Slow-starting Cards get on a roll, sweep Irish to open ACC

After a rocky start, Louisville is looking a lot more like the high-scoring Cardinals college baseball fans are accustomed to seeing.

The Cards validated their recent run of success following a 3-3 start by opening Atlantic Coast Conference play with a three-game weekend sweep of Notre Dame, which had been ranked No. 1 nationally in one poll.

They scored 31 times against a pitching staff that entered the series second nationally with an ERA of 1.66 and had allowed four runs or less in all but one game.

“We’ve had some great clubs in the past not get off to a great start on those first weekend trips,” coach Dan McDonnell said. “I try not to get too down. It’s good to address things, learn about them and move on.”

Louisville (16-4) has won six straight and 13 of its last 14 after the sweep and is as high as No. 15 in the polls.

The Cards had dropped off the radar after reaching a bracket final at the 2019 College World Series. The pandemic canceled most of the 2020 season, and last year they lost seven of their last nine and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.

Louisville has scored double-digit runs in seven of their last 14 games and averages 10 per game for the season.

The Cardinals also have solved some of their late-inning issues. They won 7-5 on Sunday on Isaac Humphrey’s three-run homer in the eighth. The day before, they broke a 1-1 tie with a seven-run eighth to win 8-1.

Last year, Louisville was 1-13 in games in which it trailed entering the seventh inning. This year the Cards are already 4-3.

“Just amazing,” McDonnell said. “We made a point of it and we worked on it. Give these guys credit. They’re making it happen.”

IN THE POLLS

D1Baseball.com and Baseball America ranked Mississippi (15-4) as the No. 1 team this week, and Collegiate Baseball newspaper has Vanderbilt (17-2) at the top of its poll.

D1Baseball ranks Texas (17-5) and Arkansas (16-3) behind Ole Miss. Baseball America has Oregon State (14-4) and Texas as its Nos. 2 and 3 teams. Collegiate Baseball has Tennessee (19-1) second and Virginia (19-1) third.

CRUISING CAVALIERS

Like Louisville, fellow ACC member Virginia has gotten hot. The Cavaliers are out to their best start in program history and tied with Tennessee for best record in the country. They’re also first in scoring at 11.8 runs per game after outscoring Boston College 34-9 in the second and third games of their sweep.

HORNED FROGS HOPPING

TCU is worth keeping an eye on after coming into the season with a new coach and lots of new personnel.

Jim Schlossnagle moved to Texas A&M after taking the program to unprecedented heights, graduation and the MLB draft hit the roster hard and the weekend rotation was revamped.

Kirk Saarloos, the longtime assistant who took over for Schlossnagle, has the Horned Frogs 14-5 and coming off a conference opening-series win over Baylor on the road.

The Horned Frogs won the Big 12 Tournament and were a No. 6 national seed in the NCAA Tournament last year, but they were picked fourth in the Big 12 in the preseason. Freshman David Bishop has 30 RBIs, leadoff man Elijah Nunez has raised his batting average from .225 last season to .333 with 14 steals, and closer River Ridings has six saves.

HUSKER CLUNKER

It hasn’t been a good start for Big Ten preseason favorite Nebraska (8-11), which opens conference play at home against Michigan this weekend.

The Cornhuskers dropped two of three at home to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (12-10) of the Southland Conference, and the losses were notable.

Nebraska managed one hit against Hayden Thomas and Zach Garcia in a 4-1 loss Saturday. The Huskers surrendered five home runs in a 21-4 loss Sunday — the most lopsided home defeat in 30 years and the most runs allowed in 14.

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