The Louisville baseball team did not let a midweek hiccup stop them from sweeping their second straight ACC series last weekend. Louisville lost to Eastern Kentucky 6-3 last Tuesday after the Colonels stringed together three runs in the bottom of the seventh to break a 3-3 tie, snapping a 14-game winning streak that UofL held over their intrastate foe.
Afterwards, Louisville swept N.C. State through the weekend on winning scores of 13-1, 6-3, and 8-3 to improve their record to 14-5. This marked Louisville’s second straight sweep in conference play, improving their ACC record to 7-2 (they currently lead the Atlantic Division with a .778 win percentage, entering this week).
It is rinse and repeat for Louisville this weekend, as they take on another in-state foe before heading on the road this weekend. Louisville plays Western Kentucky at home on Tuesday, then heads to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.
Despite the loss at Eastern Kentucky, Louisville’s sweep of N.C. State helped them make a slight jump in all major polls. They returned to being a consensus top ten ranked team, as Collegiate Baseball Newspaper had the Cardinals rise to seventh in their Top 25.
Louisville’s average rank is 7.2.
- Perfect Game: #6 (#7 last week; +1)
- D1Baseball.com: #7; #8 last week; +1)
- USA Today / Coaches: #7 (no change)
- NCBWA Top 30: #7 (#9 last week; +2)
- Baseball America: #7 (#8 last week; +1)
- Collegiate Baseball Newspaper: #7 (#11 last week; +4)
- RPI: 39th (as of 3/23/21)
Player Stats & Trends
Louisville’s weekend was highlighted by spectacular pitching across the board. Michael Kirian turned it up a notch in Friday’s 13-1 victory, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning before exiting. The junior threw 7.1 innings with just one earned run allowed on two hits, striking out a career-high 13 batters with just two walks. For his efforts, Kirian was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
Evan Webster finished the game with 1.2 shutout innings of work and two strikeouts, giving the Cardinals 15 K’s in a blowout win over the Wolfpack.
Glenn Albanese picked up his third win of the season on Saturday, pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs on five hits. Kaleb Corbett also picked up his third save of 2021 with two shutout innings to close out the 6-3 victory, and he still holds a 0.00 ERA through the first five weeks of the season. Kirian and Albanese are also having stellar seasons with a 0.77 and 1.76 ERA, respectively. Corbett, Kirian, and Albanese are also in the top three among the team in WHIP entering this week (.68, .78, and .90, respectively).
The bullpen combination of Jack Perkins and Adam Elliott delivered four shutout innings down the stretch to help Louisville pull off the 8-3 victory, as the Cardinals scored seven innings in the final three frames (including five in the eighth). Perkins and Elliott also allowed no hits in the process, with the latter earning his second win of the season.
Perhaps the most notable change this weekend was the Sunday starting spot, which went to Luke Seed. Seed had started three midweek games prior to Sunday, including six and seven strikeout games against Eastern Kentucky and Morehead State, respectively. The Paducah, Ky. native finished Sunday with one earned run on two hits in three innings pitched, but did not earn a decision to his record. Whether this is a one-time deal and Luke Smith does end up returning to the Sunday spot next week, or Seed does become the new Sunday starter full-time, remains to be seen. But with Kirian and Albanese seemingly having the Friday and Saturday spots locked up, the last weekend starter spot is going to be very competitive in the coming weeks.
At the plate, business has continued to boom for catcher Henry Davis. Davis once again recorded in all four games he played this week, extending his hit streak to 21 games. The 21-game streak is now the second-longest in school history, as Davis still leads the team in batting (.412), OPS (1.218), doubles (five), home runs (five), RBIs (23), and walks (13). Friday was a big outing for the catcher, going 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs.
Cameron Masterman (.429, HR, three RBIs) and Luke Brown (.375, two doubles, triple, RBI) both averaged over .375 at the plate last weekend. Ben Metzinger made his first start of the season on Friday after playing in two games prior, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a double.
