Vanderbilt beats Louisville 5-3 in its CWS opener
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Vanderbilt was happy to get runs any way it could against Louisville.
The Commodores scored their first one on a wild pitch and their last one on a passed ball in a 5-3 victory in the College World Series on Saturday night.
“Any momentum swing in this tournament is a big deal, and runs are tough to come by,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “We were fortunate in a lot of ways tonight.”
The Commodores (46-19) won a grinding, 3-hour, 40-minute game to advance to a meeting with UC Irvine on Monday night. Louisville (50-16) will play Texas in an elimination game in the afternoon.
Dansby Swanson doubled in two runs, and Bryan Reynolds tripled in another and made a fabulous catch in left field to help the Commodores beat Louisville for the first time in four tries.
Carson Fulmer (7-1), who got the start instead of first-round draft pick Tyler Beede, worked six innings for the win. Adam Ravenelle retired seven of the last eight Louisville batters for his first save.
“He was very valuable tonight,” Corbin said. “He had a good heartbeat for the game.”
Louisville pitchers struggled against Vanderbilt’s patient batters. Losing pitcher Kyle Funkhouser (13-3) went six innings and issued six of Louisville’s nine walks, its third-most of the season. The four runs he allowed matched his career high.
“It’s hard to win at the College World Series with a bad start,” Funkhouser said, “and that’s what that was tonight.”
The Commodores’ biggest run came on a passed ball after they saw their 4-0 lead shrink to 4-3 in the seventh. It looked like catcher Kyle Gibson was setting up for a pitch-out, but reliever Kyle McGrath pitched to the plate and Gibson let the ball get past him, allowing Vince Conde to score.
Sutton Whiting, who drove in Louisville’s first run, said he the Cardinals must forget the loss quickly.
“It’s over with, and we’ve got to bounce back,” he said. “Come with a good practice tomorrow and get back to work and face a good team in Texas Monday.”
Louisville, the only returning team from the 2013 CWS, swept the Commodores in super regionals last year and beat them again last month.
John Norwood scored the first of Vanderbilt’s three runs in the second inning, coming home on Funkhouser’s bases-loaded wild pitch. Swanson followed with his two-run double into the left-center gap.
“We’ve done a good job the last quarter of the season getting deep into the counts, more walks, less strikeouts, and we’ve hit the ball,” Corbin said. “We’ve really hit the ball well the last three weeks. We hit it OK tonight, but we were facing a tough customer.”
The Commodores led 4-0 against Funkhouser after Reynolds tripled in Swanson in the fourth. Reynolds had made the catch of the day to end the Louisville second when he went to the left-field wall to haul in a drive off the bat of Omaha native Grant Kay.
The Cardinals pulled to 4-2 in the fifth when Whiting hit an RBI triple and scored on a groundout, and it was a one-run game in the seventh after Zach Lucas narrowly beat Norwood’s throw to the plate on Nick Solak’s hit to center.
The Cardinals went 0-2 at last year’s CWS, getting eliminated in an embarrassing 11-4 loss to Oregon State in which they committed four errors. They came to Omaha this week off five straight wins in the NCAA tournament.
Vanderbilt is at the CWS for the second time, and first since 2011.