Louisville junior lefty Dean Kiekhefer
March 31, 2010
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Led by two of the top pitching staffs in the BIG EAST Conference, the seventh-ranked Louisville Cardinals and Villanova Wildcats will open their three-game conference baseball series on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Game two of the series is set for Friday at 6 p.m. ET, while Saturday's finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. ET first pitch and admission is free for the entire series. All three games will be aired live by KOOL 1570 AM in Louisville, while live video of the series will be available for subscribers of CardsTV at UofLSports.com.
Louisville enters the weekend at 21-3 overall and 2-1 in BIG EAST action after last weekend's series victory over Connecticut, while Villanova is 17-4 overall and 2-1 in the league after a series win over Cincinnati last week. The Cardinals are ranked second in the BIG EAST in team ERA at 3.15, while Villanova leads the way at 3.01. Louisville leads the league in opposing batting average at .229, while the Wildcats are sixth at .260. The Cardinal pitchers are also second in the BIG EAST in strikeouts with 200, while Villanova is sixth with 147.
U of L, which most recently earned a 5-4 win at Indiana on Tuesday, is scheduled to start junior righty Thomas Royse (5-0, 1.42 ERA) on the mound in Thursday's opener against Villanova senior righty Brian Streilein (3-0, 2.23 ERA). Junior lefty Dean Kiekhefer (2-1, 3.94 ERA) will start on Friday for Louisville against sophomore lefty Kyle Helisek (3-1, 1.57 ERA), while U of L sophomore righty Tony Zych (1-2, 9.00 ERA) is penciled in to start Saturday's finale against Wildcats' sophomore righty Kyle McMyne (4-2, 3.45 ERA).
At the plate, Louisville is paced by junior third baseman Phil Wunderlich, who leads the team with 10 home runs and 30 RBI and is second in hitting at .354. Sophomore second baseman Ryan Wright leads the team in hitting at .379 while ranking second with 26 RBI and third with five home runs. Senior shortstop Adam Duvall is third on the team with a .346 average and is second in the nation with 15 doubles.
Villanova enters the weekend having won 10 of its last 12 overall, while three of the four losses on the season have been by one run. The Wildcats are led offensively by junior outfielder Matt Szczur with a .500 average at the plate and 17 RBI, while senior outfielder Justin Bencsko is second on the team in hitting at .485 overall.
Louisville leads the all-time series with Villanova 11-2, including a pair of road wins last year. This weekend's series will be the first visit to Jim Patterson Stadium for the Wildcats since 2008, when the Cardinals won two out of three.
Following the Villanova series, Louisville will take to the road for a mid-week game at Kentucky on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET.