7th Inning Stretch: League Play Begins (Week 3)

Just three weekends into the season, Louisville Baseball is already heading into their first conference action.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

(Photo of Adam Elliott: William Caudill via University of Louisville Athletics)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The Louisville baseball program was not perfect over the last week, but by all accounts it was a successful one. While their win streak was snapped in their series opener against Western Illinois, they countered by sweeping the ensuing doubleheader, going 3-1 for the week including a midweek win over Eastern Kentucky.

The Cardinals experienced their first adversity of the season when, moments before first pitch against WIU, it was announced that 11 players would be unavailable for the series, including two starters. The university did not give a reason, but many of them, were injury related.

We knew how deep Louisville was amongst their position players, but over the first couple weeks, we have seen how deep their pitching staff is, too. A whopping 17 pitchers have pitched at least 1.0 inning so far this season, eight of which have yet to give up a run, and only four who have given up multiple.

As expected, Golden Spikes candidate catcher Henry Davis continues to be on a tear to start the season, batting .409 with two homer, 10 RBI and zero strikeouts. Outfielder Cam Masterman has been the breakout player for the team so far, batting a team-best .476, with three home runs and seven RBI.

With an altered schedule due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Louisville now finds themselves on the precipice of conference play. They'll be tested early and often in a loaded Atlantic Coast Conference, but that it the challenge this team needs if they have aspirations of bringing home their first ever national championship.

Last Week's Recaps:

News & Notes

  • Louisville is ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation in one of the six major collegiate baseball polls (Perfect Game).
  • Louisville is first in the nation in stolen bases (25) and second to Lehigh in stolen bases per game (3.57). Their earned run average of 2.00 is good for fifteenth in the country.
  • Outfielder Levi Usher is tied with UAB's Jess David for most stolen bases in Division I with seven.
  • Catcher Henry Davis is tied with 30 other D1 players for first in the NCAA's 'toughest to strike out' metric.

The Week Ahead

Coming up this week, the Cardinals will play four games this week. They will start with a midweek game against Morehead State at Jim Patterson Stadium, then hit the road for a three-game weekend series with Georgia Tech.

Home (Louisville, Ky.)

  • Tuesday, Mar. 2 at 3:00pm vs. Morehead State
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 1450 WXVW

Away (Atlanta, Ga.)

  • Friday, Mar. 5 at 4:00pm vs. Georgia Tech
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 1450 WXVW
  • Saturday, Mar. 6 at 2:00pm vs. Georgia Tech
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Sunday, Mar. 7 at 3:00pm vs. Georgia Tech
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville

Know The Foe

Midweek

School: Morehead State University
Nickname: Eagles
Location: Morehead, Ky.
Total Enrollment: 9,660
Head Coach (school record): Mik Aoki (6-15)
2020 Record (conference record): 1-5 (0-0)
All-Time Series Record: Louisville leads 50-35

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Jack Gardner (.333)
  • RBI: Jack Gardner (5)
  • HR: Jack Gardner (1)
  • ERA: David Stich (0.00)
  • Strikeouts: Luke Helton (11)
  • Wins: Cory Conway (1)

Weekend

School: Georgia Institute of Technology
Nickname: Yellow Jackets
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Total Enrollment: 36,127
Head Coach (school record): Danny Hall (1,073-556-1)
2020 Record (conference record): 6-1 (3-0)
All-Time Series Record: UofL leads 9-3
Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Kevin Parada (.524)
  • RBI: Kevin Parada (10)
  • HR: Four Tied (2)
  • ERA: Brant Hurter (0.84)
  • Strikeouts: Andy Archer (13)
  • Wins: Six Tied (1)

Opponent Breakdown

Rankings & Records:

Morehead StateGeorgia TechLouisville

Highest Poll Ranking

NR

10th

1st

RPI

81st

23rd

146th

SOS

50th

60th

191st

Home Record

0-0

3-1

6-1

Away Record

1-5

3-0

0-0

Neutral Record

0-0

0-0

0-0

Hitting:

Morehead StateGeorgia TechLouisville

Base on Balls

73rd (31)

25th (41)

60th (33)

Batting Average

225th (.147)

36th (.302)

64th (.274)

Hits

197th (27)

18th (76)

67th (62)

Home Runs

189th (1)

