June 9, 2013


Louisville Celebrates Omaha Berth

By Gary Johnson

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Louisville ventured to Music City with hopes of upsetting second-ranked Vanderbilt. That’s exactly what happened.


The Cardinals swept the Commodores in the Nashville Super Regional after claiming a 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.


"God is good," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "God is good. Those who know me know how much respect I have for Vanderbilt, Tim Corbin, the coaching staff and their players. I think this is three times in the last five years we've had to battle and hopefully the NCAA will split us up one day where we both can go to Omaha. They had an unbelievable year, and it's a shame that only one of us can advance."


It was the first time all season the Commodores lost back-to-back games. Vanderbilt just couldn't get its offense in gear in the Super Regional, with Corbin mentioning that it was like "driving a car with the parking break on."


"I want to congratulate Louisville, I think you have to,” Corbin said. “They did what no other team has done to Vanderbilt all year, which was come in and beat them twice. That's a tall task for a team, especially with the gang we've assembled. I thought they pitched very well. I think they just held us down.”


McDonnell can't wait to get his team to Omaha and he knows the Cardinal nation will be there to support the team.


"I think in 2007 when we went, we caught people off guard, even our fan base,” he said. “I guess it's a little disappointing LSU made it yesterday because I'm afraid their fan base is going to take up all the hotels in Omaha, but I've been saying it since our leadoff banquet in January, we're going to represent. Our fans are going to represent and I think we're going to give LSU a run for their money there in fan support."


Runs were hard to come by Sunday.


Vanderbilt loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second inning but failed to push across a run.


Then, Louisville struck first in the bottom of the second when Jeff Gardner walked, advanced to second off a single by Kyle Gibson and scored on a single by Zak Wasserman. The Cardinals went up 2-0 when Sutton Whiting ripped a RBI single scoring Gibson.


The Cardinals threatened in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with one out before hitting into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.


Louisville starting right-hander Jeff Thompson retired 10 of 11 batters in a span between the second and fifth innings before Vandy lead-off hitter Tony Kemp hit a single into left-center. 


Vanderbilt cut the lead in half after designated hitter Zander Wiel blasted a two-out, solo shot over the 35-foot left-field wall in the top of the sixth inning.


Down to their last at-bat, the Commodores got a one-out single from John Norwood then a two-out single from Turner to put runners on first and third. But a strikeout by Mike Yastrzemski ended the season for Vanderbilt.


"It's unfortunate," Corbin said about Yastrzemski's last at-bat. “That may be the most unselfish baseball player that I've ever been around. That's a tough one to watch because that kid's different. I probably won't coach too many more like him. I would've loved to have seen that go in his direction. He deserved better than that, and it just didn't work out."


Thompson (11-1), the Big East Pitcher of the Year, got the win, throwing seven innings, allowing one run and three hits with nine strikeouts and a pair of walks.


"I felt good the whole time; I was trying to get Coach [Roger] Williams to let me keep going and I think it was all adrenaline," Thompson said. "I was really all around the zone the whole game, but later in the game they started swinging at some pitches to help me out. I was 3-2 way too much and that's why my pitch count was so high, but we ended up getting the win."


Joe Filomeno, Kyle Funkhouser and Nick Burdi each saw relief duty for Louisville with Cody Ege getting his first save of the year.


Talented sophomore Tyler Beede (14-1) entered the game undefeated on the year but only lasted 2.2 innings, allowing two runs and five hits with three walks and two strikeouts for the Commodores. Freshman Carson Fulmer took over for Beede and threw 5.1 scoreless inning with two hits, two walks and two strikeouts.


Wiel's home run paced Vandy at the plate.


Johnson was 2 for 2 to lead the winners at the plate.


"Going into the game I was like, we're one win away from going to Omaha,” said Coco Johnson, who went 2 for 2 for the Cardinals. “It hasn't really sunk in yet. I'm excited, but later tonight when I'm sleeping in bed it will hit me. I'll be 10 times happier than I am right now, but it's huge for the team. This is what we talked about from Day 1 that I stepped on campus, so it's exciting."