Cards Continue Flight Of Athletic Domination

Tom Jurich surrounded by members of the media.

Tom Jurich surrounded by members of the media.

By ASHLEY ANDERSON
Staff Writer
The Voice-Tribune

The sky truly is the limit for the Louisville Cardinals, whose athletics program continues its incredible hot streak, with the men’s baseball team headed to the College World Series.

After defeating rival Vanderbilt 2-1 on June 9, the eighth-ranked Cardinals captured the Nashville Super Regional, advancing to the College World Series for the second time in school history. “It’s just a compliment to Coach (Dan) McDonnell and the wonderful staff that he’s put together who’ve stayed with him ever since he’s been here,” said Tom Jurich, the University of Louisville’s director of athletics and vice president. “Stability has meant so much to this program. The true reward for me as an athletic director is to see the smile on all those kids’ faces, the hard work that they put in, the toughness to go into that hostile environment (against Vanderbilt). And I don’t want to say they dominated, because they didn’t, but they certainly prevailed.”

Zak Wasserman.

Zak Wasserman.

With the win against Vanderbilt, the Cards achieved a school record 51st win of the season and will return to Omaha for the first time since the 2007 run in the College World Series in McDonnell’s first season at Louisville. “We’ve worked just as hard, if not harder, but I guess the main thing is we’re a family,” said junior catcher Kyle Gibson of the difference-maker this season for the team. “We’ve come together. This is the closest group of guys I’ve ever been around.”

Not only is the baseball team supportive of each member on the team, but other athletes on UofL’s campus have shown their praise and encouragement, including this year’s Sugar Bowl championship football team and Coach Rick Pitino’s 2013 NCAA champion basketball squad. “The basketball and football team show a lot of love on social media or when they see us, and (they) congratulate us,” said junior outfielder Coco Johnson. “It’s a great year. Every sports program here, we all support each other, so that’s fun. You don’t see that with a lot of schools. Everybody supports everybody (here).”

On Saturday, opening day of the College World Series, Louisville will face a familiar foe in Indiana, who defeated the Cards twice earlier in the season and lost to Louisville in their most recent matchup on May 8. “We’re just trying to go play good baseball,” said first baseman Zak Wasserman. “We know that IU’s on a roll right now. They’re on a hot streak. They’re hitting very well, they’re pitching very well, so basically we have to do a lot of little things out there to compete and hopefully get the best of them.”

First pitch for the Cardinals and Hoosiers is set for 8 p.m. at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN. Follow Louisville baseball on Twitter at twitter.com/uoflbaseball and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ulbaseball.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at aanderson@voice-tribune.com, 502.498.2051.