Around the Bases: Week 11

It was another productive (but wild) week for Louisville baseball. U of L started off last week with a blowout win against their rival, beating Kentucky 18-6 on the road. It marked the first time since 2016 that Louisville managed to sweep their rival in the regular season, and marked the highest scoring total for the Cardinals in their rivalry game since 1976.

Louisville returned home and got all they could from a very competitive, offensively potent Miami Hurricanes club. Louisville would take game one in a 7-5 contest, but completely fell apart in game two with 15 combined runs allowed in the sixth and eighth innings, losing 16-11 to Miami (FL). They found themselves trailing 6-0 after the top of the first inning, but rebounded with a 9-0 run from start to finish as they took the series with a 9-6 victory.

This week, the Cardinals travel up I-71 to face Cincinnati, and return home for a weekend non-conference series against Alabama A&M.

The Polls

Poll This Week Last Week
D1Baseball.com 8 8
Perfect Game 10 13
Baseball America 7 7
NCBWA 6 7
Collegiate Baseball 7 8
USA Today 6 7

Notable News & Stats

Louisville’s jump to a consensus top-ten team in the rankings did not come without some extreme highs and lows for the team. Last Tuesday at Kentucky, the Cardinals tallied a season-high 18 runs on 23 hits. U of L scored the most runs against their intrastate rival since 1976, and tallied the most hits against any opponent since April 2005.

In the Miami (FL) series, Louisville’s 16-11 loss in game two featured the most runs allowed by the Cardinals since April 2016 (5-16 loss to Florida State). The loss came with Louisville allowing a school-record 16 walks, and counting wild pitches, drove in eight of Miami’s 16 runs in the game.

Miami’s Alex Toral (5-for-11, eight RBIs, two walks) did a lot of damage against Louisville in the series, hitting a home run in each of the three games. His grand slam in the eighth inning of game two put it out of reach with a commanding 16-6 lead at the time, and his first-inning homer in game three put the Hurricanes up 6-0 in game three.

But in game three, the Cardinals rallied from a 6-0 deficit after the top of the first inning to take a 9-6 victory. This was the second rally Louisville had to make during the weekend, as the Cardinals fell behind 5-1 early against Kentucky and pulled out the 18-6 win that prior Tuesday. U of L is averaging 11.25 runs per game over the last two weeks, and has reached 10+ runs on five separate occasions.

A huge part of Louisville’s stellar showing on offense has been Logan Wyatt, who has been on an incredible tear over that stretch. Wyatt was named ACC Player of the Week yesterday, marking back-to-back weeks that a Louisville batter has earned the honor (Alex Binelas won the award on April 15th). The junior hit .550 with three doubles, three home runs, and 12 RBIs driven in during the week. Dating back to the Northern Kentucky game, Wyatt has been 17-for-36 (.472) with five doubles, four home runs, and 20 RBIs.

Another guy that has been on fire recently is Tyler Fitzgerald. Over the last ten games, Fitzgerald is 19-for-45 (.422), driving in 15 RBIs with six doubles, two triples, and a home run. Fitzgerald, along with Wyatt, have helped raise Louisville’s team batting average to .285 entering this week. The Cardinals are one of two teams in the ACC that are top five in both batting average and ERA (the other is the team they just beat in the series last weekend, Miami).

Fitzgerald and Wyatt are now two of four qualifying Louisville hitters with a .300 batting average at the plate. The others are Alex Binelas (.315), and Trey Leonard (.302). Binelas finished last week 7-for-17 at the plate, including a 4-for-5 outing in the win against Kentucky. Leonard was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in game three against Miami, batting from the leadoff spot.

Drew Campbell carried an 11-game hit streak into Saturday’s game against Miami (FL), but couldn’t extend it to 12 after going 0-for-2 at the plate. Campbell has also been a steady riser in recent weeks due to his consistency at the plate. Over the last three weeks, the Jeffersonville native is hitting .405 with 11 RBIs, three doubles and two home runs scored.

