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Louisville claims regional title with thrilling 11-9 win over Michigan

The Cards are off to the Super Regionals!

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Louisville claimed its ninth regional title with an 11-9 win over Michigan Monday afternoon that is certain to go down as one of the most memorable games ever played at Jim Patterson Stadium.

The game, which was moved from a 6 p.m. start to a noon start because of weather, started off on a sour note for the hosts. Cardinal starter Garrett Schmeltz allowed back-to-back-to-back doubles to start the game as Michigan raced out to a 2-0 lead that could have been a bit more.

U of L answered in a major way in the home half of the frame. The Cardinals batted around and scored a whopping seven runs, all of which came with two outs.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan before a lightning strike and then a handful of rain showers forced the game to be delayed for nearly two hours in the bottom of the third.

Things changed quickly once play resumed. A pair of home runs in the fifth inning (Michigan’s second and third of the game) off U of L reliever Ryan Hawks knotted the score at seven all.

As Louisville’s bats went silent, Michigan continued to frustrate Cardinal pitching. Ted Burton put the Wolverines ahead with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, and then Joe Stewart singled in another run four batters later.

With the Cards just four outs away from elimination, Dalton Rushing drew a walk to keep the home half of the 8th inning alive. One batter later, Jack Payton laced what briefly looked like it would be a game-tying two run home run off the wall in left center. It’s what happened next though that will have fans in Ann Arbor mentioning Payton’s name in the same breath as Peyton Siva for years to come.

After Payton was called safe at second with a double, Michigan players immediately protested the call. Following a lengthy review, the call on the field stood.

You be the judge.

Levi Usher, who was brilliant all weekend, then changed the tide of the championship game once again by lacing a single to center field that tied the score at nine.

Cam Masterman then carved a forever spot for himself in the history of Cardinal baseball.

The home run was the fourth of the regional for Masterman, who had entered the weekend in a fairly serious slump that had left him without a bomb since April.

Despite this being the biggest hit of Masterman’s career to date in what was almost certainly his final at-bat at Jim Patterson Stadium, the North Oldham product still wanted his potential keepsake to stay with the young man who snagged it.

After allowing a lead-off double in the top of the 9th, Cardinal closer Michael Prosecky retired three straight Wolverine hitters to send Louisville to its seventh Super Regional appearance since 2013.

The Cardinals will now head to College Station where they’ll take on fifth-seeded Texas A&M in a Best-of-3 series with a trip to the College World Series on the line. Dates and times for the games should be announced shortly.

What a weekend. What a game. What a team. Beyond thankful we get at least a few more days of baseball with these guys. Now let’s make it a few more weeks.