Vanderbilt Outduels Cardinals in 17,11-10

The University of Louisville rolled into Nashville with a lofty No. 9 national ranking and sitting on 40 wins. The Cardinals have not done one thing though and that is win in Nashville. Coming into Tuesday's game they were 0-11 against Vanderbilt in games played in Nashville. Now after a 17 inning battle, they are 0-12.

Fans were admitted free with a donation for flood relief, raising over $21,000 in donations. These fans witnessed a game that sure felt like an NCAA tournament game and will surely have NCAA tournament implications. The crowd was reported at 3,203 which would be the largest midweek game crowd in VU history.

The crowd saw Louisville jump out to an early lead with strong hitting in the 1st to leap to a 4-0 lead. UL then added another run after Chase Reid allowed a leadoff walk to Grieshaber that was followed by a double to left field from the leadoff man, Jeff Arnold. Grayson Garvin entered the game at the beginning of the 3rd and pitched 3.1 strong innings, allowing only 1 earned run in the 5th, by mixing 3 hits with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks. . Brian Johns played left field and made a great catch off of the left field wall, to start the 3rd and that seemed to motivate a stunned Commodore team. VU followed the catch with a 3 up and 3 down inning.

The bottom of the 3rd saw the Commodore bats come alive. Johns started the action with a 1 out double into right centerfield. Brain Harris, followed with a red hot bat and took a Derek Self pitch deep over the left field wall. Anthony Gomez then followed with a single up the middle. Jason Esposito was then hit by a pitch and with 2 on and 2 out Curt Casali roped a double down the left field line which scored 2 more runs. Andrew Giobbi then traded places with Casali with a double to centerfield. Joe Loftus, last week's SEC Player of the week, followed with a run scoring single to centerfield. UL then brought in Bob Revesz to close the 3rd but the damage was done as Vanderbilt had battled back to take the lead at 6-5.

Louisville came back to tie the score at 6-6 in the 5th when Arnold reached on an infield single to 2nd. Adam Duvall moved the runner up 90' with a sacrifice bunt. Andrew Clark then belted a single to centerfield that scored Arnold. Drew Hayes completed the last 2 outs of the 6th with no hits and no runs allowed. Richie Goodenow pitched a scoreless 7th, allowing 1 hit. Navery Moore then followed with 1.1 innings, with 1 run on 1 hit, but getting 3 important strikeouts. The score stayed knotted at 6 all until the top of the 9th, when Arnold hit a single to center, his 4th hit of the night. Russell Brewer came into pitch with 1 out in the 9th. Adam Duvall then hit a rope to right field and Joe Loftus quickly threw to 2nd in effort to get the lead runner but threw wide of the base for an error which allowed runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd. VU then intentionally walked Andrew Clark to load the bases. Phil Wunderlich then hit a double down the left field line and scored 2 runs. Stewart Ijames was then walked to reload the bases. Cade Stallings hit into a double play to end the inning but the damage was done and UL lead 8-6 going into the bottom of the 9th.

Harris led off the 9th with being hit by a pitch for the 30th time this season (4 short of the NCAA record). Gomez then grounded to 2nd but beat out the throw to 1st but UL got Harris at 2nd. Jason Esposito followed with a double to deep centerfield, scoring Gomez. Aaron Westlake hit a grounder in the hole at shortstop and the Duvall threw the ball over the 1st baseman's head allowing Esposito to cross the plate and knot the score again at 8-8. Brewer finished the 11th and in 2.2 innings, allowed 1 earned run on 3 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Will Clinard started the 12th, VU ‘s 7th pitcher of the night and pitched 2 innings of scoreless baseball before the Cardinals struck again in the 14th. Wunderlich hit a 1 out single to right, and Ijames followed with a walk. J.J. Ethel then got his only hit of the night, a double in the left centerfield gap that scored 2.

Westlake led off the 14th with the Commodores having their backs to the wall yet again. He responded with a single to right. Casali then doubled to leftfield to drive in Westlake. Loftus walked and Drew Fann was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Mike Yastrzemski flied out deep to right field which allowed the Mark Lamm, pinch runner for Casali, to score from 3rd to once again tie the game at 10-10. Will Clinard kept the rock and seemed to gain confidence with each inning. He kept UL at bay for the rest of the 17 innings, going 6 innings and giving up 4 hits and 2 runs, while walking 1 and striking out 4. Joe Loftus was sent to the bullpen in the 17th in case he was needed.

The bottom of the 17th looked promising for the Dores as the top of the order was due up. Harris and Gomez quickly grounded out and with 2 outs, Esposito stepped to the plate, 1 for 7 on the night. UL pitcher Andy Flett offered a changeup that Espo sat on and drove deep over the "green monster" wall in left field. The ball landed atop Memorial Gym. The game ended with hot tempers that could have spoiled a great night of baseball. Espo's bat had slipped from his hands and went halfway between the mound and home and Flett took issue with this. Espo raced around the bases and tossed his helmet into the air as he passed 3rd. UL Coach Dan McDonnell saw the occurrences and quickly ushered his team to right field, avoiding the end of game handshakes and possible altercations. Clinard gets the well deserved win to go to 3-0 and Flett gets the loss (0-1).

While Espo had the walk off hit, it was Brian Harris that was red hot on the night. He finished the night 4 for 6, with 2 walks, 1 hit by pitcher and 2 RBIs. He was on base 7 of 9 at bats. Curt Casali had 2 hits and both were pivotal doubles scoring 2 RBIs. Besides Bryan Johns' great catch in left, Jordan Wormsley made a diving catch in left field gap that saved a sure double. Vanderbilt's bullpen was rock solid as they pitched 15 innings, allowing only 5 runs on 12 hits and 14 strikeouts.

This game sure had the feel of an NCCA tournament game and both of these teams are clear locks for the NCAA 2010 tournament. Both are now playing for the right to host a regional tournament now. Vanderbilt needs to take care of business and win the series against a struggling Mississippi State team. Vanderbilt then closes the regular season with a home series against a tough Arkansas team. Vanderbilt has their destiny in their own hands. They are currently 6th in the SEC and could move up in the last 2 weeks of the SEC season, if they continue to play baseball the way they did tonight.


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