Baseball looks to take on in-state rival Kentucky Wildcats

By on April 11, 2011

By Andre Boudreaux

Most sports teams look forward to certain games of the season with higher expectations and more excitement than others. These games get circled on the schedule as soon as it is released.

No matter the sport, at the University of Louisville, one of the games that is constantly circled is the rivalry match against the University of Kentucky.

On Tuesday, April 12 at 6 p.m. at Jim Patterson Stadium, the two schools’ baseball teams will have the opportunity to prove themselves.

The rivalry between the schools is evident, but the ability to welcome that atmosphere can give one team an edge. Joe Stilphen, a senior pitcher, feels the teams need to take advantage of the opportunity this game provides.

“It is a big rivalry game for us,” said Stilphen. “We don’t want to shy away from the rivalry. We try to embrace it. We love to win that game.”

After the loss against the University of Cincinnati on Sunday, April 10, the Cardinals fell to 20-11 for the season and 6-3 in the Big East. The No. 25 team has hopes that a win against Kentucky could help improve not only their record, but the team’s morale, providing energy for the rest of the season.

“It is always a game where you want to come out and win,” said sophomore first baseman Zak Wasserman. “If you can get momentum going after that game, then it can help you roll right through the conference tournament.”

The Cardinals and Wildcats have had mixed results lately. In last year’s two matchups, each team won on their home field. The game on April 12 will be the first of two meetings between the teams this season.

Head coach Dan McDonnell echoed his players’ approach to the rivalry game.

“If there were 40 people who showed up for these games, it wouldn’t mean much,” said McDonnell. “But when 4,000 show up, it means everything.”

McDonnell has labeled this game the water cooler game. As he describes it, the day after the game, fans of both schools will be talking about the game around the water cooler. McDonnell and his players want to make sure the Cardinal fans are the ones bragging.

“The last thing I’ll ever do is downplay the game,” said McDonnell.

The team hopes that Jim Patterson Stadium will be filled with emotion and fans on the night of the game.

“We’d love to pack the stadium for this game,” said Stilphen.

McDonnell has high expectations for a young Cardinal team that is growing up quickly.

“We’ve got to take that next step and bust through the door,” said McDonnell.

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