LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Coco Johnson drove in three runs and Louisville scored five times in the first four innings to cruise past Oklahoma State 12-3 on Sunday and advance to the super regionals.
With the win, the Cardinals (49-12) reached the super regionals for the third time in school history, and first since 2009. All three super regional appearances have come under seventh-year coach Dan McDonnell, and this is the first in which the Cardinals got there by going there 3-0 in the regional.
"I love what I witnessed out there today," McDonnell said. "It's just been a great year for the University of Louisville. I know our fans have had a very enjoyable year. It just says a lot about our program, how far we've come. That was the reason we expanded the stadium, to do it first-class and allow these fans to enjoy a great, great college baseball weekend."
Louisville won it in front of 4,374 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium, which was freshly expanded from about 1,500 seats before this season to its new permanent capacity.
Louisville chased Cowboys starter Kenton Bevacqua out of the game after a three-run third inning. In the next inning against reliever Brendan McCurry, Adam Engel blooped a ball down the right-field line that drove in two runs as Engel ended up with a triple.
The Cardinals added six runs in the top of the eighth to seal the win.
The big inning took Louisville from a precarious lead — the tying run would be no further away than standing in the hole at any given point — to a position so dominant, McDonnell put in reserves for the bottom half of the eighth with a nine-run lead.
The Cardinals have outscored opponents 70-29 in the eighth inning this season.
The Cowboys (41-19) were eliminated two wins short of qualifying for their first super regional since 2007, when they lost to Louisville in the same stadium.
Louisville took advantage of the Cowboys having come from the losers' bracket. The Cowboys beat Miami in an elimination game Sunday afternoon and had about 90 minutes between the two games. Oklahoma State's bullpen only went three innings in the first game — and Vince Wheeland pitched all three of those — but Kenton Bevacqua's start against Louisville lasted only three innings.
Meanwhile, McDonnell turned to his bullpen earlier than usual, lifting starter Dace Kime for lefty reliever Joe Filomeno with two outs in the fifth inning after allowing three runs and eight hits. Filomeno threw 3 1-3 shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk in 41 pitches.
"On a day when you're going into your 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th innings of the day, you've got to be pretty efficient to hit that," Cowboys coach Josh Holliday said of Filomeno's 93 mph fastball. "He came at us with a very good mix of fastball and breaking ball, but mostly fastball. It's a pretty good fastball. Lefties that throw 93 and 94 can be pretty tough to contend with, and today was certainly one of those days where he was tough for us to solve."
Louisville was subdued in their postgame celebration. Partially, designated hitter Jeff Gardner said, because the team has expectations of reaching its first College World Series since 2007. Another reason, Gardner said, was because the bottom of the ninth inning went faster, and dugout discussions of where and how to dogpile were still going on.
"I think a lot of it was a mindset of thinking like, we don't want people to think that this is where we're being satisfied with," Gardner said. "Obviously our goal is always the national championship. It's always to be in Omaha. Me saying that doesn't mean that's our sole focus. Our sole focus now is whoever we play next weekend in the supers."