BOZICH | Louisville falls, 5-2, but Vandy's Corbin a big fan of - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Louisville falls, 5-2, but Vandy's Corbin a big fan of Cards' program

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Louisville coach Dan McDonnell has a fan in Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin. Louisville coach Dan McDonnell has a fan in Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Vanderbilt went to Omaha and won last season, some replacement college baseball programs had to be nominated for this category:

Best Program That Hasn't Won the College World Series.

Put the University of Louisville on the list of contenders, right there with Mississippi State, North Carolina, Virginia and several more.

The Cards might not be on top. But they're in the discussion – for several reasons. Three trips to Omaha since 2007. Another trip absolutely possible this season with Dan McDonnell coaching a team that has already won 40 games and is ranked second or third nationally in every important poll.

“I don't look at Louisville as being close (to Vanderbilt),” said Tim Corbin, the Vandy coach. “I look at them as being the same type of program. I see them as one of the better baseball programs in the country – period.”

Louisville didn't show enough evidence of that Tuesday night at Jim Patterson Stadium, even on a pleasant night when the park was stuffed with 5,042 fans.

Vanderbilt, ranked 10th nationally, looked more deserving of the Number Two ranking than Louisville, quieting the Cardinals, 5-2.

U of L (40-13) did not have a hit or a baserunner until the fifth inning. Vandy went ahead with a home run on the game's second pitch and never trailed.

Corbin started left-handed pitcher Ryan Johnson, who doesn't throw the baseball as hard as my cousin Larry. Then, after the Cards adjusted to the soft-tosser with three hits and two runs in the sixth, Corbin countered with another lefty, John Kilichowski, who can light up the radar gun in the low 90s.

No more U of L hits. No big finish.

“You've got to credit their pitching staff,” McDonnell said. “They definitely made it tough on our hitters tonight.”

The Cards finished the night with four singles. They did not draw a walk. Most of the crowd, including former Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum, departed by the eighth inning. But Corbin and the Vandy players noticed the atmosphere – and were impressed.

“This was like a regional,” Corbin said. “Or the final of a regional. You had everybody here. That's something special. All the seats were taken. A crowd in the outfield. People standing down both lines. That doesn't happen very many places in the country. This situation right here is different.”

Conclusions are risky to make from a mid-week game. You don't see the best arms that any program has collected – and power arms are what win in double-elimination tournament play.

But Vanderbilt (37-16) is always a good program for the Cardinals to play in their final regular-season home game. The Commodores are talented. The Commodores are sound, especially on defense. And the Commodores are the best example of how difficult it is to win a college baseball regional, super regional and World Series.

All it took Corbin to win a national title was a dozen seasons, 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament and the opportunity to host three Super Regionals. Vandy is a program that developed David Price, Sonny Gray, Pedro Alvarez, Mike Minor and 30 other guys currently active in professional baseball.

That's a long way of saying that a college baseball national title is just as difficult to win as a championship in basketball or football. The game is more unpredictable because pitching is so variable.

“I know we did that last year but there's so many good teams that fall short,” Corbin said.

“We had such a good team in 2013 and Louisville beat us. Then the year (2010) we beat them here I thought it was one of the best Louisville teams I've seen.

“It's such a fickle sport. It drains you. It captivates you. That's the tough thing about it. But you always come back for more. Sometimes we're disappointed. Sometimes we're joyous.”

Maybe this will be the season when Louisville leaves Omaha as joyous as Vanderbilt was last season.

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