LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – One win from Omaha. Those are the only words that really matter after a game like this. There wasn't much drama at Jim Patterson Stadium on Friday afternoon.
After three hitless innings to begin the NCAA Super Regional opener, the Cardinals got to East Carolina starter Jake Agnos for four runs in the fourth, and that was that. Agnos, who threw 123 pitches on Monday, was lifted, and the Cards never stopped hitting.
Tyler Fitzgerald had the first four-hit game of his career. Six other Cardinals had multi-hit games. The Cards batted around in the fourth and fifth innings, took a 9-0 lead and coasted to a 14-1 victory before a crowd of 2,955.
It was the most runs scored against East Carolina this season, and the Pirates couldn't get out of the place fast enough. Coach Cliff Godwin used everybody but his bus driver. He used 16 position players and seven pitchers. The Pirates didn't quit – they just entered recover and regroup mode quickly.
The NCAA gives you a 15-minute cooling off period before the postgame news conference. ECU didn't need it. They were ready to answer questions, hit the bus, get to the hotel and quickly flush the first game of the Super Regionals into a distant memory.
They won't have to wait long. Saturday's Super Regional elimination game has been moved from 3 p.m. to noon due to weather concerns.
"Louisville played a really good game today," Godwin said. "Once they started rolling, it was tough for us to stop them. Detmers was extremely good. Best pitcher we faced all year. He kept us off balance. But once we got behind 7-0, it's just tough to score when the wind is blowing in and you're facing one of the best pitchers in the country. ... Once they got rolling, it was like a train, and we couldn't stop the locomotive."
Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said his team played well. He praised Detmers, who worked seven innings, giving up a run on five hits while striking out six to move into the national lead for strikeouts.
"I just give a lot of credit to our hitters, who are really good, and they've faced a lot of good left-handed pitchers in the past month," McDonnell said. "They're good hitters, and I feel like they're getting better. And, of course, Reid did a really good job. I don't care what the score is; that's a really good lineup and a really good team. So we got a great start, made plays in the field and offensively did a good job."
But nobody at Louisville expects the Pirates to go down easily. ECU lost the first game of its regional and roared back to win three straight to reach Louisville. Godwin was confident he wouldn't see another clunker.
"We've got to stay ahead in the count and do a better job making pitches," Godwin said. "If you make a mistake, this Louisville team will make you pay. ... But look, this team has bounced back every time this year. I really don't think you have to worry about our confidence. They were loose; they were ready. Jake had nerves. I had nerves. Everybody has nerves. ... But I don't think our guys played tight."
McDonnell said the momentum swept through his team, and they fed off some early hits by Fitzgerald, Logan Wyatt and Danny Oriente.
"This is a really good hitting team," McDonnell said. "They work their tail off and take a lot of pride in it. They have great respect for the pitchers we face and they talk to each other and share what they see. ... And we have a pretty high-energy dugout. They're just excited. We seem to get a warning or two every once in a while, for good reason, just getting too close to the field and those things. But they're excited. And the antics keep guys loose."
With Omaha now squarely in the window, McDonnell expects a different energy from both teams Saturday.
"Our guys are mature enough to know that it doesn't matter what happened today," McDonnell said. "Win, lose, win big, lose big, win by a little, lose by a little – in baseball, you just have to turn the page and show up ready for the next game. I just think this time of the year, these teams are too good and too deserving, obviously everybody has a lot of talent, ECU showed a lot of toughness last week like we did, so I know they'll show up tomorrow ready to play, and we will too."
Louisville ended its regular season with a blowout win over Florida State, then gave up 14 runs to the Seminoles the next day in a blowout loss. McDonnell said he doesn't expect his team's focus to waver with its magic number for Omaha now at one.
"I'm not worried about our focus," McDonnell said. "For a program that talks a lot about Omaha, we're not talking about that now."
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