Reid Detmers added seven more strikeouts to his season total in Thursday’s win over Miami, elevating it to a team-high 101. Detmers only needs four more strikeouts to crack the top ten in single-season strikeouts, and 46 to surpass Brendan McKay’s record of 146 (set in 2017).

Michael Kirian tallied two saves in the series against Miami (FL), closing games one and three for Louisville with a victory.

The Opponents

Today, Louisville heads up I-71 for another midweek non-conference game, facing Cincinnati. The Bearcats (18-21) hold series wins over South Florida, Central Florida, and Connecticut, along with midweek wins over Ohio State, Northern Kentucky, Xavier, and Miami (OH).

Alabama A&M then comes to Louisville to face the Cardinals in a non-conference weekend series. Alabama A&M (13-30) will have two road games against Samford and Austin Peay, before heading north to face the Cardinals. The Bulldogs own series wins over Alcorn State, Jackson State, and Mississippi Valley State.

Players to Watch (Cincinnati)

With Luke Smith making an appearance last weekend, Louisville is opting to start freshman righty Jack Perkins (2-0, 2.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). Perkins is allowing .162 at the plate, which doesn’t bode well for a Bearcats team that is last in the American Athletic Conference in batting (.245), slugging (.340), and runs scored (176, tied for 252nd in the country). They’re also eighth out of nine teams in the conference in on-base percentage (.341), only one one-thousandth of a point from being at the bottom there. Facing a team that is #1 in the ACC in ERA (3.62), strikeouts (414), and opposing batting average (.210), this seems to be a mismatch in favor of U of L.

But, stranger things have happened before in this series between Louisville and Cincinnati. The Cardinals had a vastly superior team on paper in 2017, but were upset by the Bearcats in the Queen City to give them their first loss of the season. And last season, the Cardinals scored 24 runs against them at Jim Patterson Stadium.

If Cincinnati can upset Louisville at home, they’ll need to rely on their defense and get enough batting from their most productive hitters. The Bearcats are ninth in Division I baseball with 39 double plays turned, and have a .978 fielding percentage (28th in the country). Despite being under .500, Cincinnati has used this to get a lot of solid wins in their resume.

Joey Bellini is the only qualifying Cincinnati over the .300 threshold in batting. The Bearcats also have three players ranked in the top five in the conference in stolen bases: Jace Mercer (.210, 17 stolen bases), Jeremy Johnson (.260, 16 stolen bases), and Joey Wiemer (.255, 12 stolen bases). A.J. Bumpass (.255) is a veteran in the lineup that leads the team in doubles (11) and RBIs (25).

Players to Watch (Alabama A&M)

Out of 299 Division I baseball teams, Alabama A&M is 297th in the RPI. It’s hard to argue against that when Alabama A&M was swept by 5-32 Purdue-Fort Wayne, lost two of three to 6-31 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and their best wins are against Bethune-Cookman (#262 in the RPI).

Alabama A&M averages .250 at the plate as a team and 5.87 runs per game. But in three games against Power Five competition (two at Auburn, one at Missouri), they have scored eight total runs and allowed 10+ runs in each of them.

Jonathan Smith II is averaging a solid .341 at the plate though, so the Bulldogs can expect to lean on him on offense throughout the weekend. He, along with Pierre Brewton (.267), have a combined 32 stolen bases, part of an Alabama A&M team that is top 30 nationally in that category.

At the mound though, it hasn’t fared much better for the Bulldogs in the month of April. Alabama A&M is 1-11 in the month of April as of this post, allowing 12.45 runs per game in that stretch. As a team, the Bulldogs have allowed a 7.54 ERA for the season, as well as a .311 opposing batting average.

How to Watch / Listen:

Today’s game at Cincinnati is set to start at 6 p.m. EDT, with availability on 93.9 The Ville.

The series against Alabama A&M starts on Friday at 6 p.m. EDT, with Saturday and Sunday’s games both available at 1 p.m. EDT. All three games are free admission, with availability also on WatchESPN and 93.9 The Ville.

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