Chris Dominguez’s hit should have been the highlight of Sunday night’s NCAA regional game between Louisville and Missouri. Dominguez’s home run was the winner in the Cardinals’ 4-3 victory over the Tigers, ruining Missouri’s hopes for an undefeated regional title.
Louisville eliminated Miami earlier in the day with an 8-7 win, leaving the Tigers and Cardinals to vie for the championship. A final game between the Tigers and the Cardinals is scheduled for 1 p.m. today at Taylor Stadium.
With the Cardinals and Tigers tied at 2 in the seventh inning on Sunday, Dominguez, Louisville’s third baseman, sent a majestic drive high down the left field line, driving in two runs.
The magnitude of the home run, which gave Louisville one more shot at the Columbia regional championship, was overshadowed by events following the blast.
Dominguez slowly walked from the batter’s box down the first-base line, watching the ball. Once the umpires ruled it a home run, Dominguez skipped backwards and appeared to yell in the direction of Missouri catcher Trevor Coleman. Dominguez’s teammates met him at home plate, only to see Dominguez exchange more words with Coleman, who had to be restrained.
The tension continued in the bottom of the inning.
When Louisville took the field, Dominguez and a few Missouri players could be seen yelling at each other. Homeplate umpire Bill Speck ran to third base to talk with Dominguez, and a police officer walked onto the field between the Missouri dugout and third base.
“I didn’t know if it was fair or foul,” Dominguez said after the game. “That was basically why I was there for a long time, standing there, looking to see if it was going to go out. When I knew it, I started running around the bases, and that was it. The catcher (Coleman) had said some things, and in the emotion of the game, you kind of say some things that you regret.”
For most of the game, the action was less exciting than the events that took place in the seventh inning. Missouri took two one-run leads, but poor hitting with runners in scoring position left the game tied before Dominguez’s home run.
“Bottom line is we let too many scoring opportunities get by,” Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said, “and when we lose a one-run game you can find three or four things why you either give up a run or don’t score a run. We should have scored more runs and given up less runs, and that’s the bottom line of the game.”
Missouri made one last comeback in the bottom of the ninth. After Jacob Priday’s solo home run to lead off the inning, Missouri put runners on first and second with one out, but Kyle Mach struck out and Gary Arndt flied out to center to end the game.
“That wasn’t the only scoring opportunity that we had that we didn’t produce from it,” said Missouri’s Aaron Senne, who’s second-inning home run gave the Tigers their first lead of the game. “We had probably two, three or four opportunities where we didn’t get what we needed to in that situation. It just came back to bite us in the butt late in the game.”