After taking two on the chin Friday and Saturday, Louisville (26-9, 8-7 ACC) bounced back and won the get-away game against No. 2 Wake Forest on Sunday afternoon at Jim Patterson Stadium. When looking at this stretch of the schedule, playing two top-10 teams on consecutive weekends (against Boston College and Wake), going 4-2 is very respectable.
Sure, 2-1 in each series would look much different, but avoiding the sweep and salvaging the series was big from a momentum standpoint.
Carson Liggett (5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 K, 5 BB) continues to dominate this season as the third option in the rotation. I hate to look forward to next season, but at this point, Liggett is going to be the clear-cut favorite as the Friday night guy.
It wasn’t always clean Sunday afternoon, but his bend, don’t break mentality, kept the game within reach and gave the offense a chance to get the bats going. Not to mention, he had a little help from the leather behind him in the 2nd inning:
M2 | Two for the price of one up the middle.— Louisville Baseball (@LouisvilleBSB) April 16, 2023
And again in the third:
M3 | Middle infield at it again. This time the 4-6-3 variety.— Louisville Baseball (@LouisvilleBSB) April 16, 2023
In the top of the 5th inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Liggett was able to sit down the next two batters and prevent the Demon Deacons from increasing their 1-0 lead. Not only does that show a lot of guts, it also proves how much confidence this coaching staff has to leave him on the mound.
Tate Kuehner (W, 2-0) tossed the final 3.1 innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 5 batters. This was a massive outing for Kuehner, it shows that not only can he come in and close a game, but he can stretch out to 3 or 4 innings when the pitching staff needs it. In order to make a deep postseason run, you need a plethora of arms and Kuehner is a very important piece to that puzzle.
I know it wasn’t pretty all weekend, but you have to tip your hat to the Louisville pitching staff. Allowing 3 runs on Saturday and 2 runs on Sunday to this offense is very, very difficult. This is the lowest run total in a two-game stretch for Wake Forest all season, who entered the series averaging 9.3 runs per game (8th best in the country).
The Cards weren’t able to get the bats going until the 6th inning, but it was well worth the wait. Trailing 2-0, and two runners on base, JT Benson (3-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) made a visit to the berm, giving Louisville a 3-2 lead, their first lead of the series since the 1st inning on Friday night.
B6 | TO THE BERM‼️ @jtbensonn for the lead‼️— Louisville Baseball (@LouisvilleBSB) April 16, 2023
After starter Josh Hartle (L, 6-2) was pulled, the Cards would add two more runs in the 6th inning, both via HBP’s with the bases loaded. Hartle allowed 4 runs, which is double the amount he has allowed an any of his previous outings this season, entering the game with a 1.94 ERA. Wake Forest doesn’t just have a weekend rotation, they roll out three aces.
Will Cook (1-3, RBI, R) and Eddie King Jr. (2 RBI) chipped in with RBI’s in the 7th inning to extend the lead to 7-2, which held as the final score.
B7 | Move the baseball and good things happen.— Louisville Baseball (@LouisvilleBSB) April 16, 2023
https://t.co/JQaQa8SXOe#GoCards | @wi1lcook pic.twitter.com/yuYZhFs1tW
With the majority of college baseball games complete on Sunday evening, the Cardinals RPI dropped 3 spots to No. 26 after going 2-2 this week, but their Strength of Schedule improved to 52.
Louisville will hit the road for five consecutive games, starting with a trip to Bloomington against Indiana (25-11, 9-3 Big Ten) on Tuesday night at 6:00 PM. They will then head to Duke (23-12, 9-8 ACC) for a three-game series, followed by a trip to Lexington next Tuesday. All three teams are top 40 in RPI, so this is another massive week for Coach McDonnell and Co.
There’s a lot of baseball left, time to get on a winning streak.