Louisville went 4-for-4 this past week at Jim Patterson Stadium, defeating Xavier and sweeping Western Michigan to increase their win streak to seven. The Cards now enter this week with their final game in the homestand against Morehead State today, then head on the road to face Wake Forest for their first taste of conference play in 2020.
Dunn returns, Metzinger shines
The big news coming from this past week in Louisville baseball was the return of Lucas Dunn. Dunn made his season debut this past weekend in relief, after sitting out the first two weeks of the season with a hamate injury. While it isn’t confirmed as of this posting whether he will return to the starting lineup in a full-time capacity, his return in action is a good sign for the team as they head into conference play.
At third base, however, Ben Metzinger has been on fire in relief of the injured Alex Binelas. The sophomore is hitting .522 over his last six games, which includes the first home run of his collegiate career on Sunday against Western Michigan. Metzinger has also been sensational in recent weeks on defense, making the case for himself as a potential starter once everyone is healthy.
Louisville’s bullpen was extremely efficient last week across all four games. Excluding totals put out by the starting pitchers, the bullpen only allowed one run in 13.1 innings of relief.
Among the more notable performances from the bullpen, Evan Webster earned the first win of his college career on Friday after throwing three shutout innings in relief of Reid Detmers. Michael Kirian added two saves to his 2020 season with a perfect ninth inning against both Xavier and Western Michigan. Both continue to hold zero ERAs (along with Kerry Wright and Kellan Tulio) entering the week, with Kirian narrowly edging Webster out in WHIP (Kirian’s 0.39 to Webster’s 0.86).
Reid Detmers had another ten-strikeout game on Friday against Western Michigan, putting him at 33 K’s on the season. Detmers is currently ahead of his record setting pace set last year, when the then-sophomore set the UofL single season record with 167 strikeouts. Time will tell if Detmers is able to maintain that pace heading into conference play, but the southpaw is certainly cementing himself as one of the all-time greats on the mound in Cardinal history.
In total, Louisville was very dominant on the mound during the weekend series against Western Michigan. The Cards allowed three WMU runs and held the Broncos to 12-of-93 (.129) batting. Luke Smith also had a stellar outing on Sunday, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing just three hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
Offensively, Zach Britton and Justin Lavey had a hit in all four games this past weekend. Britton and Lavey also lead the team with seven and five doubles, respectively (Britton is fourth in D-I baseball in that category, as of March 2nd).
After going the first week of the season without a stolen base, it’s safe to say Louisville has found their groove with their aggressive baserunning style. The Cards now have 20 stolen bases in the 2020 season through the first three weeks, currently tied for 36th in the nation. Levi Usher leads Louisville with eight bags heading into this week.
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Looking at Morehead State
Morehead State (4-6) has had an up-and-down run through the first ten games of the season. The Eagles were swept on the road by Michigan State, but then swept Norfolk State in three games the following weekend. Morehead State, however, is coming off losing two-of-three to Southern Illinois this past weekend, one that saw the Eagles give up 13+ runs in both losses.
Mike McGuire left Morehead State this past summer to take the head coaching position at USC Upstate, with former Notre Dame HC Mik Aoki taking his place. Aoki inherits a program that went 40-21 last season, and has consistently been one of the top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference recently.
But the Eagles are in the midst of trying to replace four players on the All-OVC First and Second Team last season, and still trying to settle in this season. Morehead State is averaging .241 at the plate, with Ryan Layne (.278/.395/.389, 2B, HR, six RBI) and Stephen Hill (.265/.409/.441, three doubles, HR, ten RBI) leading the team. They also have nine home runs on the season, with Zach Boyd and Arthur Sells tied for the team lead with two. Morehead State has had a reputation as one of the top power-hitting clubs in recent years, so the occasional home run could be a threat against Louisville’s midweek lineup.
Morehead State’s struggles have come on the mound, where the Eagles have allowed .344 batting at the plate and .398 OBP.
Looking at Wake Forest
Wake Forest (7-5) will wrap up a two-game series against Sacred Heart on Tuesday, but will be eager to climb back in the Top 25 with a series win over the Cardinals this weekend.
The Deacons entered the 2020 season as a preseason Top 25 team and one of several contenders in a loaded ACC, but were swept on the road by Long Beach State in the second weekend of the season and fell out of the rankings.
Their power, however, should keep them as solid contenders in the ACC as conference play begins. The Deacons have 17 home runs currently (second in the ACC), led by Chris Lanzilli (.304 batting, four doubles, four home runs, nine RBIs) and Adam Cecere (.368, four home runs, 12 RBIs). Reigning ACC Player of the Year Bobby Seymour is a perennial threat in the lineup, currently averaging .283 with two doubles, one home run, and nine RBIs. Last season, Seymour led Division I baseball with 92 RBIs (the highest since Buster Posey’s 93 in 2008) and was a First-Team All-American selection by Collegiate Baseball.
Graduate transfer William Simoneit, a former three-time All-Ivy League honoree at Cornell, arrived at Wake Forest this offseason and has immediately made an impact. Simoneit leads the Deacons with a .406 batting average, adding three doubles, two home runs, and ten RBIs to his line through ten games.
Jared Shuster could be the starter to watch for on the mound, currently 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA. Shuster was an all-Cape Cod League player last summer, and with a solid 2020 season, could help Wake Forest become a contender in the loaded ACC. Eric Adler (0.00 ERA, .118 batting) and Tyler Witt (1.74 ERA, .184 batting) are top relievers that could provide Louisville some challenges out of the bullpen.
How to Watch / Listen:
Today’s game against Morehead State is set to start at 3:00 ET, with coverage on 1450 AM / 96.1 FM and on ACC Network Extra (WatchESPN app).
All three games in the Wake Forest series will air on ACC Network Extra and 93.9 The Ville. Friday’s game starts at 6:00 ET, with Saturday at 4:00, and Sunday at 1:00.