Momentum continues to build for UofL baseball

Tyler Fitzgerald has gotten consistently better since his freshman season when he batted only .208. As a junior, he has raised his average to a second best .342 on the team (Photos by Jared Anderson).

Just when one is about to chalk up the 2019 season as mediocre, the University of Louisville baseball team turns it on … and in a very big way.

Coach Dan McDonnell’s were relatively slow getting out of the gate this season, feeling the effects early of having lost seven players in last year’s Major League Draft. A month ago UofL had lost two out of three games in a weekend series with Clemson.

Looking like a long, slow grind, with the Cardinals 24-8 overall and 10-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Not bad but not all that great either.

Only a couple of players were hitting over .300 and  the pitching staff had more than a few issues. The prospects of a return trip for a fifth College World Series were looking dim.

My how things have changed in the intervening weeks. Since April 7, the Cardinals have won 15 of their last 16 games, including eight of nine ACC contests, and have improved their overall record to 39-9.  Louisville is ranked from fourth to seventh in the various national polls.

UofL  now has five players hitting over .300, led by Alex Binelas at .344, Tyler Fitzgerald at .342, Zach Britton at .315, Logan Wyatt at .307, and Danny Oriente at .305. Right behind them in upper 280’s are Drew Campbell and Trey Leonard with slugging percentages of .417 and .408 respectively.

The pitching staff is led by sophomore Reid Detmers with a 9-2 won-lost record, sophomore Bobby Miller at 4-0, and junior Nick Bennett at 6-2. Top relievers are sophomore Michael Kirian with a 1.16 earned run average and junior Michael McAvene at 1.64.

Louisville is on a roll, having won nine straight games, with only eight regular games remaining. They have a four-game lead on North Carolina State in the Coastal Division of the ACC. Two three-game series Virginia and Florida State remain in conference play.

 The Cardinals are suddenly soaring again. A national championship may still seem like a pipe dream, but the odds of getting back to Omaha have vastly improved.

UofL fans get UK stadium to themselves in 18-6 romp

Photos by Jared Anderson

The University of Louisville was well represented in Lexington for the second game of the season between UofL and the University of Kentucky, with an estimated 400 to 500 fans throughout the stadium record crowd of 4,919 people.

Late in the game,  UK fans were really difficult to find with the Cardinals rolling to an 18-6 demolishing of the Wildcats. The win sealed a two-game sweep for UofL for the 2019 season, and Louisville’s 11th win over UK in the past 13 games.

The seventh-ranked Cardinals finished with a season-high 18 runs and 23 hits, improving their season record to 29-8. Freshman Alex Binelis would wind up with five hits, four runs batted in and scored four runs. Lavey, Snider and Logan Wyatt all had three hits.

UK held an early 5-1 lead after two innings before the Cardinal bats started connecting. The Cardinals tied the game up in the fourth on a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Lucas Dunn and Snider pushed them in front with a run-scoring single one pitch later. 

A slow, painful defeat for the Wildcats in a game that would last four hours and 14 minutes. But a perfect night for baseball at UK’s new Kentucky Proud Stadium, especially for Louisville fans. 

 

 

Louisville baseball rips UK in Game 500 at Jim Patterson

A new perspective, watching a University of Louisville baseball game from the left field berm. A sunny day, about 60 degrees at the first pitch, Jim Patterson Stadium filling up late for a rivalry game against Kentucky.

The 500th game  at Jim Patterson Stadium since the red ribbon was cut in 2005, the Cardinals entering the game with a 362-103 won-lost record in the facility.

The first really warm day this year, not a cloud in the sky, no chance of rain for a change. So much wet weather lately, the crowd sensing perhaps that maybe, just maybe, that warmer days are ahead. 

The berm area is popular with many UofL students, and a family atmosphere prevails, lots of children. Nearby, kids are rolling up and down the hill beyond the center field fence. Many of the people on hand primarily to socialize and see a little baseball. Fraternities, sororities, athletes, parents, brothers and sisters of athletes, and a smattering of blue fans trying to blend into the field of red clad partisans.

A different crowd from the one in the stands behind home plate. The decibel level at a high level, people soaking in the sun, enjoying non-stop chatter. Pausing momentarily when there’s game action, a couple of fans harassing the UK left fielder, the crowd roaring loudly when Louisville sends runners across the plate.

