By Derek DeBurger

Just when things were starting to look up, the Louisville baseball team experienced their worst week of the season putting a return to the NCAA tournament in doubt.


This most recent installment in the Battle of the Barrel featured two teams looking to redeem themselves despite having less-than-ideal seasons.

Louisville looked to be the ones who would save their season with an RBI double from Zion Rose in the top of the first inning. Vanderbilt would instantly answer back, scoring a home run off the very first pitch from the Cards. Vandy loaded up the bases before Dan McDonnell pulled Justin West from the mound. The Commodores put one more runner past home plate before the Cards snuck out of the inning.

For the rest of the game Louisville cycled pitchers in and out, looking for any sort of traction. Despite only two pitchers staying on the mound for longer than an inning (nine total pitchers were thrown Tuesday), the Cards successfully stifled Vandy’s offense. The Commodores went scoreless through the next three innings to keep their lead at just one run.

The unfortunate, flip-side of Louisville’s performance is that they were not able to muster hardly any action of their own. After scoring a run in the first inning, the Cards went scoreless through their next seven innings. This dry spell proved quite costly when Vandy tacked on another two runs in the fifth inning, one coming off of a throwing error by Luke Napleton. Down 1-4, Louisville would need at least three runs in the ninth inning to keep the game going. While Isaac Humphrey hit a home run to cut the deficit to two and Napleton and Eddie King Jr. were able to get on base, Louisville couldn’t get the job done.

Ultimately, the Cards lost 2-4.


The Cards would have to shine against the No. 11 North Carolina Tar Heels if they wanted to walk away with a series win.

Vance Honeycutt, UNC’s all-time leader in home runs, got the Tar Heels going with a solo home run in the first inning. Louisville matched and then took the lead with two runs in the second inning, but UNC would respond with six runs scored off of four home runs in the third inning. Alex Alicea marked the first home run of his career in the fourth inning, but UNC again would match it with a three-run home run later in that very inning.

Louisville had one final push in them with a score in the eighth inning. The Tar Heels would close things out with a walk-off run-rule single.

The Cards lost 4-14.


The Cards have been here before this season: blown out in game one of a series and needing to steal a game to stay in contention for the series or avoid the sweep. Every time this season, they’ve done what they need to do.

After giving up a run in the first inning, Louisville matched it in the second off of a single from King Jr. The Tar Heels responded in the next inning with two runs to reclaim the lead, but Napleton answered big just one inning later with a three-run home run to give the Cards a one-run lead. UNC, however, would come right back in the bottom of the fourth and score two runs to take a one-run lead.

After surrendering the lead during the back-and-forth portion of the early innings, Louisville struggled to get its bats going. During this time, UNC scored another run in the seventh to make the job of Louisville’s suddenly-anemic batting even harder. Down two runs in the top of the ninth inning, Louisville was able to get the tying runs on base with just one out in the inning. After Alicea struck out, JT Benson battled the pitcher at the mound until he crushed a pitch out to left field, but the wind appeared to catch the ball stopping its momentum and creating the final out of the game.

Louisville lost the game 4-6 and officially lost the series.


Needing just one game to avoid their first full sweep of the season, Louisville all but laid down and accepted defeat. After a scoreless first inning on both sides, UNC scored eight runs in the second and another three in the fourth. Louisville did show life in the fifth inning with six runs of their own, but they could not stop the Tar Heels. The Cards scored one final run in the sixth inning, never truly competing in game three.

Louisville would lose 7-16, losing the series 0-3 for their first sweep of the year.

Still a Fighter’s Chance?

This is unequivocally the worst week of the season for the Cards.

The performance against UNC is especially disappointing due to how well the bullpen had been playing in recent weeks, and for all that good grace to amount to nothing. There is still one week left in the regular season and a guaranteed conference tournament appearance to help improve the RPI, but the Cards will need to bring their A-game to make some noise.

For now, Louisville falls to 29-22 on the year and 13-14 in the ACC.