Around the Bases: Cincinnati And Wake Forest

Louisville went 2-1 last week, starting with a 13-6 midweek victory over Western Kentucky last Tuesday. The Cardinals posted a season-high 17 hits while batting .415 as a team, including a perfect 4-for-4 outing from Alex Binelas (check out the photo gallery from the Louisville-WKU game here).

The Louisville-Notre Dame series was left tied at one game apiece, after the Sunday rubber match was postponed due to inclement weather. Louisville took a 7-4 victory in game one on Friday, while Notre Dame had a walk-off home run to cap off a 5-3 win on Saturday.

Up next, Louisville heads up I-71 to take on Cincinnati, then returns home for an Easter weekend showdown against Wake Forest.


With Florida and Mississippi State being swept last weekend, that allowed Louisville to make a jump into the top five on four of college baseball’s six major polls. The lone holdouts were from Baseball America and, as they have the Cardinals ranked sixth and seventh, respectively.

Louisville’s average rank heading into this week’s batch of games is 5.5.

Player Stats & Trends

Henry Davis had a 23-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, which ended up as the second-longest in Louisville history. Nevertheless, Davis has remained a steady presence at the plate for the Cardinals. He still leads the team in batting (.370), OPS (1.087), RBIs (25), walks (14), and is second in stolen bases (8-for-9).

Through the first 22 games of the season, one of the biggest surprises at the plate has been outfielder Trey Leonard. Leonard has recorded a hit in 13 of his 17 games played this season, and is second among qualifying hitters (min. two plate appearances and played in 75% of games) in batting with a .364 average.

Both Leonard and Davis are among six Louisville hitters (qualifying and non-qualifying) that are averaging over .300 at the plate, a huge reason why the Cardinals are now second in the ACC in batting average heading into this week (.292; Georgia Tech is #1 at .304). Cameron Masterman (.338) and Cooper Bowman (.333) are the qualifying hitters, while Christian Knapczyk (.385) and Ben Metzinger (.333) also have plus-.300 averages.

Alex Binelas has been on a mission at the plate in the last few outings. After starting the season 2-for-31 (.064) in his first eight games, Binelas has now raised his batting average up to .235 for the season. Part of his rise has been from the last six games, where he has batted 11-for-23 (.478) with two triples, three home runs, and 13 RBIs. He’s also second on the team in RBIs (23) and has re-emerged as a legitimate power hitter in Louisville’s batting lineup.

Tyeler Hawkins made his first career start in right field on Tuesday against WKU and went 1-for-3.

Cooper Bowman has been really consistent in his last six games, hitting two home runs and recording a hit in each of those games. Luke Brown has recorded a hit in five of his last six games as well.

On the mound, Seamus Barrett recorded the first win of his collegiate career on Tuesday against WKU, pitching one shutout inning in relief. Barrett has been one of the most prominent bullpen options for Louisville this season, making six appearances (one start) and holding a 4.82 ERA with a 1.71 WHIP entering this week. Kellan Tulio and Alex Galvan also made their debuts in 2021, delivering shutout innings of their own in the 13-6 win over WKU (with Galvan closing the game out).

Kaleb Corbett remains red-hot on the mound as Louisville’s top reliever and closer, earning his fourth save of the season against Notre Dame in the 7-4 victory on Friday. Corbett also came in clutch during Louisville’s win over WKU last Tuesday, pitching 1.1 innings and navigating out of a tough seventh inning that saw him inherit a bases-loaded situation. A run was scored on a wild pitch, but Corbett got the final out of the inning and delivered a shutout eighth inning as Louisville pulled away.

Adam Elliott has been superb since returning to a reliever role. He earned his third win of the season on Friday, having three innings of work in relief and allowing one earned run on two hits. Elliott has a .59 ERA when coming out of the bullpen, allowing just one earned run in 15.1 innings.

Luke Seed made his second weekend start on Saturday, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing just one earned run on four hits. If Seed makes another start this weekend against Wake Forest, then the weekend rotation may be locked in with Seed, Michael Kirian, and Glenn Albanese as the rotation (days subject to change).

The Opponents

The Cincinnati Bearcats enter today’s game with an even 10-10 record, but are 6-2 at home. After starting the season 1-6 (including being swept at Clemson), UC has went 9-4 with series wins over Saint Louis and Western Michigan on their resume, and splitting a four-game series with both Xavier and UNC Wilmington. Cincinnati, though, is coming off a 21-6 loss to the Billikens on Sunday.

