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June 3, 2012
Louisville's talented pitching staff was no match for a team on fire at the plate. Eighth-ranked Arizona had 23 hits during a 16-4 dominating win late Saturday night, forcing Louisville into an elimination game with Big 12 champ Missouri (33-27).
The Cardinals and Tigers will square off at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3.com) in Tucson for the right to continue playing. The loser's season is over, the winner gets another crack at undefeated Arizona (40-17) Sunday night at 11 p.m. ET.
Missouri, one of the hottest teams in the country, made a run through the Big 12 Tournament to earn one of the toughest titles in college baseball. The Tigers have won six out of their last seven games including wins over Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas (twice) and Oklahoma. They advanced to Sunday's elimination game with a 6-2 win over New Mexico State Saturday evening.
To beat Missouri, Louisville must have more success on the mound and get better at taking advantage of opportunities to score. The Cardinals took an early 1-0 lead on Arizona, but had a runner thrown out at home and left the bases loaded on a pop-fly.
The Wildcats came back and scored five runs in the third inning, blowing the door open for their second blowout win in as many games. (They beat Missouri 15-3 Friday).
Louisville used four pitchers, but none of them could slow down Arizona's Pac-12 Player of the Year Alex Mejia and the Wildcats. Mejia went 5-for-5 with three RBI and four runs scored and four other Wildcats had three hits or more Saturday.
It wasn't much better at the plate for the Cardinals. After that first inning burst, Louisville was stymied by Arizona starter Konner Wade. The Cardinals had 10 hits and scored four runs, two of them earned, on Wade, but weren't able to put together the big inning like Arizona did.
After its 1-0 lead, Arizona scored eight unanswered runs before a par of runs in the sixth cut the Wildcats' lead to 8-3. Arizona responded with seven runs in the seventh to send the game out of reach.
Louisville or Missouri would have to beat the Wildcats twice, once tonight and another time Monday at 11 p.m. ET to advance to the Super Regional round. Arizona, on the other hand, needs only to win one more game to advance.