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Louisville Crushes Oklahoma State To Claim Regional Title


In 2007, the Louisville baseball team thrashed visiting Oklahoma State 20-2 to cap off a miracle run to the College World Series. The result wasn't quite that lopsided on Saturday, but the Cards were still extremely convincing in beating the Cowboys 12-3 and taking a giant step towards making their first trip back to Omaha since that season.

Coco Johnson, who was named the regional's Most Outstanding Player after the game, again led the offensive onslaught, driving in two runs in the third inning to help give the Cards an early three-run cushion. U of L then busted things open with a six-run sixth inning that saw six different Cardinals drive in runs. The support was enough for Louisville starter Dace Kime, who was solid, if not spectacular, in picking up the victory.

This is the third time the Cards have advanced to the super regionals, and the first time they've done so without dropping a game in the regional. They last made it to baseball's Sweet 16 back in 2009, when they were convincingly swept by Cal State Fullerton.

Louisville now awaits the winner of the Vanderbilt regional, which will be either the unbeaten Commodores or Georgia Tech, which must beat the hosts both tonight and tomorrow to advance. If Vandy - the No. 2 overall seed in the tournament - wins, then the Cards will be headed to Nashville next weekend. If the Yellow Jackets pull the pair of upsets then Jim Patterson Stadium will be the site of the action.

Louisville and Vandy have developed a rivalry in recent years that has become so heated that the two now play annually in the "Battle of the Barrel," a series that includes a traveling trophy. The foundation of the rivalry lies mostly in the 2009 and 2010 regional tournaments, where the pair played a total of five times. U of L beat the Commodores in the '09 final, and Vandy returned the favor by pulling the upset via a dramatic walk-off suicide squeeze a year later.

Vanderbilt, which has spent much of this season ranked No. 1, throttled U of L 10-2 in the only meeting between the two this season.

The sports year isn't over just yet, boys and girls. There's one more national championship that's still out there for the taking.