After a rough stretch against some of the top teams in the ACC, Louisville baseball rebounded with a 4-0 stretch last week. The Cardinals (24-11) came away with a 7-2 win at home against Northern Kentucky, followed by a sweep at Virginia Tech (3-2, 3-1 and 16-1 victories).
U of L returns home with an eight game home stand to close out April, starting with round two of their rivalry against Kentucky tomorrow night.
After starting the season with a 14-0 record, the Cardinals have experienced significant growing pains against ranked competition. Louisville enters today having lost eight of their last 13 games, and are currently unranked on D1baseball.com after spending nearly five years as a mainstay in the polls.
The Cardinals will look to rebound against two ranked teams this week; Louisville travels to Lexington today for a big rivalry showdown with Kentucky, then hosts #8 NC State in a home series. It’s a big opportunity for a young Louisville team that has yet to get a ranked series win and is looking to reestablish some momentum.
How to Watch: Noon kickoff on SEC Network
Spread: Louisville -10
Last Time: In one of the biggest upsets of 2016, Kentucky stunned the Cardinals after Austin MacGinnis hit a 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to pull out a 41-38 win over their rival. The Wildcats capitalized on four turnovers, including the late-game fumble that eventually led to MacGinnis’ field goal at the very end.
Kentucky leads the all-time series 15-14, but Louisville has won five of the last six in the rivalry.
With a record crowd for the second straight day in a row and a trip to the College World Series on the line, the Cardinal Nine handled the pressure with ease and defeated archrival Kentucky for the Super Regional sweep, 6-2 and punched their ticket to Omaha.
After finally breaking out of his postseason slump in game 1 of the Louisville Super Regional, Drew Ellis got back to his All-American form in game 2. He hit his 19th and 20th home runs of the season for his 60th and 61st RBIs of the season, one of which was a no-doubter to deep left-center field that bounced off the light post. Colby Fitch also broke out of his postseason slump, batting 3-5 after going 1-16 (.063) in NCAA Championship play. Following Ellis and Fitch’s footsteps, shortstop Devin Hairston would also collect three hits on the day, batting 3-4.
Yes, it’s happening. The Cardinals and Wildcats will settle the score in 2017 this weekend, with a trip to the College World Series on the line at the sold-out Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Cardinals are looking for their first College World Series since 2014, while Kentucky is seeking its first ever trip to Omaha. U of L went 3-0 in their stretch, while Kentucky rebounded from a loss against NC State to top the Hoosiers and Wolfpack (twice).
After having a somewhat dominate performance against Kentucky in their home game against them earlier this month, the Cards were the ones who got dominated this time around in the road edition of the Battle of the Bluegrass. However, they responded with a series win against Duke, 2 games to 1. They move to 33-6 on the season, and 17-4 in the ACC.
Six Game Winning Streak Against Kentucky Snapped In Lexington
For the first time since 2014, the Louisville Cardinals fell to the in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats, 11-7. Although a noble effort to make an unlikely comeback was made in the middle innings, for the most part, the game did not look pretty for the Cards.
Last week, the Cardinals continued their momentum by taking three of four games, one against WKU at home and then two of three on the road against Virginia. The Cards currently sit at 24-3, with a five game homestretch coming up (including the anticipated rivalry game against Kentucky).
The Batting Order
1. Brief Recap of the Rivalry
Entering tonight’s game against their in-state rival, the Cards are 40-61-1 against the Wildcats, but U of L has won the last five games in the series. The last three games at Jim Patterson Stadium between UK and Louisville have included a 2014 NCAA Regional victory, as well as walk-off victories for the Cardinals in each of the last two seasons.
2. Cards a Consensus #2 in All Polls
U of L enters this week as the consensus #2 team in the country, only behind consensus #1 Oregon State in all six major polls. The Cardinals supplanted Texas Tech for the #2 spot in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, after the Red Raiders dropped two of three at Oklahoma last weekend.
Last Time: Down 21-0, Bobby Petrino replaced Kyle Bolin with Lamar Jackson, and the Cardinals completed the largest comeback victory in the rivalry’s history. Louisville scored 31 unanswered points in the second half, en route to a 38-24 win in Lexington. Jackson ran for a then-school record 186 yards as a quarterback with two rushing touchdowns, and added a passing touchdown to James Quick. Louisville held Kentucky’s passing game down, keeping starting quarterback Drew Barker at 6-for-22 for 128 yards.
The Cards and the Cats are currently tied 14-14 all-time, but Louisville has won the last five games.
About the Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats enter this week’s game at 6-5, finally bowl eligible for the first time in the Mark Stoops era. It was noted that the last two seasons, Louisville ended Kentucky’s bowl aspirations each time, but now it will be interesting to see where Stoops’ team will be mentally, after achieving bowl eligibility against Austin Peay last week.
