Louisville suffered another midweek loss, this time to rival Kentucky in a 11-7 decision. The loss marked the first time that the Cardinals lost to the Wildcats at home since 2014, and dropped their record in midweek games to 3-4 this season.
But, as has been the case the last few weeks, Louisville rebounded by taking two-of-three in their weekend series. The Cardinals won on Friday 4-3 in ten innings, and then on Sunday in a 11-4 decision to claim the series against Florida State.
No midweek game for Louisville this week, so it will be straight to the road for the Cardinals as they take on Virginia.
Louisville received a lot of praise from Baseball America this week, as the poll had the Cardinals ranked second (its highest among the six major college baseball polls). They also climbed in both the Perfect Game and USA Today Coaches polls, moving to fourth and ninth, respectively.
However, the NCBWA Top 30 was the only poll that saw Louisville take a slight tumble down the rankings. That poll saw Louisville drops two spots to ninth. Both D1Baseball.com and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper had no changes this week.
Louisville’s average rank this week is 6.3.
- Perfect Game: #4 (#5 last week; +1)
- D1Baseball.com: #7 (no change)
- USA Today Coaches Poll: #9 (#10 last week; +1)
- NCBWA Top 30: #9 (#7 last week; -2)
- Baseball America: #2 (#5 last week; +3)
- Collegiate Baseball Newspaper: #7 (no change)
- RPI: 64th (as of 4/14/21)
News, Stats and Trends
With 20 games left in the regular season, it is time to officially look at where Louisville stacks up in postseason projections. Baseball America has Louisville as one of the 16 regional hosts in the NCAA Tournament, with the Cardinals appearing as the fifth overall seed (meaning if Louisville won its regional, it would then host the next round in the Super Regional).
But the selection process for the regionals will be different for the 2021 season. The NCAA will have predetermined regional sites for both the baseball and softball tournaments. The softball tournament sites will be announced on April 26th, while baseball will have theirs announced on May 10th. This is to allow the NCAA to set up testing procedures for teams at the selected sites.
Henry Davis was recently named to the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, in addition to being named the D1Baseball.com Midseason Player of the Year last week. Davis has been arguably the most consistent player, recording a hit in 29 of 30 games this season and averaging .389 batting with an 1.190 OPS. He also leads the team in home runs (eight), walks (24), on-base percentage (.514), and is second on the team in RBIs (32).
But Trey Leonard’s play has continued to be red-hot, so he could have an argument for the most consistent player on Louisville’s roster. Leonard leads the team in batting average (.416) and is second in on-base percentage (.452), OPS (1.049), and slugging (.597). He had a strong week against Kentucky and Florida State, batting .444 (8-for-18) with two doubles, one home run, and four RBIs.
Alex Binelas was superb last week as well, hitting three homers and driving in ten RBIs while averaging .333 at the plate. The ten RBIs driven in by Binelas puts him as the team leader in RBIs (33) entering this weekend.
Luke Brown is on the doorstep of averaging .300 batting for the season, after a solid stretch in his last six games. The Bowling Green native is 11-for-28 (.393) with two doubles and three RBIs in that stretch, and is currently averaging .299 with six doubles, three triples, and is tied for second on the team in stolen bases (12).
Dalton Rushing made an appearance on Friday and Sunday, and finished .500 (2-for-4) with an RBI double that tied the game at 4-4 on Sunday. Louisville would eventually go on to win 11-4 and clinch the series.
Michael Kirian recorded his third 10+ strikeout game in his last four outings on Friday, hitting 10 K’s in seven innings of work. Adam Elliott finished with three shutout innings and five strikeouts to record his fifth win of the 2021 season, as Louisville pulled off the 4-3 win on Friday night.
Starter Luke Seed has been exceptional in virtually every start this season, and it’s (sort of) flown under the radar this season in my opinion. Seed hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in any of his seven appearances this season, and he currently has a 1.57 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP. But, Seed still hasn’t earned a win or a loss in his Louisville career entering this weekend. While he hasn’t earned a decision yet, it is still worth noting that he’s been one of the best pitchers Louisville has had this season.
With its midweek game versus Old Dominion postponed, Virginia will also enter its series against Louisville without a game in-between. The Cavaliers are 16-15 heading into the series, have won their last two weekend series against Georgia Tech and Clemson, and won six of their last eight games.
Virginia is averaging just .238 at the plate (tied for worst in the ACC), but is second in the ACC in team ERA (3.73). If the Cavaliers are going to spring an upset, they’re going to need hitters like Devin Ortiz and Kyle Teel to make an impact. Ortiz enters this week on an 11-game hitting streak, and averaging .270 with five doubles, four home runs, and 15 RBIs. Kyle Teel leads the team as the only plus-.300 hitter (.317) among qualifying players, also with four home runs and 13 RBIs to his stat line. Zack Gelof leads the team in RBIs (20) and also has four home runs, while Brendan Rivoli has an 11-game on-base streak.
Mike Vasil will likely get the Friday start for Virginia, and has a tremendous 48:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 5-2 record, and a 2.98 ERA. Andrew Abbott leads the team in strikeouts (66) and is another weekend starter that could have a solid outing against Louisville. Nate Sevino (1-1, 2.65 ERA) started on Sunday against Clemson and could be the third starter again this weekend, but Griff McGarry (0-4, 6.85 ERA) has started in seven games this season, mostly on weekends.
Stephen Schoch has six saves in ten appearances this season as the closer, and has been solid with a 2.65 ERA and a 23:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Blake Bales has been the top reliever for Virginia, with a 0.00 ERA in 17 appearances this season and allowing just .151 at the plate.
How to Watch / Listen:
The series against Virginia starts on Friday at 6 p.m. ET, with games on Saturday and Sunday at 4:00 and 1:00 p.m. ET, respectively. All three games will air on ACC Network Extra and on 93.9 The Ville.