2017 NCAA Super Regional Preview: Kentucky-Louisville

Brendan McKay (Photo by Brian Westerholt)


Hosted by Louisville • Jim Patterson Stadium • Louisville, KY
Follow the action on Twitter: @UofLBaseball | @UKBaseball

Kentucky (43-21) at Louisville (50-10)
noon (ESPN2)
noon (ESPN)
noon (ESPN or ESPN2)


Coach: Dan McDonnell
Postseason History: Seventh super regional appearance (fifth straight). Seeking fourth trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Louisville Regional (No. 7 national seed). Went 3-0 defeating Xavier 8-7 in the regional final.

Scouting Report
(anonymous coach breaks down the Cardinals)

“They can run arm after arm after arm right at you. They don’t have a chink in their armor on the mound, in my opinion. They kept coming at you and coming at you and coming at you with arm after arm. Now, they’re not invincible by any means, but their arms are impressive. They’re more so impressive to me on the mound than they are physically at the plate. I think McKay and Ellis complement each other nicely, but outside of that they don’t scare you 1 through 9, like Florida State or some other people. But those two guys in the middle of the lineup complement each other very nicely and make it very hard to pitch to them.

“(McKay’s) stuff’s good, and good pitching beats good hitting a lot of the time. For me the one thing you can do is force him to work and not expand. If you can be disciplined enough—because his stuff is going to beat you. That changeup is good. He uses the fastball to both sides of the plate. That’s one thing that makes him a very good, he throws fastball to both sides of the plate. Now, granted, first time through the lineup he throws it a lot. Curveball has good depth. He will be in the zone. It’s going to be there. The way to get him is don’t chase the pitch that’s two balls off (the plate), when you get in a 1-2 count. And then get him into a 2-2 count and hope you get a mistake. That’s the way to beat that guy. But his (stuff’s) electric.

“Colby Fitch is grizzled, man. He’s a tough player. You can tell he’s been through it. He’s a tough out. He’s a good-looking kid. Drew Ellis, I think he complements McKay very well. Drew Ellis to me is one of the best ‘unheralded’ players in the country. He has a level of toughness, he plays with a physical nature. I would say he plays the game more physical than McKay in terms of being a, ‘Hey I’m coming at you’ type guy. There’s a thump to the things he does on the baseball field. He’s got some confidence, some swag about him. He’s a good-looking player.

“It’s not their offense that gets you. It’s their arms and they don’t make mistakes. And then they capitalize. When they get opportunities, they’re well coached enough that they capitalize. They’ll try things that will produce offense for them. They’ll get aggressive on the bases. They apply pressure on the base paths very well. They make you nervous and then they do things that continue to make you nervous.  Louisville comes in with the reputation of being really good on the bases and then they apply that pressure. They will take their chances. They don’t necessarily outhit you like hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, like (Virginia), but I think they’re a team that can generate offense.

“It’s a hungry group. They’re hungry to prove themselves. Year in and year out, they’ve gotten these accolades, but they’re hungry for the big picture. They want the big item. I can sense that about them. That’s good and bad, maybe that forces them to play tight, I don’t know. But you feel a sense of, ‘hey, we deserve this, we’ve got arguably the best player in college baseball right now and we’re hungry and we want this.’ You can feel that edge about them. They do play with that.”

Pos. Name Bats Yr. Avg. OBP SLG HR RBI BB SO SB
C Colby Fitch L Jr .252 .373 .472 11 42 34 48 2
1B Brendan McKay L Jr .356 .476 .683 17 56 45 35 2
2B Devin Mann R So .273 .371 .454 8 41 30 44 9
3B Drew Ellis R Jr .362 .453 .695 17 55 37 37 6
SS Devin Hairston R Jr .303 .347 .423 3 51 15 32 3
OF Josh Stowers R So .315 .427 .511 6 32 30 28 22
OF Logan Taylor R Sr .274 .391 .346 0 39 31 28 21
OF Colin Lyman L Sr .294 .391 .381 1 30 15 29 14
DH Jake Snider L Fr .294 .333 .412 1 11 1 11 2
Pos. Name Throws Yr. W L SV ERA IP BB SO AVG
SP Brendan McKay L Jr 9 3 0 2.31 97.1 33 131 .178
SP Nick Bennett L Fr 5 0 0 2.70 63.1 13 59 .240
SP Kade McClure R Jr 7 3 0 3.63 91.2 34 96 .224
RP Lincoln Henzman R Jr 3 0 16 1.30 34.2 8 35 .147

Evan White (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)


Coach: Nick Mingione
Postseason History: First super regional appearance. Seeking first trip to Omaha.
Postseason Route: No. 1 seed in Lexington. Went 4-1, coming out of the loser’s bracket to beat No. 3 North Carolina State in the regional final.

