BOZICH | Louisville Loses To Vandy in College World Series Opene - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville Loses To Vandy in College World Series Opener

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Louisville fell behind early and lost to Vanderbilt in Omaha Saturday night. Louisville fell behind early and lost to Vanderbilt in Omaha Saturday night.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Getting to the College World Series has not been an issue for the University of Louisville baseball program. Winning their first World Series game remains a mystery for the Cardinals.

Just as they did in 2007 to Rice and in 2013 to Indiana, the Cards lost their first World Series game Saturday night. This time it was against rival Vanderbilt, 5-3, at T.D. Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

It was Louisville’s first loss in six NCAA Tournament games -- and happened on a night when U of L outhit the Commodores, nine to seven. The Cards were hurt by nine walks, two wild pitches, a passed ball and an error. Louisville's record in three trips to Omaha slipped to 1-5.

The Commodores scored three runs in the second inning – and the Cards never completely recovered against starter Carson Fulmer and three Vandy relievers.

"We kept nipping away, but we could never catch up," said U of L coach Dan McDonnell.

Although Louisville starter Kyle Funkhouser pitched six innings, he was wild, walking six and throwing 125 pitches.

"You can't have a bad start in the College World Series and that's what I did," Funkhouser said in the post-game press conference. "I wasn't making a lot of great pitches tonight, but a lot of credit to their hitters. The good pitches that I did make, they seemed to battle very tough."

Louisville will play Texas in the Charlie Strong Invitational (actually a losers’ bracket game) at 3 p.m. Monday. The Cards must win four consecutive games to advance to the finals.

"I feel better about our club now than maybe at this time last year," McDonnell said. U of L lost to IU 2-0 in its opener in 2013.

"I think a guy (Joey DaNato) threw a complete game against us and offensively it was a tough night. I was pleased. I thought our hitters really competed, put a lot of good swings and they made two really nice catches."

Vandy coach Tim Corbin gambled by starting Fulmer, instead of his ace Tyler Beede. Although Beede had started the opening game in 15 series for the Commodores this season and was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the 14th pick in the first round in the MLB Draft last week, Corbin went with Fulmer, a right-handed sophomore.


The coach said he matched up better against Louisville. Fulmer was good, but hardly great against the Cards, giving up seven hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Vanderbilt scored first when Funkhouser threw a slider into the dirt with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning. Cards’ catcher Kyle Gibson shifted to his right to block the ball, but it rolled to the backstop. The wild pitch to Dansby Swanson enabled John Norwood to dance home from third.

It was also the first pitch that Funkhouser threw after he raised his arms in the air in disagreement with home plate umpire Mike Conlin after a 3-2 pitch to Karl Ellison was called a ball. Funkhouser thought that the pitch, a slider, caught the inside of the plate.

Still needing an out to end the inning, Funkhouser allowed two more runs when Swanson doubled to left center. Funkhouser labored to stay in the strike zone early, needing 51 pitches to get through the first two innings and then throwing 26 more pitches in the third.

The Cards appeared to rally in the third. Two of their first three hitters reached. But Corey Ray struck out on a breaking ball in the dirt – and Nick Solak was thrown out trying to advance to third.

Vandy added another run in the fourth – again with two outs. Swanson singled to center, stole second and raced to third on a throwing error by Gibson. He scored on a triple by Bryan Reynolds.

Louisville rallied against Fulmer in the fifth. A single by Grant Kay, an Omaha native, started the inning. He scored on a triple by Sutton Whiting, and then Whiting delivered the second run when Gibson grounded out to short.

They added a run in the seventh. Solak singled with two outs, scoring Zach Lucas.

But that was all the scoring for the Cards. Vandy relief pitchers retired seven of the final eight Louisville hitters. Gibson singled with one out in the ninth. But Cole Sturgeon struck out, and Solak flied out to center field to end the game.

Now Louisville will have to beat Texas to avoid a quick elimination.

"Just let it go," shortstop Sutton Whiting said. "We've got to bounce back. Come with a good practice tomorrow and get back to work and face a good team in Texas on Monday."

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