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Louisville hitting leaders leave no doubt

NCAA East Carolina Louisville Baseball
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Louisville's Tyler Fitzgerald, left, scores in front of East Carolina catcher Jake Washer on a double hit by Danny Oriente during the fourth inning in Game 1 of the NCAA college baseball super regional series in Louisville, Ky., on Friday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, June 7, 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tyler Fitzgerald, the No. 3 hitter in the Louisville batting order, finished 4-for-5 on Friday for the first four-hit game of his three-year career with the Cardinals.

No hit was more important than his RBI double during a four-run fourth inning that completely changed the complexion of Louisville’s 14-1 Game 1 win in the best-of-three NCAA super regional series against East Carolina.

Louisville’s best hitters did crucial damage against ECU’s best pitcher when it was 0-0 to begin the fourth frame, shaking off earlier at-bats that included left-hander Jake Agnos striking out the side in order in the bottom of the first.

Agnos, the American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year who came in with a 2.02 ERA and 11-2 record, actually retired the first 10 Cardinals before No. 2 hitter Logan Wyatt hit a double for the first Cardinal baserunner. Fitzgerald’s single then made it 1-0 Louisville, followed by a Alex Binelas walk, Jake Snider single and Danny Oriente three-run, bases-clearing double for the big blow and a 4-0 lead.

“I just stopped making pitches against a good offense,” Agnos said of the Louisville rally. “It started with a double that was a hard-hit ball that I kind of left up in a 3-1 fastball count. Other than that, though, I didn’t think they barreled up anything. ... I think they see you one time around and make adjustments and that is what good teams do.

“I don’t know, I just did a bad job and didn’t do my job when a guy got on second base. I needed to take a step off, take a deep breath and make those pitches.”

Louisville (48-16), which improved to 32-8 at home this season, piled on runs during the final half of the game to finish with 18 hits and no errors. ECU (47-17) had seven hits and one error.

Final offensive stat lines by the top four Cardinals in their batting order were: Lucas Dunn 2-for-5, Wyatt 2-for-4 (3 Rs), Fitzgerald 4-for-5 (4 Rs, 2 RBIs) and Binelas 2-for-4 (2 Rs, 2 RBIs).

“That pitcher is a stud and he came out here and had us off-balance, especially when he got to two strikes,” Fitzgerald said of Agnos. “He has 140-something strikeouts for a reason. The second time through the lineup, we were just able to jump on the mistakes he was throwing early instead of getting to two strikes.”

Agnos was on shorter than normal rest after throwing 127 pitches Sunday in a Greenville Regional elimination win against N.C. State. He went eight innings and yielded two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts versus the rival Wolfpack.

“He would never turn down having the ball,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said. “All of our pitchers, I’m sure, are not as fresh as they were two months ago. Louisville’s aren’t either.

“Jake’s stuff was good and definitely was good early, he just couldn’t get out of that fourth inning.”

Louisville ace Reid Detmers pitched a seven-inning outing, allowing one run on five hits. His team led 14-1 after seven innings.

The Pirates are left to win their final two games at Jim Patterson Stadium to extend their season and make the College World Series.

“Today is over with and I’m not going to sit here and sulk,” Agnos said. “I can help the team out, one way or another, and be ready to go for Sunday. It is what it is, but it’s one game and tomorrow whatever happens and if we get back in it, then it (comes down) to one game (Sunday).”

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

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