Western Kentucky has been on a decent run as of late, winning six of their last eight games entering Tuesday’s game against Louisville. The Hilltoppers come in with a 10-9 record, having a four-game sweep of Bowling Green and two wins over Valparaiso and Cincinnati on their resume.
Ranked as high as 12th in the Baseball America Top 25, Notre Dame has been one of the big surprises in a loaded ACC. Notre Dame has a midweek game against Valparaiso on Tuesday before hosting Louisville this weekend. The Fighting Irish have a 9-3 record and have won all four of their conference series, including a sweep of #21 Virginia and winning two games against #16 Wake Forest.
Western Kentucky Breakdown
Outfielder Ray Zuberer III was recently named Conference USA Hitter of the Week on March 15th, hitting .474 and getting three multi-hit games in a five-game stretch against Kentucky and Bowling Green. Zuberer has been on a tear in the last two weeks as a power hitter; in his last eight games, he has recorded four doubles, one triple, two home runs, and 12 RBIs (also leading the team in RBIs with 23).
Matthew Meyer is coming off a stellar weekend against Valparaiso, batting .500 against the Crusaders (7-for-14) with four doubles, one triple, and three RBIs. Meyer also leads the team in doubles (eight), and is one of two WKU hitters to force more walks than strikeouts at the plate (ten walks versus seven strikeouts). Jackson Gray (.338 batting, six doubles, HR, seven RBIs) has also been red-hot as of late, batting .500 (12-for-24) in his last six games with four doubles, one home run, and four RBIs.
The starting spot on the mound might go to Devyn Terbrak, who has had all of his work in the midweek games so far. Terbrak started against Bellarmine and Kentucky, and has allowed two earned runs in each of his three appearances in 2021. Collin Lollar (1.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) and Bailey Sutton (3.18 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) are among the top relievers on WKU’s roster and could make an appearance on Tuesday.
Notre Dame Breakdown
Niko Kavadas garnered a lot of preseason All-American accolades entering 2021, and has lived up to the hype. He has been among the best power hitters in the ACC this season, already hitting seven home runs through Notre Dame’s first 12 games. Kavadas hit 12 home runs in 2019, so he is already on pace to pass that mark and we are not even out of April yet. He also leads the team in walks (ten) and RBIs (21), and if this continues, it might not be a surprise if he is a contender for ACC Player of the Year at the season’s end.
The Fighting Irish also has several hitters to complement Kavadas in the order. Ryan Cole (.353) has an on-base percentage of .500 and appeared in all 12 games for the Fighting Irish, and hit a walk-off homer in the 13th inning to beat Duke on Friday. Carter Putz (.354) and Jared Miller (.380) are among the team leaders in hitting, while Brooks Coetzee (.250, 12 RBIs) could be in line for a big weekend.
Among their pitchers, John M. Bertrand is definitely the name to watch. Bertrand is 3-0 with 22 strikeouts, 3.38 ERA, and allowed just .196 at the plate this season. He also recently pitched a complete game against Duke on Saturday. Will Mercer has also been a weekend starter for Notre Dame, but has an ERA of 8.44 and allowed .286 hitting. Joe Sheridan (0.00 ERA, 11 strikeouts, 14.1 IP, .196 batting) pitched 6.1 shutout innings from the bullpen against Duke on Friday, and based off his performance, could earn a starting spot this week against Louisville. Liam Simon (1.93 ERA) and Alex Rao (0.75) are also among the notable names for Notre Dame out of the bullpen, with Rao also delivering 5.1 shutout innings in Notre Dame’s loss to Duke on Sunday.
How to Watch / Listen:
Louisville and Western Kentucky play on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET, available on 93.9 The Ville and ACC Network Extra (via ESPN app).
The Notre Dame and Louisville series starts on Friday at 4 p.m. ET, with Saturday and Sunday’s games at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. ET, respectively. All three games are also available on ACC Network Extra, with the last two games on 93.9 The Ville. Friday’s game does not have a radio designation as of this posting.