Pitching breakdowns for the No. 9 seed Texas Longhorns doomed the visitors in a 13-7 loss to the No. 8 seed East Carolina Pirates on Friday in the Greensville Super Regional as a late comeback by the Longhorns fell short in a five-run eighth inning.
Texas left-hander Pete Hansen struggled early and often in a 4.0 inning appearance that featured six runs allowed on seven hits. The bullpen didn’t fare much better, including right-hander Tristan Stevens, who allowed four runs on three hits while retiring only one batter.
Texas immediately put East Carolina left-hander CJ Mayhue under pressure when center fielder Douglas Hodo III lined a breaking ball down the left-field line for a double. Mayhue was able to strike out left fielder Dylan Campbell and first baseman Ivan Melendez, but right fielder Murphy Stehly came through with a two-out, two-run home run to left field to put the Longhorns on the board first.
For East Carolina, the start was even better against Texas left-hander Pete Hansen, whose typical pinpoint command was lacking in the opening inning. A full-count walk opened the frame, followed by two singles and the first run scored on a passed ball. Then another single scored the runners from second and third. Giving Hansen his first out on a sacrifice bunt seemed to help the Longhorns ace find his groove, striking out the next batter and getting a fly ball to near the warning track in left-center field.
Hansen settled in until the fourth inning, when he gave up a leadoff double and a one-out home run by second baseman Jacob Starling, then another double and a single after a groundout as the Pirates extended the lead to 6-2.
As Hansen struggled to locate his pitches and East Carolina laid off his low breaking balls, Texas had difficulty timing up Mayhue, who had nine strikeouts through the first five innings, including Melendez twice, even though his fastball was only sitting in the high 80s.
After throwing 88 pitches and giving up six earned runs, Hansen departed in favor of right-hander Zane Morehouse in the fifth inning, the shortest outing of the year for Hansen. The first pitch from Morehouse, a fastball up and over the plate, was deposited into the fans congregated behind the right-center wall by center fielder Bryson Worrell.
Mayhue’s ability to miss bats vanished in the sixth when he gave up towering home runs to Melendez and Stehly, promptly ending his outing.
East Carolina right-hander Trey Lesavage only lasted three hitters, recording one out and allowing two singles, prompting a quick hook in favor of AAC Pitcher of the Year Carter Spivey, who only needed one pitch to induce a 4-6-3 double play by second baseman Mitchell Daly.
With one out in the seventh, Hodo slashed an opposite-field home run well out of the stadium and Eric Kennedy followed with an opposite-field single. After Melendez walked, Stehly grounded into a double play.
Worrell added an insurance run with a single in the seventh and five runs in the eighth on a home run, single, double, and single to keep the Longhorns from threatening in the final innings.
First pitch on Saturday is at 11 a.m. Central on ESPN2.