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Cardinal Countdown: 4 Weeks Until First Pitch

Who’s on first (and third)?

Before we jump into the corner infield breakdown, a major schedule change and new rankings release took place since last Friday.

— It was previously announced that Louisville would face Texas A&M, TCU, and Rice in the Shriners Children’s College Classic in Houston, Texas, from March 3-5. Due to travel issues with other teams in the tournament, the schedule has been altered and the Cards are now slated to face Michigan, instead of Rice, in a rematch of last years NCAA Regional Final that was held in Louisville.

For those that do not remember, this may refresh your memory:

Here is the Cards updated schedule in the Shriners Children’s College Classic:

  • March 3 vs Texas A&M @ 7:00 PM
  • March 4 vs TCU @ 3:00 PM
  • March 5 vs Michigan @ 11:00 AM

D1 Baseball is the most recent national publication to release their preseason top 25 with Louisville checking in at No. 16. This is the lowest preseason rankings for the Cards thus far.

Corner Infielders

The two corner infield positions are both wide open after Ben Bianco and Ben Metzinger have moved on to life after Louisville baseball. Metzinger was selected 222nd by the Milwaukee Brewers, while Bianco is living it up and celebrating a National Championship with his pops.

Whoever is tasked with replacing these two have big shoes to fill, making up for 30 home runs and 121 RBI. It seemed like every time Bianco stepped into the box last season, the bases were loaded, and he consistently delivered.

Aside from putting up ridiculous numbers, Metzinger was cool, calm, and collected. He had all the intangibles of a leader and will be missed on the upcoming roster in many ways.

First Base

Ryan McCoy, a name that many Louisville fans may not be familiar with yet, is the frontrunner to take over first base. Like Coach McDonnell has done in the past, he went the JUCO route and found another instant impact guy. In two seasons at Wabash Valley, McCoy belted 30 home runs (17 last season) and recorded 18 stolen bases in 2022. He did all of this while batting .435.

The biggest question around McCoy is how is his game going to translate to ACC play? This isn’t a knock on him specifically, it is just always a concern when a player transfers from JUCO to the P5 level. Physically, he is beyond ready at 6’4 220 lbs., but he will be facing a significant increase in talent from a season ago. I personally don’t think McCoy will miss a beat and look for him to be a critical part of this years offensive attack.

In recent years, Cooper Bowman, Luke Seed, and Levi Usher have transferred from JUCO to Louisville and all contributed in a big way. Dylan DeLucia, the 2022 College World Series MVP, spent two seasons in JUCO before helping Ole Miss win the National Championship last June.

Another name to keep an eye on at first base is Will Cook, a freshman who missed last season due to a torn labrum. Coming out of high school, Cook was ranked 166th in the nation by PBR, and people within the program expected him to contribute from day one. He will likely see reps at first base and will be ready to take on an increased role if/when his number is called.

Third Base

After being named a NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American in 2022, one possibility is sliding Logan Beard across the diamond to the hot corner this season. Offensively, Beard has earned a spot in the lineup due to his successful freshman campaign when he batted .310 with 54 RBI and 4 home runs.

Leading the team with 10 errors in 2022, he has some room for improvement defensively, but the move to third base would offer the staff some roster flexibility up the middle. This would allow both Christian Knapczyk and coveted freshman, Gavin Kilen, an opportunity to start.

Starting in 62 of the 64 games a season ago, Beard will be part of the nucleus that keeps this team going offensively, no matter where he is in the field. Like 2022, this 2023 team will go as far as the offense will take them. If they can average 8+ runs a game again, a CWS berth is not out of the question.

Patrick Forbes, the 367th ranked player in the 2022 class and Bowling Green native is making his presence known both at the plate and on the mound. The 2022 Mr. Baseball recipient is going to put a lot of pressure on the upperclassmen that are in front of him.

If Beard does in fact stay at second base, I look for Forbes to be the opening day starter at third.

In the Pizza Bowl last Fall, he displayed plenty of power for his frame, including a two home run game. While on the mound in the scrimmage against Miami (OH), the Redhawks loaded the bases with two outs in the final inning. Clinging on to a 1-0 lead, Forbes closed the door with a strikeout to preserve the victory. He can, and will, do it all.

Due to the balance of power within the baseball program, freshman rarely get the opportunity to crack the lineup on opening day, but Forbes is different. The day he stepped foot on campus, he was ready to contribute. Whether it be on the mound, defensively, or as a designated hitter, Forbes will hear his name called in 2023 and has a chance to be one of the next Louisville greats.

Another name to keep an eye on, for virtually every position in the infield, is Brandon Anderson. BA, as his teammates call him, saw action in 24 games as a freshman last season, starting seven of them. He started at both first and third base, showing a lot of poise when his name was called abruptly due to a few injuries within the infield. He batted .316 with five RBI and seven runs.

Next up: Middle Infielders