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Cards Stumble Down the Stretch

If you would've told me before the game that U of L would score ten runs against the light-hitting Rice Owls, I would have been extremely confident. If you would've told me that in the fifth inning the score would be 10-4, I would've have gone to the first gambling site I could find and laid the house on the Cards.

When you play a team like Rice you have to be near perfect for nine innings, and in the second half of yesterday's game Louisville was anything but perfect. I still honestly believe that if Cates makes a play he'd probably make 99 times out of 100, then Louisville wins this game. When you make momentum-changing errors like that, Rice capitalizes, it's the reason they're the number one team in the country.

In double elimination tournaments, winning the first game is usually imperative if you hope to have any shot of winning a championship.

Unless you're Oregon State last season.

Of all the teams in the tournament, Louisville might be the most likely to repeat the Beavers' achievement of a year ago. The Cards are the only team in the field that lost a game in both the Regional and Super Regional, and are already 4-0 in elimination games heading into tomorrow's tussle with Mississippi State.

After being forced to use the bullpen trio of Logsdon, Hollander and Magnuson yesterday, Dan McDonnell needs at least six or seven solid innings from Justin Marks tomorrow. He also needs his offense to come to the park with the same approach that they did on Friday.

The bad news for the Cards is that they'll have to beat the guy who's been MSU's star pitcher all year long. Right-hander Chad Crosswhite didn't start yesterday's game against North Carolina only because coach Ron Polk wanted to throw a lefty against UNC's heavily left-handed lineup.

Both teams blew big early leads against tournament favorites, and now we get to see which squad is more resilient.

Like I said before the tournament, whatever happens in Omaha is extra. These guys have kept us unexpectedly entertained for three weeks now, and I'm still in complete awe of what they've been able to accomplish. I'd love to see them play UNC or get another shot at Rice, but if it doesn't happen then there's absolutely no way I'll  think any less of this team.

Go Cards.