After not playing a game for ten days, the Louisville baseball team returned to action last weekend against Clemson. The Cardinals, however, were swept by the Tigers on scores of 3-11, 4-5, and 5-15, the first time that U of L was swept in a conference series since May 5-7 2011 vs Seton Hall. It was only the 13th ACC Series loss for the Cards
With only six days until the hosting sites for the NCAA Tournament are announced, this week is the last opportunity for Louisville to improve its RPI and its chances of being a host. The Cardinals have all four games this week at home, as they take on Vanderbilt on Tuesday, then Duke during the weekend.
Louisville fell out of the top ten in every poll this week, as a result of going 0-3 last weekend without any midweek games to serve as a tuneup. Perfect Game holds the highest ranking for the Cardinals at #11, with D1Baseball.com, USA Today, and NCBWA all having U of L ranked 15th.
Louisville’s average rank this week is 13.5.
- Perfect Game: #11 (#4 last week; -7)
- D1Baseball.com: #15 (#7 last week; -8)
- USA Today Coaches Poll: #15 (#7 last week; -8)
- NCBWA Top 30: #15 (#9 last week; -6)
- Baseball America: #12 (#5 last week; -7)
- Collegiate Baseball Newspaper: #13 (#8 last week; -5)
- RPI: 56th (as of 5/4/21)
Stats and Trends
The weekend was not a good one for the Cardinals; in addition to being swept by the Tigers, Clemson also scored double digit runs on Friday and Sunday, including 15 in the series finale. The Cardinals also gave up seven home runs through the entire series, including four to Caden Grice.
Jared Poland, Kaleb Corbett, and Michael Prosecky all returned to action this weekend. Poland pitched 1.2 shutout innings as a reliever on Sunday, with Corbett throwing 1.1 shutout innings on Saturday. Prosecky pitched the final inning of Friday’s loss without allowing a run.
The weekend’s top performers at the plate were Luke Brown and Henry Davis. Brown batted .364 (4-fof-11) through the weekend) and raised his batting average to .301 for the season, while Davis recorded a hit in all three games this weekend. Davis remains the team’s only hitter with a .400+ batting average, and still has not recorded a hit in only one game out of 37 this season.
This week’s batch of games starts with a rematch that is 22 months in the making for both Louisville and Vanderbilt. This is the first time that the rivals have played against each other since their encounters in the 2019 College World Series.
Vanderbilt has looked every bit like the College World Series title contender that most projected them to be this season. The Commodores are ranked as high as second in the country, and hold a 32-9 record heading into today’s contest. Vanderbilt holds series wins over Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, and Tennessee on their resume. They are, however, coming off a series loss to Florida last weekend.
Duke has a midweek game with William & Mary before heading to Louisville this weekend, but the Blue Devils enter this week with an even 18-18 record (9-15 in ACC play). The Blue Devils are coming off a series loss to Virginia in late April, but have series wins over Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and Coastal Carolina on their resume.
The Commodores are a complete team, able to hit well and win low scoring games with an elite pitching staff. Vanderbilt is averaging .300 at the plate offensively, while allowing just .187 batting and a 3.16 ERA from the pitching lineup. This has them tied for the SEC lead in batting average, and they lead the conference in ERA and opponents’ batting average.
Dominic Keegan has been spectacular for Vanderbilt this season, averaging .359 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, and 35 RBIs in 34 games played. Enrique Bradfield, Jr. (.352 batting, .469 on-base) leads the NCAA with 34 stolen bases as the leadoff man. Isaiah Thomas (.323 batting, eight home runs, 23 RBIs) and Carter Young (.275, 13 doubles, ten home runs, 37 RBIs) add some serious power to the Commodores batting order. Vanderbilt has five qualifying hitters averaging .300 or higher, including Jayson Gonzalez (.311) and CJ Rodriguez (.301)
Louisville likely won’t have to encounter Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter on Tuesday, but even without them, Vanderbilt’s pitching staff would still make them a potential title threat. Thomas Schultz or Christian Little likely get the nod to start today for the Commodores. Both have started a combined 14 games this season (Schultz 8, Little 6), with Schultz holding a better ERA (4.62) and opponent batting average (.224) than Little (5.16; .282 batting).
Nick Maldonado will likely make an appearance out of the bullpen at some point. He has the lowest ERA of all Vanderbilt relievers (.72) in 15 appearances this season, and three saves with a .116 batting average. Luke Murphy has seven saves in 15 appearances this season with a 2.95 ERA and .167 average. Hugh Fisher (1.08 ERA), Sam Hliboki (2.70), and Miles Garrett (2.79) all have sub-3.00 ERAs and nine appearances each in 2021.
The Blue Devils are firmly entrenched as a middle-of-the-pack team, ranking eighth in batting average (.270) and ninth in ERA (5.01).
Duke currently has four qualifying hitters averaging over .300 at the plate, including RJ Schreck (.333 batting, .990 OPS) and Peter Matt (.310, .933). Both are among the team leaders in RBIs (Schreck 29, Matt 27), home runs (Schreck 8, Matt 9), and slugging (Schreck / .561, Matt / .570). Michael Rothenburg (.248 batting) and Joey Loperfido (.320) both have 10+ doubles this season. Ethan Murray has a .288 average with nine doubles and four triples to his statline in 2021.
Jack Carey and Cooper Stinson will likely remain the weekend starters for Duke, having made all ten of their starts in a weekend series this season. Both are 2-2 this season with ERAs hovering around 6.00 (Carey 5.87, Stinson 6.08), with Stinson allowing .222 hitting at the plate this season. The third weekend starter has usually been Henry Williams (3-3, 3.86 ERA), but as he has been battling arm soreness through the week (h/t Duke Chronicle), they might be looking for another arm to start. If that is the case, it may end up being Josh Nifong (2-3, 4.56 ERA) or Richard Brereton (0-0, 9.31 ERA).
Marcus Johnson and Luke Fox are both solid relievers that have been able to help Duke out this season, both holding sub-3.00 ERAs this season (Johnson 2.57, Fox 2.93). Both lead the team in ERA and WHIP, with Johnson also among the team leaders in opponent batting average (.167). Jimmy Loper (3.96 ERA, 15 appearances), Matt Dockman (4.43 ERA, 14 appearances), and Josh Allen (4.96 ERA, 16 appearances) will also likely make appearances from the bullpen this weekend, with Loper leading the team in saves (four).
How to Watch / Listen:
Today’s game against Vanderbilt has been moved up to 4 p.m. ET, and nationally televised on ESPNU.
The Duke series starts at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, with Saturday and Sunday’s games both slated for 1 p.m. starts. All three games of the Duke series will air on ACC Network Extra (available through the WatchESPN app).
All four games this week will also air on 93.9 The Ville.