18th (11)

34th (8)

On Base Percentage

213th (.279)

29th (.411)

85th (.374)

Runs

179th (20)

23rd (57)

47th (48)

Slugging Percentage

226th (.185)

20th (.520)

76th (.416)

Pitching:

Morehead StateGeorgia TechLouisville

Earned Run Average

196th (7.16)

60th (3.43)

15th (2.00)

Hits Allowed/9 Innings

204th (11.39)

35th (6.71)

35th (6.71)

Strikeouts Per 9 Innings

33rd (11.4)

66th (10.3)

26th (11.6)

Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio

147th (1.88)

85th (2.32)

78th (2.38)

WHIP

208th (1.94)

57th (1.24)

68th (1.29)

Walks Allowed/9 Innings

198th (6.06)

112th (4.43)

136th (4.86)

Morehead State Eagles:

Morehead State is not exactly off to a great start to the 2021 season, as they currently sit at 1-5. Their first week alone saw them get outscored 44-17 to the hands of both Davidson and Charlotte, and their lone win of the season against Ohio took extra innings to do so. Adding to that, Dan McDonnell is is 14-0 against the Eagles as Louisville's head coach, and bodes well against head coach Mik Aoki, the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach who was fired after the 2019 season. While Aoki was the Irish skipper from 2011-19, McDonnell was 21-1 against him, and is currently on a 20 game winning streak when matched up with Aoki, including last season's Morehead State game.

The Eagles' hitting is probably their biggest weakness, and that's saying something considering the pitching staff has already given up double digit runs three times in six games. The conversation, as it pertains to offense, begins and ends with catcher Jack Gardner. He leads the team in almost every major statistical category with a slash line of .333/.455/.500 with a home run and five RBIs. Outside of him, there are zero qualified batters (2 PA/G, 75% games played) with a batting average over .200, and just one batter period with one over .250. In fact, as a team, Morehead State has a paltry .147 batting average.

Their pitching staff is marginally better, but that's not saying much. They still post an ERA of 7.16 and a WHIP of 1.94 as a team. Their starter against Louisville will most likely be either right-hander Matt Bettio or Will Lozinak, but neither should do much damage. Bettio surrendered seven earned runs in 2.2 innings in his season debut, and Lozinak gave up three in 2.1 innings in his, which both even out to double digit ERAs. Their bullpen isn't much better than their starters, as Eagles relievers collectively have a 6.91 ERA. Left-hander Cory Conway (3.60 ERA) is their best option, as he has nine strikeouts to just six hits and two walks in 5.0 innings pitched.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets:

Georgia Tech might have dropped a game to Eastern Kentucky, a team that Louisville downed last week, but the Yellow Jackets responded with a tremendous outing against NC State. The Ramblin' Wreck went on the road to Raleigh, where they then swept the No. 8 Wolfpack in a three-game weekend series. Because of that, Georgia Tech is now ranked as high as the No. 10 team in the nation.

Unlike Morehead State, the Yellow Jackets' hitting is their strong suit. With a team batting average of .302, Georgia Tech is one of three ACC teams who are currently batting over .300, joining NC State (.311) and Duke (.302). The Jackets have one of the hottest hitters in the conference in catcher Kevin Parada, who is posting an incredible slash line of .524/.615/1.048, and leads the team in doubles (3) and RBIs (10). Additionally, infielders Austin Wilhite, Drew Compton and Luke Waddell all have batting averages over .320, with the latter two having on base percentages over .450 and slugging percentages over .600.

As good as Georgia Tech is at the plate, they are just as good one the mound. So far, their starting rotation has been lights out, as left-handers Brant Hurter and Sam Crawford each have ERAs under 1.00 on 10.2 and 9.2 innings pitched, respectively. The rotation falls off slightly with right-hander Andy Archer's 4.70 ERA, but his 13 strikeouts leads the team. Right-hander Jackson Finley is GT's go-to reliever as he has 10 strikeouts over 5.2 innings, but he also has an ERA of 6.35 in three appearances. Overall, their bullpen is decent, as their non-weekend starters have a collective ERA of 4.63.

You can follow Louisville Report for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on Twitter:

Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI

Twitter - @LouisvilleOnSI and Deputy Editor Matthew McGavic at @GeneralWasp