NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In a matchup of two of the nation’s best pitching squads, the eighth-ranked Louisville baseball team outdueled No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt 2-1 on Sunday night at Hawkins Field to win the Nashville Super Regional and advance to the College World Series for the second time in school history.
With their school record setting 51st win of the season, the Cardinals (51-12) return to Omaha for first time since the magical 2007 run to the CWS in head coach Dan McDonnell’s first season in Louisville. The Commodores (54-12) ended their season by losing back-to-back games to the same team for the first and only time in 2013.
The Cardinals, who have won all five of their NCAA Championship games this season, will face a familiar foe in Omaha as they will open against Indiana, who advanced to the College World Series for the first time in school history by defeating No. 7 national seed Florida State in the Tallahassee Super Regional. The date (Saturday or Sunday) and time for Louisville’s CWS opener against IU will be announced on Monday night.
With both teams ranked in the top 15 in the nation in ERA, it was Louisville that got the better of it against Vanderbilt in the Nashville Super Regional as junior righthander Jeff Thompson (Greenville, Ind./Floyd Central HS) led the way pitching seven dominant innings allowing only one run on three hits with nine strikeouts to match the Cardinals’ school record for wins with his 11th victory of the season. While equaling the 11 wins first achieved by former Louisville All-American lefty Justin Marks in 2009, Thompson (11-1 overall) lowered his season ERA to 2.00.
Sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno (Cicero, Ill./St. Rita HS), freshman righty Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest, Ill./Oak Forest HS) and sophomore righty Nick Burdi (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove South HS) combined for 1.1 innings of scoreless relief before junior lefty Cody Ege (Cherokee, Iowa/Washington HS) recorded the final two outs of the game for his first career save.
At the plate, senior first baseman Zak Wasserman (Stevensville, Mich./Lakeshore HS) and sophomore shortstop Sutton Whiting (New Wilmington, Pa./Louisville Ballard HS) each had a hit and a RBI, while junior outfielder Coco Johnson had a pair of singles and was hit twice in the win. The Cardinals finished with a 7-5 edge in hits while adding five walks and four HBPs.
Following a scoreless opening frame, Louisville broke through for its only runs of the game in the second inning connecting for two runs on three hits against Vanderbilt righty starter Tyler Beede. Wasserman started the scoring with a RBI single through the right side to plate junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner (Louisville, Ky./Whitefield Academy) for the 1-0 lead. One batter later, Whiting delivered a two-out RBI single to center to score junior catcher Kyle Gibson (Henderson, Ky./Henderson County HS) for the two-run cushion.
After three straight innings zeros in the run column, the Commodores cut the Louisville advantage in half at 2-1 in the sixth when designated hitter Zander Wiel sent a 1-1 pitch from Thompson down the left field line and over the wall for his fifth home run of the season.
From that point forward the Louisville pitching staff made the narrow one-run lead stand. In the seventh inning, the Commodores stranded one runner, while in the eighth, they left two more on base as the Cardinals made every big pitch to withstand the challenge. In the ninth, Vanderbilt got a one-out single from John Norwood to begin its final threat. After entering from the Louisville bullpen, Ege forced SEC Player of the Year Tony Kemp to flyout to left for the second out of inning. Third baseman Xavier Turner followed with a single to right to move Norwood, the potential game-tying run, to third base, but Ege answered by striking out First Team All-SEC outfielder Mike Yastrzemski to set off a wild celebration in the middle of Hawkins Field.
Beede suffered his first loss of the season to drop to 14-1 overall after allowing two runs on five hits and three walks in just 2.2 innings, his shortest outing of 2013. At the plate, no Commodore had more than one hit as Vanderbilt lost at home for just the sixth time in 40 games this season.
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