Cardinals Complete Comeback

The story of the tournament so far might be the Louisville Cardinals, which won the Columbia (Mo.) regional as a No. 3 seed by beating Miami twice and Louisville twice. After beating the Hurricanes the first time, Louisville lost to Missouri, forcing the Cardinals to beat Miami again and then win back-to-back games against the host Tigers. The Louisville pitching staff, whose 2.89 ERA entering regionals was fourth-best in the nation, was tapped, but that was no problem. The Cardinals used four pitchers to beat the Tigers yesterday, then came back with seven more arms today. The sometimes-overlooked Louisville offense made the pitchers’ jobs easy, jumping on Missouri ace Aaron Crow for seven runs in an eight-run first inning. The Cardinals wound up pounding out 16 runs on 21 hits, led by third baseman Chris Dominguez, who continued his monstrous regional by going 3-for-4 with two homers and seven RBIs.

The senior-laden Cardinals are going to be a tough out in super-regionals because of their experienced lineup and quality pitching. They’ll face fellow No. 3 seed Oklahoma State in super-regionals, and it’s anyone’s guess who will host. That might be a critical question, because Oklahoma State’s slugging offense is well tailored for its launching pad of a home ballpark. If the Cowboys have to travel to Louisville, the Cardinals’ superior pitching could be the difference. Whatever happens, first-year Louisville coach Dan McDonnell and his staff deserve a mountain of credit for taking this program to a super-regional in just its second NCAA tournament appearance.

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