Scouting Report
(anonymous coach breaks down the Wildcats)

“For me, it was the best (lineup) we saw 1 through 9. Mahan’s arguably a three-hole hitter in just about any lineup and he’s hitting five at times. To face Kentucky, if you don’t have a lefthander with a good breaking ball, oof.  They’re just a tough matchup because they have so many lefthanded bats in that lineup. And so much experience. I think it’s the two things that kind of go hand-in-hand. You’ve got guys who have played a ton in the SEC and it’s the balance of left and right. The best analogy I can make, it’s kind of like Golden State’s offense. They hit. They cleared the field in the SEC by like 30 points in batting average. That’s as crazy a number as it gets. For me the strength in the conference was pitching this year. I just felt like the arms we were seeing every weekend – it’s not like that’s any different than normal in the SEC – but I just think they were really, really good this year. For Kentucky to do what they did offensively, it’s kind of scary

“I think (pitching coach Jim Belanger has) done a great job with that staff. I don’t think they have any guys that are like Brady Singer, (Alex) Faedo, Kyle Wright, but they get a lot out of what they’ve got. Hjelle’s stuff is solid, but it plays up because he’s 7-foot-8. The arm slot issue and depth of his pitches, it plays his stuff up. You’re not going to see Kyle Wright stuff or Faedo’s slider. The added height plays it up. Salow’s one of those guys that can really spin it. The breaking ball’s going to work against righthanded and lefthanded hitters. I know Craig Kimbrell isn’t lefthanded, but that’s kind of what he thinks on the mound. Other than the weekend against Georgia, I think that guy’s been pretty unhittable. I think it’s a solid pitching staff, it’s not elite, but it’s good enough with their offense.

“(Kentucky’s defense) was something I hoped we could take advantage of, but we went in there and they made every stinking play. Mahan’s been known to make some errors and he made play after play. Evan White’s the best defensive player in the country. So that saves a lot for them. All you have to do is pretty much throw it in the atmosphere and if you hit anything near him, he’s going to make a diving play. I don’t know if you ever say there’s a game-changing defensive player at first base, but he’s that. The outfielders don’t have to cover a boatload of ground in their park. It’s a little bit different when they get to a bigger park. Not like those guys can’t run. Third base is an issue a little bit, but Heady has played a ton of baseball, Mahan’s played a ton of baseball. It’s probably their biggest concern. If they play solid defense they’re going to be really, really hard to beat.

“I think (Mingione is) the perfect guy for (their first trip to super regionals). He’s a high-energy guy. I don’t think he’ll ever let them believe they don’t have experience. I think in a way there’s a lot more pressure on Louisville. If Kentucky can get out to a lead in games, let’s not forget how Louisville didn’t get to Omaha last year. (Kentucky is) an older bunch. You worry about postseason experience, and I think that showed a little in the regional, but the way they had to fight back through the regional, I think that can only help them. The way that had to come back and they played with their back against the wall. Maybe in that regional that lack of postseason experience shows up early, but I can’t see them getting tight because of the experience. That’s a really, really experienced SEC team, no matter who the coach was going to be, but I think that was the perfect storm. With the way Nick is, the way he got in there and the talent level that they have. They were the most complete team in the SEC when we played them. Top to bottom.”

Pos. Name Bats Yr. Avg. OBP SLG HR RBI BB SO SB
C Troy Squires L Jr .304 .429 .392 1 26 23 20 5
1B Evan White R Jr .368 .450 .627 9 40 24 31 5
2B Riley Mahan L Jr .339 .396 .626 15 67 22 52 9
3B Tyler Marshall L Jr .284 .415 .336 1 28 28 23 1
SS Connor Heady R Sr .281 .407 .429 7 32 36 38 2
OF Tristan Pompey S So .368 .471 .554 10 44 45 54 9
OF Zach Reks L Sr .360 .471 .483 3 44 42 23 15
OF Marcus Carson L Sr .307 .404 .482 7 38 18 38 8
DH Luke Becker S Jr .294 .430 .479 7 46 37 40 7
Pos. Name Throws Yr. W L SV ERA IP BB SO AVG
SP Zack Thompson L Fr 8 2 1 3.52 71.2 36 90 .186
SP Sean Hjelle R So 11 3 0 3.75 103.1 31 99 .238
SP Justin Lewis R So 6 4 0 3.60 90 26 70 .224
RP Logan Salow L Sr 2 6 12 1.70 53 14 72 .185

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