UM in Control of Regional, Win 4-1

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Cesar Carrillo has been the best pitcher in the nation over the past two seasons. Saturday night continued to prove that as he got back in the win column pitching an "average" game according to Jim Morris as the ‘Canes beat SEC Champion Mississippi State 4-1 in a winner's bracket game in the Coral Gables Regional at Mark Light Field.

But what is average for Carrillo borderlines on the spectacular all the time as he improved to 13-2 on the season and put the ‘Canes one game from a berth in the Super Regional against the Lincoln Regional winner.

Mississippi State will face FAU at 3 p.m. in an elimination game today. The winner of that game will face UM at 7 p.m. A UM win puts it in the Super Regional. A loss, and it's a winner-take-all on Monday night at 7 p.m.

Against a hot Mississippi State team that won the SEC Tournament last week and scored 13 runs against FAU Friday afternoon, Carrillo stymied the Bulldogs, pitching seven and two-third innings, giving up four hits, one run, two walks while striking out nine.

He didn't give up his first hit until the fifth inning when Brian LaNinfa drilled a double off the wall, but he would be stranded at third when Michael Rutledge grounded out to Paco Figueroa.

The ‘Canes took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning as the offensive hero, Danny Figueroa, led off with a walk. After Paco Figueroa popped out, Danny stole second. Ryan Braun struck out, but John Jay drilled a single to left center to plate Figueroa.

"It was a pitch up and inside, but I was able to fight it off and put in the hole," Jay said.

The ‘Canes added another run in the seventh when Danny Valencia drove in Paco Figueroa on a sacrifice fly to left.

That was all the run support Carrillo would need.

"In a 1-0, 2-0 game, it keeps you focused," Carrillo said. "You've got no room for error. The game is on the line. I just have to keep my team in the game."

The playmaker Danny Figueroa was the reason in large part for UM's offensive success.

He went 3-for-3 with two walks, two runs scored, two RBI and a home run that cleared the left field wall in the eighth, giving the ‘Canes a 4-1 lead to put Mississippi State away.

"It was a fastball and it really helped to give Chris (Perez) a cushion going into the ninth," Danny Figueroa said. "My goal every game is to kick start the team, get on base and put my team in a good position and be aggressive on the bases."

Figueroa also had three stolen bases.

"If you take out Carrillo and Figueroa, we probably win this game," Mississippi State coach Ron Polk said. "We had some opportunities, but Danny Figueroa was the key. He was on base all night. We all want to play them again. I can't imagine their starting pitching can get any better than Carrillo. If they are, we'll be going home."

Mississippi State threatened once and was able to get Carrillo out of the game in the eighth.

After Mitch Moreland grounded to second, the Bulldogs got back-to-back hits from Jeff Rea and Ed Easley. Carrillo hit Thomas Berkery to load the bases with one out, but Carrillo got Brad Jones to fly deep to left. That sacrifice fly cut the lead to 2-1.

UM coach Jim Morris went to his closer Chris Perez, who picked up his seventh save, and Perez made quick work getting Brad Corley to ground to short to end the inning.

"We are in the driver's seat now," Morris said. "But we have to take care of business tomorrow night and not let it get to Monday."

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