As nightfall approaches, the temperature dips into the forties again, the Cardinals have doubled the score on the Wildcats, and the crowd dissipates. Attendance announced as 4,278, although it seemed as large or larger than some record crowds at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Some of us, including the Observer, will have moved to the chair backs for the conclusion of the game, largely to escape the non-ceasing wind into the left field area. Louisville will win the game by a score of 8-3, the eighth straight win over UK at home and the 10th in the last 12 games of the rivalry.

Baseball as it should be, UofL winning, defeating UK, on a magical spring day.

Louisville baseball resumes title chase

Editor’s Note: The college baseball season has arrived, believe it or or not, with the University of Louisville opening against UConn in the first of a three-game series at Lakeland, Fla. The series begins on Friday evening at 6 p.m. with game two set for Saturday at 3 p.m. and the finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.

By Ed Peak

Logan Wyatt couldn’t help but bring up the painful past during the University of Louisville baseball media day recently.  Specifically, his team’s loss in the Texas Tech Regional. One game away from another College World Series, the Cardinals were unceremoniously dumped 11-6 by the home-standing Red Raiders in a game that was never really that close. 

Louisville teammates Tyler Fitzgerald and Logan Wyatt discussed prospects for the 2019 season (Photos by Ed Peak).

“The ending of our season as we all know was kind of rough,” said Wyatt, one of several returning starters from the team that finished 45-19. “Following the fall season and scrimmages right now everybody’s intensity and focus seems to be heightened right now (because of last year).”

Infielder Tyler Fitzgerald echoed Wyatt’s feelings. “It’s with us a lot,” said Fitzgerald. “We talk about it every week. It was no secret we were a young team last year. We’ve got guys that will step up.

“One of our goals is we host a Regional and a Super Regional. I think that will make it a little easier on us. That was not the ending we wanted last year. It has definitely helped prepare us for the upcoming year. We know what to expect now,” said Fitzgerald.

All three games against UConn this weekend are scheduled for coverage on 93.9 The Ville.

Louisville returns a bulk of that team from last year, according to coach Dan McDonnell, and added a freshman class that could help this team get to Omaha and the College World Series for the fifth time in program history.

“When I try to put the measurables in place, what am I looking for it starts with our commitment to academics in the class room. We’re coming off a good summer. We’ve obviously got a lot of talented players returning.”

The Cardinals were ranked ninth by Street & Smith’s preseason publication. Oregon State the defending champions were ranked No 1 followed by Louisiana State, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Auburn, North Carolina, Stanford, Arkansas and Florida.

“We’ve got a bunch of leaders this year that can step up and if we keep the leaders going in the right direction we’ll be all right,” said Wyatt a junior from North Bulllitt High.

Wyatt has received some preseason accolades after batting .339 and leading the team with 69 runs batted in. His six home runs were second on the team. Danny Oriente, Drew Campbell and Jake Snider also hit 300 or higher last season. The pitching staff includes some familiar names, including Reid Detmers,  Austin Conway, Bobby Miller and Shay Smitty.  

The Cardinals are ranked in most preseason polls somewhere in the top 10. Last week Atlantic Coast Conference coaches voted UofL as the top team in the conference edging perennial power Florida State. 

“I think there’s power in saying we’re going to win a national championship,” said McDonnell. “So today’s the day to do that. Today’s the day to let the world know that’s the goal of our program. That’s what we believe in. That’s what we see happening. That’s why we work our players so hard.”

As one coach said a couple of years ago, “Louisville is the new elite program in the Midwest.”

No doubt about that.

Free admission for Louisville baseball’s first nine home games … and more

Did someone say free?

Yes, free admission is back, at least for most non-conference game at Jim Patterson Stadium for the 2019 season. The first nine games will be non-conference games for the University of Louisville baseball team.

The 2019 season gets under way on Feb. 15 with a three-game series against UConn in Lakeland, Fla. The home schedule opens with an opening game against Eastern Kentucky University on Feb. 20, followed by three games against Brown University Feb. 22-24, a game against Xavier on Feb. 26, three games against James Madison March 2-4, and Morehead State on March 6.

The schedule also includes free non-conference games against Mississippi, Alabama A&M, Western Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky.

Of course, all of UofL’s 15 Atlantic Coast Conference home games will require paid admission, as well as two non-conference games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

The 2019 reserved chairback ticket packages are priced at $110 for adults, $90 for senior adults/youths and $90 for families of four or more. Season tickets for the left field berm are $50 per ticket.

Season tickets can be purchased by calling 502-GO-CARDS or by visiting the UofL ticket office at Cardinal Stadium.