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Louisville heads home after 4-1 CWS loss to Texas

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Louisville’s short stay at the College World Series ended about the same way as last year’s did.

The Cardinals managed just four singles against Parker French and Travis Duke and lost 4-1 to Texas in an elimination game Monday.

Louisville (50-17) dropped to 1-6 in three CWS appearances since 2007. Like last year against Oregon State, the Cards committed four errors in the loss that sent them home.

“It’s the eight best and eight hottest teams in Omaha, so when you don’t play clean, it gets magnified out here,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. “The value of scoring a run is so important that you do your best to try to score a run and you do your best to try not to give up a run. Unfortunately, we just gave them a few too many opportunities early.”

The Longhorns (44-20) ended a four-game CWS losing streak dating to 2009 and will play Vanderbilt or UC Irvine in another elimination game Wednesday.

French (7-5) held the Cardinals to four singles in 7 1-3 innings, and Duke retired their last five batters for his first save.

“He did a great job of pounding the strike zone for the most part,” Cole Sturgeon said. “We probably chased some pitches we shouldn’t have in some big situations with runners on. It was a pretty tight (strike) zone and we probably didn’t do a great job of making them work for everything.”

Louisville sophomore starter Anthony Kidston (9-1) lost for the first time in 15 decisions as a collegian and the Cardinals committed four errors, just as they did in their elimination-game loss to Oregon State last year.

The Longhorns played an error-free game and got big defensive plays from shortstop C.J. Hinojosa and left fielder Ben Johnson.

“When I step out there every game, I think this is the best defensive team in the country. I can say that with confidence, up the middle and everywhere,” French said. “They make those plays, it makes me more of a strike-throwing machine, because they’re going to be aggressive and let me keep my pitch count down.”

Texas opened the scoring on Ben Johnson’s sacrifice fly after Zane Guritz doubled leading off the third inning. The Longhorns added a run in the fourth on Kacy Clemens’ RBI groundout and another in the fifth when Mark Payton came home on second baseman Zach Lucas’ throwing error.

Louisville had won 12 of 13 games this season, and 17 of 19 the last two seasons, in games started by Kidston.

“We wanted to get on him early, and we did a good job of that those three innings we scored runs,” Johnson said. “We knew they have a pretty good bullpen, so we wanted a lead going to the last innings.”

McDonnell gathered his players after Texas went up 3-0 and challenged them. His talk didn’t work.

Louisville pulled to 3-1 in the eighth on Sturgeon’s groundout. But the Longhorns scored an unearned run in the top of the ninth to make it a three-run game again.

“We had a two-inning lapse where we made it a little too easy on them,” McDonnell said. “They got the momentum, and we let them roll with it.”

The Cards won five straight NCAA tournament games before losing to Vanderbilt 5-3 at the CWS on Saturday. They finished with at least 50 wins for a second straight year despite losing their entire weekend rotation from 2013 and seven juniors to the draft.

“There’s no time to feel sorry for us, and no one’s going to feel sorry for Louisville,” McDonnell said. “These guys wanted to maintain that high level, that level of excellence, and give them credit. It was a smooth year, a very consistent year and a fun year. As a coach, you have to be thankful.”