June 9, 2013
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.
Postgame Louisville Notes
- With 51 wins on the season, the 2013 Cardinals surpassed the previous school record for wins of 50 set in 2010.
- Louisville became the first team this season to win back-to-back games at Vanderbilt and the first team to earn victories over both Tyler Beede and Kevin Ziomek, who entered the weekend with a combined record of 25-2.
- Louisville improved to 5-0 in NCAA Championship games in 2013 and 19-15 all-time in the NCAA Championship.
- The Cardinals moved to 4-3 overall in NCAA Super Regional games.
- With one stolen base on Sunday, the Cardinals increased their 2013 total to 150, just three shy of the school record of 153 set during the 2007 College World Series season.
- Entering the week ranked fourth in the nation in HBPs, the Cardinals were hit four times on Sunday increasing their school record setting total to 128, which takes over the top spot in the NCAA rankings.
- Louisville has allowed two or fewer earned runs in 35 of 63 games this season.
- UofL moved to 34-6 this season against righty starters.
- Louisville improved to 39-5 when scoring first.
- The Cardinals are 46-0 when leading after the eighth inning.
- Louisville moved to 39-4 when out-hitting its opponent.
- Jeff Thompson added to his career legacy as a Cardinal moving into a tie for third in career wins with 22, taking over sixth on the career strikeout list with 225 and moving into a tie for seventh in career starts with 36.
- Thompson's 109 strikeouts in 2013 are the third most in a single season in school history, while his 103.1 innings pitched are tied for the 10th most in a season.
- In its five NCAA Championship games in 2013, Coco Johnson leads the Cardinals at the plate hitting .438 (7-for-16) with two home runs, six RBI, two stolen bases, a .550 on-base percentage and a .813 slugging percentage.
- Jeff Gardner has also been red-hot at the plate in Louisville's five NCAA games hitting .389 with three RBI, three doubles, a triple, six runs scored, a .476 on-base percentage and a .667 slugging percentage.
- Sunday's game was the first for the Cardinals without Nick Ratajczak in the starting lineup since May 28, 2011. Out of the lineup with a shoulder injury, Ratajczak had started 125 straight games at second base -- every game since he arrived at Louisville prior to the 2012 season.
- The University of Louisville is the only athletic program in history to win a BCS bowl, advance to the men's basketball and women's basketball Final Fours and advance to the College World Series in the same academic season.
- Since 2007, Louisville is the only athletic program to have made multiple appearances in the men's basketball and women's basketball Final Fours, BCS Bowl Games and the College World Series.
- Louisville is one of just six schools to have made multiple appearances in the men's basketball and women's basketball Final Fours, BCS Bowl Games and the College World Series (LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas and USC are the others).