Previewing Greenville Super Regional with The East Carolinian’s Chris Long

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

The only thing that stands between Texas baseball and its 38th trip to the College World Series is “The Jungle.” 

With No. 9-seeded Texas’ sweep of the Austin Regional, the Longhorns will travel up to Greenville, North Carolina, for its Super Regional against No. 8-seeded East Carolina. 

During his time coaching at Tulane and Houston, Texas head coach David Pierce made numerous trips up to ECU’s Clark-LeClair Stadium. Like at TCU, the seating sits close to the field and overlooks the Pirates’ tight foul territory and open bullpens.

Paired with a passionate fanbase, ECU is notorious for being a hostile environment for road teams. Pierce said he’s dealt with security issues in the bullpens during his past experiences at the ballpark, and spectators like to hang over the outfield fence.

“I’ve been there many times and had players have beer thrown on them,” Pierce said. “They really don’t care. They call themselves ‘The Jungle,’ and they act like it.”

To prepare for the road series, Pierce said that he gave a geography lesson on the college town, emphasizing to his players that if they look up during the game, they will be shaken or distracted by the rowdy fans.

“The entire town is a college town, (and) there will be purple and gold everywhere we go,” Pierce said. “They will hate us. They’ve never had the University of Texas there.”

While Texas has made the trip to Omaha more than any other college baseball team, ECU is colloquially known as the best team that has never made it to the College World Series. The Pirates have made the postseason 32 times, with seven super regional appearances since 2001.

To preview the Super Regional, The Daily Texan spoke with Chris Long, sports reporter for The East Carolinian.

The Daily Texan: ECU is unconventional in that the team lacks a true starting pitcher, preferring to piece together games instead. How does that make things difficult for hitters, knowing they will face many pitchers throughout a game?

Chris Long: It’s all props to (head) coach (Cliff) Godwin, honestly, because he knows these players. He’s invested a lot of time and resources into the rotation. Nothing is set in stone, and he’s willing to experiment, which obviously leads to different kinds of results. But for ECU, they found the groove that resulted in 20 consecutive wins.

DT: How dangerous is the top of ECU’s lineup?

CL: Zach Agnos is one of the most lethal players in college baseball right now. He has the versatility to hit, the versatility to pitch when he needs to and the versatility to field. That has been really crucial for the Pirates throughout the 20-game win streak and throughout the regional run.

Jacob Jenkins-Cowart is the most ridiculous player I’ve ever seen in my life because he’s 6-foot-6. So when he comes to bat, this man has to squat down like he’s taking a poop in the woods, and it’s incredible, but he hits dingers!

DT: ECU has the home-field advantage. How crucial will that be against Texas?

CL: I’ll be completely honest — if this game was in Texas, this would not go ECU’s way at all. But, having Greenville behind their back as they enter the Super Regional means absolutely everything because Pirate nation is insane. They are some of the best fans in the world, and they’re definitely some of the most passionate fans in the world. Having Greenville behind their backs is encouraging to the team, and I believe it will be discouraging to the Texas team. 

DT: What is your prediction for the series?

CL: I can definitely see it going either way. It just depends on how big of a war of attrition this series is going to be. Because truthfully, I think the two teams are tit for tat, and it’s going to come down to who has the better coaching scheme. I want to say (ECU) in three.