LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Louisville Cardinals (47-12) are aiming to win their 15th NCAA regional home game Friday when they open up play against the fourth-seeded Western Michigan Broncos (22-32).
The top-seeded Cardinals will take on one of only two teams that have a below-.500 record in the tournament, but that record makes little difference to the team.
“I know that they respect these guys. It’s very clear that we’re playing a team that just dogpiled,” said head coach Dan McDonnell of the MAC Tournament champion Broncos. “Joy is a powerful thing in baseball.”
WMU Head Coach Billy Gernon is enjoying a hot steak with his team. The Broncos entered the MAC Tournament as a 7-seed, went 4-1 and knocked off top-seed Kent State 12-7 to give the Broncos their first ever MAC Tournament championship and their first NCAA berth since 1989.
“About midway through the season, we started to find our identity. We started finding different ways to win,” Gernon said.
The New Albany native says he grew up a Louisville Cardinal fan, but Friday, he will do all he can to beat his hometown team.
“Dan McDonnell’s a great coach and I have a lot of respect for him. What he’s done here and how Louisville’s program has changed on a national level speaks for itself, but we’re proud of who we are too. We don’t fear anybody but we respect every one of our opponents,” Gernon said.
Friday’s first pitch is set for 6pm at Jim Patterson Stadium. Senior right hander Kyle Funkhouser (8-3, 4.11 ERA) will take the mound for Louisville. Junior Keenan Akin (7-3, 1.46 ERA) is scheduled to start for Western Michigan.
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