On the same day the Columbus North baseball team was playing for a berth in the state finals, one of its alums was playing for a spot in the College World Series.
The Bull Dogs came up a little short, falling to Cathedral in the semistate at Plainfield. But a couple hours to the south, 2015 graduate Devin Mann helped seventh-ranked Louisville secure its CWS spot with a second Super Regional victory against Kentucky in as many days.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Mann said. “You can’t really describe it. You grow up as a kid dreaming about going to Omaha for the College World Series, and now we’re one of the eight teams. I’m happy for the upperclassmen that we finally get to go and compete up there.”
The Cardinals missed the College World Series last year after being upset twice at home by UC-Santa Barbara in the Super Regional. Mann said the team has wanted to put that behind them but definitely remember that it slipped away last year.
Mann played a key role in both of Louisville’s Super Regional victories this season. His first-inning RBI-single plated the game’s first run in Friday’s 5-2 win against Kentucky. He also walked and scored twice in that game.
Then Saturday, Mann lifted an RBI-sacrifice fly that gave Louisville (52-10) a 2-0 lead in what would become a 6-2 victory.
“I didn’t do as well as I’d like to, but when I came up in key situations, I felt like I did my job,” Mann said. “I learned some things that I’ll take to Omaha.”
After a rocky start to the season, Mann has bounced back. He is batting .270 and has an on-base percentage of .370.
Mann ranks fourth on the team in home runs (eight), RBIs (43) and runs scored (51) and is tied for second in triples (two).
“I started off real slow; not how I wanted to,” Mann said. “I had a brutal first half, but I made a lot of adjustments with our hitting coach and had a good second half. There were a lot of things that I learned that I’ll take with me to summer ball and hopefully into the draft next year.”
Following the College World Series, Mann is considering going to Team USA tryouts in Cary, North Carolina. If he doesn’t make that team, he’ll play for Orleans in the Cape Cod League.
But for now, Mann’s focus is squarely on Omaha. The Cardinals open against Texas A&M at 2 p.m. Sunday. Win or lose, Louisville would face No. 8 TCU or No. 3 Florida on Tuesday in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.
“TCU and Florida are some powerhouse schools,” Mann said. “We’re not going to overlook Texas A&M. Our team has the mindset that we have a very good shot at that (title). Going to Omaha was one of our goals, but we don’t want to stop at that.”