USF will host the #8 Louisville Cardinals this weekend in their last homestand of the year. The Bulls come into the series sitting in third place in the American Athletic Conference with a record of 10-8 (24-20 overall), while the Cards are in second with an 11-4 record in conference play (34-11 overall). The Bulls lead the all-time series with a record of 39-32 against Louisville, dating back to 1992.
The first 150 through the gates for the Friday game will get a free t-shirt curtesy of USF Athletics. First pitch is scheduled for 7 PM and the pitching matchup will be Jimmy Herget (6-5, 1.27 ERA) for the Bulls vs Kyle Funkhouser (8-2, 2.26 ERA) for the Cards. Herget was named to The American Weekly Honor Roll on Monday after a one-hit complete game performance against Memphis last Friday.
First pitch for the saturday game is set for 6 PM with the pitching matchup being Casey Mulholland (4-0, 3.06 ERA) for the Bulls vs Jared Ruxer (7-1, 2.62 ERA) for the Cards. Ruxer is a former Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American from the 2012 season where he put up an 8-3 record. He had a sophomore slump last year, however, and finished winless with an ERA over five. The final game on Sunday is set for 1 PM with the matchup of Tommy Peterson (3-2, 2.78 ERA) for USF vs Anthony Kidston (5-0, 3.34 ERA) for Louisville.
The Cards enter the series riding a seven game winning streak, while the Bulls have lost their past two and five of their last eight. To have any chance against Louisville, the Bulls will need a complete effort from start to finish. Louisville is 31-0 on the year with a lead going into the eighth inning and have an 86 game winning streak when taking a lead into the ninth. The Cards are 27-2 when outhitting opponents and have won 43 straight when scoring five or more runs. They are 20-3 against right handed pitchers (14-8 vs lefties) and have held opponents to two or fewer runs in 27 of 45 games this year, including their last seven straight.
During Louisville's current seven game winning streak, their bullpen has posted a combined 0.72 ERA through 25 innings of work, including 19 strikeouts. Louisville is ranked second nationally in stolen bases, 14th in HBP, 15th in runs, 18th in sac flies, and 20th in scoring. On the pitching side, they are ranked 15th in strikeouts per 9 IP, 15th in hits allowed per 9 IP, and 23rd in ERA. Louisville's closer, Nick Burdi, registered at the 101 mph mark last week in a win against UConn. He is their career saves leader with 26, including 10 this year.
Senior left-fielder Jeff Gardner leads the Cards offensively, with a .338 batting average and 47 RBI's (12th nationally). For USF, Luke Borders leads things with a .308 batting average.
USF will finish off the season with eight straight road games. They will head down to Miami on Wednesday to take on FIU at 6 PM. The Bulls are 0-2 against FIU this year, losing by a combined score of 17-2. After that, USF will head north to take on Rutgers in the weekend series.