NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- This has to be a grand slam of some kind.
In a year that already has featured a Sugar Bowl win, a men's basketball national championship and a women's basketball national runner-up finish, the University of Louisville will take one last stab at a title. The Cardinals' baseball team is headed to Omaha for the NCAA College World Series.
They advanced by stunning No. 2-ranked Vanderbilt with a 2-1 victory on Sunday to swipe back-to-back wins in Nashville against a team that lost only four games at home during the regular season and had not lost back-to-back games at home since 2009.
The Cardinals head back to the College World Series for the second time in their history. They last advanced in 2007.
U of L did it behind a sterling pitching performance by junior right-hander Jeff Thompson. The Floyd Central High School product struck out nine Vanderbilt players in seven innings, giving up only three hits and one run.
And the Cards needed him to be that good. After taking a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Zak Wasserman and Sutton Whiting, they left the bases loaded after chasing Vandy's 14-0 starter, Tyler Beede, in the third, then grounded into a bases-loaded double play to end the fourth and left runners at first and second in the third to end the fifth.
Vandy, meanwhile, couldn't take advantage of its own chances. It left runners at first and second to end the fifth before pulling within one run on a Zander Wiel home run in the sixth. The Commodores stranded a runner in scoring position in both the seventh and eighth, before Nick Burdi came on to pitch the ninth. The Cards were 45-0 when leading after eight, but this wasn't the usual ninth.
After striking out the first batter, Burdi gave up a one-out single to John Norwood and Louisville coach Dan McDonnell made the unusual move of pulling his closer, bringing in left-hander Cody Ege to face Vandy leadoff man Tony Kemp.
Ege got Kemp to fly to left, but it wasn't over yet. Xavier turner singled to right, moving Norwood to third base, and bringing up Mike Yastrzemski. Ege struk him out swinging and the dogpile was on in front of the pitcher's mound and several hundred U of L fans chanted "Omaha."
Read more on U of L's victory from Eric Crawford later at WDRB.com, and watch a full recap on WDRB News at 10.