RATAJCZAK FORCED OUT WITH INJURY
Despite an injured right shoulder, University of Louisville senior second baseman Nick Ratajczak said he wasn't about to sit out the NCAA Super Regional opener when the Cardinals faced host Vanderbilt.
And Ratajczak started the game, making an eye-catching defensive play in the first inning when he flipped the ball to first with his glove for an out.
"He has so much heart," Jeff Gardner said.
But Ratajczak couldn't finish the game. He came out in the third inning after trying to bunt and eventually striking out, grimacing in pain.
"This has been a dream of mine since I was 10 years old," he said. "I wanted to play in a Super Regional with a chance to go to the World Series. It sucks and it hurts but I just tip my hat to my teammates who picked me up."
Ratajczak said he was "trying to give it a go," and started his 62nd game of the season and his 125th consecutive since arriving at U of L prior to last season.
"I'm not going to lie, I gave it my all," he said. "I was always going to try to play, that's just how I was raised. I take pride in being tough. Honestly, I couldn't ask for a better day because of my teammates."
Zach Lucas came in to replace Ratajczak and then later in the game Alex Chittenden came in to finish out the game at second.
Ratajczak had his arm in a sling after the game.
GAME TWO SET FOR SUNDAY
The two teams will play game two on Sunday at 4 p.m. with Big East Pitcher of the Year Jeff Thompson (10-1, 2.06 ERA) getting the start for the Cardinals.
Vandy will counter with second-team All-American Tyler Beede, a sophomore who is 14-0 with a 2.20 ERA.
Game three will be played on Monday at 7 p.m., if necessary.
A FEW LEFTOVERS
**U of L is now 45-0 when leading after eight innings. Vandy was 48-1 when leading after six innings coming into the game.
**The win makes the Cardinals 50-12 and ties the school's all-time mark for wins in a single season. U of L also had 50 in 2010 when the Cardinals lost the final two games of the NCAA Regional to Vandy.
**The win was the first victory at Vandy in 14 tries for the Cardinals, who are now just 5-22 in the series against the Commodores. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to Vandy for the Cardinals.
**Louisville is now 3-3 all-time in Super Regional games.