The last team to take the field at the 2017 ACC tournament also happened to be the unofficial host. Louisville made the wait worth it for the 6,945 fans who packed Louisville Slugger Field Thursday night, hammering 12th-seeded Notre Dame 10-3 in their postseason opener.
As he was for the entirety of the regular season, Brendan McKay was a star for the Cards. He struck out eight Fighting Irish batters while allowing three runs over six innings. He also provided all the offense he would need to provide himself with the win by launching a no-doubt grand slam in the visitor’s half (stupid postseason rules) of the third inning.
Brendan McKay with a 2-out GRAND SLAM!!! Cardinals lead Notre Dame 5-0 M3 pic.twitter.com/8kU6kKAdqa— Michael McCammon (@mcmichael20) May 26, 2017
Drew Ellis kicked off the Cardinal scoring the inning before with a solo home run, his 17th of the season. The redshirt sophomore belted two home runs when Louisville faced Northern Kentucky at Slugger Field back on April 26.
Devin Hairston provided all the offense U of L needed (or didn’t need) late. He served up a two-run single in the seventh inning and then a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the final frame.
All that is the good news for Louisville. The sort of bad news is that as far as advancing in the tournament is concerned, Thursday’s game meant absolutely jack for the Cards. With the way the event is formatted, U of L knew heading into Thursday’s game that win or lose, it would have to defeat Florida State on Friday in order to move on to the semifinals.
Four three-team pools with seeded tiebreakers make for a lot of “one result creates a de facto pool championship game two days later” scenarios.
The other bad news is that Florida State is the only team in the country to take a series from Louisville this season. The Seminoles took the first two games of last weekend’s regular season finale at Jim Patterson Stadium before the third game was rained out.
The Cards will look to right those wrongs Friday at 3 p.m. The winner of that game will face No. 9 seed Duke at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the tournament semifinals.
Sunday’s 3 p.m. championship game will be on ESPN2.