Inside Cardinal Baseball: Weekly notebook

Adam Engel

The University of Louisville baseball team has won seven in a row after rolling over Morehead State 13-4 on Tuesday night. The Cardinals are 7-1 and ranked No. 4 by Baseball America. Here are a few notes from the U of L program:

STOLEN BASES GALORE FOR CARDS

University of Louisville baseball coach Dan McDonnell said a few weeks ago that he wouldn't mind his team leading the nation in stolen bases.

"We want to be aggressive on the bases," McDonnell said.

The Cardinals are off the a fast start on the base paths. Through eight games, U of L has stolen 39 bases in 48 attempts. The Cardinals had 96 stolen bases in 63 games last season.

Junior outfielder Adam Engel leads the way in stolen bases at 12-for-12 on the season, while third baseman Ty Young and left fielder Coco Johnson have seven apiece and shortstop Sutton Whiting has four.

The school record is 153 stolen bases in 71 games during the 2007 season, which is when the Cardinals made it to the College World Series.

WATCH FOR THAT PITCH

The Cardinals are also off to a fast start in the hit by pitch category. In eight games, U of L has had 24 batters hit by a pitch.

Coco Johnson has been hit already seven times this season, including three in one game last weekend against Akron.

Ty Young is second on the team with five. The Cardinals have already had 10 batters reach by a hit by pitch.

In 63 games last season, the Cardinals were hit 115 times.

BIG THREE PITCHING WELL

McDonnell has been pleased with his weekend starters through two weeks with Jeff Thompson going 2-0 and Chad Green 1-1. Jared Ruxer hasn't figured into a decision yet but has pitched well in two outings.

"We feel like we have two Friday guys with Chad and Jeffrey," McDonnell said. "They have been really good so far for us."

Green, who is right now the Friday night starter, is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA. He has pitched 11 innings and allowed two runs against Indiana in a loss but then shutout Akron last weekend. He has allowed just eight hits.

Thompson has been sensational in two outings, allowing no runs and striking out 17 batters while allowing just eight hits.

Ruxer has pitched 9 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs. Dace Kime has a 3.18 ERA and is 2-0 in midweek games.

THOMPSON WORKING ON PITCHES

Thompson, a junior from Floyd Central High School, said he has worked hard on trying to become "a more well-rounded pitcher" in the offseason.

And it's been working so far.

Thompson is throwing four pitches – a slider, fastball, change up and two seam, noting "it's really helped me become more of a complete pitcher."

"My slider is the best thing going for me," Thompson said. "I've added a change up and two-seam and I am trying to use those to my advantage."

FRESHMEN STEP UP ON MOUND

McDonnell has been elated with the effort he has received from several freshmen pitchers in the first two weeks of the season.

Kyle Funkhouser, Anthony Kidston, Jonah Philley and Adam Schemenauer have all been handed the ball and come through for the Cardinals.

Funkhouser has appeared in three games and has still yet to allow a run in seven innings. He has given up six hits and struck out nine.

Kidston is 2-0 and has pitched 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball for the Cardinals. He has 10 strikeouts and just one walk.

Philley and Schemenauer have allowed just two hits apiece in two outings.

"The freshmen have done very well," McDonnell said.

UP NEXT FOR THE CARDINALS

U of L will host 2012 College World Series participant Kent State (1-7) in a three-game series this weekend with the first pitch on Friday at 3 p.m.

The games on Saturday and Sunday will be at 1 p.m.

U of L will then play at Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday.

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