Louisville baseball started last week with an 8-3 victory over rival Kentucky, headed by a strong performance by Louisville’s pitching committee. The Cards tallied 12 strikeouts as a team, relying on four different pitchers.
Louisville extended their winning streak to six games after beating their in-state rival, but did not see their momentum parlay into a successful weekend at Clemson. The Cardinals lost the first two games in the series to the Tigers (1-5, 3-6), but avoided a sweep by taking Sunday’s game (7-4) in 11 innings.
This week, Louisville will look to rebound with a home game against Northern Kentucky today. The Cards then take the road again this weekend, facing a red-hot N.C. State team in Raleigh.
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Notable Stats & Feats
Jake Snider had a strong performance during the week, going 7-for-16 with three multi-hit games. Against Kentucky, Snider finished 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs. Through his last ten games, Snider has recorded a hit in eight of them, batting .286 in the process (12-for-42).
Drew Campbell was a key performer last week for the Cardinals. The junior from Jeffersonville went 5-for-11 at the plate with three RBIs against Kentucky and Clemson, including a 2-for-3 showing against the Wildcats. Campbell also had his first home run of the season at a crucial moment on Sunday, drilling one out of right field in the 11th inning.
His homer, along with Alex Binelas’s beforehand, were able to push Louisville to a win on Sunday, thus avoiding a sweep by Clemson. Binelas landed a hit in each of the three games against Clemson. Henry Davis also hit a home run in Sunday’s win over Clemson.
Part of Louisville’s effort in Sunday’s win was the returning Lucas Dunn. The sophomore, who usually made starts at second base before his injury, returned at center field and led the Cardinals, batting 3-for-6 with an RBI. Dunn returns to the lineup with a team-high .364 batting.
Whether Dunn will return at second base or continue to play at center field remains to be seen, but his return will add a productive batter to a Louisville lineup that could use some more productivity. The Cardinals are currently hitting .257 at the plate as a team, ranking 11th out of 14 ACC schools. Dunn’s return comes at a critical time for Louisville, with the Cardinals facing potentially more explosive offenses in the coming weeks such as N.C. State, Kentucky, and Miami (FL).
On the mound, Louisville recorded 48 strikeouts as a team throughout their four-game stretch last week. Reid Detmers threw ten strikeouts against Clemson on Friday, but also allowed a season-high five earned runs in the loss. Louisville still leads the ACC with a 3.03 ERA, but will be facing three of the top four hitting teams in the conference over the next five weekends. The Cards face N.C. State (third) and Miami (first) in back-to-back weeks, as well as Virginia (fourth) in mid-May.
Louisville returns home today to face another in-state foe in Northern Kentucky. The Norse are 8-22 this season, but have won three of their last four games against Miami-Hamilton and Wright State. The Cards have won seven straight games against in-state competition, and 14 of their last 15.
After that, the Cardinals will see a dramatic step up in competition, taking on one of the best teams in college baseball in N.C. State. The Cardinals head to Raleigh to face a Wolfpack team that is 29-4 on the season, and was ranked #1 in the country by Collegiate Baseball last week. N.C. State will host Coastal Carolina on Wednesday before taking on Louisville.
Players to Watch (Northern Kentucky)
Northern Kentucky comes into this game looking at a colossal mismatch with their offense. While Louisville leads the ACC with a 3.03 ERA and .205 batting average, NKU is 279th out of 297 teams with a .229 average at the plate. The Norse do not have a single batter averaging over .300 at the plate, and average only 4.2 runs per game (which is 273rd out of 297 teams in Division I baseball).
Fifth-year senior Will Haueter returned to NKU as a 2018 All-Horizon League first team player, and currently leads the team in batting (.284), OPS (.802), and walks (17).
Andrew Bacon won the Horizon League Batter of the Week award on March 18th, batting .545 with a home run and six RBIs driven in. Bacon is one of NKU’s more consistent batters in their lineup, averaging .252 at the plate with five doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 13 RBIs.
If Griffin Doersching (.191 batting) can have a successful outing like he did last Friday & Saturday against Wright State, it would give NKU a much needed boost to pull off the upset. Doersching leads the Norse with six home runs and 22 RBIs, and is coming off a weekend where he hit two home runs against Wright State.
Players to Watch (N.C. State)
The Wolfpack enter their weekend series against the Cardinals as arguably the most well-rounded team in the ACC; they are the only club that is currently ranked in the top three in both batting average (.293) and ERA (3.35). While going 29-4, they also have not lost a weekend series yet, and they hold solid wins over Coastal Carolina, Miami (FL), Florida State (whom at the time was #1 in the country), and Virginia. They’ve emerged as an early contender for the College World Series and a top-eight overall seed in the tournament.
The reason behind that? They have plenty of stars on offense. Shortstop Will Wilson was selected as a midseason All-American by multiple publications, leading the team in batting average (.350) while also posting 13 doubles, nine homers, and 38 RBIs. He, along with Patrick Bailey (.341, 14 doubles, six homers, 30 RBIs) and Evan Edwards (.333, nine doubles and home runs each, 41 RBIs), are a monstrous trio that combine for 36 doubles, 24 home runs, and 99 RBIs. They are a very explosive offensive unit, one that’s helped the Wolfpack become #1 in the ACC in doubles (85), and third in home runs (41).
Additionally, the Wolfpack are tied for first in the conference with 201 walks as a team. They’re a team that can get on-base from anywhere in the lineup, but also rank fifth in strikeouts (286). For a Louisville team that has been particularly adept at striking out their opponents, that’s a stat they should be encouraged about, heading into the series.
Their pitching has also been very solid for most of this season, particularly from the weekend starters. Jason Parker is going to be a name to watch, with a team-low 1.98 ERA. Reid Johnston is currently undefeated as a starter, 5-0 with a 2.47 ERA. Johnston was selected as the ACC Pitcher of the Week on April 1st, throwing a complete game shutout on March 30th against Virginia.
The Wolfpack also have one of the top closers in Dalton Feeney, who already has six saves in 2019 to go along with his 1.37 ERA out of the bullpen.
How to Watch / Listen:
Today’s intrastate game against NKU is set to start at 6 p.m. Admission is free, and also available on 93.9 The Ville and WatchESPN.
The Friday and Saturday games against N.C. State are both slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Sunday’s finale will start at 1 p.m. All three games are also available on WatchESPN and on 93.9 The Ville.