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Miller leaves mark on Pirates

NCAA Louisville East Carolina Baseball
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Louisville's Bobby Miller throws during the first inning against East Carolina in Game 2 of their NCAA super regional series Saturday, June 8, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, June 8, 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bobby Miller’s fastball-heavy approach against East Carolina on Saturday proved to be nearly unhittable.

For eight innings, it was unhittable.

Louisville baseball advanced to the College World Series, ended East Carolina’s season and Miller led a shutout of the Pirates on Saturday in a 12-0 Louisville win, all wrapping up in 2 hours and 55 minutes.

Miller, a 6-foot-5 right-handed sophomore, didn’t allow a hit until the ninth inning when Pirate freshman Thomas Francisco guided a ball between the first and second baseman to roll into right field for the Pirates’ lone hit. Prior to the single, Miller already had walked two batters and plunked Chandler Jenkins to begin the bottom of the ninth before facing Francisco.

The Cardinals blanked the Pirates one day after their 14-1 win to begin the best-of-three NCAA super regional series.

“Nobody was going to beat him today,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said of Miller, whose eight-plus shutout innings spanned 90 pitches.

Michael Kirian got the final three outs to complete the win and end ECU’s season.

The Pirates’ only run Friday came on a Spencer Brickhouse home run.

On Saturday, Miller set the tone by hitting 98 and 99 miles per hour during the first inning.

“I didn’t even know I hit 99, honestly,” he said. “I’ve never done that before.”

The Pirates wore what they hoped to be their lucky black jerseys for Game 2 of the super regional series, less than a week after they were in black for all four of their final Greenville Regional wins when they outscored those opponents by a total of 44-11 on Sunday and Monday at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

ECU slugged its way to a regional championship, but the Pirates were limited to one run on eight hits in the super regional round. Louisville used four pitchers — lefty ace Reid Detmers and Garrett Schmeltz in Game 1 and then Miller and Kirian on Saturday to clinch the series.

“That was the first time I held my velocity that well, so it might have been adrenaline with all of the fans and our team,” Miller said. “It was amazing. Adrenaline can do a lot of things.”

ECU’s starting pitching duo of Jake Agnos and Alec Burleson yielded a combined seven runs in six innings.

The win for Louisville sends the Cardinals to their fourth College World Series since 2012.

“I don’t think it gets more complete than that,” coach Dan McDonnell said after his Cardinals outscored the Pirates by a total of 26-1 in two games. “We had two quality starts and double-digit runs with a big lead against one of the top teams in the country. Fortunately, we jumped on them early and I think we are similar clubs offensively.

“If they get a three- or four-run lead, then they can punish you.”

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

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