Cardinals 10, (2) Owls 15
Rice bats send Owls past Cardinals in CWS opener
Updated: June 16, 2007, 12:14 AM ET
OMAHA, Neb. -- After leaving town quietly last year, Rice opened the College World Series with a statement Friday.
Danny Lehmann doubled in the go-ahead run in a six-run eighth inning, and the Owls had 19 hits to rally for a 15-10 victory over CWS newcomer Louisville on Friday.
Lehmann not only gave Rice the lead, he ended a CWS-record streak for scoreless innings at 25 2-3 when he singled in the Owls' first run in the third inning.
"We came in here with a stigma," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "I knew our kids could hit. They sure proved it today."
The Owls (55-12) will play Sunday against North Carolina (54-13), which beat Mississippi State 8-5. The Bulldogs (38-21) will play Louisville (46-23) in an elimination game.
Rice, with a team ERA of 2.83 ERA, figured it had the arms to quell Louisville's potent offense. But Louisville, which had scored 77 runs in eight NCAA tournament games, took leads of 5-0 and 10-4 before Rice pitchers Scott Lonergan and Bobby Bramhall combined to hold the Cardinals scoreless the last four innings.
Rice used a three-run fifth inning and home runs by Joe Savery in the sixth and Aaron Luna in the seventh to get to 10-9.
"Coming back from six runs down, that's something not a lot of people -- including people on the team -- probably thought we could do," Savery said.
Bramhall (7-2) kept it a one-run game in the eighth after he intentionally walked Chris Dominguez to load the bases with one out. Bramhall struck out Pete Rodriguez after running the count full, then got Derrick Alfonso to fly out to end the threat.
The Owls broke open the game against Louisville closer Trystan Magnuson (3-3) in the bottom half. Chad Lembeck singled leading off and Tyler Henley beat out Dominguez's throw from third for a bunt single before Savery's liner into left tied it at 10.
"Momentum, that is what they had," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "We couldn't get it back."
Lehmann's double put Rice up 11-10, and the Owls scored four more times before Bramhall shut down the Cardinals in the ninth.
"Somebody asked me if I expected a pitchers duel. I didn't know what was going to happen," Graham said. "Can anyone truly define baseball? It's capricious, unpredictable. You've got to roll with the punches."
Louisville showed no jitters in its Omaha debut, getting two home runs from Logan Johnson and one from Dominguez, who has six home runs and 17 RBIs in his last seven games.
Although Rice's pitchers ranked fourth in the country and best among the CWS teams in ERA, Louisville had eight runs by the fifth inning on its way to scoring the most runs by an Owls opponent this season.
Dominguez's three-run homer in the third inning -- his sixth in seven games -- gave Louisville a 5-0 lead against Rice's Ryan Berry.
Rice strung together four RBI singles in the bottom half to get within a run.
Johnson's homer in the fourth off Matt Langwell -- the first he allowed since March 6 -- and his two-run shot in the fifth on Lonergan's first pitch put the Cardinals up 10-4.
Berry struggled from his first pitch and lasted only 2 2-3 innings. The Conference USA freshman of the year hit Boomer Whiting with his first pitch of the game, and he hit Daniel Burton four pitches later.
Louisville scored in each of the first five innings.
"I'm not going to lie -- I felt good about the game early on," Whiting said. "But we are in Omaha, and we are playing some of the top teams in the country. It is never enough against Rice. I didn't feel comfortable late in the game. Obviously, they shut us down, making big plays and getting it done."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press