Man, oh man. What a weekend of college baseball.
By now, we all know what happened. Michigan looked to be in control in the first inning, starting the game with three consecutive doubles.
Louisville responded in a huge way as Uncle Mo shifted to the first base dugout in the bottom half of the first inning. The Cards scored seven runs to take a commanding lead after one.
The Wolverines clawed back.
1 hour and 33 minutes lightning delay.
The Wolverines kept hitting home runs, taking a 9-7 lead into the 7th inning.
Then, the bottom of the 8th inning happened. With the top of the lineup coming to the plate, it was the best chance for the Cards to mount a comeback. They had just 6 outs remaining or their season would come to an end in front of an animated and exhausted home crowd.
Christian Knapczyk and Ben Metzinger both grounded out to start the inning.
(Insert rally caps)
Dalton Rushing drew a full-count walk, which brought Jack Payton to the dish. Payton was 0-for-4 on the day with four strikeouts. Not ideal, but the past didn’t matter. Payton blistered a ball to left field that appeared to have enough lift to carry over the fence, but it hit about half-way up the wall and bounced right back to the left fielder.
With a beautiful relay by the Wolverines, Payton was called safe as he slid headfirst into second base. This is where it gets interesting. Michigan challenged the play, which was upheld by replay. I’ll let you be the judge.
University of Michigan’s season comes to an end because this was called “Safe” even after review.— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) June 6, 2022
They went on to hit a home run immediately following and gave up 4 runs after the inning would’ve ended.
I am not here to tell you the call was right or wrong, but I am here to tell you I don’t care. The Louisville Baseball program has suffered it’s fair share of horrible calls over the years. Most notably, the Cal State Fullerton fair/foul debacle in 2015.
After a quick search, I can’t find the replay and quite frankly I don’t want to see it again. So yes, I will take a call in our favor at second base against Michigan in a regional championship game. Just like the foul against Trey Burke.
With Payton and Rushing in scoring position, Levi Usher knocked a base hit to center field, scoring both runs and tying the game.
Then, Cam Masterman did what Cam Masterman does. Ball meet berm. X4 for the weekend.
Michigan had a chance to get both Usher and Masterman out and they didn’t. That’s on them. Many have eluded that the game was simply handed to Louisville that was not the case as the Wolverines pitching staff could not stop the Cards comeback bid.
Michael Prosecky closed the door in the ninth inning, earning Louisville their ninth Super Regional appearance in school history.
Also, Dave Portnoy bet $20,000 on Michigan today, so we all win.
This team battled back from the losers bracket and did what most people thought they were incapable of. With a depleted bullpen, Schmeltz, Hawks, Galvan, Kuehner, and Prosecky pitched their asses off on Monday.
Giving up 9 runs may not seem like it, but when you have an extended lightning delay and worn out arms that have logged multiple appearances in a three day span, that takes guts.
Kuehner, Riley Phillips, Logan Beard, Knapczyk, Metzinger, Usher, and Payton were named to the All-NCAA Regional Team. Masterman was named the Most Outstanding Player.
This team deserves every ounce of success that comes their way over the next few weeks. They faced adversity time and time again but continued to battle, a staple of a Coach Mac team.
It is hard to put a price on what Dan McDonnell has done for the University of Louisville in his 16 (15 full) years as Head Coach. Prior to his arrival, the Cards made just one NCAA Tournament appearance, which came in 2002.
The Cards have now been to nine Super Regionals and are seeking the programs sixth College World Series appearance, but it won’t come easy.
Louisville will travel to College Station to take on a hot Texas A&M (40-18) team who earned the No. 5 overall seed after finishing second in the SEC in the regular season. The schedule for next weekend will be announced in the coming days.
In 2013, Louisville went into Nashville, the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and won the Super Regional. Nine years later, let’s get weird and crush the dreams of another SEC team.