OMAHA, Neb. - Staving off elimination in confident style, the Cardinals belted 18 hits with three doubles, and four homers, two by freshman Chris Dominguez, to knock out Mississippi State with a 12-4 win in the NCAA College World Series Sunday afternoon in Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha.
The Louisville team established themselves as sluggers in the College World Series when they became just the fifth team ever to score in double digits in their first two outings in the series, the last team to do so being Tennessee in 2001.
"First I would like to congratulate Mississippi State. Once you get to Omaha, it is a great accomplishment," said U of L coach Dan McDonnell, whose club now posts a 47-23 mark. "They had a great year. That was a very good club that we beat. When you get to Omaha, you never think you have a big enough lead. As for our team, Justin Marks did a great job getting us to the seventh. Our offense continues to swing it. That is 22 runs in two games."
Starter Justin Marks, 9-2, was credited with the win despite being literally knocked out of the game when a Mitch Moreland single caromed off his knee in the sixth inning. Kyle Hollander took over and went an inning and a third before Skylar Meade came in, gave up just two hits in two and a third to shut down the Bulldogs. MSU starter Chad Crosswhite was snagged with the loss, giving up seven hits, five runs, all earned in two and a third innings pitched.
"I don't remember the ball hitting my knee, but my leg just gave out," explained Marks. "It is still a little tender, but no x-rays. I saw it bounce back. I had the same thing happen last week, so I am starting to get used to it."
The Cardinals were led by Daniel Burton who went three for six with a double, a homer and a three-RBI day.
"I can't speak for everyone, but a lot of guys are feeling good at the plate," said Burton. "We are just trying to stay even-keeled at the plate."
Dominguez smacked two homers for three RBI and two runs. Five Cardinals had two hits with Boomer Whiting, Logan Johnson, Daniel Burton, Chris Dominguez and Chris Cates each notching a pair in the scorebook.
"I think I am just finding my swing now," said Dominguez. "During the season there were a lot of ups and downs."
The Bulldogs' lead off man Jeffrey Rea had three of MSU's ten hits with second baseman Brandon Turner going two for four with a homer and three RBI.
The Cardinal offense showed up early in the first inning when Johnson took the count to full and then jacked the payoff pitch over the batter's eye in centerfield to score Whiting who had singled to open the game.
Dominguez led off the second inning and jumped on starter Chad Crosswhite and hit a towering home run that almost cleared the yard from left center to boost the Cardinals to a 3-0 lead.
In the third inning, Burton smacked a double to put runners on second and third before Isaiah Howes hit a laser down the left field line for a two-RBI double. MSU brought in Greg Houston to relieve Crosswhite to face Dominguez. Houston jammed Dominguez and then hit him to put runners at first and second. Pete Rodriguez walked to load the bases but Derrick Alfonso line out sharply to third to end the inning.
In the fourth, Cates led off with a single, with Whiting reaching after being plunked to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice bunt by Logan Johnson pushed the runners forward before Daniel smacked a three-run homer to left to put the Cardinals up 8-0 with two outs. Castillo singled before Dominguez flew out deep to left to end the inning.
The Bulldogs finally plated runs in the sixth inning. Mitch Moreland singled off starter Justin Marks' knee. After Marks took a few throws to evaluate his status, he walked Brian LaNinfa before Brandon Turner took a 1-1 pitch out of the yard to left center. McDonnell made a change, putting Kyle Hollander in relief, who induced Jet Butler to ground into a double play to get out of the inning. Marks suffered a bruised knee but did not require x-rays and was treated in the clubhouse by Drs. Kevin O'Malley and Tim Fitzgibbons.
Jorge Castillo led off the top of the seventh with a single before Dominguez blasted one to left, missing the video scoreboard by about two feet to push the lead to seven runs with his 15th home run of the year. Rodriguez doubled and moved to third on a fly to right by Derrick Alfonso. Cates hit a ball to third and Russ Sneed did not try to hold Rodriguez at third, putting out Cates but getting the U of L shortstop his 23rd RBI. The Bulldogs threw Whiting out at second on a fielder's choice by Johnson to end the inning.
The Bulldogs struck again in the seventh with two outs when Hollander walked Edward Easley and then gave up an RBI double to Mitch Moreland who then advanced to third on a wild pitch. McDonnell brought in lefty Skylar Meade, who inherited batter LaNinfa with a 1-1 count, and got him to pop out to Rodriguez in right.
Mississippi State brought in right-hander Josh Johnson to start the eighth inning. Burton and Howes both jumped on Johnson's first pitches for singles but the Cardinals stranded a pair to post a scoreless eighth.
The Cardinals added an insurance run in the ninth when Cates singled to lead off and Whiting singled but when shortstop Jet Butler missed his cutoff man and threw it away and Cates was able to score. Johnson popped fouled out to the catcher to end the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Bulldogs led off with a single by all-time MSU hit leader Jeffrey Rea, but Meade retired three straight to give the Cardinals their first-ever College World Series win and ended Mississippi State's season at 38-22.