LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- Louisville's surging baseball team has a tough act to follow in next week's College World Series: Its own.
The No. 7 Cardinals (49-16) turned in their second dominating performance in as many days Saturday afternoon in packed Jim Patterson Stadium, clobbering No. 10 East Carolina 12-0 to win the NCAA Super Regional championship after breezing to a 14-1 rout on Friday.
"Louisville played unbelievable baseball for two days," ECU coach Cliff Godwin said.
U of L's 26 runs came on 32 hits. The Cards committed just one error, came up with several difficult defensive plays and got strong performances from starting pitchers Reid Detmers and Bobby Miller, who combined to allow only six hits and one run. Asked if these were the two most complete games his team had played back-to-back, McDonnell didn't hesitate.
"I don't know if it gets more complete than that," he said. "Two quality starts, double-digit runs with a big lead against one of the top teams in the country."
By the time it was over, the victory was almost anti-climatic because, with the Cards owning an insurmountable lead, the only suspense revolved around whether sophomore righthander Miller (7-1) could complete a no-hitter.
The lanky righthander made it through 8 1/3 innings unscathed before freshman pinch-hitter Francisco Thomas punched a single into right field to end the no-hit bid and bring on reliever Michael Kirian to close out the win.
Afterwards Miller verbally shrugged his shoulders at losing the no-hitter.
"I mean, not really upset honestly," he said. "Could have come at any time. I've got to give credit to them. They're a great team, super hard to get out."
Miller was throwing his fast ball in the mid-90s most of the day and even hit 99 mph a few times, and his slider and changeup were also effective. He struck out five and walked two.
"I wasn't in the (batter's) box, but I saw it," Godwin said. "When a guy's throwing 94-96 miles an hour to both sides, his changeup was really good, had his slider. . .The Louisville catcher told one of our hitters this was the best Miller's changeup has ever been. He was outstanding. Nobody was going to beat him today."
As the game progressed and Miller continued to put up goose eggs on the scoreboard, he tried to ignore them.
"I tried not to think anything different," Miller said. "Obviously, it's hard not to look at the scoreboard when you see no hits up there, but same routine, try to keep the same mindset, control my emotions, treat it like any other game. I knew I had to go in there and pound the strike zone and I knew if I did that we'd be awfully good.
"I didn't even know I hit 99. I've never done that before. It was probably adrenalin. I have no idea. I give credit to my catcher, Henry Davis, Coach Williams (pitching coach Roger Williams) and my defense for doing a great job out there, having my back the whole game. It felt amazing, unexplainable."
Just as they had done for Detmers the day before, the Cards staked Miller to a big early lead, scoring six runs in the first three innings. They added three more in the fifth and three in the ninth.
The hitting stars this time were junior second baseman Justin Lavey, who was a perfect 3-for-3, drove in three runs and scored three; and right-fielder Drew Campbell, who also had three hits, including a double and a triple, with 2 RBI and three runs scored.
Campbell got the Cards going with a two-run triple in the second inning after Jake Snider walked and Danny Oriente beat out a bunt single. Campbell scored on a wild pitch. In the third, Lavey followed Alex Binelas' walk and Campbell's two-out double with a two-run double, then scored on Davis' single. The rest of the game belonged to Miller.
"This is a dangerous team and everything clicked for us this weekend," Campbell said. We showed what we're capable of doing."
After the traditional dogpile celebration along the third base line, McDonnell met with his team in the outfield for some closing words.
"Super proud of our guys," he said later. "They showed a lot of toughness and competed. This journey's been a lot of fun, but we made it clear out there in the outfield that we're not finished yet."
UofL's first opponent in the CWS will be either Vanderbilt or Duke, who are playing for the Super Regional title in Nashville. The Commodores, the No. 2 national seed, lost the first game 18-5. The second game was set for 9 p.m. Saturday, with a third game Sunday if necessary.
This will be the Cards' fifth trip to the CWS in Omaha, but they have won only two games there.
LAVEY PLAYS IT SAFE
Lavey said he didn't want to be one of the first to hit the ground for the dogpile, so he played it safe and held back for a while, and his explanation added some humor to the postgame press conference.
"I kinda waited a little bit," he said. "I didn't want to be at the bottom, so I kinda told Fitz (Tyler Fitzpatrick) before the ninth inning, 'Is it cool if we like hug for a little bit and then go jump?' So that was my plan going in. It was awesome being with your brothers, though, an indescribable feeling."
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.