One more program will be eliminated from the 2019 College World Series when the Louisville Cardinals and Mississippi State Bulldogs meet Thursday night in Omaha, Nebraska.
Louisville navigated its first knockout game, fending off the Auburn Tigers for a 5-3 victory Wednesday. Junior shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald launched his eighth homer of the season, and Michael Kirian picked up his fifth save despite a tense inning of work.
Mississippi State followed with a loss, though.
A 6-3 defeat to the Vanderbilt Commodores dropped the Bulldogs from the winner's bracket. After falling behind 6-0 early, they trimmed the gap but couldn't pull off a comeback.
Louisville will serve as the home team in the elimination clash.
2019 CWS Thursday Schedule
Matchup: Mississippi State vs. Louisville
When: 8 p.m. ET
TV and live stream: ESPN2, WatchESPN
Because of Tuesday's rain pushing the conclusion of the Auburn game to Wednesday, Louisville now faces a daunting task of three wins in three days against a couple of top-three teams.
Right after the victory, though, the Cardinals already had a clear grasp of the situation.
"We celebrated, but we know we have a lot of games ahead of us," said freshman third baseman Alex Binelas, per Cameron Teague Robinson of the Courier-Journal.
Louisville will send junior left-hander Nick Bennett (7-3, 4.40 ERA) to the mound. He's surrendered two earned runs in 7.2 innings during the NCAA tournament, though he hasn't pitched since June 3 against Illinois State in the regional round.
That would seem a greater disadvantage if Mississippi State starter JT Ginn (8-4, 3.36) had thrown any more recently. However, his last appearance occurred all the way back on May 31.
Ginn, the SEC Freshman of the Year, will be banking on a better day of situational hitting from his teammates.
Mississippi State trudged to a 2-for-11 finish Wednesday with runners in scoring position. That followed a 5-for-18 performance in the opening game―an error-gifted 5-4 win over Auburn.
"It's frustrating because you feel like the hits are there and you don't have anything to show for it," said outfielder Rowdey Jordan, according to Tyler Cleveland of the Sun Herald. "You just have to keep plugging away, putting together good at-bats and know that the timely hits will come."
Granted, even if the Bulldogs' bats aren't hammering the ball immediately, this team has proved it's not over until it's over. Mississippi State boasts 28 come-from-behind wins this season.
"We tend to play pretty well with our back against the wall," said outfielder Elijah MacNamee, per Tyler Horka of the Clarion Ledger.
Louisville's challenge―if it can score on Ginn early―is managing to protect that lead over the Bulldogs. Otherwise, the No. 3 team in the country will secure another showdown with No. 2 Vandy.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR