Battle-tested Louisville on deck for Hall
After a home win over the Wagner Seahawks on Wednesday, the Seton Hall baseball team hits the road this weekend for a three-game series with the Louisville Cardinals.
Louisville (24-9, 7-2), which has not lost a series so far this season, is coming off a dominant 12-0 performance over No. 1 Kentucky on the road, making them 2-3 against nationally ranked opponents on the year.
The Cardinals’ have a margin of victory of 8.7 runs over their last 10 wins, including a 20-0 drubbing of Ohio St. last month, and have scored at least 10 runs in nine games this season.
Sophomore third baseman Ty Young and junior second baseman Nick Ratajczak have been the major catalysts at the top of Louisville’s potent lineup this season. Young, who usually bats fifth in the lineup, is second in the Big East with a .491 on-base percentage.
Ratajczak typically bats second and has used his .471 on-base percentage, which is fourth in the Big East, to score runs as he is the conference leader with 37.
Senior outfielder Stewart Ijames has been the team’s main source of power with a conference-best 10 homeruns and 38 runs batted in. His homerun and RBI totals are both tied for 10th in the nation.
For all of the runs their offense puts on the board, the Cardinal pitching staff has been able to keep runs off the board as well.
Seton Hall head coach Rob Sheppard, who mentioned how impressed he was with Louisville’s victory over Kentucky, called the Cardinals the “class of the conference.”
“It’s a great challenge for us,” Sheppard said. “We’re ready so we got to get in there and play a really tough team on the road.”
Freshman right hander Jared Ruxer’s 1.98 earned run average is second in the Big East.
Ruxer holds batters to a .214 batting average and has only allowed eight earned runs in 36.1 innings of work, including two shutouts.
While Ruxer is more of a control pitcher, junior right hander Justin Amlang has been the pitching staff’s dominant power pitcher this season. Amlang is 6-2 with only 14 earned runs allowed in 56.1 innings pitched, good for a 2.24 ERA. Amlang is tied for the Big East lead with 57 strikeouts, including 18 batters caught looking, while walking just 11.
Opposing batters are averaging .173 against him. With the addition of senior Travis Tingle and sophomore Jeff Thompson, Louisville’s four-man rotation has a combined earned run average of 2.98.
The Pirates (17-15, 5-4) enter the series coming off a 9-1 win over Wagner at Owen T. Carroll Field.
However they have struggled on the road this season, posting marks of 3-7 on the road and 4-5 at neutral sites.
“We’ve played some really good opponents away early on in the season,” Sheppard said. “We played some good teams at their home field and that’s going to continue when we get on the road.
But we got to win some games away in conference and that’s tough, but we need to do it.”
The series with Louisville is set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
John Lopiano can be reached at email@example.com.