7th Inning Stretch: Bearcat Week (Week 7)

Louisville baseball is still riding high after a solid week, and are now primed for their first rivalry games of the season.
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(Photo of Adam Elliott: William Caudill via the Atlantic Coast Conference)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Facing arguably their toughest week of the first half of the season, the Louisville baseball program had a good showing. They started with their best showing in midweek game all season, routing Western Kentucky, then were able to split their first two games at No. 12 Notre Dame before the rubber match was postponed.

The Cardinals' struggles at the plate to open the season seem like a distant memory now. Catcher Henry Davis was able to get his hitting streak up to 23 before it snapped, outfielders Cam Masterman &Trey Leonard and infielder Cooper Bowman are maintaining breakout years, shortstop Christian Knapczyk has remained on fire since becoming a starter, and third baseman Alex Binelas has caught fire in the last couple weeks.

Pitching is still up and down at times as the starting rotation is still in flux, but it has still delivered. Left-hander Michael Kirian had another solid start and left-hander Luke Seed looked phenomenal in his Saturday role debut. Amongst relievers, right-hander Kaleb Corbett continues to be on fire, as he has still not surrendered an earned run, although there is concern as to who else out of the bullpen will step up.

Regardless, Louisville is now looking like the team many people thought they would be in the preseason. With the second half of the season primed to start and some crucial games on the horizon, they will need to continue on their current path if they have aspirations of Omaha.

Last Week's Recaps:

News & Notes

  • Louisville is ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation among the six major collegiate baseball polls (Perfect Game).
  • Louisville is second in the nation in stolen bases (59) and fourth in stolen bases per game (2.68).
  • Outfielder Levi Usher is first in the nation in stolen bases with 18.
  • Outfielder Luke Brown is third in the nation in triples with three.
  • Infielder Alex Binelas is fifth in the nation in sacrifice flies with four.

The Week Ahead

Coming up this week, the Cardinals open up on the road, then head back home. They will start with a midweek game at Cincinnati, then a three-game weekend series vs. Wake Forest.

  • Tuesday, Mar. 30 at 6:00pm at Cincinnati
    • ESPN+
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Friday, Apr. 2 at 6:00pm vs. Wake Forest
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Saturday, Apr. 3 at 1:00pm vs. Wake Forest
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Sunday, Apr. 4 at 12:30pm vs. Wake Forest
    • ESPN2
    • 93.9 The Ville

Know The Foe

Midweek

School: University of Cincinnati
Nickname: Bearcats
Location: Cincinnati, Oh.
Total Enrollment: 39,263
Head Coach (school record): Scott Googins (76-77)
2021 Record (conference record): 10-10 (0-0)
All-Time Series Record: Louisville leads 100-81

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Cole Harting (.349)
  • RBI: Wyatt Stapp (18)
  • HR: Cole Harting (6)
  • ERA: Evan Shawver (1.24)
  • Strikeouts: Garrett Schoenle (39)
  • Wins: Two Tied (2)

Weekend

School: Wake Forest University
Nickname: Demon Deacons
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Total Enrollment: 8,495
Head Coach (school record): Tom Walter (311-290)
2021 Record (conference record): 8-9 (4-7)
All-Time Series Record: Louisville leads 16-4

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Lucas Costello (.296)
  • RBI: Brock Wilken (17)
  • HR: Brock Wilken (6)
  • ERA: Reed Mascolo (1.86)
  • Strikeouts: Ryan Cusick (43)
  • Wins: Two Tied (3)

Opponent Breakdown

Rankings & Records:

CincinnatiWake ForestLouisville

Highest Poll Rankings

NR

NR

6th

RPI

185th

48th

36th

SOS

220th

7th

84th

Home Record

6-2

5-6

11-2

Away Record

4-8

3-3

5-4

Neutral Record

0-0

0-0

0-0

Hitting:

CincinnatiWake ForestLouisville

Base on Balls

130th (83)

160th (75)

Batting Average

94th (.272)

258th (.224)

Hits

93rd (189)

217th (128)

Home Runs

29th (27)

83rd (19)

On Base Percentage

161st (.357)

244th (.329)

Runs

70th (135)

202nd (83)

Slugging Percentage

40th (.454)

181st (.371)

Pitching:

CincinnatiWake ForestLouisville

Earned Run Average

196th (5.73)

93rd (4.29)

Hits Allowed/9 Innings

100th (8.48)

68th (8.00)

Strikeouts Per 9 Innings

109th (9.3)

10th (11.5)

Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio

207th (1.69)

63rd (2.61)

WHIP

168th (1.56)

95th (1.38)

Walks Allowed/9 Innings

235th (5.53)

135th (4.41)

Cincinnati Bearcats:

Cincinnati does not technically have a losing record, but just by looking at their resume up to this point, you would certain think they did. They have been swept by Clemson, have a series losses to Western Kentucky, and series splits with Xavier and UNC Wilmington. Even in their most recent series vs. Saint Louis, which they won, they ended it by surrendering 21 runs.

However, UC's hitting isn't the issue for their underwhelming start, as the Bearcats have probably the best hitting out of the midweek opponents Louisville has faced so far. They hit for .272 as a team, and also carry an impressive .454 slugging percentage. Outfielder Cole Harting might be just a freshman, but he is already one of the best power hitters in the American Athletic Conference, hitting .349 with six home runs and a. 714 slugging percentage. Starting infielders Wyatt Stapp, Griffin Merritt and Jace Mercer all have contributed in one form or another, as they all have an OPS of .850 or higher and have driven in double digit RBIs.

That being said, Cincinnati's pitching has not been great, as they sport a team ERA of 5.73. Probable starter left-hander Drake Batcho has an ERA of 10.97, giving up a whopping 13 running in 10.2 innings pitched over three starts and three relief appearances. The Bearcats do have a couple solid options out of the bullpen, though. Right-handers Jackson Murphy and Aiden Bradbury have combined to surrender just three earned runs over 17.1 innings of work. However, both Batcho and Murphy have more walks than strikeouts, helping contribute to UC's 5.5 per game.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons:

Like Cincinnati, Wake Forest has also had an unimpressive start to the season. They opened the season with a series win against Northeastern, but followed that up with series losses to Notre Dame, Miami and Georgia Tech. They do have some momentum heading into their series with Louisville, as they Demon Deacons most recently won a slugfest series against Florida State.

Unlike the Bearcats, the Demon Deacons can't seem to hit the broad side of a barn. They have a team batting average of just .224 - good for 258th out of 283 active D1 teams. Out of their eight regular starters, five of them have a batting average .254 or below. Brock Wilken is a solid power threat, slugging for .606 with six homers and 17 RBIs, and Lucas Costello and Michael Turconi complimenting him with batting averages of .296 and .294, respectively. Outside of that group, not many Deacs are making noise at the plate.

Conversely, Wake Forest has a solid pitching staff. While their team ERA of 4.29 is middle of the road both in the ACC and nationally, their strikeout numbers are next level. They average 11.5 of them per nine innings - good for 3rd in the league and 10th nationally. Starter Ryan Cusick is one of the top pitchers in the ACC, posting an ERA of 2.82 with an impressive 43-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Fellow starters William Fleming and Rhett Lowder also have good strikeout numbers (30 and 32), but tend to give up runners at a higher clip.

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