What a year for Louisville athletics.
Get ready; you’re going to hear that phrase frequently over the next few weeks. You’ll hear it from local media, national media, non-sports media, and even from your buddy at the pub. It is without question true given that UofL accomplished something no other college athletics program has by winning a BCS bowl, making the Men’s and Women’s Final Four, and now the College World.
Just don’t for a second let that overshadow what this team accomplished this year, or this weekend.
In a game filled with pressure moments, it was the Cardinals who came up diamonds. Despite not having his best stuff, 6’6 junior righty Jeff Thompson held Vandy to 1 run and 3 hits in seven innings, ceding only a solo homerun while striking out 9 and walking just 2. That was just enough as UofL was able to cash in for 2 early runs on RBI singles by Zak Wasserman and Sutton Whiting while chasing Vandy starter Tyler Beede, who came into the game leading the country with 14 wins. Beede, who was a 1st team all-SEC selection, lasted only 2 and 2/3 innings, giving up 5 hits and 3 walks along with those 2 runs. Relievers Joe Filomeno and Kyle Funkhauser combined to finish the 8th and McDonnell started the 9th with closer Nick Burdi, despite his throwing 36 pitches in closing the game 1 win. Burdi started with a strikeout, but after surrendering a hit was lifted for normal set-up man Cory Ege. Ege, who threw 26 pitches the day before, wrapped a flyball to right and a strikeout around a base hit to end the game and earn his first save of the year, which set off a manic celebration by the team and the vocal contingent of fans who made the trip down.
In completing the “Louisville Slam” this team has also accomplished many of its goals for the year. Now, with a stunning super-regional win under their belt and a school record in wins, the Cardinals look toward the College World Series, which begins Saturday in Omaha.
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