LOUISVILLE — Omaha hasn’t exactly been good to Louisville.
The Cardinals are 2-8 in their four previous trips to the College World Series.
They’ll try to end that trend starting at 2 p.m. Sunday, when Louisville (49-16) faces Vanderbilt (54-11) in a first-round game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The double-elimination CWS begins Saturday and will conclude either June 25 or 26.
The Cards, the No. 7 national seed, are coming off an impressive performance in the Louisville Super Regional. The Cardinals beat 10th-seeded East Carolina 14-1 and 12-0 to clinch their fifth CWS appearance.
“Obviously, I’m super proud of my guys,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said after the latter victory. “They showed a lot of toughness and competed. This journey has been a lot of fun, and we made it clear out in the outfield that we aren’t finished yet.”
The Cards, who are 1-3 in their Omaha openers, face a familiar foe in the Commodores. Not only did the two meet during the regular season — Vandy won 6-2 May 7 at Jim Patterson Stadium — they’ve also met in four different postseasons, including the 2014 CWS. The Commodores won that game 5-3, but the postseason series is even at 4-4.
As has usually been the case during McDonnell’s tenure, the Cards’ strength is their pitching. They are led on the mound by sophomore left-hander Reid Detmers. The ACC Pitcher of the Year is 12-4 — which is tied for No. 1 nationally in wins — and has a 2.85 earned-run average. In 107 1/3 innings, Detmers has 162 strikeouts — which ranks second nationally. He has a .178 batting average against and a 0.89 WHIP.
Louisville also features junior lefty Nick Bennett (7-3, 4.40 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Bobby Miller (7-1, 3.91), who nearly no-hit East Carolina in the Super Regional-clincher.
The bullpen is led by right-hander Michael McAvene (2-0, seven saves, 2.67 ERA). The junior made local headlines when he was ejected — which resulted in a four-game suspension — after yelling “That’s horrible!” at an umpire’s call in a save situation of a regional game against Indiana. He didn’t pitch in the Super Regional, but will be available in Omaha.
Not to be overshadowed, the Cards’ bats have come alive of late. They’re averaging 10 runs a game in their current five-game win streak.
At the plate, Louisville is led by junior designated hitter Danny Oriente (.330, 16 doubles, 48 RBIs), junior shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (.324, seven HRs, 64 RBIs), sophomore center fielder Lucas Dunn (.309) and freshman third baseman Alex Binelas (.307, 14 doubles, 14 HRs, 59 RBIs).
Junior second baseman Justin Lavey (.298, 31 RBIs), junior right fielder Drew Campbell (.297, 14 doubles, 36 RBIs) and junior first baseman Logan Wyatt (.291, nine HRs, 53 RBIs) aren’t far behind.
“This is a dangerous team. Everything clicked [against East Carolina] and it showed what we are capable of,” Lavey said after the Super Regional.
Wyatt was recently selected in the second round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft. Meanwhile, Campbell, who played one season at Olney Central (Ill.) College after graduating from Jeffersonville (where he was the 2016 News and Tribune Baseball Player of the Year), was taken in the 23rd round by the Atlanta Braves.
Campbell isn’t the only local player on the Cards’ roster. Junior right-handed pitcher Austin Dickey, a former New Albany standout, and freshman infielder Timmy Borden, a former Providence star, are also on the roster. Dickey has made five relief appearances this season. He has struck out five in 5 2/3 innings.
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES SCHEDULE
All games at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
Game 1: Texas Tech vs. Michigan, 2 p.m. Saturday
Game 2: Arkansas vs. Florida State, 7 p.m. Saturday
Game 3: Vanderbilt vs. Louisville, 2 p.m. Sunday
Game 4: Mississippi State vs. Auburn, 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 2 p.m. Monday
Game 6: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m. Monday
Game 7: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 2 p.m. Tuesday
Game 8: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 7 p.m. Wednesday
Game 10: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 8 p.m. Thursday
Game 11: Game 6 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 2 p.m. Friday
Game 12: Game 8 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 7 p.m. Friday
Game 13 (if necessary): TBD vs. TBD, 2 p.m. June 22
Game 14 (if necessary): TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m. June 22
CWS Finals, Game 1: TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m. June 24
CWS Finals, Game 2: TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m. June 25
CWS Finals Game 3 (if necessary): TBD vs. TBD, 7 p.m. June 26