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SEC teams, hosts use their advantages

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Louisville's Bobby Miller throws during the ninth inning in Game 2 of an NCAA college baseball super regional tournament against East Carolina on Saturday in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 12-0.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, June 13, 2019

East Carolina was among four college baseball teams that won their NCAA regional as a host but lost when traveling in the super regional round.

Oklahoma State, ECU, Stanford and Ole Miss were the only four teams that hosted and then traveled in consecutive weekends. They all were defeated in super regionals, which for the No. 10 seed Pirates was by a total score of 26-1 in two games at No. 7 Louisville.

No. 9 Oklahoma State lost at No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 11 Stanford lost at No. 6 Mississippi State and No. 12 Ole Miss was eliminated by 5-seed Arkansas.

“Really, I think our pitching, more so than our position players, was just so taxed after the regional,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said Tuesday morning.

The College World Series begins Saturday with five of the top-eight national seeds in Omaha, Neb., for the eight-team, double-elimination showcase. The national seeds still remaining are No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 7 Louisville and No. 8 Texas Tech.

Completing the CWS field are Michigan, Auburn and Florida State, all teams that won both their regional and super regional on the road.

Still, this NCAA tournament again showed that regional and super regional hosts advance more than they are eliminated.

Twelve of the 16 regional hosts won their regional. The super regionals saw five of the eight hosts advance to Omaha.

Godwin added that he didn’t think fans at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville made it particularly difficult on the Pirates, but travel to some extent and other factors contributed to lopsided scores for Louisville over ECU.

“I don’t really think their crowd played a huge role,” he said. “Our fans were pretty loud, to start with, but we just didn’t do anything really positive for them to get into it. ... It was the perfect storm.

“Having to travel, I have to thank (ECU athletics director) Jon Gilbert for getting us a chartered flight, because if we wouldn’t have had that, I think it would have been even worse. ... I thought we were ready to play on Friday, it was just the momentum of that (four-run) fourth inning and Louisville never looked back.”

Six teams from North Carolina made the NCAAs. ECU, Duke and North Carolina all advanced to super regionals, but they all were eliminated. No. 1 UCLA also lost its super regional, falling to upset-minded Michigan.

Louisville, which is joined by Florida State as the two Atlantic Coast Conference representatives in Omaha, made the CWS for the fourth time since 2012.

“It starts from the time we recruit them, and I say it all the time, to not be afraid to achieve greatness,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. “That’s why I told Cliff, because I think I know what they are shooting for and what their goals are and what that program is about. It has to be that way. We can’t shy away from that.

“Unfortunately, it really hurts when you lose, and we just talk about being bold and putting it on the line.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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