Louisville freshman Nick Solak hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning, helping the Cardinals rally to a 5-3 win over Kennesaw State on Friday in an NCAA super regional.
The Cardinals (49-15) scored three runs in the eighth to come from behind and move within a victory of their second straight College World Series berth and third since Dan McDonnell was hired as coach in 2007.
"I told the kids if we don't get the rally and fall up short, so be it," McDonnell said. "We turn the page and come back tomorrow. Fortunately, we got the rally late, got the fans excited and it worked our way. This is baseball. There's lots of parity, and anything can happen."
Kyle Funkhouser allowed three runs -- two earned -- and three hits in seven innings for the Cardinals. He struck out seven and walked five. Kyle McGrath (2-1) got the win in relief.
The Owls (40-23), who have won 26 of their past 29 games, are one game from elimination in their first NCAA tournament appearance since transitioning from Division II in 2007. The teams play again Saturday. Reliever James Connell (7-4) took the loss.
Louisville took a 1-0 lead in the third after Kyle Gibson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Solak's single.
Kennesaw State scored two runs in the fourth after Funkhouser issued back-to-back walks to begin the inning. The Owls took a 3-1 lead in the fifth when Cornell Nixon scored from second on a wild pitch and a throwing error by Gibson.
"I just thought we were very patient during those innings," Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said. "I thought our guys were laying off some close pitches, it looked like to me, and had a good approach going up there.
"We were getting something out of it. We weren't hitting him, but we at least got something out of it."
Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost, who was the No. 11 overall pick by Toronto in the Major League Baseball draft Thursday, was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Nick Burdi, Louisville's closer, who was drafted in the second round by Minnesota, earned his 17th save. With the tying run at the plate, pinch hitter Chris Erwin popped out to third to end the game.
Solak, the designated hitter, finished 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBIs.
"It's what you lay in bed dreaming about," he said of his go-ahead double. "It's cool to get that opportunity for the team."
Vanderbilt 11, Stanford 6: Freshman Bryan Reynolds matched a season-best four hits, and Vanderbilt used a fast start to beat Stanford in Game 1 of their super regional best-of-three series in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Commodores (45-18) moved a win away from advancing to the College World Series. Game 2 is Saturday.
Stanford (34-25) walked five of Vanderbilt's first nine batters as the Commodores scored the first 10 runs. The Cardinal responded, scoring six straight in the fourth and fifth innings, but tallied just one hit the rest of the way.
Tyler Beede, drafted 14th overall Thursday night by the San Francisco Giants, earned the win. Beede pitched three scoreless innings to start before faltering in the fourth and fifth. He struck out two, walked four and allowed five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Texas 4, Houston 2: Nathan Thornhill pitched seven solid innings, fellow senior Mark Payton hit a two-run homer and Texas moved within a victory of returning to the College World Series by beating Houston in Austin.
Thornhill, a right-hander, allowed two runs and seven hits for Texas, which is trying for its record 35th appearance in the College World Series. Payton had three hits, connecting in the first inning for his second home run in 415 at-bats.
Game 2 of the super regional is Saturday.
The Longhorns (42-19) made it 4-0 by the time Houston (48-16) scored its only two runs in the fifth, starting the inning with three straight singles off Thornhill.
Cougars starter Jake Lemoine was tagged for four runs in 4 2/3 innings and dropped to 1-7 with a 4.56 ERA in his past nine starts.
Texas is one victory away from going to Omaha for the first time since 2011.
UC Irvine 8, Oklahoma State 4: Taylor Sparks had four hits and scored twice, and Adam Alcantara's two-run single in the fourth inning gave UC Irvine a lead it would not relinquish in an 8-4 victory over Oklahoma State on Friday night in the NCAA super regionals.
After its upset win over national No. 1 seed Oregon State in last week's Corvallis regional, UC Irvine (39-23) carried an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning before Oklahoma State (48-17) made it a little closer.
UC Irvine, in its fourth trip to the super regionals in the past eight years, is one win away from its first College World Series appearance since 2007, with Game 2 of the best-of-three series Saturday.
"Taylor had a huge night, and who's kidding? We got some breaks. Breaks are good," Anteaters coach Mike Gillespie said. "It's a super regional. Any win is critical, so it was a great win for us. I think everybody understands that there's lots of work still to be done.
"I don't think there's anybody in (the clubhouse) that's stupid enough to think it's over."
Oklahoma State is hosting its first super regional after winning three regional games by a combined 27-11 margin.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.