I love the College World Series. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I have now dedicated my last three weekly column to the subject. In last week’s columns I could hardly contain my excitement. Our great state of North Carolina had three different teams who were alive and hopeful of earning a trip to Omaha. Well needless to say, I am not quite as upbeat this week as all three of those teams have since been eliminated.
No team had a poorer showing than the East Carolina Pirates. The team from Greenville who many felt was the best equipped team from NC to make a run at Omaha, lost two straight to Louisville by a combined score of 26-1. In other words, the pitching was terrible, and the hitting was worse. Jake Agnos had pitched like an ace for the Pirates all season while accumulating eleven wins earning a fourth round selection by the New York Yankees in the MLB draft. He was anything but an ace however in giving up four runs in his four innings of work in Game One of the Super Regional. The bullpen wasn’t any better as Zach Barnes, Ryder Giles and Evan Odum combined to give up ten more runs. Reid Detmers of Louisville stymied the Pirates bats, holding them to only one run in that 14-1 blowout. Game Two would amount to more of the same for ECU. Instead of Reid Detmers who shut down the ECU offense, this time around it was Bobby Miller who dominated on the mound for Louisville.
And boy did he ever dominate, allowing only one hit in eight innings of work. With the offense absent, head coach Cliff Godwin would need a dominant pitching performance from his staff. In a move that will be questioned by the ECU faithful, Godwin rolled the dice by starting sophomore Alec Burleson instead of Jake Kuchmaner. Burleson and the rest of the Pirate staff would combine to cough up twelve earned runs, sealing ECU’s fate.
The Duke Blue Devils face the unenviable task of traveling to Nashville Tennessee to take on national power Vanderbilt. The Duke bats showed up in Game One as they amassed eighteen runs on fifteen hits while ransacking the #2 team in the nation by a score of 18-5. The scoring barrage was led by Kyle Gallagher and his four RBI. The Devils seemingly had all the momentum heading into Game Two. That momentum was thwarted by Freshman pitcher Kumar Rocker who had a performance for the ages in striking out 19 batters while pitching a complete game shutout. Duke would never recover from the 3-0 loss as they went on to lose again to Vandy 13-2 in the second game of a doubleheader.
Just like the Blue Devils, the UNC Tarheels did push their series to the maximum three games. Unfortunately, also like the Blue Devils, they would eventually be ousted. UNC dropped the first game to Auburn by a score of 11-7. The recently drafted Tyler Baum was good in the start for the Heels allowing only two runs over six and one third innings. Unfortunately for Baum and the Heels, the bullpen would blow the game by allowing nine runs to score as Auburn took a 1-0 lead in the series. In Game Two, Austin Love of that UNC bullpen would combine with Austin Bergner to shut out the Tigers and force a Game Three. Auburn would jump on UNC for thirteen runs in the first inning. That lead would prove to be insurmountable as Auburn advanced by a final of 14-7.