Cardinal Authority Weekend Recap
Cardinal Authority publisher and Senior Writer Michael McCammon recap Louisville's play in the program's first-ever ACC series against Miami and look preview the upcoming schedule.
Winning the series against the nationally-ranked Miami Hurricanes boosted the Cardinals (10-5, 2-1) in the national polls.
Louisville climbed back into the top ten of the Perfect Game Top 25, rising three spots to No.8. U of L rose five spots in the USA Today Coaches poll to No.15, with Baseball America moving the Cardinals up four spots to No.11. The biggest jump occurred in the D1Baseball.com poll, climbing seven spots to No.15
Current ACC Atlantic Division Standings
Louisville was picked to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind preseason favorite Florida State and that's where the Cardinals find themselves after one weekend. The Seminoles, which have won the division eight consecutive seasons, are the only ACC team to remain unbeaten in league play.
Senior shortstop Sutton Whiting has been one of the nation's hottest hitters since the start of the season nearly a month ago. After a sophomore campaign that saw him hit over .300, Whiting's junior season at the plate never came around after he was hit in the face, causing a fractured nose, in the first game of the 2014 season. While ranking among the nation's leaders in stolen bases, Whiting struggled to keep his average above .200 in 61 games played.
The 2015 season brought a new life for the Louisville Ballard product. Given the green light to switch hit this season, the Cardinals leadoff hitter approaches the plate with increased poise. He hit .545 during the weekend series against nationally-ranked Miami, including a 4-for-4 outing in the come from behind victory in the series opener on Saturday.
“He had a really good sophomore year, but unfortunately he took that fastball to the face in the first game of the year and that just set him back,” U of L head coach Dan McDonnell said. “This game is based on momentum and as a hitter feeling good, and he just never felt good and it was an uphill battle for him all year.”
He has started all 15 games this season, reaching base safely in each, and in the process has placed himself among the best hitters in the talent-rich ACC. Whiting's current .423 batting average ranks fourth, while his .571 on base percentage is tops in the league. He's among the league's top ten in total hits, ranks third in drawing walks and is second in the ACC with seven stolen bases.
The key to his impressive return to form? Fighting through the struggle, which continued into summer league ball.
“He went to the Cape Cod league and it wasn't easy, but at least he fought through,” McDonnell continued. “It just made him tougher. He's a leader and a tough kid.”
Strong Start For Harrington
Cardinals skipper Dan McDonnell spoke highly of sophomore pitcher Drew Harrington during the team's preseason work and on media day announced that the sophomore would be a key figure in the rotation.
The product of Central Hardin in Elizabethtown, Ky., where he earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a senior, has been outstanding on the mound for Louisville this season. In six appearances, Harrington has compiled a 2-0 record and picked up a pair of saves. He's only allowed two runs on six hits, while striking out 24 in 15.2 innings of work and his .057 ERA leads the ACC. Opposing hitters are batting just .111 against him.
Freshman two-way player Brendan McKay is having a superb start to his college career. He's tops on the team with a .464 batting average and has compiled a 2-0 record, to go along with three saves, on the mound.
He picked up the win in Sunday's series deciding game against Miami after tossing two shutout innings and after hitting a bases loaded, one-out walk-off single to clinch the 5-4 win over the Hurricanes.
He was mobbed by his teammates as soon as the winning run crossed the plate:
The schedule ahead remains difficult. Louisville will host five games this week at Jim Patterson Stadium, beginning with a two game set on Tuesday and Wednesday against Ole Miss.
Like Louisville, Mississippi was a 2014 College World Series participant and it's also the place where Dan McDonnell served as the top assistant for Rebels head coach Mike Bianco for six years before being hired away by Tom Jurich.
“I don't know if there's any match-ups around the country where you have two College World Series teams from last year playing this year, so I think the fans will take to it and I know the players are excited,” said McDonnell.
The Cardinals resume ACC play this weekend with a three game series against Boston College.
The Cardinals and Rebels have met nine times previously with Louisville trailing 5-4 overall. Louisville has won three of the five meetings under Dan McDonnell. In the last visit to Patterson Stadium by Ole Miss in 2012, the teams split a pair of midweek contests.
The weekend series will mark the first ever meeting between Louisville and Boston College.
- Through the first 15 games of the season, the Louisville bullpen has an ERA of 1.78 with a 7-0 record, 80 strikeouts in 60.2 innings pitched and opposing batters are hitting just .169.
- Since 2012, Louisville's pitchers lead the nation in strikeouts with 1,828 overall. The Cardinals, who have 161 strikeouts through the first 15 games of 2015, finished with 563 strikeouts last season, had an NCAA best 629 in 2013 and finished with 474 in 2012. Mississippi State ranks second since 2012 with 1,791 strikeouts, while Vanderbilt (1772), NC State (1768) and North Carolina (1742) round out the top five.