By Matt Bradshaw —
The 64-team bracket for the 2018 NCAA Baseball Championship has been announced, with Louisville (43-17) set to travel to Lubbock for their regional.
Upon losing in the ACC Championship final to Florida State, the Cardinals lost their chance to host a regional. The Seminoles, ACC victor, will host instead as the No. 7 national seed.
“It was a tough day yesterday,” coach Dan McDonnell said. “Today, it’s an honor to be one of the 64. We’ve been fortunate to host regionals, but you’re not going to be able to host every year.”
Louisville has hosted for five straight seasons, making this the first time since 2012 that the Cards are forced to travel for their postseason opener.
“We did everything we could, so it doesn’t matter to us where we end up,” junior Adam Wolf said. “We’re one of the 64 teams that get to keep playing baseball and I get to spend more time with my best friends, so I’m excited.”
McDonnell’s second-seeded squad will face No. 3 Kent State (39-16) on Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m. First-seeded Texas Tech (39-17) and No. 4 Mexico State (40-20) form the other pair in the regional.
Each regional is a double-elimination bracket. Whoever takes the Lubbock regional, where Texas Tech hosts as the No. 9 national seed, will face the winner of No. 8 Georgia’s regional.
U of L did not face their regional opponent Kent State during the regular season. However, Louisville did square up with Texas Tech in mid-March at Jim Patterson Stadium, where the teams split a two-game series.
“Our focus has to be on Kent State,” McDonnell said. “They’re from our part of the country, they’ve played in Omaha and they’ve played in our regional before.”
After the series with Texas Tech, the Cardinals entered a slump where they lost nine out of 15 games.
Nonetheless, Louisville ended the regular season with some of their best play. The team took series against ACC opponents Boston College, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame before advancing to the ACC Championship final.
“This is who we are, maybe a little bit of the underdog” McDonnell said. “We’ve lost in conference tournaments before, and we’ve been able to bounce back and play really good baseball.”
The Cards remain the only team nationwide to have reached the last five Super Regionals. They will have to take Lubbock Regional in order to advance to the best-of-three Super Regional.
The winner of the Super Regional then moves on to Omaha for the eight-team College World Series.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” junior Josh Stowers said. “I have the utmost confidence we’re going to advance and go to Omaha again this year.”
You can follow Matt Bradshaw on Twitter @bradmatt8.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal