Cards Must Overcome McDonnell’s Suspension
Collegebaseball360.com correspondent Chris Webb is at the Louisville Regional this weekend and he’ll be providing special coverage of the event for us. Webb’s coverage starts with a preview of the host Cardinals, who are a national seed (#7) for the first time in program history.
By Chris Webb
The #1 seeded Louisville Cardinals, who are hosting their own Midwest Regional for the second consecutive season, may have been dealt a serious blow in their quest for Omaha when head coach Dan McDonnell was suspended for three games after his ejection from Louisville’s final game in the Big East Tournament, a 5-3 loss to St. Johns.
Although the stout competition in this years regional tournament would cause great concern for many around the
nation, especially without a quality leader like McDonnell guiding the ship, the talent that comprises the Louisville roster will make the job of assistant coach Chris Lemonis a lot easier.
A trio of All-Americans will be on display this weekend for Louisville starting with third baseman Phil Wunderlich who headlines a lethal Cardinal attack.
Wunderlich, a Junior, leads Louisville with 20 home runs, while being tied for third on the team in average (.357) and RBI’s (58).
The leading hitter for the Cards is first baseman Andrew Clark who comes into Regional action with a .377 clip, along with 12 home runs, and 58 RBI.
Ryan Wright is the Cardinals’ leading run producer with 77 RBI to compliment his .366 average.
To speak to the depth of the Louisville sluggers, the team boasts seven starters with averages north of .310, which could have been even greater if the programs top offensive prospect – Josh Richmond – hadn’t been lost for 40 games due to a wrist injury.
With Richmond healthy, the team carries a .317 cumulative batting average, while collecting 156 doubles, 9 triples, and 85 home runs in 60 games, equating to a gaudy .517 slugging percentage, along with an on-base percentage of .402.
The aggressiveness as the plate continues on the base paths as 80 bags have been swiped in 103 attempts, led by Cardinal Catcher Jeff Arnold, who leads the team with 16 stolen bases.
Wunderlich has swiped 12 himself as well.
As impressive as the offensive numbers are, the pitching staff might one-up their peers.
As a team Louisville has a 3.71 ERA while collecting 454 strikeouts in 550 innings. Seven Cardinal pitchers with at least 30 innings have ERAs sub-4 with a pair of All-Americans that bookend the staff.
At 9-1, Thomas Royse is the leader of the Louisville rotation. Royse has a 2.91 ERA in 99 innings with 94 strikeouts. Opponents who bat .252 off Royse don’t fare much better against the rest of the pitching staff, as opposing offenses (.261 ave) are finding it difficult to string hits together.
The other All-American arm the Cardinals have is closer Neil Holland. With 16 saves Holland is one of the best in the country, a sentiment reflected by his 2.10 ERA, with 52 strikeouts in 51 innings of work. Holland has held the opposition to a stingy .153 batting average while collecting eight wins on the season.
Justin Amlung (5-1, 4.01), and Dean Kiekhefer (4-3, 4.31) are two starters with at least nine starts between them. If not seeing action in the rotation Bob Revesz (1-1, 1.95), Matt Koch (2-0, 3.55), Derek Self (7-0, 4.53), and Tony Zych (4-2, 5.47) will see action in relief.
With such a complete program, Louisville is the favorite in their own regional. McDonnell’s suspension should do little to derail this team, if not bring them closer together.
Louisville has it all this year on the diamond. Contact, power, speed and a quality pitching staff that has a lights-out Friday night starter, along with a great closer, and several other quality arms, Vanderbilt will have a hard time eliminating Louisville, even with the loss of their head coach this weekend.
In securing a national seed, the Cardinals are looking forward to hosting a Super Regional, and will leave no rock unturned in that pursuit.