What a weekend it was in Houston. With their three biggest tests of the season, Louisville (10-1) could not have looked more efficient on their way to a Shriners Children’s College Championship after taking down Texas A&M, TCU, and Michigan.
If anyone had questions about the weekend rotation going forward, those questions have been answered. The trio of starters, Ryan Hawks, Greg Farone, and Carson Liggett combined for 20 innings, allowing just 1 run on 5 hits over the weekend. They did all of that while striking out 24 batters.
On Sunday, Carson Liggett (W, 2-0) tossed a complete game, one-hitter, even though the game ended after just 7 innings due to the run rule. That’s one way to save a few bullpen arms as the Cards travel back to Jim Patterson Stadium with four home games this week.
Liggett lowered his ERA to 1.53 on the season, picking up 7 more strikeouts along the way. Although he didn’t need much help, his offense provided a huge spark, outscoring the Wolverines 10-0 in a rematch of the NCAA Regional Championship from a season ago.
All-American candidate, Jack Payton (3-4, RBI, 1 R, SB), raised his batting average to .463 after picking up 3 more hits on the afternoon. During the three day span, Payton collected 7 hits.
With a 3-0 lead in the 3rd inning, Logan Beard (1-2, HR, 3 RBI) broke the game open with a three-run home run, doubling the Cards lead to 6-0. From then, the rout was on.
JT Benson (1-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) later launched ball into the Crawford Boxes over the left field wall, extending the lead to 8-0. Benson is competing for innings in the outfield, along with Tyeler Hawkins, Haven Mangrum and Eddie King Jr., who each got at least one start over the weekend. With the amount of talent in the outfield this year, left and center field could be a revolving door.
This is the 9th time in 11 games this season that the Cards have recorded 10+ hits, chipping in 11 on Sunday against Michigan. These two teams have become very familiar with one another, playing 7 times over the last two seasons, Louisville coming away with 5 wins. I don’t think Michigan wants to see Coach McDonnell’s club on the schedule anytime soon.
As the Shriners Children’s College Classic comes to an end, this weekend was a lot of fun for the red and black. For years, Louisville fans have begged for the Cards to participate in one of the premier pre-season tournaments and it was worth the wait.
I can only hope we don’t have to wait too long before we make a return trip. Although I don’t know how receptive Texas teams will be to invite us back.
Now, we turn the page to ACC preparation. Louisville has 5 home games before conference play begins, when the Cards host Georgia Tech on March 17th.
In the week ahead, in-state foe, Morehead State (9-3), makes a mid-week trip to Louisville on Tuesday at 3:00 PM, before Dayton (1-7) comes in for three games over the weekend. All four of this weeks games can be found on ACC Network Extra and 970AM.