Good start, rough finish for East Carolina in opening loss to Louisville

A perfect start unraveled in a hurry for East Carolina as Louisville defeated the Pirates 14-1 in the first game of a best-of-three NCAA super regional Friday.

Jake Agnos, the Pirates’ ace and fourth-round major-league draft pick earlier this week, retired the first 10 hitters he faced, but Louisville’s offensive erupted from there. The Cardinals (48-16) scored four runs in the fourth inning and added another five in the fifth to move a win away from their fifth appearance in the College World Series.

Spencer Brickhouse went 2 for 4 with a home run for East Carolina. Agnos allowed four runs on five hits in four innings.

“I was trying to get the momentum on our side,” Agnos said. “I was trying to strike those guys out, get quick innings.”

The Pirates (47-17) aren’t strangers to facing elimination. Five days after completing a rain-delayed journey through the elimination bracket to win the regional it hosted last week, East Carolina will need to defeat Louisville in the second game of the series Saturday (noon, ESPNU) to keep its College World Series hopes alive.

“Louisville played a really good game today,” East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin said. “Once they started rolling it was tough for us to stop.”

The Pirates’ lineup was aggressive the first time through the order against Cardinal starter Reid Detmers. Six of East Carolina’s first eight hitters swung at first pitches.

Alec Burleson doubled with two outs in the top of the first inning followed by a walk, but Spencer Brickhouse flied out to left field to strand two runners on base.

“I feel like we had good at-bats all nine innings,” Burleson said.

Agnos struck out the side in order in the bottom half of the first inning. After Agnos retired the side in order again in the second inning, the Pirates put runners on base, but couldn’t scratch across any runs. Bryant Packard had a one-out single while Burleson was hit by a pitch two batters later.

Packard and Burleson advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, but Detmers struck out Jake Washer to end the inning.

After retiring 10 straight Cardinal hitters to begin the game with an efficient 42 pitches, Agnos allowed his first baserunner when Logan Wyatt doubled to right center with one out in the bottom of the fourth.

Tyler Fitzgerald drove in Wyatt with a double down the left-field line to give Louisville a 1-0 lead. After a walk and single, Danny Oriente doubled down the right field line to clear the bases, extending Louisville’s advantage to four runs. Agnos prevented further damage with an infield flyout and strikeout.

“I was leaving stuff middle,” Agnos said. “They’re a good hitting team and they definitely make you pay for it.”

Godwin turned to reliever Zach Barnes in the bottom of the fifth inning, but things didn’t get much better. Following a single and hit batsman to begin the inning, Fitzgerald drove in Louisville’s fifth run with a single.

Reliever Ryder Giles replaced Barnes and forced a fly out, but Snider doubled into right field to drive in two runs and give Louisville a 7-0 lead. The Cardinals added two more runs in the inning.

Brickhouse hit a solo home run well over the right field wall with one out in the top of the sixth inning for the Pirates’ only run.

Louisville added three runs in the sixth inning and another two in the seventh inning.

“Our backs are against the wall just like last week,” Burleson said. “We’re going to have to come together and fight, we know it’s not going to be easy.”