Louisville 12, Mississippi State 4
Louisville sends Mississippi St. to first winless CWS since '71
Updated: June 17, 2007, 7:57 PM ET
OMAHA, Neb. -- Those Louisville sluggers kept the Cardinals alive at the College World Series.
Chris Dominguez hit two of his team's four home runs and the Cardinals scored in double digits for the third consecutive game, eliminating Mississippi State 12-4 on Sunday.
Louisville's latest offensive surge overshadowed a strong performance by freshman pitcher Justin Marks, who held the Bulldogs to two singles before taking a hard shot to his left leg in the sixth inning.
Now the Cardinals (47-23) play Tuesday against the loser of Sunday night's Rice-North Carolina game. Mississippi State (38-22) went two games and out or the first time in seven CWS appearances since the 1971 Bulldogs went winless here.
"To get here, you feel like you've got to score runs, and we've always said you have to swing your way to Omaha," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. "Obviously, you have to pitch and defend. Everything counts. But you have to score runs."
The Cards' bats certainly got them to Omaha for the first time. And their bats will determine how long they stay. They have seven home runs, 33 hits and 22 runs in their first two games.
Louisville came into the NCAA Tournament batting .304 and averaging 6.7 runs. Those numbers have ballooned to .370 and 9.9 the last 10 games. They've scored 10 or more runs five times in the tournament.
"They're a ballclub that's been hot the last couple weeks with the bat," Mississippi State coach Ron Polk said. "It's not that our kids didn't try. We closed the ball game down a little bit. Every time we did, it seemed like they got a two- or three-run home run. That third baseman is a hoss, boy."
That third baseman is Dominguez, who has hit eight home runs the last eight games after hitting seven in his first 56 games.
"During the season, I was up and down trying to find a good swing," Dominguez said. "It didn't work out. I'm finding it now in the postseason. I guess that's the best time."
The Cardinals found themselves fighting for survival after squandering leads of 5-0 and 10-4 in Friday's 15-10 loss to Rice.
"We definitely learned from it," McDonnell said. "There was a lot of frustration. That's not to take anything away from Rice. They beat us. But it was a frustrating game because we didn't play as well as we could."
Sunday, the Cards broke out to an 8-0 lead -- and never folded. After Mississippi State scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, Louisville came back with three in the seventh, highlighted by Dominguez's two-run shot to left.
"It was one of those games where you just couldn't stop them," Polk said.
With the wind blowing out at 19 to 25 mph, Logan Johnson hit his third homer in five CWS at-bats after Boomer Whiting singled leading off the game against Chad Crosswhite (8-5).
Dominguez, who also homered against Rice, hit his first of the game to make it 3-0 in the second. Daniel Burton's three-run shot in the fourth gave Louisville its eight-run lead.
"When the wind is gushing out like that," McDonnell said, "you blink and a team scores three runs."
It was the fifth time in the NCAA Tournament the Cardinals hit at least three home runs, running their total to 20 in 10 games. The four homers Sunday were their most since they hit eight against Marshall on April 1.
Marks (9-2), who held Oklahoma State to one run on one hit in 6 1/3 innings in super regionals, cruised through the first five innings. But in the sixth, Mitch Moreland's sharp comebacker hit him on his left knee. The shot left him writhing on the mound, and he later was diagnosed with a bruise.
"I thought it was going to be a lot worse than it really was," Marks said. "It hurt pretty bad at the time. I gave it a couple minutes, and it started feeling better."
After Marks composed himself, he walked Brian LaNinfa on four pitches, and Brandon Turner followed with a three-run homer that barely cleared the wall in left center.
"We were down 8-0, and I was trying anything to get us going," Turner said. "But every time we got something, the next inning they got the exact same or a little more."
Crosswhite's 2 1/3 innings marked the shortest of his 13 career starts. He was the first of five Bulldog pitchers, who combined to give up 18 hits.
"I was disappointed in myself," Crosswhite said. "It's not the way you want to start out a game. Next thing I know, I leave some balls up and they hit them out."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press