LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The customers always write. Or direct message. Or stop you in the grocery store.
Or let you know what they’re thinking, which is a good thing.
On Tuesday I shared Five Reasons Vanderbilt is the Team to Fear (or Beat) at the College World Series, which begins in Omaha, Neb., this weekend.
You know the rest of the story: It’s time for Five Reasons Louisville is the Team to Fear (or Beat) at the CWS as the Cards make their fifth CWS trip since 2007 on a five-game winning streak.
Get in the box.
1. Dynamic Detmers
The first game is the critical game in Omaha. Win the first game and you can advance to the final series by winning your next two. Lose your opener and you’re required to win four straight and overload your pitching staff.
Louisville can beat Vanderbilt Sunday afternoon at T.D. Ameritrade Park because Cards’ starting pitcher Reid Detmers is more likely to post zeroes than Vandy ace Drake Fellows.
Both guys have won a dozen games, but Detmers has been better in the key categories: Detmers has averaged more strikeouts per inning and has allowed fewer hits per inning.
Opponents have hit .244 against Fellows. Against Detmers that number is .178.
Detmers has thrown one wild pitch with 27 walks in 107 1/3 innings. In 104 innings, Fellows has walked 42 with with 15 wild pitches and 16 hit batsmen. The best of Detmers has been more unhittable than the best of Fellows.
Fellows was taken in the sixth round of the 2019 MLB Draft by San Diego last week. Detmers projects as a first-round choice next season.
2. Batter Up!
Yes, Louisville tapped out immediately in two Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament games. Yes, the Cards lost their second regional game against Illinois State.
But the Cards travel to Omaha on a five-game winning streak. They’ve averaged 10 runs per game and outscored opponents 50-13 in that stretch. They have not trailed for 45 consecutive innings.
3. Closing Time
This is what happens when Louisville leads after eight innings: The Cardinals win.
It’s non-negotiable. Coach Dan McDonnell’s team is 36-0 when the Cards have led after eight innings. They’re also 16-5 in games decided by two runs or less.
The return of Michael McAvene to the bullpen upgrades the bullpen to security blanket status.
4. No Fear of Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has a baseball program its medical and law schools can be proud of. The Commodores win, and they send dynamic players into professional baseball. Vandy fans must wonder why their basketball and football teams cannot match the success of Tim Corbin’s baseball program.
But Louisville has never flinched against the Commodores in the NCAA Tournament. Starting with the 2009 NCAA Regional at Jim Patterson Stadium, Louisville and Vandy have played eight NCAA games. Each program has won four.
Yes, Vandy beat Louisville 6-2 in May. Different pitchers. Different lineups. Different vibe.
Vandy’s favored. Absolutely. But at WarrenNolan.com, an analytics site with baseball numbers, the formula puts Louisville’s win probability Sunday at 46 percent.
5. It’s Louisville’s Time
This isn’t the Nick Saban/Dabo Swinney part of the sports calendar. Crazy things happen in Omaha. The same teams do not win every season.
Florida was the defending national champion and top seed last season. Oregon State beat Arkansas in the final series.
The Gators won in 2017, a season where Oregon State was the top seed and didn’t make the final series.
In 2016, Coastal Carolina was not a top eight seed. They won the title, knocking out No. 1 seed Florida as well as TCU and Arizona.
You never know. Dan McDonnell has built a program that expects to play in Omaha every June. The Cards are taking their fifth trip to Nebraska. Maybe they’ll take the title.
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