U of L baseball: Weekly notebook

A few notebook items from the University of Louisville baseball program, including weekly rankings, several awards and a look at the mid-week rivalry game against Vanderbilt.

CARDS HAVE BIG MID-WEEK TEST

Fresh off a weekend sweep of South Florida, the University of Louisville baseball team has a major mid-week test on Tuesday night.

The Cardinals have won 10 in a row and will travel to Nashville, Tenn., to play Vanderbilt in the Battle of the Barrel at 7:30 p.m.

"It's always a fun one game of the year we get to play them before the postseason," U of L coach Dan McDonnell said. "It's become a great rivalry, it's always fun to play them."

It's a rematch from last year's Super Regional when U of L beat the Commodores 5-3 and 2-1 and advanced into the College World Series.

"It's become a rivalry for this program," Jeff Gardner said. "Anytime you play a game with a title on it (Battle of the Barrel), then you know it's a big game. It's fun to play them."

Vandy leads the series 22-6 and had won five in a row before last year's U of L wins. The teams have played in the postseason three times since the 2009 season.

TWO CARDS EARN WEEKLY HONORS

Gardner, a team captain and the left fielder, and pitcher Kyle Funkhouser won American Athletic Conference league awards on Monday.

The Cardinals went 4-0 last week and Gardner was named Hitter of the Week, while Funkhouser was named Pitcher of the Week.

Gardner continued his red-hot pace, hitting 8 of 19 for the week. He had eight RBIs, one home run and two doubles during the week.

On the season, Gardner leads the Cardinals in hitting (.343), home runs (five), RBI (52), doubles (17) and slugging (.552).

Funkhouser won his team-leading ninth game of the season in Louisville's 3-1 win on Saturday at South Florida, striking out eight while scattering four hits. He is now 9-2 this season with 2.05 ERA and 73 strikeouts, while not allowing an earned run in 26 innings.

CARDS MOVE UP IN POLLS, RPI

It was a huge week for the U of L team and its national profile.

The Cardinals have the third longest active winning streak in the nation at 10 and rank sixth nationally in winning percentages.

U of L ranks among the top 12 teams in the country in all five major polls, with a No 5 rankings in the NCBWA poll. It's the highest ranking this season for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals are ranked No. 7 in the USA Today Coaches poll, No. 8 in the Perfect Game poll, No. 10 by Baseball America and No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball.

The official RPI rankings are not out this week, but the Cardinals are up to No. 14 in the Warren Nolan RPI rankings, which usually are virtually a mirror image of the real RPIs.

MCGRATH EXPECTED BACK SOON

Junior relief pitcher Kyle McGrath has missed a few weeks with an injury.

But pitching coach Roger Williams said on Monday that he "hopes to get McGrath back maybe next week," and that would be a major boost to the U of L pitching staff.

McGrath has 16 appearances this season with a 1-1 record and a 0.93 ERA. He has 34 strikeouts in 29 innings pitched.

BURDI AND THE RECORD BOOK

Junior reliever Nick Burdi continues his stellar season with 12 saves and a 2-1 record in 21 appearances.

Burdi already holds the school record for career saves with 28, the old mark was by Neil Holland with 19 from 2008-10.

But Burdi is still five saves from the record for a single season. Holland had 17 saves during the 2010 season.

In 24.2 innings this season, Burdi has allowed only 13 hits and has 40 strikeouts.