It is the most nerve racking scenario.
Especially in a ballgame that is as close to a Must Win as a tumbling Top 20 squad has faced.
Coming off a decimating weekend, when they were broomed out of Clemson, U of L dropped in the rankings to the bubble. The NCAA will announce first weekend sites soon, and the Cards, once a “lock” to host, found themselves in a precarious situation.
But here they were, making things right again, up 7-2, with but three Commodores to set down for the biggest W of the campaign.
In the most important inning of the most important battle of the year, Kaleb Corbett, finding his form, handled Vandy fairly well in the 8th, surrendering only pinch hitter Spencer Jones first four bagger of the season.
But Card star Henry Davis got the run back with his own homer in the next half.
Corbett returned in the 9th, hoping to complete the job.
But immediately walked leadoff batter Carter Young.
Nothing tightens the sphincter quite as much as a leadoff base on balls with a healthy but not insurmountable advantage. Then Parker Noland singled up the middle. Runners on 1st and 2d. None were out. Uh oh.
Blow this, and it’s not hard to fathom what a blow it might have been to the Cards’ psyche.
Tate Wolwyck flied out. First and third, one down.
After getting Jayson Gonzalez to pop out, Corbett walked Enrique Bradford Jr. on five pitches. Bases full, two down.
After Corbett hurled a first pitch ball to CJ Rodriguez, coach Dan McDonnell had had enough. On a day when the Cards’ Tuesday staff came up huge, the man in charge wasn’t going to diddle around anymore.
Adam Elliott, U of L’s steady hand out of the pen all year, finished the job with two pitches.
The win gave the Cards the most Ws in college ball in the McDonnell era. 642.
But, frankly, nice as that stature is, it’s not as important as the victory Louisville truly had to have.
* * * * *
Other than Corbett, the Cards went southpaw, southpaw, southpaw, southpaw to tame the ‘Dores.
Carter Lohman got the win with four solid innings, giving up but a single tally, and 2 hits. Evan Webster surrendered a hit and no runs in an inning and two-thirds. Tate Kuehner did the same in an inning and one-third.
In bowling there’s the endearing term, the “Brooklyn side.”
In baseball, it’s how we call lefties, “southpaws.”
Some quick research reveals we really don’t know where or how the term germinated. The lore is it comes from how ballyards were situated in the 1800s. But that, like the mythos of Abner Doubleday, is probably just that, lore, mythos.
The term probably comes from boxing. Though that too is hazy.
What I do know is four of them southpaws shipwrecked the Commodores, the #2 team in the land.
* * * * *
After falling behind a run, the Cardinal offense ignited in the 4th, scoring two, when Henry Davis and Alex Binelas crossed the plate. U of L got four more in the 5th. Luke Brown hit a two RBI single. Then Binelas hit the train, literally it appeared, with a two-run tater.
Davis parked it in the 8th, adding insurance.
* * * * *
Cards won the game. It was Vandy’s first mid-week L since ‘19.
Commodores won the uni battle.
U of L’s Astro-inspired tops are, uh, OK.
Vandy’s classic white outfit were old school cool.
Duke visits The Jim for three this weekend.
— c d kaplan