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NCAA BASEBALL

East Carolina whips Texas in Game 1

The East Carolina Pirates give the Texas Longhorns a thorough hiding in the first game of the Greenville Super Regional on the road to the CWS

Jeffrey May
Update:
The East Carolina Pirates give the Texas Longhorns a thorough hiding in the first game of the Greenville Super Regional on the road to the CWS

Remember when the Texas Longhorns were the top-ranked team in the nation? Back then, they looked so sure-fire excellent that their dominance of college baseball this season was confidently predicted from all corners.

Then the shine started to rub off. First they dropped a game to UCLA. But hey, nobody was really worried. I mean, UCLA is a top-tier team and anyone can have an off day. Then they dropped one to Texas State, then a series to South Carolina, and it just got shakier and shakier for the burnt orange.

Toward the end of the season, it looked as if their wheels had stopped wobbling, and things were going right for them. They had a decent Big 12 tournament and Ivan Melendez had a standout year at the plate, before cruising through the regionals.

But East Carolina have perhaps revealed the rust beneath the burnt orange by handing the Longhorns a solid hiding in Game 1 of the Greenville Super Regional. With Texas relying, as they have all season, on the long ball to give them their runs, the Pirates put together a solid showing of small-ball tactics mixed with power.

After going up 2-0 on a Murphy Stehly blast in the top of the first, the Longhorns gave up three in the bottom half of the inning on a walk, a bunt, two singles, and a passed ball. From that point on, the Longhorns were always playing catch-up.

Jacob Starling ripped a two-run homer in the fourth to put the Pirates up 5-2 and they tacked on another before the inning was out. In the fifth, Bryson Worrell took a solo shot and the Pirates were up 7-2 and cruising. Melendez got his bat working for Texas in the sixth with a solo home run to right and the Longhorns managed to pull to within two by the seventh, down 7-5, but another insurance run in the bottom of the seventh by East Carolina stretched it to 8-5.

Texas looked to still be in the game, clawing two runs back in the eighth, going into the bottom half of the inning down 8-7, but it was only a set up for the carnage about to be inflicted on them when East Carolina bats exploded in the bottom of the inning for five runs.

It all started when Alec Makarewicz hit a solo home run parried over the wall by going in-and-out of Texas’ center fielder Douglas Hodo III’s glove. In a play that has illustrates the Longhorns entire season, what should have been a routine out puts Texas immediately on the back foot.

A walk, a bloop, a pair of singles, a double, a hit-by-pitch and just like that, the Pirates tacked on five more runs to go into the ninth 13-7 up. Unable to produce anything further, that is how the game ended. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Game 2 will be played on Saturday and if the Longhorns want to stay alive, they need to stem the bleeding, and fast. Their season has been shaky from the start, and for a team that should be so much more than this, they have underperformed consistently.

Small errors, throughout the game, have killed them. A passed ball here, losing a hitter when you start out in front on the count, fielding errors, all small things that end up being runs instead of outs.

If they can’t find some answers, they will have to watch the College World Series with the rest of us. On TV.

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