OMAHA - It just wasn't clean baseball. That was the prognosis from Louisville coach Dan McDonnell after his Cardinals lost to Vanderbilt 5-3 in Game 2 of the College World Series Saturday night.
The Cardinals' ace, junior Kyle Funkhouser (13-3), wasn't as crisp as he had been for most of the season, and the Cardinals had nine walks, two wild pitches, two passed balls and an error.
"They just seemed to put a lot of pressure on us, and they seemed to get things going with two outs," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "That is tough when you are a strike away, and then they have success. Congratulations to them and hopefully we will come back Monday and be a little better."
Funkhouser struggled in the first few innings. He had a walk and a balk in the first inning before getting out of the inning unscathed. Then in the second, he gave up a pair of walks and a single to load the bases before John Norwood scored from third on a wild pitch and Dansby Swanson cleared the bases with a two RBI double to left center.
"Coach has been saying it all year, two-out walks will kill you and that was the definition of it tonight," Funkhouser said. "I just need to make some more pitches. It's hard to win at the College World Series with a bad start, and that's what that was tonight."
The Cardinals ace gave up a pair of walks and had a wild pitch in the third inning, but got out of a jam with a pop-fly by Rhett Wiseman and by striking out Norwood to end the inning. Vandy stung Funkhouser for another run n the fourth inning when a two-out single up the middle by Swanson was followed by a RBI triple by Bryan Reynolds.
Down 4-0 against a pitcher that hasn't given up more than four runs this season, but in the fifth inning everything changed. Louisville's bats woke up and Funkhouer settled into a rhythm.
Junior Omaha native Grant Kay led off the top of the fifth and was pushed home by a stand-up triple into the right field corner by Sutton Whiting. A fielder's choice infield hit by Kyle Gibson scored Whiting from third to cut Vanderbilt's lead in half.
Funkhouser pitched 6.0 innings, gave up four runs on six hits. He had six walks, five strikeouts and threw 125 pitches, 79 for strikes. After struggling in the first four innings, he blanked the Commodores in the fifth and six as Louisville mounted its comeback.
Louisville cut Vanderbilt's margin to 4-3 in the top of the seventh when Zach Lucas singled to lead off the inning and was sent home from second base a batter later on a single by Nick Solak.
"I was proud of our kids," McDonnell said. "We fought hard. We kept nipping away and we seemed to get it within a run or two, but we could never catch up, and I just thought offensively they did a really good job tonight 1 through 9 in their lineup."
Kyle McGrath relieved Funkhouser on the mound in the seventh and gave up an unearned run when Vince Conde scored from third on a passed ball by Gibson. What appeared to be a throwout bounced off his chest protector and the ball rolled toward the backstop. Conde was crossing home plate by the time Gibson got back to the ball due to the massive area of grass behind home plate in TD Ameritrade Park.
Louisville's momentum during the comeback was stymied when Vanderbilt brought in Adam Ravenelle for the final 2.1 innings. Ravenelle allowed just one hit among the eight batters he faced. He threw just 22 pitches to close out Vanderbilt's win.
Carson Fulmer (7-1) got the win for Vanderbilt after scattering six hits for two runs in 5.1 innings with six strikeouts. The Commodores scored five runs on seven hits with nine runners left on base.
Louisville scored three runs on nine hits with nine runners left on base. Gibson and Chittenden had two hits a piece.