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Michigan baseball looks to make a statement in weekend series at Louisville

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Michigan baseball travels to Louisville, Kentucky for a three-game set.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines (7-5) head south this weekend to take on the Louisville Cardinals (9-3) at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. The two teams will play a double header on Friday, March 11 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., followed by a single game on Sunday, March 13 at 1 p.m.

Louisville comes into this series having won six straight, including one ranked win against No. 21 ranked Texas Christian University. The Cardinals also come into the series having only one loss at their home stadium this year.

On their current win streak, the Cardinals bats have been scorching hot, outscoring opponents 83-32 over the six game stretch. In a double header against Akron on March 5, Louisville’s offense scored 42 runs across the two games.

Key Louisville Hitters

Louisville’s offense is spearheaded by three main hitters.

Ben Bianco is hitting for a gaudy .500 batting average with 19 RBIs through 32 at-bats this season. Bianco has collected 16 hits, with eight of those going for extra bases. He has an on base percentage of .553 and a slugging percentage of 1.031.

Christian Knapczyk has started all 12 games for the Cardinals this season and boasts an average of .426. Knapczyk leads the team in both hits and runs with 20 of each through just 47 at bats.

Though his average isn’t as flashy as Knapczyk and Bianco, Ben Metzinger leads the team with 20 RBIs and five home runs. Metzinger’s average sits at .313, which surprisingly, puts him at 8th best on the team.

Michigan’s Keys to Win

In order for the Wolverine’s to have a successful weekend in Louisville, the starting pitching must be able to deliver. Michigan’s three consistent starters so far, Cameron Weston, Jacob Denner and Connor O’Halloran must shut down Louisville’s high octane offense.

In the last two games, Michigan’s bullpen has began to clean up their early season miscues. Although both games resulted in a loss, the bullpen was only responsible for one earned run across the two games. They will need to continue this in order to shut down Louisville.

The bats must remain consistent as well. The starting lineup has five players with a batting average above .338 and an on base percentage above .400 heading into this series. Those five players — Matt Frey, Jimmy Obertop, Ted Burton, Clark Elliot and Joe Stewart — have combined for 85 of the teams 130 hits, including 33 of the teams 54 extra base hits. They will need to continue to do damage in an effort to get deep into Louisville’s bullpen.