For the fourth time in program history, the Louisville baseball team is headed to Omaha for the College World Series.
All trips to the mecca of college baseball are special, but it’s just a little bit sweeter when the ride comes at the expense of your arch-rival. Such is the case for U of L, which wrapped up a super regional sweep of Kentucky with a 6-2 victory Saturday afternoon. A Jim Patterson Stadium record crowd of 6,235 took in the action.
Louisville’s Brendan McKay won the much-hyped pitching matchup between Baseball America’s national Player of the Year and Kentucky’s Sean Hjelle, the SEC Pitcher of the Year. McKay improved to 10-3 on the season by striking out nine and allowing just two runs over 6 2/3 innings.
Brendan McKay off the mound for the final time at Jim Patterson. pic.twitter.com/S105xkvPgP— Jody Demling (@jdemling) June 10, 2017
Reliever Sam Bordner got out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th by striking out UK outfielder Zach Reks, and then worked scoreless innings in the 8th and 9th to nail down the victory and the trip to Omaha.
Saturday’s hero at the plate for the red and black was the same as Friday’s. Drew Ellis belted his 19th and 20th home runs of the season to provide the bulk of the Louisville offense. Much to the delight of Kentucky fans in attendance and watching from home, Ellis dropped his bat politely and ran around the bases at an appropriate pace after both achievements.
The task for the Cardinals now becomes sticking around in Omaha longer than they have in their three previous trips. U of L went 1-2 at the College World Series in 2007, and was the first team eliminated after going two and out in both 2013 and 2014.
A decade after the 2007 Cardinals galvanized Louisville’s baseball community in a way few thought was possible, Dan McDonnell’s 2017 squad has a chance to take that long-awaited next step.
Let’s win this whole thing.