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.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.