The University of Louisville Men’s Baseball program advanced to the College World Series for the 2nd time in school history on Sunday. The Cardinals SWEPT a highly regarded Vanderbilt group on their home field, a program that has been a constant thorn in the side of UofL baseball. Louisville won a 2-1 decision on the shoulder’s of Ace pitcher Jeff Thompson, Thompson was a WARRIOR on the mound for the Cards throwing 124 pitches in 7.0 innings, allowing just 3 hits, and 1 run (homerun) to the Commodores.
The Cards got both of their runs in the 2nd inning against Vandy ACE Tyler Beede, who only survived 2.2 innings. Beede was unusually wild Sunday, and actually hit CoCo Johnson in his helmet in the 2nd inning, and then walked Designated Hitter Jeff Gardner. Zak Wasserman continued his hot play with an RBI single that scored Gardner. Later in the inning an unnecessarily hard “punch tag” by Vanderbilt Shortstop Vince Conde on Louisville helped spark a Sutton Whiting single that would score Gibson and give the Cards a 2-0 lead. A questionable call at 3rd Base where Xavier Turner appeared to lose the ball ended the inning when Zak Wasserman was called out.
Still, the damage was done and Thompson was almost untouchable on the day against one of the most professional ready collegiate ball clubs in the country. Thompson was drafted in this week’s Major League Baseball draft by the Detroit Tigers in the 3rd Round with the 94th pick. Thompson was replaced at the start of the 8th by Sophomore lefty Joe Filomeno, who retired two batters but also allowed two base runners (HBP & BB) before leaving with an apparent injury. Filomeno has fought back from elbow surgery and was nasty against Oklahoma State to win last week’s Louisville regional and was emotional while leaving the mound. Filomeno had some animated words of encouragement for Kyle Funkhouser and was greeted in the dugout by almost every teammate before finding himself in a very emotional embrace with Jeff Thompson.
When Kyle Funkhouser got the Cards out of the jam with a Vince Conde groundout, Filomeno exploded with emotion. That scene in the 8th inning is what college athletics is all about. TEAM. LOVE. Baseball. In the end, Nick Burdi and Cody Ege would combine to close out the game for the Cards and send the program to Omaha for the 2nd time in school history.
The Cards will now face the Indiana Hoosiers in a Best of 3 Game Format. The times are not yet set, but the CWS begins on Saturday, June 15th at 2:00 p.m. UofL & IU met 3 times during the season with the Hoosiers winning the first two match-ups (neutral & away) before the Cards won the 3rd and final meeting of the regular season (home).
Before the College World Series berth, the University of Louisville athletics season has been nothing short of incredible. Headed to Omaha, I have to think that this Cardinal team is not satisfied just arriving at the College World Series. With the way this year has been, and the team Dan McDonnell has they may just win the whole thing. Buckle up.
(PHOTO BY @UofLBirdsNest, VIDEOS via Jody Demling & Howie Lindsey)
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