The series against Michigan was, well... odd. The Cards and Wolverines were schedule to have a normal college baseball weekend with a game on Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. Mother Nature had different plans.
With snow on the horizon, the schedule was adjusted to play a double header on Friday, take Saturday off, and finish the series with a single game on Sunday.
The first game on Friday went on as scheduled, with Tate Kuehner (W, 3-0) throwing his most dominant performance of the season. Kuehner tossed six innings of two run baseball, striking out five batters and allowing just four hits.
Ryan Hawks, Kaleb Corbett, and Michael Prosecky (S, 4) finished the final three frames to close out the first game on the double header.
Levi Usher led the Cards at the plate with three hits, in what proved to be his best weekend of this young season. Dalton Rushing belted a home run in the 7th inning to give Louisville a little breathing room before taking game one 5-3.
If you turned on the second game of the double header, you would think it was being played in Alaska. Infielders were slipping all over the place, outfielders could not track a fly ball, and catchers had no idea where pitches were being thrown.
After the 4th inning, with the Wolverines claiming a 13-4 lead, the game was postponed to Sunday. Check out these treacherous conditions:
Imagine being the Michigan baseball team, thinking you’ve escaped the cold & snowy weather in the mitten, just to end up in a snow storm in Louisville pic.twitter.com/dYeslgbtkT— Calico Joe (@CalicoJoeMLB) March 12, 2022
Whatever, Louisville lost game two 16-7.
The Cards completely dismantled the Wolverines in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon, 13-1. Dan McDonnell has been very successful at Louisville and one of the reasons is due to his teams ability to win Sunday games. It’s fascinating how prepared his team is to play during the third game of every series, it ultimately comes down to pitching depth, which was on full display on Sunday.
Riley Phillips (W, 2-0) made quick work of the Wolverines in a game that took just 2 hours and 22 minutes. Phillips gave up one run, three hits, and struck out nine batters, cementing himself in the starting rotation.
Christian Knapczyk, Jack Payton, and Usher each tallied three hits apiece on the way to a 15 hit game for the Cards, five of which were home runs. Ben Metzinger hit his sixth and seventh bombs of the season, followed by Cam Masterman, Isaac Humphrey, and Usher, who each hit one.
The offense is heating up at the right time, as ACC play begins next weekend. Seven Louisville batters are above .300, they’ve belted 25 home runs in 15 games, and have already stolen 29 bases.
Don’t look now, but keep an eye on Levi Usher. The senior, who struggled to find his stride last season, entered this week batting .156. After the game against TCU and series with Michigan, he currently sits at .298. With nine stolen bases already, the bottom of the lineup will go as he goes.
How big was this week from a metrics standpoint? Louisville moved up 80 spots to #43 in the RPI and improved their SOS by 112, up to #77. YUGE.
The Week Ahead
This will be a big week for the Cards, hosting two mid-week games before Notre Dame comes to town for an ACC showdown. The Fighting Irish, ranked #9, are currently 9-1 after beating North Carolina State twice over the weekend in Raleigh. Michigan was a great tuneup, but the Cards will need to bring it next weekend.
Before the big Series with Notre Dame, Louisville will host a duo of Kentucky schools for midweek contests. The game with Northern Kentucky University will take place on Tuesday at 3:00 pm, followed by Elementary School Day on Wednesday against Bellarmine at 11:00 am.