For the second year in a row and the third time in 8 years, the University of Louisville Cardinal baseball team is on the way to TD Ameritrade Field in Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. They took the super regional from Kennesaw State on Saturday 7-4 in front of a record 6,007 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium. That’s up from the previous record of 5,351 set the night before in the first contest of the super regional. In that game, the Cardinals won 5-3.
With the sweep, the Cards become the only team from last years College World Series to make it back to the baseball version of the big dance. How good is this team? They haven’t lost in a regional or super regional in the last 2 years. That’s a span of 10-0 when all the marbles are on the line.
Louisville will face Vanderbilt, who won the Nashville super regional over Stanford in the deciding third game. The Commodores and the Cardinals are building quite the rivalry. There was a time when Louisville couldn’t quite climb the Vandy mountain. In the last couple of years, the tide reversed, including a two game sweep Louisville completed in last years super regional at Vanderbilt.
As the Cards move forward, there are trends to watch. Kyle Funkhouser will pitch the first game. He’s tied for first in the nation in win total. Meanwhile Nick Burdi holds the school record for saves in a season with 18 this year. He also hold the record for saves in a career with 34. And there’s a massive chip on his shoulder due to the Major League Baseball draft when he felt like his draft number should have been 20 spots higher.
If Louisville can put 5 or more runs on the board, they’ve been undefeated this season. They’ve also won 98 straight games when leading going into the final inning. Those are stunning numbers. The challenge will come from Vanderbilt’s ace pitching staff, which ranks in the top 20 in team ERA and 3 in strikeouts per game.
First pitch of game one is Saturday at 8pm. All games will be broadcast on ESPN
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