The Cardinals (51-12) knocked off the No. 2 national seed in the field of 64 after a 5-3 win in the first of the three-game series Saturday. Zak Wasserman and Sutton Whiting drove in runs for Louisville in the second inning and five Louisville hurlers limited the Commodores (54-12) to just five hits.
Vanderbilt stranded 11 runners in the loss, including six in scoring position, and left the bases loaded in the second inning as well as a pair of runners in the fifth, eighth and ninth. Louisville stranded nine runners as well, leaving the bases loaded in the third and two on in the fourth and fifth innings.
"We just couldn't get the hit when we needed it," said Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin. "It was tough, it was a grind. They were more effective from a pitching standpoint."
Thompson (11-1) did everything the Cardinals could have asked, working seven innings and allowing just one run on three hits. The right-hander walked two, hit one batter and struck out nine among his 124 pitches. Louisville used four hurlers to get the final six outs, including lefthander Cody Ege, who picked up his first save, striking out Mike Yastrzemski to end the game.
Vanderbilt starter Tyler Beede (14-1) lasted just 2.2 innings and took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits. He walked three, hit a batter and struck out two while suffering his only loss of the season. Carson Fulmer was excellent for the second straight week in relief, working a season-best 5.1 innings and giving up just two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
The Commodores missed a chance to take an early lead in the second inning, stranding the bases loaded. Conrad Gregor was hit with one out and Zander Wiel walked before a sharp single to left by Vince Conde loaded the bases.
Spencer Navin fell behind 0-2 but battled back to a full count before taking a called third strike. Jack Lupo popped out to second base to end the inning with the game still scoreless.
Louisville put together four hits in the bottom of the inning to get on the board first. Coco Johnson was hit to leadoff but was erased trying to steal second. Jeff Gardner drew a one-out walk before consecutive singles from Kyle Gibson and Wasserman, the second one an RBI grounder through the right side. With two outs Whiting singled through the middle, plating Gibson for a 2-0 Louisville advantage.
The Cardinals nearly added to the lead in the fourth, loading the bases with walks to Wasserman and Whiting and Alex Engel was hit, but Cole Sturgeon's hard grounder to second started an inning-ending double play to keep it a 2-0 contest.
Tony Kemp singled with two outs in the fifth and Xavier Turner followed with a walk, but Yastrzemski struck out to end the inning, with Thompson battling back from a 3-1 count and Yastrzemski chasing a high fastball for the third out. Ty Young and Johnson both singled to start the bottom of the inning for Louisville, but Fulmer worked out of the inning with three fly balls.
The Commodores finally got on the board in the sixth when Wiel lifted a high drive down the leftfield line that just stayed fair, his fifth homer of the season, cutting the deficit in half.
In the seventh Kemp reached on a two-out error and stole second, his 34th stolen base of the season, but Thompson battled back from a 2-0 count and got Turner to pop out to end the threat. Vanderbilt stranded two more in the eighth when Harrell was hit and Wiel drew a two-out walk, but Conde grounded out to third on a 2-0 pitch against UL reliever Kyle Funkhouser, keeping the Cardinals in the lead, 2-1.
In the ninth John Norwood, who made a great diving catch in left-center in the bottom of the eighth, singled to center with one out against Louisville closer Nick Burdi. Ege came on to get a line out from Kemp, but Turner singled to right with two outs, putting runners on the corners. Yastrzemski's strikeout came on a 2-2 pitch, sending the Cardinals to Omaha.
Corbin was quick to congratulate Louisville on becoming the first team this season to defeat Vanderbilt twice.
"They did what no other team has done to Vanderbilt all year, which was come in and beat them twice," said Corbin. "That's a tall task for a team, especially with the gang we've assembled. I thought they pitched very well. I think they just held us down."
Corbin was also quick to thank this year's seniors.
"What I'll remember about the team was the seniors, because Mike Yastrzemski didn't have to come back to school, Connor Harrell didn't have to come back to school," Corbin said. "Male athletes today just aren't wired like that. Those guys are different. They're humble, they're accepting of young people. Leadership qualities for them come naturally."
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Vanderbilt Commodores designated hitter Zander Wiel (43) celebrates with teammate Vince Condi (3) after hitting a home run against the Louisville Cardinals in the top of the sixth inning during the Nashville super regional of the 2013 NCAA baseball tournament at Hawkins Field. Louisville won 2-1. (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)