East Carolina University’s baseball team will play newcomer to the American Athletic Conference in No. 18 Wichita State University when it hosts the Shockers tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. for game one of this three-game series.
No. 16 ECU (18-5, 2-1 AAC) is coming off an impressive 2-1 road series win against formerly ranked No. 23 rival University of Central Florida (18-8, 1-2 AAC). The Pirates handed UCF its first series lost of the season while ECU has yet to lose a series. The Shockers are playing their first AAC series in program history.
“We’re just going to keep going about our business day-to-day,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “We’re going to focus on having a good practice today (Tuesday) and lift some weights because we are mostly just concerned about ourselves.”
ECU’s right handed pitchers sophomore Trey Benton and junior Chris Holba will look to set the tone for the Pirates like they have done all season, combining for a 9-2 record in 12 games started, a 1.90 ERA in 71 innings pitched and 75 strikeouts. Wichita State (18-4) will turn to the young freshman right handed pitcher Liam Eddy, who is undefeated (5-0) in six starts and is sixth in the AAC Earned Run Average list with 1.57, to get it’s first conference win.
Its noteworthy to mention how sophomore left handed pitcher Jake Agnos fell out of the weekend starting rotation early in the year, but bounced back in game two of the UCF series. In a one-run situation, the lefty pitcher threw three shutout innings with five strikeouts, which makes it interesting to see how Godwin will use his former starter in the series vs. WSU.
“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and definitely not how I wanted to start the year,” Agnos said. “But it’s a process and you just got to stick with the plan and work everyday to get better to help out the team.”
Both teams have firepower on the offensive end, making it critical for both pitching staffs to be on their A-game. Wichita State has a powerful lineup that likes to score from the longball, leading the AAC with 27 home runs and second in slugging percentage at 46.3 percent but ECU’s pitching is No. 1 in the AAC in fewest home runs with five.
According to sophomore outfielder Bryant Packard, quality at-bats will help ECU put runs on the board against the Shockers.
“We just try to focus on quality at-bats and just try to hit the ball hard,” Packard said. “When leading off to start the game, most of the time pitchers pitch one or two strikes down the zone because he’s trying to get in his groove and that’s what I try to take advantage of.”
First pitch of the series will come earlier than expected, starting today at 6:30 p.m. All games have been moved up one day to accommodate for Easter Sunday.