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Dominguez returning to U of L

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Bad news for Big East pitchers this morning, as the conference's reigning home run king and co-Player of the Year is returning to school for another year.

According to Howie Lindsey of CardinalSports.com, Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez has told head coach Dan McDonnell that he plans on being a Cardinal for at least one more season.

As a sophomore in 2008, Dominguez swatted a Big East-best 21 home runs, drove in a team best 75 runs, and raised his average more than 100 points from .262 to .365. He was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fifth round of last week's MLB Draft, but had been hoping to go earlier.

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"All year long Chris made it clear that he wanted to go in the first few rounds," McDonnell said last week. "Fifth is kind of on the back end. I know he was hoping for first through third (rounds) and that is what he had talked to the clubs about. Now whether there was more conversations since then, I don't know."

Dominguez's return means that second baseman Justin McClanahan will be the lone full-time starter departing from the '08 Big East champions.

It's sort of hard to put into perspective just how big this news is for Louisville baseball. I'd say it's the equivalent of Brian Brohm returning for his senior season, but that fact doesn't exactly carry with it the same luster it did around this time a year ago. So let's just say it's big.

Dominguez's presence in the Cardinal lineup isn't just enormous because of the numbers he's likely to put up, but because of the numbers his teammates are likely to put up as a result. You can't pitch around guys like Stewart Ijames or John Dao when you know there's a 6-5 monster capable of putting any mistake 500-feet behind you waiting in the wings.

And just like that, the Louisville Cardinals are a national contender in 2009.