Matt Helms hit a key 2-run single, starting pitcher Chad Green battled for 5 solid innings, the bullpen did it's job and Nick Burdi got a tense, 5-out save, and the Louisville baseball Cardinals are 1 win away from the College World Series.
What a game.
Vandy, the #2 overall seed and Louisville's nemesis over the past few seasons, got off to a 1-0 lead in the 1st behind a single from Conrad Gregor. The Cards manufactured a tie, getting the run back after a HBP, single and sac fly in the 2nd. Vandy took a 2-1 lead into the 7th, which has been Louisville's inning this post-season it seems.
A single and two runner-advancing ground outs left the Cards with a man on third and 2 outs, and in need of a clutch hit. Senior Zak Wasserman came through, plating friend-of-the-blog Jeff Gardner and giving the Cards new life. Another single, a passed ball and a walk left the bases loaded, and senior Matt Helms stepped up to the plate. Helms has only 40 at-bats all season, getting hits in 10 of them. McDonnell's faith in the senior paid off: he laced a single to left, scoring 2 runs and giving the Cards their first lead of the day.
Louisville tacked on another run in the 8th on a sac fly, but a 3-run lead was not enough to breathe easy, and you knew Vandy wasn't going down without a fight.
Cody Ege walked 2 and struck out 1 before McDonnell called on Nick Burdi to shut down the rally. After a pop fly caught in foul play despite a collision between 3rd baseman and shortstop and a double steal, Burdi got a grounder to third that Ty Young misplayed, putting Vandy within 2 runs. A fly out to right ended the rally, but Burdi still had to pitch the 9th.
And pitch he did. Throwing heater after heater, mixed in with some nasty high-80s, low-90s slide pieces, Burdi got a strike out, gave up a single, a steal, and two walks, the second on a full-count (with two outs and the winning run at the plate, so it was a big deal), loading the bases. After the drama of the previous at bat, Conrad Gregor's fisted grounder to 2nd base was caught and flipped to short for the final out.
And the Cards are one win away from the College World Series. While starters haven't been announced as of press time, first pitch is at 4 PM and I have to think Jeff Thompson gets the ball.
One. Win. Away. Pretty incredible.