It was another great week for the University of Louisville baseball program. The week began with a 5-2 road victory at Kentucky to sweep the season series against the rivals for the first time since 2012 and was capped off with the first ever top ten match-up at Jim Patterson Stadium that resulted in the Cardinals securing the ACC Atlantic Division title.
Here's a look back at the past week, as well as look at the week ahead.
Business As Usual
Make no mistake about it, the accomplishment of winning the ACC Atlantic Division title in its first year in the conference is one among the most significant moments in the program's history, but simply business as usual for the coaches and players.
The goal, since Dan McDonnell arrived for the 2007 season, has been to become a frequent visitor to Omaha for the College World Series. In the process, the Cardinals have racked up a number of conference titles, including five straight.
"It's the culture," said senior captain Zach Lucas. "We just have to keep it going. Conference titles are awesome, but we're searching for that main goal of winning a national championship."
Attempting to make a third consecutive trip to Omaha, the key for consistent success of recent years has been the ability to remain focused on the next moment and to not allow the pleasures of winning or the difficulties of a loss effect their performance.
"Never get to high or get to low," Lucas said. "We have to come out everyday in practice and have good practices, play good baseball. Come out everyday with a chip on our shoulder and be ready to play good baseball."
Top 25 / ACC Standings
The league is top-heavy in the latest national polls with Louisville, Florida State and Miami each ranking among the nation's top ten, with nearly no other appearances in the rankings.
The division races have been decided as Louisville won the Atlantic Division and earned the top-seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament, with Miami claiming the Coastal Division.
With the postseason drawing closer, here's a look at the top ACC teams in the latest NCAA RPI:
No.3 Florida State
No.22 North Carolina
No.27 Georgia Tech
No.35 Notre Dame
No.46 NC State
Louisville, which strength of schedule ranks 46th, has compiled a 16-5 record against RPI top 50 teams and 12-3 against teams ranked 51-100.
Pitcher of the Week
Freshman left-hander Brendan McKay has had a superb rookie season for the Cardinals and further evidence of his impact arrived on Monday afternoon when he was honored as the ACC's Pitcher of the Week.
McKay was impressive in his outing over the weekend. Facing Florida State, one of the nation's top power-hitting teams, the Pennsylvania native tossed 6.1 no-hit shutout innings to help the Cardinals defeat the Seminoles 7-0 and win the ACC Atlantic Division title.
McKay, who also plays in the field and is a threat at the plate, improved to 8-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to just 1.65 overall. He also has 88 strikeouts and just 28 walks in 71.0 innings pitched
The Cardinals will host defending national champion Vanderbilt on Tuesday evening to close the regular season home schedule.
Called the 'Battle for the Barrel', the winner of the annual regular season winner is awarded a barrel, which signifies Kentucky's history as a bourbon-making state and Tennessee's history as a whiskey-making state. Louisville currently holds the barrel after winning 11-7 in Nashville last spring.
In addition to the annual meeting, the two programs have also met four times during the last six postseasons. The two last met in the opening round of the 2014 College World Series with the Commodores taking a 5-3 victory.
Zach Lucas on Vanderbilt rivalry:
Brendan McKay on Vanderbilt rivalry:
First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and admission is free. There is also free parking available at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Tuesday evening. Park in Bronze Lot, entering at lot D off Floyd Street. The free parking shuttle will pick-up at PJCS Gate 4 and drop-off at ballpark. Shuttle starts at 5 p.m., stops 30 minutes after final out.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
Head coach Dan McDonnell needs just one victory to reach 400 for his career. The series-clinching victory against Florida State on Sunday was his 399th career win. McDonnell improved to 399-171 (.700 winning percentage) in his ninth season at the helm.
McDonnell, who entered the 2015 season ranked 6th nationally among active coaches in winning percentage, has produced 18 All-Americans, 61 all-conference selections, five conference Pitcher of the Year winners and three conference Player of the Year winners. The Cardinals have won six regular season conference titles and have reached the College World Series three times.
End of Regular Season
Louisville will close its regular season with a three game series at NC State, which is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday. The two have only met once previously, with the Cardinals winning 4-1 in 2008.
Scheduled for May 19-24 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C., the ACC Tournament will include the top 10 teams and will feature two games on May 19, followed by three games per day in a round-robin format from Wednesday through Saturday, May 20-23. The championship game between the two pool winners will be played on Sunday afternoon.
Full tournament passes are available for $150, which includes tickets to all 15 tournament games. New this year is a weekend package, which includes Friday night’s game, all three games on Saturday, and Sunday’s championship. It is available for $50. Call 919-956-BULL or visit http://theacc.co/BASE15tix to secure your seats today.
- Louisville's .262 ERA is tops in the ACC.
- The Cardinals 110 stolen bases ranks fourth nationally and is the best in the ACC.
- Sunday marked the 19th come-from-behind win of the season for Louisville.
- Louisville won its 11th straight series against a nationally ranked opponent.
- Sutton Whiting leads a group of four players hitting at .323 or higher with a team-leading .340 average. Corey Ray is next at .332 and is followed by Nick Solak at .327 and Brendan McKay at .323..