UofL’s Luke Smith owned Vanderbilt before the distractions

Luke Smith, a Louisville junior, dominating Vanderbilt for eight innings, allowing only one run and three hits before the fatal ninth inning (UofL photo by Jeff Reinking).

Not sure what all the yelling was all about between the University of Louisville and Vanderbilt University baseball players. What is certain, however, is that the verbal sparring in the eighth inning left an ugly taste after what would have been one of college baseball’s best games of the season.

Some players in the Vandy dugout apparently frustrated with Luke Smith’s total dominance on the mound. One or more of them reportedly hurling gay taunts at the Louisville pitcher who had made quick work of the Vandy batters. Julian Infante the third batter, striking out, specifically mouthing something in Smith’s direction.

Luke Smith, with the most impressive pitching performance of the season up to that point, putting UofL in a position to win. In total control up to that point, ready to lead his team into a third game against Vandy and possible in the finals against Michigan.

Moments later, the network camera going to closeup mode, showing Smith mouthing the most common of profanities between bitter antagonists. The umpires taking charge, warning Smith, demanding that Vanderbilt players stay in the dugout.

The magic evaporating quickly for UofL, just one inning after scoring two runs to finally get the lead. A lead that likely would have held without the theatrics. Three measly popups for UofL batters in the bottom of the eighth.

Smith had lost his command and his focus after returning to the mound the ninth. Forced to finally leave the game after facing three batters in the ninth, giving up a walk, a double and the tying run.  The momentum back to Vanderbilt.

No closer in the vicinity. Reliever Michael McAvene loading the bases,  allowing the winning run. The magic gone, along with all the optimism and the possibilities.  Louisville losing 3-2, and eliminated from the 2019 College World Series.

Vandy won’t recognize U of L baseball

Hard times for University of Louisville baseball.

Kind of embarrassing with Vanderbilt coming to town Tuesday for a 6 p.m. game. UofL and Vandy, remember, played for the regional championship last season at Jim Patterson Stadium. U of L was ranked seventh nationally at the time, Vandy 17th.

Louisville lost the game on a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the 10th inning, eliminating Dan McDonnell’s team from the NCAA tournament with a 50-14 won-lost record. Seems like an eternity ago.

Thereafter, however, U of L lost eight players in the Major League Baseball draft and things have gone south this season. Currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak, Louisville is currently 25-23 overall and 11-10 in the Big East.

Vanderbilt is ranked No. 1 in this week’s National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. The Cards are nowhere.

U of L’s bright spots have been the performances of Ryan Wright and Justin Amlung. Wright, a junior second baseman is currently batting .328. He is the only Cardinal hitting over .300. Amlung, a righthanded sophomore with a 1.58 earned run average, has chalked up an 8-1 record. Not enough of them to go around.

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout …