Around the Bases: The Super Regional

After a tough five-game stretch over four days, the Louisville Cardinals advanced to their sixth Super Regional in the last seven seasons. The Cards went 4-1 during the stretch: they defeated Illinois-Chicago in game one, lost to Illinois State in the 1-0 game, then eliminated Indiana and Illinois State (winning back-to-back games against the Redbirds) to seal it up.

The Cardinals now host #10 East Carolina in the Super Regional, a series featuring two former Conference USA foes.

Notable News and Stats

Louisville had eight players selected to the All-Louisville Regional Team, including the Most Outstanding Player, Jake Snider. Snider drilled a home run in Sunday evening’s game against Illinois State that gave Louisville an early run, as they cruised to an 11-2 win. He also went 3-for-4 in the deciding game on Monday, adding two RBIs and two doubles to his stat line. Snider was also selected in the 20th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates, capping off perhaps the biggest week in his baseball career.

Luke Smith, Zeke Pinkham, Justin Lavey, Tyler Fitzgerald, Alex Binelas, Drew Campbell, and Danny Oriente joined Snider on the All-Regional Team. Smith earned the spot after a scintillating performance on Sunday evening, throwing a career-high 8.1 innings and allowing two earned runs.

Drew Campbell had a sensational home run robbing grab during the weekend, and earned All-Louisville Regional honors after batting .364 through the round and playing stellar defense. Campbell was also drafted, going in the 23rd round to the Atlanta Braves.

Reid Detmers didn’t get the win on Saturday, but set a new school record for strikeouts in a season. The sophomore lefty had 11 strikeouts in his game against Illinois State, raising his total to 156 on the year.

Bryan Hoeing had a solid weekend in the regional, highlighted by his performance on Monday where he had one run allowed in five innings of relief duty against Illinois State. Hoeing was also selected in the seventh round of the MLB Draft by the Miami Marlins.

Hoeing joins a plethora of Cardinals who have been selected in the 2019 MLB Draft. Logan Wyatt was the first U of L player off the board, going 51st overall to the San Francisco Giants. Wyatt is also at 68 walks on the season after last weekend, one shy of tying the single-season record at Louisville. Teammate Tyler Fitzgerald was also drafted by the Giants in the fourth round.

The big story, though, was reliever Michael McAvene’s ejection during the ninth inning of an elimination game v. Indiana. The reliever was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct per the NCAA, and thus has been suspended four games. He’s already served two games on his suspension, with the earliest return being either game three of the Super Regional, or Louisville’s first game in the College World Series if they advance.

McAvene, however, had news that was far from horrible. The junior was selected 103rd overall by the Chicago Cubs, joining Nick Bennett (193rd overall, Milwaukee Brewers) and Hoeing as Louisville pitchers who have been drafted. Louisville commit Avery Short was selected in the 12th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Opponent

East Carolina (47-16) is in the middle of one of its most successful seasons in program history. The Pirates earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament by blazing through their conference, finishing with a 20-4 record in the American Athletic Conference. ECU got regular season wins over North Carolina, Ole Miss, Duke, and UConn.

They advanced to their fifth Super Regional in program history last week, overcoming a game one loss to Quinnipiac to eliminate N.C. State, Quinnipiac, and Campbell in four consecutive games (the Pirates defeated Campbell in the final two games in order to advance). ECU will be looking to earn its first ever College World Series trip in school history, under the guide of third year head coach Cliff Godwin.

Players to Watch (East Carolina)

As a team, East Carolina stands out as one of the best offenses in the tournament remaining. The Pirates average .298 hitting as a team, seven runs per game, and have exceptional power in their lineup. Five of their hitters currently have an OPS of over .900, which is as impressive as it looks on paper.

Spencer Brickhouse and Jake Washer are two great players that can hit for power in this Pirates lineup. Both are averaging over .300 hitting (.335 for Brickhouse, .310 for Washer), have 10+ doubles and home runs each, and have exactly 55 RBIs each. They also have a slugging over .600 and OPS over 1.000, making them a threat to bring in runs at any given moment. Washer was also selected as the Most Outstanding Player in the Greenville Regional.

Washer, along with Bryant Packard (.363 hitting, 19 doubles, seven homers, 40 RBIs, 1.009 OPS) and Alec Burleson (.373, 22 doubles, nine homers, 61 RBIs), also made the Greenville Regional team for ECU. They are also part of eight qualified Pirates batters that are averaging over .300 at the plate. Louisville did get a good test in their regional from a talented Indiana offense, and a gritty Illinois State team, but ECU will be one of the best offenses Louisville has faced this year.

East Carolina also has the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year, Jake Agnos. Agnos was selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, sporting an 11-2 record with a 2.02 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and holding opponents at .193 hitting. It seems like Agnos will be heading towards a blockbuster pitching duel against Reid Detmers, one of the more intriguing matchups in all of the tournament in my opinion.

Jake Kuchmaner (7-2, 2.99 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) is another solid weekend arm at ECU’s disposal. If they can get two quality starts from Agnos and Kuchmaner, the Pirates could very well be advancing in this round. Their bullpen also has a few solid players, including Alec Burleson. Burleson mainly comes on as a reliever, but has a 6-1 record with eight starts and 2.93 ERA with a 1.33 WHIP. Sam Lanier (2.54 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) and Evan Voliva (3.44 ERA) are other names to watch from the bullpen, with Voliva making 31 appearances this season.

How to Watch / Listen:

Game one of the Super Regional is slated to start at noon on Friday, on ESPN2. Game two is on Saturday at 3:00 ET on ESPNU. If the Cards and Pirates need a third game, the rubber match will be at noon on Sunday (ESPN2), with the winner of the series advancing to Omaha.

All chairback seats are sold out, but general admission all-session tickets are still available for $25 on GoCards.com.

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