This is has been quite a season for the Louisville Cardinals. For the first time since 2000, Louisville has tied a baseball game, a game that had seeding implications, and for the Demon Deacons, a NCAA Tournament berth on the line.
The entire weekend was bizarre from the start as the game on Friday night was postponed due to weather, forcing the teams to play a double header on Saturday. Multiple Louisville players came down with a stomach bug, some of them were not able to leave the hotel.
In the first game on Saturday, it was all Wake Forest. Rhett Lowder (W, 9-2) showed why he has the best ERA in the ACC. Although the Cards were able to make solid contact against Lowder, recording 8 hits in 6 innings, he kept the damage at a minimum, striking out 11 batters.
Jared Poland (L, 3-3) just did not have a good feel for the ball, walking in the first three runs of the game with the bases loaded.
Brock Wilken did his best Tommy White impression, hitting three home runs and knocking in 8 batters on the way to a 14-3 victory for the Demon Deacons.
The second game on Saturday was very reminiscent of the pitching staff we saw on Tuesday in the 1-0 victory against Vanderbilt. Riley Phillips, Ryan Hawks (W, 5-1), and Tate Kuehner (S, 1) combined for 14 strikeouts, allowing just 6 hits on the way to a 6-2 victory to even the series.
JT Benson, who started in place of Isaac Humphrey in right field, led the Cards with 3 hits and 2 RBI. Dalton Rushing and Ben Bianco each chipped in with a solo home run.
The most important thing to note in the second game of the double header was the injury to Christian Knapczyk. While sliding into second base, Knapczyk came up limping and appeared that he was going to be able to shake it off.
After meeting with Coach McDonnell and Zach Farrell, the team trainer, he decided to take himself out of the game. He would also miss the rubber match on Sunday. So far, we do not have much information on the injury, but if he misses an extended amount of time, it would be a huge blow to Louisville.
Knapczyk, one of the players that was under the weather, was not in the original starting lineup on Saturday. Prior to the game starting, he received IV fluids and ran out of the dugout just before the first pitch, leading off the game and starting at shortstop.
The rubber match on Sunday was another one that got away as Louisville scored in a variety of ways in a bizarre game.
After falling behind 1-0, the Cards would go on to score the next four runs, taking a 4-1 lead into the 6th inning. Wake Forest would claw back, tying the game in the 7th inning off the bat of a Brendan Tinsman no-doubter to left field.
It did not take Louisville long to respond as Rushing hit an absolute nuke to break the tie, giving the Cards a 5-4 lead.
DALTON RUSHING TATER!— 11Point7: The College Baseball Podcast (@11point7) May 8, 2022
Louisville takes the lead and looking to take the series pic.twitter.com/Cdml3tXktx
As closer Michael Prosecky was not available, Alex Galvan came in to attempt to shut the door. After a clean 8th inning, he came back out for the 9th against a potent Wake Forest Lineup.
The first batter of the inning, Nick Kurtz, plastered a ball over the left field fence to tie the game at 5 runs apiece.
The teams would battle back and forth for three more innings before the game was called as a tie. Since Louisville had a flight to catch, the Cards could not start an inning past 4:45, which came and went during the bottom of the 12th inning.
The computers were generous to Louisville this week after going 2-1-1, moving up to 13th in the RPI and 26th in SOS.
At 33-13-1 (15-8-1 ACC) Louisville has a great opportunity to host a regional. With Virginia Tech and Virginia left on the schedule, both Top 15 teams, the Cards should feel safe hosting if they win one of the remaining series.
Louisville will host Indiana on Tuesday night at 6:00PM before traveling to Blacksburg next weekend.