Louisville baseball extends amazing year

University of Louisville catcher Kyle Gibson rushes to congratulate reliever Cody Ege after the junior reliever strikes out Mike Yastrzemski to defeat Vanderbilt 2-1, sending the Cardinals to the College World Series for the second time in six seasons.

Any more wishes on that list?

National championship in basketball, BCS Sugar Bowl win in football, Atlantic Coast Conference in the conference realignment shuffle and, now, a trip to the College World Series for Dan McDonnell’s baseball team. Yes, Louisville is headed for Omaha again, and these guys aren’t going to be satisfied just getting there this time around.

"That was insane. I can't tell you how it feels to want something your entire life and then to get it. I can't describe it."

-- Jeff Gardner

Louisville defeated Vanderbilt 2-1 Sunday, improving its won-lost mark to a record 51 wins against only 12 losses this season. that’s No. 2 Vanderbilt, a team UofL had never defeated in Nashville until this weekend. The two-game sweep setting UofL for more payback, the foe being Indiana in the opening round, beginning next Saturday. IU owns a 2-1 edges on the Cards this season.

  • Jeff Thompson, three years removed from Floyd Central High School, hurling the game of his life, the big 6-foot-6 righthander going seven innings against a Vanderbilt lineup with eight hitters batting over 300. He would struggle at times, watching the bases get crowded, but regain his composure and dig his way out of trouble. He would allow only three hits while striking out nine and walking two of them, chalking up his 12th win against only one loss this season.
  • Zak Wasserman struggling at the plate all season long, managing a meager .230 batting average. The senior first baseman finding ways to get on base in the Super Regional, finding ways to get his teammates home. He would, in fact, deliver the winning blow, a single in the second inning, sending teammate Jeff Gardner across the plate.
  • Coco Johnson, beaned first in the head, then again in the neck, standing tall in the batter’s box, reaching base every trip to the plate, including two base hits. Had to be seeing stars after the first hit, but he wasn’t going to sit this one out. Just keeps crowding the plate, getting better at just the right time.
  • Jeff Gardner waiting for his pitch but never getting it, reaching base twice on walks, scoring the winning run. Also the winning quote: “That was insane,” he said after the game. “I can’t tell you how it feels to want something your entire life and then to get it. I can’t describe it.”
  • Joe Filomeno, putting away the only two batters he faces in the eighth before injuring his throwing hand, wiping away tears as he leaves the mound, pounding the rail in the dugout, pumping fists after the final pitch, throwing caution to the wind in the dog pile..
  • Cody Ege, relieving Nick Burdi in the ninth, allowing one hit, his back against the wall with two runners on base, striking out a Yastrzemski, embracing the immense pressure on his shoulders, grasping the biggest save of his college career.
  • Nick Ratajczak, nursing that injured right shoulder on the bench, his very presence a motivational force, ready to prove he is ready and able to play. It will be difficult for any UofL fan to believe otherwise.

Shades of a recent national championship team in another sport from around here. Nobody could quite figure out how they did it, but they wanted it badly, played their hearts out and achieved their goal. Their coach set high goals, and so has this one, and the result can only be achieved in Omaha.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

3 thoughts on “Louisville baseball extends amazing year”

  1. Could it possibly get any better than this? Man, it just keeps getting better and better. Just remember to stay humble and hungry. And, gosh, I’m starving.

  2. Makes sitting out in the cold and rain more than worth it, just like last football season, huh? We are really getting our money’s worth these days!!! Go Cards

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