The Bat Cats surprise season continues this weekend as squad advanced to the first Super Regional in school history under first-year skipper Nick Mingione.
Kentucky fought through a tougher than expected regional round on their home field and had to rally from the loser's bracket with come from behind wins over North Carolina State, including the clinch game in an epic Sunday night affair.
Now Kentucky stands two victories away from the pinnacle of college baseball, a trip to Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. To get there, Kentucky must defeat hated rival Louisville deep in the heart of the River City.
Catch up on all the information you need to know about Louisville before Friday's first pitch.
General Information: 50-10 overall, 23-6 in conference play, and were ranked in the top ten for most of the season.
Prior Meetings: Kentucky defeated Louisville 11-7 on April 18 in Lexington, but lost the meeting on the Cardinals home grounds 5-3 on April 4.
Louisville's Record in the NCAA Tournament: 11 tournament appearances (2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017). 7 Super Regional appearances (2007, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017). 3 CWS appearances (2007, 2013, 2014).
Head Coach: Dan McConnell. 456-191 record in 11 seasons as head coach.
Hitters to Watch: The Cardinals are an excellent hitting team, out of 11 players who saw consistent time at the plate this season, nine hit over .250. The team's average of .290 put them in the top three in the ACC, just behind Virginia and Wake Forest. Louisville also finished the season ranked fifth in the ACC in on-base percentage (.389), fifth in total runs scored (462), fifth in hits (591), and fifth in runs batted in (396).
Junior U of L pitcher and first baseman, Brendan McKay, is a verifiable superstar in college baseball this season. McKay holds the number two ranking of MLB prospects according to Baseball America. He is hitting .356 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. Along with an on-base percentage of .476 (team best), his slugging percentage is .683.
Right behind and sometimes ahead of McKay, is junior infielder Drew Ellis. The 6'3 Ellis bats .362 and leads the Cardinals in total hits with 77. So far he has hit 17 round trippers, and his bat netted 55 RBI.
Both Josh Stowers (.315) and Devin Hairston (.304) are essential cogs in the Cards machine. In fact, Hairston has 51 RBI on the season while Stowers is third on the team with home runs with six.
Pitchers to Know: Brendan McKay is not only U of L's star slugger, but he is also their ace on the mound. Through 97.1 innings pitched over 15 starts, McKay is 9-3. He struck out 131 batters against only 33 walks. McKay has given up only 61 hits and allowed 25 earned runs; his ERA is an impressive 2.31.
6'7 junior right-hander, Kade McClure shores up up the rotation behind McKay. He is 7-3 through 16 starts this season and has pitched 91.2 innings. McClure has allowed only 75 hits and 37 earned runs, good for a 3.63 ERA.
6'4 freshman lefty Nick Bennett is undefeated so far so this season with a 5-0 record spread over 12 starts. During his 63.1 innings pitched he has a 2.70 ERA.
The Cards closer, junior Lexington native, Lincoln Henzman has 16 saves in 24 appearances this season. Along with a 1.30 ERA, he has three wins out of the bullpen. Henzman has given up only five earned runs over the course of the campaign.