OMAHA, Neb. — 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.
The Cardinals (47-23) play Tuesday against North Carolina, which lost Sunday to Rice. 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 Cardinals have seven home runs, 33 hits and 22 runs in their first two games. They came into the NCAA tournament batting .304 and averaging 6.7 runs. Those numbers have ballooned to .370 and 9.9 the past 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 past 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.
North Carolina 4
Rice jumped on North Carolina with a six-run second inning and Joe Savery pitched six-plus solid innings to make it stand up and beat the Tar Heels.
The Owls, who failed to score in their last 23 innings at the 2006 CWS, have 29 runs in their first two games and are the lone unbeaten team in Bracket 1.
They’ll play Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday’s Louisville-North Carolina elimination game. One more victory would put the Owls (56-12) in the best-of-three championship series that starts Saturday.
North Carolina (54-14) used a CWS-record eight pitchers against the Owls. But a bullpen that had been a key in five come-from-behind victories in the NCAA tournament wasn’t up to the task after freshman starter Alex White lasted only 11/3 innings.
Each of Rice’s starting position players had at least one hit, with Diego Seastrunk going 3-for-5 and Aaron Luna hitting a two-run home run in the ninth.
It was the most runs surrendered by North Carolina in 119 games.
Danny Lehmann, Seastrunk and Brian Friday all doubled in the second.
, and the Owls converted six hits into six runs. They scored in all but three innings and finished with 14 hits.
Savery (11-1), the Philadelphia Phillies’ first-round draft pick, allowed four runs on seven hits before leaving with one out in the seventh.
Cole St. Clair allowed three hits the rest of the way and earned his ninth save.
For White (6-6), it was his second straight poor start in the NCAA tournament. He went 3 1/3 innings in a loss to South Carolina in super regionals, allowing six runs on five hits. He gave up the same number of runs and hits in two fewer innings Sunday.
North Carolina’s bullpen came into the game having allowed just six runs in 29 2/3 innings in the national tournament. The Tar Heels’ seven relievers gave up eight runs in 7 2/3 innings against the Owls.