Louisville had an early five-run lead against Texas A&M and national player of the year Brendan McKay was on the mound. It should have been game over, right?
“We knew Texas A&M wasn’t going to fold,” coach Dan McDonnell said.
The Aggies didn’t. They pulled within a run in the sixth inning before Sam Bordner shut them down with three innings of no-hit relief, and the Cardinals went on to an 8-4 victory Sunday in the College World Series.
“It wasn’t the best game of the year, but we understand now — as we’ve seen two on TV and played in one – that these games aren’t always the cleanest,” McDonnell said. “There’s too much competition. Everybody is playing too hard. It’s not supposed to be smooth and easy.”
The Cardinals (53-10) used six singles and a walk to build a 5-0 lead in the second inning against Corbin Martin (7-4). Texas A&M chipped away against McKay (11-3) to make it 5-4 before Bordner entered and continued to flash his postseason dominance. The sophomore has given up no runs and one hit in his last 11 innings over four appearances.
“I think Sam’s been the X factor, a little under the radar,” McDonnell said. “When you’re in that first out-of-the-bullpen or middle relief role, it’s just not as sexy, and you don’t get as much attention. But clearly Sam’s been hot all year.”
With Bordner doing his thing, the Cardinals added two runs in the bottom of the sixth and another when Colby Fitch doubled in the eighth for his fourth RBI.
Louisville had gone 0-5 over its last three appearances in Omaha. The Aggies (41-22) have lost seven straight CWS games and face going two-and-out for the third straight time.
“It’s about going out there and playing the game like it’s your last one because now it could be,” Nick Choruby said.
The Cardinals knocked Martin out of the game in the second, and the Aggies called on season-long ace Brigham Hill to settle things down.
Hill gave up no runs until the sixth, but the Aggies’ offense couldn’t overcome the big lead Louisville built. No team has overcome a five-run deficit to win at the CWS since the event moved to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011.
“Very proud of our guys finding themselves down 5-0 after two,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. “From that point on you have to be perfect to have a chance to beat McKay and to beat a team like Louisville, and we certainly had a shot.”
It was a bit of a surprise when Childress announced Friday that Martin would get the start. Hill, the Washington Nationals’ fifth-round draft pick, has been A&M’s top starter since April 2016, but Childress indicated Martin had been the team’s best pitcher the last three weeks.
McKay lasted five innings, matching the shortest outing of the season by the first college player taken in the draft. The No. 4 overall pick by Tampa Bay allowed four runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out six.
“I worked out of a lot of jams,” McKay said. “It’s hard to pitch effectively when you’re in jams like that.”
Louisville will play Tuesday night against the winner of the TCU-Florida game Sunday night. The Aggies will play the loser in an elimination game Tuesday.
BIG INNINGS ROUTINE
Louisville’s five runs in the second inning marked the 26th time this season it has scored four or more in an inning this season.
HOME TEAM SUCCESS
Home teams have won the first three games of the CWS for the first time since 2007.
TCU CLIMBED OUT
According to the CWS, the last team to overcome a five-run deficit and win at the CWS was TCU against Florida State on June 23, 2010. The Frogs trailed 7-2 and won 11-7.