Around the Bases: Kentucky & Florida State

Louisville split their four games last week, starting with a 13-12 loss at Cincinnati in extra innings. The Cardinals would rebound with a series win against Wake Forest by taking a 5-3 victory on Friday, then a 9-7 victory on Saturday.

However, Louisville lost its series finale on Easter Sunday, dropping a 6-3 decision to the Demon Deacons.

Up next, Louisville will play its first of two rivalry games with Kentucky, hosting the Wildcats today at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals then have a weekend series against Florida State.

Polls

After going 2-2 last week, the polls had mixed results for Louisville. Both Perfect Game and D1Baseball had no change for the Cardinals this week, but Baseball America was the only poll that Louisville made a climb, jumping one spot to fifth.

The three remaining polls had Louisville take a dip in their rankings, with USA Today seeing the biggest movement as they fell from fifth to tenth. NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper both had Louisville at seventh.

Louisville’s average ranking is 6.8.

Stats & Trends

Trey Leonard’s stellar season at the plate continued with a busy week. Leonard batted 8-for-15 (.533) with two doubles, one home run, and six RBIs last week, including a career day against Cincinnati where he went 4-for-6 with two doubles, one homer, and three RBIs. He remains the only Louisville hitter averaging over .400 batting, carrying a .407 average with a 1.014 OPS entering this week.

After seeing his 23-game hitting streak snapped, Henry Davis rebounded this week with three multi-hit games. Davis averaged .467 (7-for-15) with two doubles, two home runs, and six RBIs. Both home runs took place in Louisville’s wins over Wake Forest on Friday and Saturday. Davis has now recorded a hit in 25 of his 26 games this season.

Second baseman Cooper Bowman has quietly been building a nice streak as a hitter. Bowman now has a ten-game hit streak entering today’s game against Kentucky, which continued after going 6-for-17 last week with a double and an RBI. As the leadoff hitter, Bowman is averaging .342 when he is first in the batting order (.337 for the season).

Luke Brown had a solid week at the plate, batting 7-for-18 (.389) with two doubles and three RBIs. His week was highlighted with a 3-for-5 outing against Wake Forest on Saturday, driving in the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning to deliver a 9-7 victory over the Demon Deacons.

Levi Usher remains the national leader in stolen bases with 21 bags entering this week, while Louisville is second in Division I baseball with 74 as a team. Cooper Bowman (11-for-13) and Luke Brown (10-for-13) are the only other Louisville players with 10+ stolen bases through the first half of the regular season.

Michael Kirian had his second game with 10+ strikeouts on Friday, putting away 11 batters as the Cardinals took the victory. Kirian remains undefeated with a 5-0 record, adding a 2.12 ERA and 1.24 WHIP to his statline.

Also having an impressive outing last week was Luke Seed, who moved up to start Saturday and pitched a season-high seven innings in the contest. Seed finished with six strikeouts and one earned run on four hits against Wake Forest. He has six starts in as many appearances, but despite a 1.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and .160 batting average allowed for the season, he has not earned a decision in any of them. Nevertheless, the stats tell the story for Luke Seed; he’s had a phenomenal first half of the season, and as long as he keeps that up, he should remain a weekend starter.

Adam Elliott had a busy week, making three appearances in four games. During the Wake Forest series, the senior recorded his second save on Friday, then closed out Saturday with his fourth win of the season. Elliott pitched 6.1 innings combined last week with five earned runs (four against Cincinnati), five hits, and seven strikeouts to just one walk.

The Opponents

Kentucky is 18-7 entering today’s game with their rival, but is coming off being swept by Mississippi State on the road last week. The trip to Louisville will conclude a stretch where UK had seven of its last eight games on the road. UK has a series sweep over Auburn and Georgia State to its resume, with series wins over Milwaukee and Missouri also among its wins this season.

Florida State has a midweek game against Jacksonville before heading north to face Louisville, but the Seminoles enter this week with a 15-9 record. Florida State has some huge wins over Florida and Miami (including a sweep of the Hurricanes), but has been swept by Pitt and lost two of three to Wake Forest two weeks ago. The Seminoles are coming off a series win against North Carolina, heading into this week.

Kentucky Breakdown

Kentucky has five qualifying players averaging .300 or better at the plate, including T.J. Collett, who has been a power hitting machine for the Wildcats. Collett has a .302 average with a team-high nine home runs, 29 RBIs, and is one of two players with a plus-1.000 OPS.

The other is Coltyn Kessler, who is averaging .438 batting with a team-high 1.154 OPS. Austin Schultz has a team-high nine doubles on .343 batting. John Rhodes also has nine doubles, but also has six home runs and 20 RBIs to his stat line.

UK’s pitching has been very solid up to this point, sporting a 3.08 ERA with 252 strikeouts with a .221 batting average. The starter could be up in the air, but Alex Degen started their last midweek game against Bellarmine and had some success (3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 K). Kentucky’s bullpen has been very smooth even in a loaded SEC conference, led by Daniel Harper (2-0, 1.00 ERA, .89 WHIP, .133 batting) and Dillon Marsh (0-1, 2.25 ERA, .75 WHIP).

Florida State Breakdown

Florida State is averaging .245 heading into the week (12th among 14 ACC schools), but they do have some hitters that can provide a spark for their offense. Matheu Nelson is second in the ACC in home runs (ten), and averaging .316 with 28 RBIs. Robby Martin leads the team with 29 RBIs, to go along with his .316 batting average. Tyler Martin, son of head coach Mike Martin, Jr., currently leads FSU with a .320 average and has a remarkable 24 walks drawn to just seven strikeouts (also leading the team with a .514 on-base percentage). Elijah Cabell could be one to watch, as he’s coming off a week where he had ten RBIs across four games.

The Seminoles, however, lead the ACC in team ERA (2.95), strikeouts (291), and batting average (.200). Parker Messick has been remarkable so far as a weekend starter, throwing 63 strikeouts to just 12 walks and is 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA so far. Conor Grady (4-1, 3.34 ERA) and Bryce Hubbart (3-2, 4.13 ERA) both have 42 strikeouts and 13 walks, as of April 6th. All three of their weekend starters are allowing no higher with .214 hitting at the plate, with Messick allowing just .182 himself.

The FSU bullpen has been just as good as their starters, led by Davis Hare and Hunter Perdue. Hare has already made 12 appearances, and is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and allowing .148 batting. Perdue has a 0.00 ERA in nine appearances, and could be a closer if Florida State is in position to spring some upsets this weekend. Clayton Kwiatkowski (1-1, 1.38 ERA in nine appearances) and Jonah Scolaro (1.93 ERA) have also made frequent appearances on the mound, with Scolaro coming out 13 times. Jack Anderson and Jackson Nezuh are among other FSU pitchers that are allowing under .150 batting, entering this week.

How to Watch / Listen:Β 

The Battle of the Bluegrass can be seen at 6 p.m. today on the ACC Network, with radio coverage also available on 93.9 The Ville.

Louisville’s series with Florida State starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, with Saturday’s game at 1 p.m. and Sunday’s at 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday can be watched on ACC Network Extra (via WatchESPN app), and Sunday on ESPNU. All three games are also available on 93.9.

 

 

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