Jubilation was the scene inside the U of L baseball locker room this afternoon, as Cardinal players celebrated after hearing their name called as one of the 64 teams headed to the NCAA Tournament.
It will be just the second appearance in the NCAA Regionals for Louisville, which set a school record with 40 wins under first-year head coach Dan McDonnell this season.
U of L, the No. 3 seed in the Columbia Regional, will open with second-seeded and perennial college baseball powerhouse Miami (36-22) at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Hurricanes trounced the Cards 13-4 in the only meeting between the two schools, which took place last season in Coral Gables.
Top seed and host Missouri (40-16) will take on #4 Kent State (33-24) at 7:30 p.m. in the other opening round game.
After not being selected after the first eight regional selections had been revealed, Cardinal players rejoiced after hearing their name called during the third set of regionals.
"It was chaos," said shortstop Chris Cates. "Everybody was jumping over chairs and high-fiving and giving hugs. I even started to get teary-eyed because I was so happy."
"It was deathly quiet for a while," senior second baseman Logan Johnson added. "But as soon as our name was called everybody was hollering and hugging. It was a good feeling."
After winning their opening two games and needing to defeat Rutgers just one time in two games, the Cards appeared poised to make their second straight appearance in the Big East title game. But the Scarlet Knights topped U of L by two runs in consecutive games, forcing McDonnell's bunch to sweat it out Monday afternoon.
"We had a great season, but that kind of left a bitter taste in our mouths," center fielder Boomer Whiting said.
Louisville has not lost three consecutive games all season.
The four day, double elimination Columbia Regional will feature two games each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and if the championship is not decided on Sunday, the if-necessary title game will be played on Monday, June 4th. The first game each day will take place at 2 p.m. EST, with the second game to follow at 7:30 p.m., and the Monday title game set for 1 p.m., barring any adjustments made for potential televised games.
While advancing to the Super Regionals would be the realization of a dream for the Cards, for now they're just ecstatic that they get to keep playing.
"This is such a great feeling," Whiting said. "This is a day we'll all remember for the rest of our lives."