June 8, 2013


Cardinals Quiet Commodores

By Gary Johnson

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


NASHVILLE - Timely hitting and outstanding pitching from the bullpen led Louisville to a 5-3 victory over second-ranked Vanderbilt in the Nashville Super Regional at Hawkins Field on Saturday afternoon.


It was a sellout crowd with 3,505 in attendance on a sunny afternoon in the Music City, not including a large number fans watching from a parking garage across the street overlooking right field.


"It was an exciting game for the fans, for the players,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. “You just felt like it was going to be a close game. This time of the year we knew we were going to be in a dogfight with Kevin [Ziomek] on the mound. Our guys battled and fought hard. Fortunately we were able to put up a crooked number there in the seventh [inning].


“We showed our depth today. Everyone knows about our bullpen depth, but we showed our position player depth today with [Nick] Ratajczak having to come out with the injury. I'm proud of the guys and I enjoyed the way they fought and we came out on the right end."


The Cardinals’ second baseman apparently was injured in an at-bat in the top of the third inning.


Louisville pitchers held Commodores hitters to only one hit over the final six innings, a single by Tony Kemp in the ninth inning.


Chad Green got the start on the mound for the Cardinals (50-12), allowing two runs, six hits with a pair of walks in five innings of work. Dace Kime pitched 1.1 innings, fanning a pair of hitters to claim the win.


Cody Ege threw one inning with one strikeout and two walks before talented closer Nick Burdi claimed his 16th save of the year with 1.2 innings of work, allowing two walks and striking out one.


Ziomek (11-3), Vandy’s southpaw and second round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers, got the start and the loss in 6.2 innings while allowing four runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks.


“They battled all game,” Ziomek said. “You have to give them a lot of credit. They stuck with it; they didn't give up there. I made a couple pitches but they put some good swings on the ball.”


Vanderbilt (54-11) got on the board first as Xavier Turner singled and later scored on a base hit by Conrad Gregor in the bottom of the first inning.


Louisville evened the score in the top of the second after Jeff Gardner was hit by a pitch and scored off a sacrifice fly to deep center field by Zac Wasserman.


The Commodores regained the lead in bottom of the third when Turner singled, stole second, advanced to third off a sacrifice by Mike Yastrzemski then touched home when Connor Harrell singled to left field.


Gardner led off the top of the seventh with a single to right field, advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and scored on a two-out hit by Sutton Whiting to even the score at 2-all. Louisville added two more runs in the inning when pinch-hitter Matt Helms punched a ground-ball single between third base and shortstop into left field to score Wasserman and Whiting to put the Cardinals up 4-2.


“It’s just hard work,” Helms said. “Every day I'm in the `Hack Shack', which is what we call the cages, and working off the tee and the black box. I was just hitting and preparing for when my number was called.”


Countered Vandy coach Tim Corbin: “I guess our demise was that seventh inning, we just couldn't get out of it. Helms did a good job of staying on the ball off a tough pitcher, and he drove it and clocked it into the infield and we really couldn't defend. It was in between the third baseman and shortstop, but we were kind of out of balance because of the base runners that they had on base.”


The Cardinals added a run in the eighth after Coco Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, stole second, advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shane Crain to increase the lead to 5-2.


Vanderbilt led off the bottom of the eighth frame with walks to Yastrzemski and Harrell but the Cardinals did a good job of damage control, allowing only one run (Yastrzemski) on a two-out infield error to cut the lead to 5-3.


But the Commodores couldn’t come up with the timely hit late in the game, leaving four  runners on base over the final two innings.


There wasn’t an extra-base hit in the game as Vanderbilt collected seven hits and Louisville six. Turner ripped a pair of singles for Vandy, and Wasserman contributed a pair of RBI for Louisville.


"The thing with these Vanderbilt pitchers is you know you are going to get great talent and great stuff,” Wasserman said. “You can't do too much when you're in the box, and the biggest thing is if you shorten up and go the other way, you're going to have success. When your swing gets big or you pull your head and try to pull the ball, that's when you won't have success. They make great pitches and their stuff moves a lot. The simpler you make it, the easier it is.”


With its back up against the wall, Corbin knows his team is up for the challenge.


“To me, it's a three-round fight, and they won the first round, but they didn't knock us out,” Corbin said. “That's not going to happen. I like my bunch. We're in the same situation before we started today. We have 18 innings to win. We just have to concentrate on winning pockets of the game.”



·    There were five hit batters in the game, four for Louisville and one for Vanderbilt. Two of the Louisville hit batters came around to score a run.

·    Vanderbilt starter Kevin Ziomek had a four-pitch, three-out inning in the top of the fourth.