GREENVILLE — East Carolina had a response each time Texas flexed its muscles in the opening game of an NCAA Tournament Super Regional at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday.
The Pirates (46-19) posted a 13-7 win in the first game of a best of-three series and will seek to close out the Longhorns (45-20) in game two at noon on Saturday.
ECU scored three runs in the bottom of the first after Texas had taken the lead on a 2-run homer by Murphy Stehly. After the Longhorns had closed within 8-7 from a 5-run deficit, the Pirates put up five runs in the eighth for the final margin.
Add some timely defense and ECU is in its best position to earn a berth in the College World Series since winning the opener of a Super Regional at Texas Tech in 2016.
A stadium record crowd of 5,723 was into every pitch.
“Great college baseball game,” said eighth-year Pirates coach Cliff Godwin. “Texas is probably the best offense we’ve faced all year.”
ECU turned the momentum early on as Zach Agnos led off with a walk from Longhorns ace Pete Hansen (11-2) to start the home half of the first. Lane Hoover had a bunt single and Bryson Worrell had a hit down the right field line to load the bases. Agnos scored on a passed ball. Jacob Jenkins-Cowart had a 2-run single to left center and the Pirates were on top the rest of the way.
Jacob Starling had a 2-run homer for ECU in the fourth and the lead grew to 6-2 with an RBI single by Agnos.
Worrell’s 19th homer of the season put the Pirates up, 7-2, in the fifth.
Solo homers by Ivan Melendez and Stehly in the sixth and another by Douglas Hodo III in the seventh pulled Texas within 7-5. The towering shot to left by Melendez was his 31st of the season.
Worrell singled to start the seventh for ECU. Ben Newton walked before Worrell raced home on a single to right by Josh Moylan.
The Longhorns had run-scoring doubles by Silas Ardoin and Jack O’Dowd in the eighth.
With the lead trimmed to 8-7, the Pirates were able to get some breathing room in the eighth after Alec Makarewicz got a home run to left center on a ball that bounced out of the glove of Hodo in left center and into The Jungle beyond the fence.
The big frame continued with an RBI single by Worrell and a 2-run double from Jacob Jenkins-Cowart. Starling added an RBI single.
C.J. Mayhue (6-1) started and went five innings for ECU. He yielded five hits, four runs (all earned) and one walk while striking out nine.
Trey Yesavage pitched one-third of an inning with two hits and one whiff. Carter Spivey came to the mound for one and two-thirds, yielding five hits, three runs (all earned) with one walk and one strikeout.
Agnos closed the game for his third save. He came to the mound with runners on second and third with none out in the eighth and allowed one run on a ground out. Makarewicz made a diving stop at third and got to his feet to get the last out of the frame in the eighth.
Agnos made a diving, backhanded catch from his shortstop position on a liner in the fifth.
Double plays got the Pirates out of jams in the sixth and seventh.
Worrell was 4-for-5 with four runs and two RBIs as ECU held a 15-13 lead in hits. Jenkins-Cowart had two hits and four RBIs. Starling finished with two hits and three RBIs. Hoover and Makarewicz each had two hits and scored two runs.