tyler Fitzgerald (.333), and Danny Oriente (.313) are Louisville’s batters averaging over .300.

The Opponents

Louisville continues their homestand today with a matchup against the Xavier Musketeers, hailing from the Big East and Cincinnati, OH. Xavier enters today’s contest with a 1-5 record, only pulling out a 7-1 win over Samford last Saturday. Louisville is no stranger to Xavier in recent years: in 2017, the Cardinals beat the Musketeers 8-7 in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Super Regionals, and last season (364 days ago, in fact), Louisville beat them again in a 6-4 contest.

This weekend, Louisville will host James Madison at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Dukes hold a 6-1 record, with weekend series wins over Norfolk State and Lafayette. James Madison will host VMI today at 3 p.m. ET, before traveling for their road series against Louisville.

Players to Watch (Xavier)

Despite the 1-5 record, Xavier is averaging .307 as a team. They also return the Big East Preseason Player of the Year in Conor Grammes, who has been the face of the Xavier program since their NCAA Tournament run in 2017. Grammes was the Big East Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player as a freshman in 2017, batting .600 with five RBIs in a three-game stretch.

This season, Grammes is averaging .357 at the plate with one double and an RBI. He was drafted in the 35th round by the Baltimore Orioles last year, but decided to return and is now the #38 draft eligible prospect, according to D1baseball.com.

Xavier also returns senior Matt Warkentin from last year, who led the Big East in homers (14) in 2018. Warkentin is a huge first baseman at 6’6″ and 250 pounds, and adds a lot of power to Xavier’s lineup. He currently leads Xavier in home runs (three) and RBIs (seven), and hit a homer in last year’s game against the Cardinals.

Jack Housinger currently leads the Musketeers with a .538 batting average (and 1.178 OPS), and is coming off a weekend against Samford where he batted 5-for-10. Chris Givin (.280 batting, one double, one RBI) also returns as a preseason All-Big East selection, and hit 2-for-5 in last year’s game against Louisville.

Xavier has a high average at the plate, but pitching has been a huge weakness to start the season. In their five losses, the Musketeers have allowed no less than eight runs, including four games with ten or more runs scored against them. They hope to get some momentum started against Louisville, starting senior Matt Kent today (0-0, 5.06 ERA).

Players to Watch (James Madison)

The Dukes have been scoring a lot to start the season. In their six wins so far, James Madison is averaging 9.3 runs per game, and have scored ten-plus runs in three games already. They’re also one of 50 teams in Division I baseball currently averaging .300 or higher at the plate, and have 20 doubles on the year (tied for ninth in D-I baseball).

Freshman Trevon Dabney has been on a torrid start to his collegiate career. Dabney currently leads the team in batting average (.364) and RBIs (seven) through two weeks of the 2019 season. Dabney had a particularly strong opening week, earning Player of the Week honors from the Colonial Athletic Association. The third baseman batted .545 (6-for-11) at the plate with four doubles, four runs scored and seven RBIs during their series against Norfolk State, and scored the game-winning run in the final game to close out the sweep.

Another freshman, Nick Zona, has also had a solid start in 2019. Zona is not far behind Dabney in batting average, averaging .360 at the plate with five RBIs. Dabney and Zona have been a terrific young duo for James Madison, which could bode well for them long-term if they can continue their momentum.

The Dukes also have three other batters averaging over .300 at the plate: Brady Harju (.333), Michael Morgan (.310), and Kyle Novak (.300).

At the mound, James Madison has a lot of solid arms: Brett Ayer and Kevin Kelly both have yet to allow an earned run so far, and currently lead the team in strikeouts with 19 and 14, respectively. In nine innings of work, Ayer has only allowed one hit, striking out ten against Norfolk State and pitching 4.2 perfect innings against Lafayette.

Kelly likely gets the Friday start against Louisville. As the top guy on the mound for the Dukes, he has struck out seven in both wins against Norfolk State and Lafayette.

Nick Robertson is another guy to watch for. He, along with Ayer, were named as players to watch for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year award. Robertson has two saves in three appearances, striking out eight batters in ten at-bats so far.

How to Watch / Listen: 

Today’s game against Xavier starts at 3:00 ET. The weekend series against James Madison starts at 4:00 ET on Friday, with Saturday games at 1:00 and a noon Sunday contest following that up.

All four games are available through the WatchESPN app. Today’s game, along with the Friday series opener against James Madison, will also air on 1450 AM. 93.9 The Ville will carry Saturday and Sunday’s games between the Cards and the Dukes. Admission is free for all four games of the week.

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