Jason Wyrick holds the game trophy after the game.
Longball Wins Battle of the Barrel for Cards
On a day where the game was moved up two hours due to a severe threat of bad weather in Nashville, Tenn., the weather was anything but bad as the Cardinals traveled a few hours south on Interstate 65 to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Battle of the Barrel. Ranked No. 5 and No. 6 respectively, Louisville and Vanderbilt both have perennial contenders. With last year marking the last College World Series appearance for Vanderbilt and 2014 for the Cards, 2016 could easily be each school’s next. So today’s matchup was no ordinary one- it was a clash of titans.
For this game, Coach Dan McDonnell entrusted sophomore Kade McClure (9-0) with the task of facing the other juggernaut opposite on the scorecard. The decision paid dividends for the Cards, with Kade tallying five full innings and only allowing three hits in an effort that ended with his 13th start ending in his 10th victory, keeping his perfect record unblemished.
The Louisville batters struck first with a Colin Lyman RBI base knock followed by a Drew Ellis three run home run in the second inning, Drew’s second in as many games. The Cards plated another in the fourth on Danny Rosenbaum’s solo shot against the Commodores’ starter, freshman Donny Everett, an at bat that ended the pitcher’s day.
In the bottom of the fifth, a walk turned into a run as Kade’s no hitter ended with an RBI triple and another single allowed the lead to shrink to 5-2. Tiring after such a terrific start, he struggled to get the final out in the inning, but managed to strand the bases loaded in his final inning of work. Jake Sparger entered in the sixth and retired the Vanderbilt hitters in order.
Nick Solak, recently back into the lineup after a hand injury forced him to miss more than a month, helped regain momentum in the seventh, launching the third Louisville long ball of the game and scoring two more in the process, extending the lead back to five at 7-2. The extra cushion didn’t last for long, though. Sparger, who got through his first inning of relief unscathed, walked and hit batters to lead off the inning before they both came home on a three run bomb, ending Jake’s outing in favor of Lincoln Henzman. With fireballer Zack Burdi stretching and subsequently warming up in the bullpen, his job was a simple one: limit the damage to just the three and get through the seventh inning. He did just that retiring the next three batters in order.
Burdi entered the game for a six out save attempt in the bottom of the eighth, and he retired the first three on two strikeouts and a groundout. Looking for one last bit of insurance in the top of the 9th, a Brendan McKay double resulted in freshman Josh Stowers pinch running and Devin Hairston driving one last run home on a base knock that snuck through the hole into left field to make it 8-5. Burdi struck out one more and got a groundout and flyout to end the game and record the save, his seventh of the season.