By Matt Bradshaw —
Seventh-ranked baseball is hitting a team-wide stride 20 games into the 2019 season. Louisville is now 15-5 following back-to-back sweeps of Ole Miss and Duke.
Both top-25 opponents, the Rebels and Blue Devils provided some of the toughest competition the Cardinals have seen so far. The two series proved U of L can play with the best of the best, while exhibiting the continued breakout play of select players.
Louisville capped a 14-game home stand with a two-game midweek series against Ole Miss, also ranked No. 7 in the nation. The Cards topped the first contest 4-3, winning in walk-off fashion.
With the game tied and bases loaded in the 10th inning, sophomore Zach Britton RBI singled for the victory. Junior Michael McAvene tallied the win on the mound for his second career victory.
Senior Tyler Fitzgerald and junior Jake Snider led the way at the plate, combining for four hits, three runs and three RBIs.
“We’re trying to have a little more edge in the dugout, a little more enthusiasm, a little more emotion,” head coach McDonnell said. “This is college baseball. We don’t want to sit back. We’re not big leaguers. It’s not 162 games, it’s 56. We’re just trying to emphasize playing for each other.”
The second contest ended as a scoring-fest, with Louisville beating Ole Miss 10-8. The Rebels trailed by seven runs before rallying in the final innings for a near-comeback.
Junior Adam Elliot got his first win of the season, one of six pitchers that McDonnell used on the mound. The Louisville bats combined for 13 hits and double digit runs for the sixth time this season, validating the strength of the offense when they work together.
“Early in the season, guys are trying to get in the lineup, guys are trying to stay in the lineup,” McDonnell said. “It’s easy for guys to get selfish early in the season, where they’re fighting for their job and they want to play. It doesn’t make them bad kids. But sometimes we lose focus of the team and what we’re trying to do together. We’re trying to re-emphasize those things and the team has responded.”
Louisville followed its sweep of Ole Miss at home with a sweep of No. 24 Duke on the road. The series in Durham, NC marked five straight wins for the Cardinals, along with a 5-1 record in ACC play.
The Cards won the first matchup 8-3, their first true road game of the season. Reid Detmers continue to show his dominance on the mound by posting his fourth win of the season. The sophomore now holds a team-best 0.53 ERA.
Louisville won the second game 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel. Sophomore lefty Nick Bennett came out on top for the Cards and his fourth win of the season.
Despite trailing 4-1 in the third game, the Cardinals mustered a rally for the 8-6 victory and sweep of the series.
Louisville baseball begins an eight-game home stand with a three-game series against Georgia Tech, starting on Friday, March 22 at 6 p.m.
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File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal