Vanderbilt Starts Hot, Defeats Louisville 5-3 in First Game at the College World Series

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Vanderbilt chained together some big hits and got a stellar pitching effort to cool down the formerly-hot Cardinals on Saturday, earning a 5-3 win. The Commodores will face California-Irvine, who defeated Texas, in their next game on Monday.

It wouldn't be the college baseball postseason without a Vanderbilt/Louisville matchup. On Saturday, the Commodores avenged their Battle of the Barrel loss from this May with a 5-3 win over their rivals.

Dansby Swanson had a pair of RBI and Adam Ravenelle threw 2.1 innings of next-level relief to give the 'Dores a day one win in Omaha. Vandy touched up UL starter Kyle Funkhouser for four runs over six innings in a game where they never trailed.

Vanderbilt took a 3-0 lead in the second inning behind some patient batting. The 'Dores put five straight runners on base, and scored behind a wild pitch and a Swanson double to post an early advantage over their cross-state rivals. They added one more in the fourth when freshman Bryan Reynolds harnessed the awesome power of his dirt-stache to keep his hot streak alive with a gap-seeking triple to score Swanson from second base.

Louisville wasn't deterred by Vandy's lead, however. The Cardinals came back with two runs in the fifth inning when Rhett Wiseman's diving effort in right field came up short and led to a Sutton Whiting triple. Whiting's hit brought Grant Kay home from first, and he'd later score on an RBI groundout one out later. U of L added one more in the top of the seventh when Zach Lucas narrowly beat out Karl Ellison's tag at home plate after a Nick Solak single.

Vandy got one back on a weird play in the seventh inning. The 'Dores put runners on first and third for Xavier Turner with one out, forcing U of L to call for a pitch-out. However, pitcher Kyle McGrath didn't get the memo, firing a pitch over the plate that catcher Kyle Gibson wasn't ready for. The ball scooted to the backstop on a passed ball, and Vince Conde came around to make it 5-3 Commodores through seven innings.

Adam Ravenelle - who, it should be noted, is NOT Vanderbilt's closer - was unflappable over the final 2.1 innings of the game. Ravenelle kept Louisville scoreless and allowed only one baserunners thanks to some sterling relief work. Though Carson Fulmer got the win - and pitched well - Rav may have been Vandy's most valuable player on Saturday night.

With the win, Vanderbilt will take on UC-Irvine on Monday on the winner's side of the bracket. Louisville drops to play Texas - and the loser of that game will be heading home for the summer. The Commodores will play at 7PM CST on ESPN2 on Monday - the perfect dessert after your main-course USA World Cup game.

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