It didn’t start out that way, though. After two crushing losses to Southern Miss and Florida, Stoops turned to JUCO transfer Stephen Johnson as the new quarterback, who has since given the Kentucky offense a new wrinkle that has kept them alive. The offense doesn’t go into a pass-first mode anymore; they now run the ball with an impressive stable of running backs, and then parlay that into deep shots down the field with guys like Jeff Badet. It’s a simple formula, but it’s given Kentucky its best offense in the Stoops era and why they’re bowl eligible.
On defense, Mark Stoops was known as a great mind at Florida State, but Kentucky’s has not been as impressive in 2016. They have a solid linebacker group and a decent duo at cornerback, but the rest leave a lot to be desired going against better, faster athletes in space. But a good running game will grind the clock and keeps opposing offenses – and respectively, Kentucky’s maligned defense – off the field; it’s why the Dallas Cowboys have been so successful in the NFL, and why Kentucky can realistically compete against Louisville tomorrow.
Welcome back to another edition of Around the Bases, where we look at what a spectacular week it was for the Cardinals.
It began on April 12th, when the Cardinals traveled to Lexington and beat rival Kentucky 9-6 for their fifth straight win in the rivalry.
The saying usually goes “better late than never,” and that was the case as #3 Louisville beat #12 Kentucky 7-6 in a wild, thrilling comeback in front of 4,642 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.
A week after Kentucky almost delivered a comeback against Louisville at home, the Cardinals came through with one of their own. Devin Hairston led the way as the Cardinals (30-7, 13-5) scored six runs in the final three innings to secure their fifth straight win over rival Kentucky (23-13). Hairston finished the night 3-for-5 at the plate with a walk-off RBI single that drove in a diving Colin Lyman to score the winning run.
“This team has a lot of fight,” Hairston said. “We have that type of confidence and swagger about us that no matter what the score is, we’re going to get the job done.”
Welcome back to another edition of Around the Bases, and this is possibly the biggest week for Louisville baseball all season.
Last weekend was very tumultuous for the Cardinals team. After having the game at Kentucky postponed due to rain, they immediately traveled to Tallahassee to face Florida State. The Cardinals lost the series (7-12 Fri., 7-1 Sat., 5-16 Sun.), making it their second series defeat in the ACC this season. The Cardinals did not lose any series against ACC opponents last season, and the Cardinals dropped to 3-6 against Top 25 opponents on the road in 2016. The Cardinals returned home yesterday and thumped Western Kentucky 14-2, improving to a 20-1 record at home.
The game has been over for a couple of days now. So if you are one of the ones to say “It’s over. Move on. Get over it”, then this post isn’t for you. I appreciate you stopping by, but I haven’t written out all of my thoughts yet and closed the door on the game, so that is what I am going to do. You may disagree with me, and that is fine. We can have a discussion on things like that. But this forum is for me to hit on a few key points that I saw on Saturday. After getting this out, I will then be able to turn the page and move on.
The first 5 guys on the floor matched my prediction for Louisville. As the non-conference schedule has come to a close for the year and it’s been scrutinized as any, let’s assess the Cards because that’s what we as fans & as media do. We criticize and rectify, perhaps justify in any way we can. Each team had their storylines heading into the battle but here are 4 of mine following it. All of these things are going to tie in together, but I wanted to individually outline as a list because have an obsession with making lists. Know where I got it? Rick Pitino, (Rebound Rules 2010).
4 things from another loss at Rupp:
January 1, 1995. Freshman Samaki Walker goes off for the Cards, recording the first triple double in UofL history with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 blocks. Watch the full game below and enjoy!
With the exception of the 2012-2013 season, there’s no secret that John Calipari has had Rick Pitino’s number in head-to-head match-ups. Louisville has been dominant in recent years, as has Kentucky. Both with National Titles, Final Fours, conference championships, both coaches getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, and highly ranked recruited classes all in the last five years. Those are accomplishments any school would proud of to have, and that’s an understatement. Really, just read those accomplishments and think about how much success both programs have had in just the last five years. But for whatever reason, despite all that success and even having the better team in some of those years, Rick can’t seem to beat Cal.
You all know how the game went. I don’t need to recap that for you, especially a few days after it ended. So no, I will not talk about Lamar Jackson running for 186 yards against Kentucky and leading the charge for a 38-24 victory. I don’t need to tell you that the win was the 5th in a row for Louisville over Kentucky. I don’t need to talk about how dominant the defense was in the second half, and honestly most of the game. You all know all of that already, right? I don’t need to say it again. However, if you would like to take a break from this and watch the entire game again, I invite you to do so by clicking here.
Back with me now? Good. It was a pretty eventful day for me in Lexington, so I just wanted to write about it. Feel free to keep reading. But if you are just looking for a recap of how Louisville beat Kentucky 38-24 for the 5th time in a row, you won’t get that here. I won’t even mention it. Want highlights though? Here ya go…
Pregame scuffle, Kyle Bolin, DeVante Parker. That is your summary for the 2014 game. Enjoy!
Seems kind of like a “Flashback Friday” type of video if you really pay attention to the players in it and the years that most are from. But hey, you do you Kentucky.
Garrick McGee and Tobijah Hughley (from Lexington) met with the media on Wednesday to talk about Saturday’s game against Kentucky.