CWS: Louisville v. Rice Preview

Zach Pitts

The University of Louisville baseball program's amazing post-season run continues on Friday, when the Cardinals face traditional power Rice at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. with ESPN2 providing national television coverage.

Participating in just it's second regional in the 98 year history of it's baseball program, the University of Louisville, led by first-year head coach Dan McDonnell, will begin play in the 2007 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday at 2:00 p.m..

The Cardinals entered NCAA postseason play ranked among the nation's top five staffs and while the pitching has remained consistent, the team's bats have become red hot. Offensively, the Cardinals have been Through eight games, McDonnell's team is more than doubling the run output by it's opponents, outscoring a trio of the nation's better teams by an average of 9.6 runs to 4.4 per game.

Louisville will need to continue to put the bat on the ball and must have a strong outing from the mound and defensively in game one against traditional power Rice, which is making their sixth College World Series appearance since 1997. The Owls also completed the regular season with one of the nation's top five pitching staffs, holding opponents to just 2.83 runs per game.

Big East Pitcher of the Year, Zach Pitts (10-2; 2.23) of Louisville is scheduled to face recent Philadelphia Phillies first-round selection, Rice junior Joe Savery (10-1; 2.78) on Friday afternoon. In his last outing Pitts, who has thrown a school record 117 innings and limited opposing bats to a .217 average this season, threw seven shutout innings in the Cardinals 9-0 win over Oklahoma State in the Super Regional last Friday.

As evidenced by the 77 total runs scored during NCAA play, the Cardinals are much more than great pitching. The Louisville offense, which finished the regular season among the top 35 in batting, has established a number of school records this spring.

Senior outfielder Isaiah Howes leads the Cardinals with a scorching .392 average and is tops on the team in hits (104), home runs (18), RBI's (67) and slugging percentage (.691). Fellow seniors Boomer Whiting, who leads the country and established a new school mark with 73 stolen bases this season, Logan Johnson and Daniel Burton, along with junior Jorge Castillo, also hit better than .300.

Friday's contest between Louisville and Rice, which will be the home team, will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

NOTEBOOK

  • Senior shortstop Chris Cates has started 230 consecutive games and has appeared in 231 career games, more than anyone in the history of U of L baseball.
  • Freshman pitcher Justin Marks was named a Freshman All-American, Big East Rookie of the Year, and 2nd Team All-Big East this spring. The lefty from Owensboro compiled an 8-2 record with a 2.54 ERA in 17 starts. Marks is the projected game two starter.
  • The Cardinals are a perfect 3-0 this season when wearing black "L" jerseys, white pants, white spikes and black caps. They last wore that combo in the first game of the Super Regional, a 9-0 win over Oklahoma State.
  • Louisville is 5-3 on a neutral field this season and 37-14 in day games.
  • U of L is 18-9 this season against left-handed pitching. The Cards will face a lefty on Friday against Rice.
  • The Cardinals are 34-8 when they score first, but only 12-14 when the opponent crosses the plate first.
  • Louisville has won 9 of 14 Friday games this season.
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