Wake Forest enters this week with an 8-9 record, but are coming off a series win against Florida State (including a 12-10 win in the Sunday rubber match to take the series). The Demon Deacons, though, have lost weekend series to Miami (FL), Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech this season.

Cincinnati Breakdown

The Bearcats are averaging a respectable .272 at the plate with .464 slugging, so the power hitting could be the focus in this non-conference matchup.

Griffin Merritt is coming off a spectacular week, being named to the most recent AAC Weekly Honor Roll on Monday after hitting .533 (8-for-15) with a triple, two home runs, and three RBIs against Xavier and Saint Louis. Merritt is one of five Cincinnati batters averaging over .320 batting currently, hitting .328 with five doubles, two triples, two home runs, and 11 RBIs entering this week.

Wyatt Stapp has also been named to the AAC Weekly Honor Roll this season, hitting .600 during Cincinnati’s sweep of Western Michigan. Stapp currently leads the team in doubles (six) and RBIs (18), and is averaging .338 at the plate.

Cole Harting is a power hitting menace at the plate, hitting five doubles and six home runs with 16 RBIs to go along with his .349 batting average and team-high .714 slugging. Paul Komistek leads the team with a .353 batting average.

Jalen Wade has been announced as the starter for today’s game, making his first start since 2018 for the Bearcats. Wade is 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA in four appearances this season. Cincinnati might use some of their top relievers such as Jackson Murphy (1.00 ERA in seven appearances), Aiden Bradbury (2-0, 2.16 ERA, eight appearances), and Zach Segal (4.50 ERA, nine appearances) to offset a team 5.75 ERA this season.

Wake Forest Breakdown

The Wake Forest batting lineup has had a rough start to the 2021 season, hitting just .226 (second-worst in the ACC) so far. There is, however, talent that can produce for the Demon Deacons. Bobby Seymour was the ACC Player of the Year in 2019 and tabbed as a preseason All-American on multiple publications in 2021, but is averaging .242 at the plate with four doubles, three home runs, and 11 RBIs on his stat line.

Michael Turconi is a veteran that has been one of the top options offensively for Wake Forest, averaging .294 with four doubles and eight RBIs. Chris Lanzilli was an All-American in 2019 with a .347 batting average, 19 doubles, 16 home runs, and 67 RBIs; in 2021, Lanzilli is currently averaging .254 with four doubles, four home runs, and seven RBIs. Despite the subpar numbers, Wake Forest has the talent and experience to beat a team like Florida State or even Louisville, so this is not an opponent that anyone should overlook.

Brock Wilken is also another name to watch. He currently leads the team in home runs (six) and RBIs (17), to go along with a .273 batting average. Wake Forest has struck out 189 times to just 75 walks, and has only stolen six bases in ten attempts. It could be a mismatch on paper against a Louisville team with the third-lowest ERA in the ACC (3.66), but again, Wake Forest’s veteran talent could breakout and make this a series.

On the mound, expect William Fleming, Ryan Cusick, and Rhett Lowder to make weekend starts for the Demon Deacons. Fleming is 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA, 30 strikeouts to just 11 walks, and holding opponents to .210 at the plate. Cusick has been the ace of the club this season, holding a 2.82 ERA with 43 strikeouts to just seven walks, and a .198 opponent batting average in four starts. Lowder has a 6.29 ERA and made four starts in six appearances this season.

Among the relievers, Cole McNamee is almost certainly going to make an appearance (perhaps even two). McNamee has already made ten appearances this season, holding a 2-0 record with a 1.17 ERA and .111 opponent batting average. Eric Adler has four saves in nine appearances and a 2.08 ERA so far, he could be a crucial late-game option if Wake Forest can spring an upset. Camden Minacci (2.38 ERA, ten appearances) and Brennan Oxford (4.50 ERA, 11 appearances) have also been frequently used out of the bullpen, and will likely continue that against Louisville this weekend.

How to Watch / Listen:

Today’s game against Cincinnati starts at 6 p.m. ET, available on 1450 AM and on ESPN+ (subscribers only).

The Wake Forest series starts on Friday at 6 p.m. ET, with coverage on 93.9 The Ville and on ACC Network Extra (via WatchESPN app). Saturday’s game starts at 1 p.m. ET, also on 93.9 and ACC Network Extra. The series wraps up on Easter Sunday at 12:30 ET, available on 93.9 and also broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

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