Ege helps send Cards to the World Series

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Louisville baseball team is headed to the College World Series after a 2-1 victory over Vanderbilt on Sunday evening at Hawkins Field. Jeff Thompson gave the Cardinals seven solid innings and Cody Ege got the final two outs of the game for the Cardinals.

Cody Ege found himself in a different situation on Sunday evening.

Ege had the ball flipped to him by U of L coach Dan McDonnell in the second game of the NCAA Super Region after All-American closer Nick Burdi.

"It was backwards," Ege said with a smile.

McDonnell and pitching coach Roger Williams went with "our gut," McDonnell said and used Ege for the matchups and it worked.

With one on and one out, Ege got leadoff hitter Tony Kemp to line out and then gave up a single to Xavier Tuner. But he struck out Mike Yastrzemski to end the game and send the Cardinals to their second World Series appearance.

"You have to go with your gut and you have to go with what you believe in," McDonnell said. "You look at matchups and I trust Coach (Rogers) Williams. He deserves the credit. (Tony) Kemp just didn't look like a good matchup for (Nick) Burdi. He just looks like he's going to put the ball in play every time.

"I felt like he was going to flick one over third or flick one into left and obviously Rog (Williams) did too. He was convinced we should go with Ege and I just agreed with him."

Ege picked up his first career save and then was on the bottom of the dog pile just in front of the pitchers mound as the Cardinals' celebrated.

"I knew they had a couple of good lefties coming up, so I knew I had to be ready," Ege said. "To come in for Burdi, that was a new thing for me.

"We kind of flipped roles and it was a lot of fun."

Thompson (11-1) picked up the win after allowing just three hits and walking two in seven innings. He threw 124 pitches and struck out nine.

In the eighth, U of L used Joe Filomeno for two outs before he left the game with an arm injury. Kyle Funkhouser came on for the final out.

And then it appeared to be Burdi time.

Burdi, who has 16 saves on the season, has been the guy to close games for the Cardinals this season with his fastball in the high 90s and even over 100.

He struck out Rhett Wiseman to start the inning but then gave up a single to left fielder John Norwood to give the Commodores some hope.

"It's awesome to get a save but I believe Ege is the best left-handed pitcher out there," Burdi said. "Kemp is one of the best hitters in the country and to put Ege in there was the best move coach could have made."

Filomeno was in the dugout watching and said junior designated hitter Jeff Gardner said when Ege came in that "I trust him with this game."

"I said, so do I," Filomeno said. "I knew he was going to get the job done. He's been doing it all year for us."

A 15th round draft pick by the Texas Rangers earlier this week, the left-handed Ege is 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA this season. He had gone 14 straight appearances without allowing a run since giving up two in a loss to Vandy on April 23.

But this time, Ege shut the door.

"What we did here was unbelievable," Ege said. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy. That righty a good two-hole hitter (Turner), but I just had to trust my stuff. I didn't want to go any farther."

Ege did want the team to go to the World Series and he helped. After the final strike, Ege ran off the mound went to his knees and "held my breath."

"It was crazy," Ege said of the dog pile. "Matt Helms was there for me and helped brace me a little. It was just crazy."

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