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Louisville to start Garrett Schmeltz in regional opener

Dan McDonnell will save his ace for Saturday.

Syndication: Louisville Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal

Senior lefty Garrett Schmeltz will get the ball for Louisville’s regional opener against Southeast Missouri State on Friday afternoon. Dan McDonnell made the announcement during his pre-tournament press conference Thursday morning.

Schmeltz, a local product out of Pleasure Ridge Park High School, has been a reliever throughout his career at U of L, but made his first career start last week in Louisville’s ACC tournament opener against Pitt. He worked three innings in that game, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out five. The Cardinals ultimately lost, 6-5, a defeat which eliminated them from advancing out of pool play.

Schmeltz is also one of the few arms on the Cardinal roster who has experience on the sport’s biggest stage. He pitched in both the Super Regional and the College World Series back in 2019.

With Schmeltz getting the nod, the expectation has to be that McDonnell is planning on running out a number of pitchers on Friday in order to get postseason victory No. 1 under his belt. With the team’s most recent game being over a week ago, anyone and everyone should be available.

It’s certainly a risk to not run your ace out for a regional opener. It’s even more of a risk when your ace has also been your only reliable starting arm for the last month and-a-half. But Dan McDonnell is playing the long game here. The goal isn’t to be 1-0 against Oregon or Michigan on Saturday, it’s to advance out of this weekend and then deal with whoever we have to deal with a week from now.

First pitch between the Cards and SEMO is set for 2 p.m. on Friday.