7th Inning Stretch: Battle of the Barrel (Week 12)

One of the most important games of the season is now on deck for the Louisville baseball program - the annual rivalry game against Vanderbilt.
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(Photo of Justin Lavey, Ty Duvall: George Walker IV - Tennessean.com)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville baseball program was finally able to get back on the diamond after ten days off, and it's safe to say it could have gone better. Traveling South Carolina to face Clemson, the Cardinals were swept in a three-game series for the first time since 2011.

The hitting was a touch behind, averaging just 4.0 runs per game (averaged 7.4 heading into series), but it was the pitching that mainly caused Louisville's downfall. The Tigers plated double digit runs in two of their three wins, also leading to Caden Grice being named ACC Player of the Week because of it.

Louisville needs to put this lackluster performance behind them, as an extremely important week is coming. First on deck, they will be hosting Vanderbilt for the annual Battle of the Barrel rivalry matchup. After that, they welcome Duke to Jim Patterson Stadium for a three-game series.

The Cardinals have already relinquished the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference to Notre Dame, and tumbled down national polls because of the sweep at Clemson. They can ill-afford another suboptimal week. Fortunately, with pitchers Kaleb Corbett and Jared Poland making their returns, that should hopefully help contribute to better outings.

Last Week's Recaps:

News & Notes

  • Louisville is ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation among the six major collegiate baseball polls (Baseball America).
  • Louisville is third in the nation in both stolen bases (93) and fourth in stolen bases per game (2.51).
  • Louisville leads the ACC in: batting average (.292), on base percentage (.387), and triples (12).
  • Outfielder Levi Usher is fourth in the nation in stolen bases with 24.
  • Catcher Henry Davis is eleventh in the nation in on base percentage at .520 and 20th in batting average at .400.
  • Infielder Alex Binelas is 21st in the nation in RBI with 45.

The Week Ahead

  • Tuesday, May 4 at 4:00pm vs. Vanderbilt
    • ESPNU
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Friday, May 7 at 6:00pm vs. Duke
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Saturday, May 8 at 1:00pm vs. Duke
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Sunday, May 9 at 1:00pm vs. Duke
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville

Know The Foe

Midweek

School: Vanderbilt University
Nickname: Commodores
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Total Enrollment: 13,131
Head Coach (school record): Tim Corbin (785-368-1)
2021 Record (conference record): 32-9 (14-7)
All-Time Series Record: Vanderbilt leads 27-10

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Dominic Keegan (.359)
  • RBI: Carter Young (37)
  • HR: Carter Young (10)
  • ERA: Kumar Rocker (1.70)
  • Strikeouts: Jack Leiter (106)
  • Wins: Kumar Rocker (10)

Weekend

School: Duke University
Nickname: Blue Devils
Location: Durham, N.C.
Total Enrollment: 16,766
Head Coach (school record): Chris Pollard (275-199)
2021 Record (conference record): 18-18 (9-15)
All-Time Series Record: Louisville leads 8-2

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: RJ Schreck (.333)
  • RBI: RJ Schreck (29)
  • HR: Peter Matt (9)
  • ERA: Marcus Johnson (2.57)
  • Strikeouts: Henry Williams (45)
  • Wins: Two Tied (3)

Opponent Breakdown

Rankings & Records:

VanderbiltDukeLouisville

Highest Poll Ranking

2nd

NR

12th

RPI

4th

52nd

55th

SOS

18th

16th

93rd

Home Record

21-5

12-7

15-5

Away Record

11-4

6-11

8-9

Neutral Record

0-0

0-0

0-0

Hitting:

VanderbiltDukeLouisville

Base on Balls

33rd (193)

147th (150)

92nd (166)

Batting Average

23rd (.300)

134th (.270)

35th (.292)

Hits

10th (425)

133rd (332)

65th (376)

Home Runs

16th (55)

68th (40)

51st (45)

On Base Percentage

30th (.394)

166th (.360)

48th (.387)

Runs

19th (303)

160th (203)

63rd (263)

Slugging Percentage

6th (.504)

59th (.447)

31st (.468)

Pitching:

VanderbiltDukeLouisville

Earned Run Average

8th (3.16)

136th (5.01)

112th (4.77)

Hits Allowed/9 Innings

1st (6.04)

109th (8.84)

82nd (8.58)

Strikeouts Per 9 Innings

5th (11.7)

43rd (9.8)

73rd (9.4)

Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio

21st (3.04)

64th (2.49)

158th (1.91)

WHIP

4th (1.10)

96th (1.42)

136th (1.50)

Walks Allowed/9 Innings

83rd (3.85)

93rd (3.94)

200th (4.93)

Vanderbilt Commodores:

Once again, head coach Tim Corbin has an absolutely loaded Vanderbilt squad. The Commodores are tied for the second-best team in the SEC, trailing only consensus No. 1 Arkansas. While Vandy is a juggernaut, they have shown vulnerability lately. In the last four weeks, they are 8-6 with road series losses at Florida and Georgia.

To say that Vanderbilt is well-rounded at the plate would be a tremendous understatement. Five regular starters are batting over .300, seven have four or more home runs, five have 20+ walks, eight have 20+ RBI, four have an on-base percentage over .410 and an additional four have a slugging percentage over .530. There are quite literally no weaknesses in their starting lineup.

As good at they are at the plate, the Dores arguably have the best pitching staff in college baseball. Starting pitchers Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker are the presumptive No. 1 and 2 picks in the upcoming 2021 MLB Draft, so Louisville is fortunate to not have to face them. Right-hander Thomas Schultz is still a solid midweek option, posting a 4.62 ERA with 34 strikeouts to 14 walks in 37.0 IP. With a bullpen that sports five pitchers with an ERA under 3.00, highlighted by Nick Maldonado's 0.72 in 25.0 IP, the Louisville hitters will have their work cut out for them.

Duke Blue Devils:

Duke has had a very up and down season up to this point, as noted by their .500 record. They have series wins against Pitt and Wake Forest, but have dropped every other conference series - and do exceptionally poor on the road (6-11).

The Blue Devils are very top heavy in their batting lineup. Outfielder RJ Schreck is the top hitter, with a team-best .333 BA and 29 RBI, with his eight homers being second-best. His fellow outfielders Joey Loperfido and Peter Matt round out a tough stretch in the batting lineup, as both are second and third in batting average and total bases. Outside of that trio, Duke is batting just .245 as a team.

Over on the mound is shakier than at the plate. Right-handers Jack Carey and Cooper Stinson, who are the top two starters in their pitching rotation, have ERAs of 5.87 and 6.08 with a combined strikeout-to-walk ratio of 69-42. Right-hander Marcus Johnson is their go-to reliever with an ERA of 2.57 and 35 strikeouts in 35.0 innings pitched, but not other reliever has an ERA below 3.80.

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