7th Inning Stretch: Behind Enemy Lines (Week 10)

Before coming home to face a surging Pitt team, Louisville baseball gets a crack at Kentucky for a chance at revenge.
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(Photo of Trey Leonard: William Caudill via University of Louisville Athletics)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Partaking in a less busy week than normal on account of not playing a midweek game, the Louisville baseball program still managed to have a successful week with a road series win against Virginia.

Now, the Cardinals eyes are fixated on revenge. Louisville will stay on the road for one more game, traveling to Lexington for a rematch with Kentucky before coming home to face Pitt this weekend.

Henry Davis and Trey Leonard continue to put on a show at the plate for the Cards, as they are batting .403 and .396, respectively. Alex Binelas has gone from slump to blazing hot, and players like Cooper Bowman, Christian Knapczyk, Lucas Dunn and Cam Masterman continue to be every day contributors.

The pitching staff is still a bit of a concern, but it got better this past weekend at Virginia. Luke Smith posted his best start of the season, and the bullpen gave up just three earned runs in 11.0 innings of work. Once they get healthy, it will look markedly different.

Louisville is shaping to have the makings of a string finish to the regular season. They just need to continue to clean up the little things and execute.

Last Week's Recaps:

News & Notes

  • Louisville is ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation among the six major collegiate baseball polls (Baseball America).
  • Louisville is second in the nation in stolen bases (87) and third in stolen bases per game (2.64).
  • Louisville leads the ACC in: batting average (.297), double plays (28), hits (342), on base percentage (.391), runs (239), slugging percentage (.476) and triples (11).
  • Outfielder Levi Usher is second in the nation in stolen bases with 23.
  • Catcher Henry Davis is tenth in the nation in on base percentage at .529.
  • Infielder Alex Binelas is 14th in the nation in RBI with 40.
  • Outfielder Luke Brown is 15th in the nation in triples with three.

The Week Ahead

Coming up this week, the Cardinals will start the week on the road at Kentucky, then come home for a three-game weekend series vs Pitt.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 20 at 5:00pm at Kentucky
    • ESPNU
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Friday, Apr. 23 at 3:00pm vs. Pitt
    • ACC Network
    • 1450 WXVW
  • Saturday, Apr. 24 at 1:00pm vs. Pitt
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Sunday, Apr. 25 at 1:00pm vs. Pitt
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville

Know The Foe

Midweek

School: University of Kentucky
Nickname: Wildcats
Location: Lexington, Ky.
Total Enrollment: 29,402
Head Coach (school record): Nick Mingione (136-91)
2021 Record (conference record): 22-11 (7-8)
All-Time Series Record: Kentucky leads 64-46-1

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Coltyn Kessler (.375)
  • RBI: TJ Collett (38)
  • HR: TJ Collett (10)
  • ERA: Daniel Harper (2.57)
  • Strikeouts: Cole Stupp (48)
  • Wins: Cole Stupp (4)

Weekend

School: University of Pittsburgh
Nickname: Panthers
Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Total Enrollment: 28,391
Head Coach (school record): Mike Bell (51-51
2021 Record (conference record): 20-11 (14-10)
All-Time Series Record: Louisville leads 21-8

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Nico Popa (.351)
  • RBI: Kyle Hess (29)
  • HR: David Yanni (9)
  • ERA: Jordan McCrum (1.96)
  • Strikeouts: Mitch Myers (61)
  • Wins: Matt Gilberson (5)

Opponent Breakdown

Rankings & Records:

KentuckyPittLouisville

Highest Poll Ranking

NR

16th

4th

RPI

54th

19th

59th

SOS

83rd

13th

114th

Home Record

17-6

9-6

15-5

Away Record

5-5

9-4

7-6

Neutral Record

0-0

2-1

0-0

Hitting:

KentuckyPittLouisville

Base on Balls

122nd (129)

99th (135)

49th (152)

Batting Average

47th (.286)

88th (.276)

23rd (.297)

Hits

50th (318)

77th (298)

18th (342

Home Runs

50th (37)

62nd (33)

35th (40)

On Base Percentage

88th (.374)

107th (.370)

34th (.391)

Runs

66th (211)

95th (190)

30th (239)

Slugging Percentage

44th (.456)

77th (.433)

20 (.476)

Pitching:

KentuckyPittLouisville

Earned Run Average

64th (4.08)

90th  (4.45)

79th (4.30)

Hits Allowed/9 Innings

74th (8.35)

122nd (8.97)

67th (8.23)

Strikeouts Per 9 Innings

33rd (10.3)

184th (8.3)

90th (9.2)

Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio

26th (3.06)

109th (2.21)

138th (2.02)

WHIP

44th (1.30)

100th (1.42)

104th (1.42)

Walks Allowed/9 Innings

35th (3.36)

82nd (3.77)

163rd (4.57)

Kentucky Wildcats:

Ever since facing Louisville the first time around, Kentucky has ran into a bit of a roadblock. They went 3-4 over the seven games in between meetings with the Cardinals, including series losses to Georgia and a down LSU squad at home. While they did claim a 12-0 shutout over Bellarmine, they also gave up 15 in the series opener against the Tigers and 17 in the finale against the Bulldogs.

Their batting average has cooled off significantly since last facing Louisville, as it has dropped from .300 to .286 during those seven games. That's not to say they still aren't a good hitting team, because they are. Colton Kessler is still swinging a hot bat, as his .375 batting averaged ranks third in the SEC, and TJ Collett's 10 home runs and 38 RBIs are both top five in the conference.

As you can imagine from giving up as many runs as they have over the last seven games, the Wildcats' ERA has increased an entire run from 3.08 to 4.08. In their lone midweek during that stretch, right-hander Zach Kammin earned his first start of the season and struck out seven over 3.0 innings, so it's likely we see him start against the Cards. Daniel Harper and Austin Strickland have been light-out relievers, as the duo has struck out a combined 37 batters over 29.1 innings, and only surrendered nine runs.

Pitt Panthers:

Pitt has been one of the biggest surprises in the ACC so far. Originally picked to finish dead last in the conference, they now trail Virginia Tech by just one game for the top of the Coastal Division and are ranked in the top 25. They swept Florida State and Miami, and have series wins over Georgia Tech, Virginia and North Carolina.

The Panthers have one of the stronger starting lineups in the ACC right now, as five regular starters are currently batting .300 or higher. What's even more incredible is that it's a relatively balanced lineup, as five different batters have 20+ RBI, six have 6+ doubles and five have 55+ total bases. If anyone stands out of this crowd, it's outfielder Nick Popa, as he leads Pitt in batting average at .351, OPS at 1.000 and total bases at 75.

Their starting rotation has a solid 1-2 punch in Matt Gilbertson and Mitch Myers, as they combine for a 112-25 strikeout to walk ratio, but have given up 43 earned runs in their 18 combined starts and 116.0 innings. The third spot is now up grabs, as Stephen Hanson has not been the best ever since league play started. Pitt doesn'y have a great bullpen, as three pitchers with double digit innings have an ERA over five, but Jordan McCrum is a standout with an ERA of 1.96 in 16 appearances & 23.0 innings and 26 strikeouts.

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