The Cardinals will serve as the home team for the first at the College World Series, with Colby Wark the probable starter for Tuesday's game against the Tar Heels. Wark went 3-3 in 24 appearances, including 9 starts, so far this season and has compiled a 3.63 ERA. He trails only Zach Pitts and Justin Marks with 71 strike outs in 62 innings worked.
"Right now we are leaning towards Colby Wark," McDonnell said. "He's been our number three guy for a couple months now. We haven't had to use him out of the bullpen. We feel a little better when Colby starts, so he has enough time to warm up and be ready to go."
The junior's longest outing of the year, as well as in his career, was 6.1 innings against St. John's in early May. In his last trip to the mound, Wark threw 3.1 innings against Oklahoma State. He allowed 5 hits and two runs - both home runs - in the Cardinals 20-2 win over the Cowboys in the Super Regional finale. The junior from Oregon, by way of Scottsdale C.C., also threw 3 innings in U of L's 4-3 win over Missouri in regional play.
"Like we have done with him throughout the postseason, we will let him go as long as he can go, but it's like a game seven when your back is against the wall, so we'll use everyone and anyone to win this game," McDonnell said. "There's no need to save somebody for tomorrow's game, so Zach Pitts might be able to come out of the bullpen and Trystan Magnuson will definitely be ready to go because he didn't throw on Sunday."
"We feel really good about our bullpen and we feel good that Colby can give us a quality start."
The hot Louisville offense has plated an average of 9 runs per game this postseason and has become just the fifth school to score double figures in each of its first two College World Series contests.
"Without a doubt, throughout the postseason we have been very hot," McDonnell said of his high-scoring offense. "We've been very consistent and the hitters have been locked in and feeling real good about themselves. Hitting is contagious, so we have been getting some real quality at bats one through nine in our lineup."
While Louisville's experience of playing with their backs against the wall hasn't fazed them, the Tar Heels shouldn't let the do-or-die situation play a factor either.
"North Carolina has been on a great run the past few years," McDonnell said. "They are making back-to-back trips to Omaha. They lost in the final game of the College World Series last year and they had a lost a game in the Super Regional as well, so we're dealing with an experienced group of kids. We're expecting them to come out ready to compete. They are a very talented club all the way around."
ESPN2 will broadcast the game nationally with first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m. (ET).