Chris Dominguez went deep yet again and the Cardinal offense exploded for nine extra base hits as Louisville romped to a 14-3 victory over Villanova in a game that was called in the seventh inning due to the mercy rule.
The victory moves the Cards into the semifinal round of the Big East Tournament, where they await the winner of today's elimination game between Seton Hall and Villanova. Louisville will take on the victor at 10 a.m. tomorrow, and will have two chances to advance to Saturday's championship game.
The Cards lead from start to finish on Wednesday, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead and chasing Wildcat starter Jordan Ellis in the third inning. Freshman Stewart Ijames supplied the biggest blow of the early barrage when he blasted his seventh home run of the season onto the berm beyond the fence in right center field.
'Nova plated a pair of runs in the home half of the third, but a five-run Cardinal fifth highlighted by consecutive doubles from John Dao, Josh Richmond and Justin McClanahan quashed any thoughts the Wildcats may have been entertaining of pulling off their second upset in as many days.
With the game still well in hand in the seventh, Dominguez decided it was the appropriate time for an exclamation point. The co-Big East Player of the Year took a hanging breaking ball on a 3-2 pitch and drove it clear of the confines of Bright House Field for his 19th jack of the season. The bomb put the Cards ahead by 11, and Big East Tournament rules state that a game will be called if one team leads by ten or more runs after seven innings.
Justin Marks picked up his eighth victory of the season, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out seven over six innings. Closer B.J. Rosenberg was brought in for the seventh, and ended the game in style by striking out the side.
Louisville has now started the Big East Tournament 2-0 in all three of its seasons as a member of the conference. The Cards were defeated in the championship game by Notre Dame in 2006, and lost twice to Rutgers in the semifinal round a year ago.
Tomorrow marks the first of (potentially) a pair of enormous days for the Cardinal Nine.
Other Big East Tournament Results:
5) Seton Hall 12, 1) St. John's 6 (St. John's eliminated)
7) West Virginia 13, 3) Notre Dame 6 (Notre Dame eliminated)
2) Cincinnati 11, 6) South Florida 1
5) Seton Hall vs. 8) Villanova (4 p.m./elimination game)
6) South Florida vs. 7) West Virginia (7 p.m./elimination game)