Cards off to a slow start again at CWS

OMAHA, Neb. - The University of Louisville baseball team is off to a slow start again at the College World Series. Making their third appearance in eight years, the Cardinals lost the opener for the third time with a 5-3 decision to Vanderbilt on Saturday night before 23,625 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.

It was the one scenario the University of Louisville baseball team hasn't had to deal with much this season - a bad start to begin a weekend series - or NCAA Regional.

Sophomore Kyle Funkhouser has been dealing for much of the season, giving the Cardinals an NCAA-leading 13 wins on the year.

Unfortunately, Funkhouser didn't have his good stuff on Saturday. He walked six, had a wild pitch and passed ball and a balk as Vanderbilt touched him for four runs in a 5-3 loss in the opening round of the College World Series before 23,625 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.

"It's hard to win at the College World Series with a bad start," Funkhouser said. "And that's what that was tonight, a bad start."

Even with the bad start, U of L had a shot to win the game but just "made too many little" mistakes, according to coach Dan McDonnell.

The Cardinals ended up giving Vandy nine free passes, two wild pitches and a passed ball. Vandy had four of its five runs scored after that batter had been walked to reach base and scored a run of a passed ball and wild pitch.

U of L outhit Vandy 9-7 but also had an error and just never could gain control.

"It's disappointing but that's baseball," McDonnell said. "I feel good about where we are a as a club but we just have to play better. We didn't play clean baseball."

It's the third time in three trips to the CWS that U of L has lost the opener. Now, the Cardinals backs are against the wall.

U of L (50-16) will play Texas in an elimination game on Monday at 3 p.m.

"We've played with our backs to the wall most of the season," second baseman Zach Lucas said. "We just have to come out ready, put this one behind us and look forward to playing Texas."

Added left fielder Jeff Gardner: "We'll come back from this one, we always do. We had some tough breaks and give Vandy credit. We just have to come out and play better baseball."

Anthony Kidston will get the start against the six-time national champion Longhorns. Texas is making a record 35th trip to the CWS.

"Who wouldn't get excited to play Texas?" McDonnell asked. "Look at the tradition they have. Our guys will be focused and ready."

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