Baseball Scouting Report: Louisville

Two of the nation's top pitching and base running teams will face off in the Nashville Super Regional this weekend. Vanderbilt and Louisville will play a best of three game series to decide which team will go to Omaha. Look inside for a scouting report of the Louisville Cardinals.

Louisville won the Big East championship but then lost two straight in the conference tournament. Last weekend in an NCAA regional at Louisville, the Cardinals swept through all three games by defeating Oklahoma State (12-3), Miami (Fla.) (6-4) and Bowling Green State (8-3). Louisville, ranked No. 15 in both Boyd's World RPI and by Baseball American, had regular season 3-game sweeps of Akron, Alabama, Xavier, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Villanova, Connecticut and Pittsburgh. The Cardinal's only series losses were to Rutgers and St. John's, both 2 games to 1. Although not a series, the Cards also lost two games to Indiana (2-0 and 6-2). Louisville also lost at home to Vanderbilt 10-2 in a mid-week game played on April 23.

Louisville as a team ranks 47th nationally with .292 batting average and 40th nationally in on base percentage (.383). The Cardinals have had a lofty 120 players hit by pitch (4th nationally) including a combined eight HBP in the Card's three recent NCAA regional games. The Cards, like Vandy, emphasis stealing bases and have stolen more than the Commodores (147 to 132). Louisville is second nationally in that category while Vanderbilt is fourth.

Third baseman Ty Young (.349, 57 RBIs) leads the team in RBIs. He was a second team All-Big East selection. Designated hitter Jeff Gardner (.340, 43 RBIs, 9 HRs) had a triple, a double, a single and three RBIs in the Card's NCAA regional opening win over Bowling Green. In the April game with Vandy Gardner had a pair of hits including a double. Gardner, who leads the team in home runs and recently earned first team All-Big East honors.

Left fielder Coco Johnson (.332, 50 RBIs, photo at right) had two homers and three RBIs in the regional opening victory. He is second on the team in RBIs (50) and home runs with eight. Johnson earned second team All-Big East honors. Johnson is also the top Cardinal in the number of times hit by pitch with 20. Right fielder Cole Sturgeon (.314, 33 RBIs) had a double in the regional victory over Miami.

Short stop Sutton Whiting (.314, 29 RBIs) was a 44th round MLB Draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 2011 and recently earned second team All-Big East honors. Second baseman Nick Ratajczak (.287, 34 RBIs) has been struck out just eight times all season and has been hit by pitches 18 times. He earned third team All-Big East honors.

Center fielder Adam Engel (.235, 26 RBIs) had a key triple in the Cardinal's regional clinching win over Oklahoma State. The team's leadoff man, he leads the Cards in walks with 30 and has been hit by 18 pitches. He has also stolen successfully on an impressive 40 of 52 attempts. First baseman and team captain Zak Wasserman (.230, 22 RBIs) has no home runs in 2013 but had six in 2012.

Louisville has an outstanding pitching staff and as a team has a 2.53 earned run average. The Cardinals lead the nation in strikeouts per nine innings pitched averaging an incredible 9.6 (Vanderbilt - 7.9). Vandy will likely see few if any of the pitchers they faced in April's game.

On Saturday Louisville junior RHP Chad Green (10-3, 2.22 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against Vandy's Kevin Ziomek (11-2, 1.92 ERA). On the season Green has struck out 70 batters while walking just 21 and allowing 24 earned runs. Green, who earned second team All-Big East honors, has a fastball that reaches into the low 90s. He was drafted in the 37th round by the Blue Jays in the 2010 MLB draft.

Sunday's game will feature a meeting of two of the top pitchers in college baseball as Louisville junior right-handed pitcher Jeff Thompson (10-1, 2.06 ERA) will face Vandy's Tyler Beede (14-0, 2.20 ERA). Thompson, the Big East Conference Pitcher of the Year, has 100 strikeouts on the season against just 31 walks and 22 earned runs allowed. His fastball reaches about 90 miles an hour.

If a third game is required the Cards will likely go to righty Dace Kime (5-1, 3.14 ERA) who struck out four while walking four and allowing two earned runs in the Cards regional clinching win over the Cowboys. Kime has 79 strikeouts and 20 walks on the season while allowing 23 earned runs.

Freshman righty Anthony Kidston (5-0, 1.31 ERA) has struck out 58 and walked 22 while allowing just seven earned runs. Lefty Cole Edge (4-1, 1.26 ERA) has 44 strikeouts on the season against just seven walks. Right handed closer Nick Burdi (3-3, 0.83 ERA) earned first team All-Big East honors. He has 59 strikeouts and just 11 walks on the season.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON
BAH2b3bHRRBIsERASOOBAORSE
VU.317688 12617404152.74 379.21921058
UL.292600 9626293502.53 591.21319568

OBA=opponent batting average; ORS=opponent runs scored

Louisville pitcher Chad Green has struck out 70 this season.

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