7th Inning Stretch: Battle of the Bluegrass, Part 1 (Week 8)

Louisville baseball has a big week on deck for them, as they host arch-rival Kentucky and ACC rival Florida State.
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(Photo of Adam Vrable, Drew Ellis: Michael Reaves - Special to The Courier Journal)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It was far from a perfect week for the Louisville baseball program. They dropped a high-scoring affair against a middle of the pack Cincinnati team, but were able to follow that up with a series win over Wake Forest to go .500 for the week at 2-2.

The hitting remains the obvious strength for the Cardinals, as they are being powered by several high quality batters, including outfielder Trey Leonard and catcher Henry Davis. What continues to hold this team back however, is the pitching staff. While the Cardinals have gotten an ERA of 3.04 out of starting innings, the bullpen is inflated up to 5.28.

Louisville to have to get some of those issues corrected in a hurry, as they have a big week coming up. Intrastate arch-rival Kentucky comes to town for a midweek contest, as does No. 17 Florida State for a weekend series - a team that Louisville has struggled against since joining the ACC.

This is still very much a team that can do some damage in the postseason thanks to the talent on the roster. But they are also shaping up to be one who might not make it out of a regional thanks to bullpen issues. Time will tell if they can right the ship, and it starts with UK and FSU.

Last Week's Recaps:

News & Notes

  • Louisville is ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation among the six major collegiate baseball polls (Baseball America).
  • Louisville is second in the nation in stolen bases (74) and fourth in stolen bases per game (2.85).
  • Louisville leads the ACC in: double plays (22), hits (264), on base percentage (.393), runs (188) and triples (10).
  • Outfielder Levi Usher is first in the nation in stolen bases with 21.
  • Outfielder Luke Brown is seventh in the nation in triples with three.
  • Infielder Alex Binelas is eighth in the nation in sacrifice flies with four.

The Week Ahead

Coming up this week, the Cardinals will spend the entire week at home. They will start with a midweek game vs. Kentucky, then a three-game weekend series vs. Florida State.

  • Tuesday, Apr. 6 at 6:00pm vs. Kentucky
    • ACC Network
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Friday, Apr. 9 at 6:00pm vs. Florida State
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Saturday, Apr. 10 at 1:00pm vs. Florida State
    • ACC Network Extra
    • 93.9 The Ville
  • Sunday, Apr. 11 at 4:00pm vs. Florida State
    • ESPNU
    • 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 (132-87)
2021 Record (conference record): 18-7 (5-4)
All-Time Series Record: Kentucky leads 63-46-1

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Coltyn Kessler (.438)
  • RBI: TJ Collett (29)
  • HR: TJ Collett (9)
  • ERA: Daniel Harper (1.00)
  • Strikeouts: Cole Stupp (36)
  • Wins: Two Tied (3)

Weekend

School: Florida State University
Nickname: Seminoles
Location: Tallahassee, Fla
Total Enrollment: 42,450
Head Coach (school record): Mike Martin, Jr. (27-14)
2021 Record (conference record): 15-9 (10-8)
All-Time Series Record: Florida State leads 28-9

Team Leaders:

  • Avg: Tyler Martin (.320)
  • RBI: Robby Martin (29)
  • HR: Matheu Nelson (6)
  • ERA: Hunter Perdue (0.00)
  • Strikeouts: Parker Messick (63)
  • Wins: Conor Grady (4)

Opponent Breakdown

Rankings & Records:

KentuckyFlorida StateLouisville

Highest Poll Ranking

NR

17th

5th

RPI

62nd

52nd

56th

SOS

118th

40th

108th

Home Record

15-4

10-8

13-3

Away Record

3-3

5-1

5-5

Neutral Record

0-0

0-0

0-0

Hitting:

KentuckyFlorida StateLouisville

Base on Balls

129th (98)

45th (123)

54th (119)

Batting Average

43rd (.285)

220th (.245)

21st (.296)

Hits

65th (233)

132nd (201)

16th (264)

Home Runs

53rd (26)

16th (35)

34th (29)

On Base Percentage

83rd (.374)

135th (.362)

34th (.393)

Runs

88th (148)

67th (159)

29th (188)

Slugging Percentage

29th (.458)

98th (.416)

20th (.473)

Pitching:

KentuckyFlorida StateLouisville

Earned Run Average

13th (3.08)

9th (2.95)

77th (4.21)

Hits Allowed/9 Innings

29th (7.32)

7th (6.59)

58th (7.92)

Strikeouts Per 9 Innings

34th (10.4)

4th (11.9)

89th (9.4)

Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio

26th (3.11)

25th (3.13)

153rd (1.96)

WHIP

15th (1.18)

11th (1.15)

107th (1.41)

Walks Allowed/9 Innings

34th (3.33)

79th (3.80)

182nd (4.80)

Kentucky Wildcats:

After a couple of down seasons following their 2017 Super Regional team, Nick Mingione has Kentucky back on the right track, and they're arguably the most underrated team in the SEC. While they do have a series loss to Ball State and a midweek loss to Murray State, they did manage to pull off a sweep at Auburn and have a series win over Missouri.

As high-powered of an offense that Louisville has, Kentucky has one that can match with them. Like the Cardinals, the Wildcats currently sport five hitters with batting averages over .300, and they only have one regular starter batting under .250. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, catcher Coltyn Kessler is swinging one of the hottest bats in the SEC, as he leads the conference in BA (.438), tops Kentucky in OBP (.550) and is second in slugging (.604). The batter who leads Kentucky in the category, first baseman T.J. Collett, is arguably their top player. He leads the Wildcats in homers (9), RBIs (29), and is tied for the lead in walks (13).

That being said, UK's pitching staff is arguably better than their collection of position players. Their team ERA of 3.08 ranks No. 13 in the nation and third in the SEC. Louisville is most likely going to see right-handers Austin Strickland or Alex Degan as the opposing starting pitcher. Strickland has the better stats, as he has 20 punchouts to six walks, and a 2.92 ERA over seven appearances and 12.1 innings. They also have a trio of great arms out of the bullpen, as righties Daniel Harper & Seth Logue and lefty Dillon Marsh have a combined 41 strikeouts over 31.2 innings pitched, and just seven earned runs over that stretch.

Florida State Seminoles:

FSU is now two years removed from the end of the Mike Martin era, and they're off to an okay start in the first full year under his son. While they do have series losses to Pitt and Wake Forest, both of which came at home, they also have wins over Miami, Florida, Virginia Tech and Virginia.

The Noles have a lineup similar to Notre Dame, in that it is extremely top heavy. Matheu Nelson is one of the top power hitters in the ACC, as he has 10 home runs with a .747 slugging percentage. Both Tyler and Robby Martin compliment Nelson's power with on base prowess, as the trio combines for the top three batting averages and on base percentages on the team, with Tyler leading FSU in walks (24), BA (.320) and OBP (.514). Beyond these three, however, the Seminoles have a team batting average of just .212.

But FSU counters their inconsistent hitting with one of the top pitching staffs in the nation. Their weekend rotation of Parker Messick, Conor Grady and Bryce Hubbart have a combined ERA of 3.07, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 147-29. Heading into the bullpen, and the 'Noles have several quality options. Davis Hare and Clayton Kwiatkowski are probably their best relievers, as they have a combined 43 strikeouts to just 13 walks, and four earned runs over 27.0 innings. Hunter Perdue, Jonah Scolaro and Tyler Ahearn are also solid option, as they all have an ERA under 3.00.

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