***Louisville: The Cardinals left no doubt in the Columbia Regional, blasting No. 11 Missouri 16-6 in the championship contest. Most Outstanding Player Chris Dominquez hit a first-inning grand slam to propel a eight-run opening frame. Louisville, a third-seed in Columbia, will now get the honor of hosting a Super Regional this upcoming weekend against Oklahoma State, who won the Fayetteville Regional by besting top-seed Arkansas in Sunday's championship game.
The Cardinals (44-21), appearing in only their third NCAA Tournament in school history, were down 7-3 to Miami (FL) in the opening contest. Louisville stormed back to score the game's final 10 runs to capture a 13-7 victory. Jorge Castillo tied it up at 7-all with a two-run homer and the Cardinals went ahead for good on Daniel Burton's two-run RBI single. On Saturday, Louisville lost to Missouri 7-5. The Cardinals outhit the Tigers 15-8 but couldn't hold on to a 3-0 lead. In the ninth, Louisville had the tying run at the plate but Isaiah Howes flied out to end the contest. It would mean the Cardinals would have to win three games in two days to advance to the Super Regional.
Louisville didn't disappoint. The Cardinals eliminated Miami (FL) on Sunday with a 8-7 win. Castillo knocked in four runs and Dominquez's two-run home run in the fifth inning put Louisville up 7-5. Trystan Magnuson shut the door in the ninth to earn the save. Later that day in a rematch with Missouri, Dominquez came through again, this time with a tiebreaking two-run round tripper in the eighth inning to give the Cardinals a 4-3 victory. With the tying run at second base, Kyle Hollander closed it out to set up Monday's championship game.
Louisville unloaded on the Missouri pitching staff. The Cardinals scored eight first inning runs to quickly take a huge lead. The Tigers showed some life by responding with five second inning runs. But Louisville scored the next eight runs to put the contest away and advance to the Super Regional. Dominquez knocked in seven runs in the decisive contest. First-year head coach Dan McConnell has led the Cardinals to a school-record 44 wins and now the team is just two victories away from a trip to Omaha and the College World Series.
***Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights were eliminated by No. 25 Oregon State 5-2 on Monday in the Charlottesville Regional, two wins away from a spot in the Super Regionals. Rutgers ends the year at 42-21, tying the school-record for victories.
The Scarlet Knights lost both regional contests to the Beavers. In the opener on Friday, Oregon State downed Rutgers 5-1. The Scarlet Knights actually took a 1-0 first inning lead on Dave Williams' RBI single but the Beavers tied it up in the second on a RBI groundout. By the fifth, it was 5-1 Oregon State and the Rutgers offensive, so explosive all year long, could not scrap together any runs off of Beaver pitching.
The Scarlet Knights saved face by winning a thrilling 11-10 game against Lafayette on Saturday. The contest saw 31 combined hits and 14 runs scored in the final three innings of play. Home runs by Williams and Frank Meade gave Rutgers a 11-7 advantage in the eighth inning. After a Lafayette home run in the bottom of the frame cut it to 11-8, the Leopards scored two more in the ninth to make it 11-10 on a two-run round tripper. But Chris Lillis came on in relief to earn the save and set up the rematch with Oregon State.
Once again, the Scarlet Knights could not score enough runs against the Beaver pitching staff, losing 5-2 to end the season. Rutgers closed to 3-2 in the sixth on another Meade round tripper but Oregon State scored a run in the sixth and a pair in the seventh to put the game away. The Beavers ended up winning the regional and will continue to defend their national championship.
***St. John's: The Red Storm had the same road in the regionals as the Scarlet Knights: three contests, one win and a trip home. St. John's was eliminated by top-seed Coastal Carolina 6-5 on Sunday in the Myrtle Beach Regional. The Red Storm ends the season at 41-19, tying the school-record for most victories in one year.
St. John's let one slip away on Friday in the opener. The Red Storm lost to Clemson 3-2 on a walk-off single. This was after St. John's took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning on Brian Kemp's RBI single. In the bottom of the frame, the Tigers tied it up on a wild pitch and a RBI single from Brad Chalk to won the game. The loss erased a solid starting effort from Scott Barnes. The sophomore left-hander pitched 7.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits.
On Sunday, the Red Storm turned the tables on Virginia Commonwealth. Chris Anninos's round tripper in the bottom of the ninth sent St. John's to a 6-5 win. Anninos also homered in the second inning to tie the contest up at 2-all. The two teams battled a few rain delays in a back-and-forth contest. It all set up for Anninos's heroics in the ninth, when the junior outfielder sent a 1-1 slider over the wall for the win.
Staying with the theme of the weekend, the Red Storm played their third one-run game of the Myrtle Beach Regional. As was the case on Friday, St. John's lost a nail biter to Coastal Carolina 6-5. A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth gave CCU the one-run advantage. In the ninth, the Red Storm went 1-2-3 to end the contest and the St. John season. Anninos drove in three runs in the finale and hit another home run. The junior drove in seven runs and totaled 14 bases in three regional contests.