For the second straight year, the Louisville baseball team's quest for a national title ended in the super regional in one of the most excruciating manners imaginable.
In command since the 4th inning, the Cards carried a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th inning and had arguably the top closer in college baseball on the mound. After striking out the first batter of the inning, Zack Burdi allowed a single, two walks and then a grand slam to freshman Sam Cohen that ended a Louisville baseball season most expected to conclude in Omaha.
The loss broke a streak of 186 consecutive games Louisville had won when leading after eight innings.
The game had seemed to turn in that 4th inning when Brendan McKay was given the green light on a 3-0 count and launched a fastball over the wall in left center. That momentum-shifter was followed up by a Devin Hairston triple, a Blake Tiberi double and a Danny Rosenbaum single to give Louisville all the offense it would get.
It seemed like that was going to be enough for Drew Harrington, who showed the rest of the country why he was the 2016 ACC Pitcher of the Year. The junior left-hander, who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves with the 80th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, struck out a career-high 12 batters over seven shutout innings.
Dan McDonnell has said since last fall that he knew what the expectations were for this season and that his team was embracing them. Despite the 50 wins, the No. 2 overall seed, the three first round draft picks and the fourth straight regional title, this weekend is what is going to be remembered, and that's a shame.
At the same time, the Louisville baseball team we saw the last two days was not the same one that had won 36 of its first 37 games at Jim Patterson. They had poor approaches at the plate, they made careless errors on the base paths, and they flirted with disaster by walking opposing hitters at inopportune times. In the end, that's why their season is ending at least a week earlier than the college baseball world was anticipating.
This one is going to sting for a while.
Let the long wait for Sept. 1 begin.