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The Texas Longhorns are headed to Greenville, North Carolina to face the East Carolina Pirates in a Super Regional on Friday. Texas is one of two teams favored to win their regional despite not hosting one (Ole Miss is the other). Both teams are hot, with Texas winning 11 of their last 13 games and the Pirates winning 21 of their last 22 games.
Let's take a look at three critical elements David Pierce's club needs in order to win two out of three in Greenville and advance to the College World Series in Omaha.
1. Texas needs strong starting pitching like we saw last weekend at Disch-Falk Field. The starters gave up just 4 runs last weekend, and while that may be too much to ask against a solid ECU team, Texas needs similar production. In their Regional last weekend, ECU scored 35 runs over four games including 17 runs in the opener. This will not be the pitcher's ballpark that Texas is used to at home, but if the starters can go 6+ innings like they have been, Texas will have a great shot at winning.
2. Continued production from the lineup, top to bottom. While the pitchers won’t have the friendly ballpark they’re used to, the batters will like it this weekend. 320 feet to the corners and 390 feet to center should lead to more runs for the Longhorns. Someone that could potentially benefit from this is Dylan Campbell. There were balls hit last weekend that were pop flies, which this weekend may be home runs. This is a park in which the Longhorns should hit very well all weekend regardless of who’s pitching for the Pirates.
3. The better base running team is a major key that could very well determine who punches their ticket to Omaha. Texas and East Carolina both ran into outs on the base path last weekend. With a hitter friendly park hosting this weekend, don’t expect to see a shortage of base runners. Texas head coach David Pierce made it known following last weekend’s games that the Longhorns must be better on the base paths. Pierce is often criticized as a third base coach by Texas fans and being overly aggressive with his signs. That is something to watch for in the more evenly matchup of teams this weekend.