The already caustic rivalry between the universities of Louisville and Kentucky will become more vitriolic after this week’s NCAA Super Regional baseball competition. One season ending, another pursuing glory.
Bitter, as in bitter, end for the loser.
UK is a newcomer to Super Regional competition, having never won a Regional tournament in the program’s 100-year history. The Lexington school is a surprise, having compiled a 43-21 record overall and a 19-11 mark in the Southeastern Conference in Coach Nick Mingione’s first season.
Whether that winds up being the proverbial flash in the pan or long-term success remains to be seen. But suddenly the basketball-centric UK followers consider themselves diehard baseball fans.
UofL, meanwhile, will be participating in its fifth consecutive Super Regional and its seventh during Coach Dan McDonnell’s 11th season. The Cardinals also have won six of the last seven games against the Wildcats over the last four seasons. UofL is 50-10 this season.
Lots of complaints from UK fans after it was announced the Super Regional was a sellout less than 24 hours after UofL won the Regional against Xavier. Some Kentucky fans arguing that it was unfair for Louisville to sell out the event before they had qualified. Others suggesting that the games should be moved to Louisville Slugger Field.
Sorry, Cat fans, neither argument is valid. UofL earned the right to host the Super Regional during the regular season. A national seed is supposed to mean something. That includes the home field advantage and everything that goes along with playing at Jim Patterson Stadium.
Given the success of the UofL baseball program over the past decade, long-time observers of the rivalry are not surprised that Kentucky has been investing heavily in baseball. The Wildcats will begin play in a new $49 million 2,500-seat stadium, starting the 2018 season.
Welcome to the world of college baseball, Wildcat fans. We were wondering how long it would take for them to stop pretending they hadn’t noticed UofL’s success in baseball.
Expect some fireworks this week, on and off the field.