On Friday afternoon, the Cards started off the season scorching hot, scoring five runs in the first three innings. Charlotte, a resilient bunch, kept pace with Louisville most of the way, until the ninth inning when the 49ers added a two-run home run to put pressure on closer, Michael Prosecky, before the Cards ultimately won the season opener, 8-7.
At the plate, Christian Knapczyk led the way with three hits, followed by Ben Metzinger, Cameron Masterman, Logan Beard, and Ben Bianco, all with two hits apiece. Metzinger, the Trinity native, set the tone in the first inning with a two run blast, the first of many to come this season.
Tate Kuehner began the season as the Friday starter, although his outing did not go quite as planned. Kuehner only lasted 3.2 innings, giving up three runs (one earned), six hits, and three strikeouts.
It would be a bullpen day from there, using three additional pitchers on the way to victory. Ryan Hawks (1-0) picked up the win before Kaleb Corbett and Prosecky (S, 1) closed out the game for the Cards.
The game on Saturday was very reminiscent of the team we saw last year. South Florida took game two of the weekend, 8-4, but only scored three earned runs. Louisville tallied two errors, wild pitches, and defensive blunders that the Bulls took advantage of all afternoon.
The Cards fell behind 6-0 before scoring four runs in the fifth inning, but they could not get any momentum in the final four frames.
Jack Payton, with three hits, and Masterman with two, were the bright spots in the lineup, tallying five of the teams eights hits.
Jared Poland (0-1) got the ball on Saturday, tossing just two innings, giving up six runs (one earned) and seven hits. Cameron Robinson and Will Koger each threw three innings in relief, both giving up one run apiece.
Koger, the highest rated recruit in Louisville’s freshman class, showed why he was ranked just outside of the Top 100 in the nation. The Bardstown High School native struck out four batters in three innings. Not bad against a team that made it to a Super Regional last year.
The Cards looked to bounce back on Sunday against Connecticut, the team picked to win the Big East in 2022. Unfortunately, Louisville’s youth and inexperience showed, falling 9-2 to the Huskies to close out the round robin. The Cards committed five errors and left 12 runners on base.
Jacob Ferris started his first game for Louisville after transferring from EKU, giving up four runs (three earned) while striking out five batters in just two innings.
Knapczyk added two hits, the only player with a multi-hit game for the Cards. Although the score was lopsided, the opportunities were there. Louisville was 1-11 with runners in scoring position, a common theme from last season that has trickled into the first three games this year.
Louisville returns home with 18 straight home games, starting Tuesday at 3:00pm against Xavier.
The coaching staff will use the next few weeks to try different lineups, rotations, batting orders, etc. until they solidify the roster heading into ACC play. Defense comes first to Coach McDonnell and he will not tolerate the team putting up eight errors in a three game span going forward.