LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bobby Miller’s awareness of the so-called jinx that cautions against knowing about potential no-hitters didn’t stop the Louisville right-hander from being curious about his achievement.
When his remarkable attempt fell short with a solid ninth-inning single off the bat of former Abingdon High School star Thomas Francisco, Miller wasn’t disappointed because he fulfilled his objective of getting the Cardinals back to the College World Series.
Miller carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth inning, Justin Lavey had three RBIs and the Cardinals beat East Carolina 12-0 on Saturday to sweep the NCAA super regional and reach its fourth CWS since 2013.
Miller (7-1) hit Chandler Jenkins with a pitch to start the ninth before Francisco singled through the hole to right to end his bid for the Cardinals’ first no-hitter since March 26, 1983 by Dave McCormick against Cincinnati. It would have been the eighth no-hitter in NCAA postseason history and the first in a super regional. Michael Kirian relieved the sophomore right-hander, who walked off to a standing ovation and hugs from teammates. Miller struck out five, walked two and hit a batter in facing 27 batters.
“Not really upset honestly, it could have come eventually,” Miller said. “I have to give credit to them, they are a great team. They are super hard to get out, I don’t blame them honestly. I had all the faith in the world in Kirian, he’s a great pitcher. I knew he was going to come in and shut it down.”
Francisco entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter and took over at third base. The freshman went 5-for-12 with two RBIs in six NCAA tournament games and ended his first season of college baseball with a .319 batting average, four home runs and 26 RBIs.
He’ll play with the Charlottesville Tom Sox of the wood-bat Valley League this summer.
Kirian walked Bryant Packard to load the bases before a double play at the plate. He then hit Alec Burleson before Jake Washer’s game-ending fly to center to preserve the shutout. Louisville earned its fifth trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and second in three years.
Lavey hit a two-run double in the third and doubled in another run in the ninth for the Cardinals (49-16) who scored three runs each in the second, third, fifth and ninth innings. Louisville outscored No. 10 seed ECU (47-18) 26-1 and allowed just eight hits in sweeping the best-of-three series.
Rough as the weekend ended for an ECU squad hopeful of reaching its first CWS, Pirates coach Cliff Godwin said he urged his players not to dwell on the outcome, just continue working toward that trip to Omaha.
“I just wish we could have played better here,” he said. “Louisville played unbelievable baseball for two days. We just ran out of gas.”
Added shortstop Turner Brown, “This weekend doesn’t define our season. I think we are a national team now. We’ve molded the foundation to get us there.”