After getting a series sweep against a tough No. 18 ranked University of Connecticut baseball team, the No. 12 ranked East Carolina University baseball team is riding a four-game winning streak into its five game week looking to carry that momentum through the rest of the season.
The Pirates (29-10, 11-1 AAC) late strong play as of late has come after traveling to California to take on the best team in the country in University of California at Los Angeles, but came back to campus with a three-game losing streak, after their first series loss of the season. However, ECU has come back to life during the past week, especially after beating UConn, who during the time of the meeting, was ranked 18 in the nation.
“Our guys continue to show up every day,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “If we compete and play good baseball, we have a good chance to win. If we don’t play good baseball, then we will lose. This conference is tough, and you have to play good baseball to win.”
The series’ first game played on Thursday was a very calm one for the Huskies, as they would only score one run that day, which came early in the second inning. They struggled to get back on track since ECU scored a run in five of the eight innings during the ball game. Even hitting a series high, 12 hits during the ball game. The game ended with a comfortable score of 5-1 in favor of the Pirates.
The second game, which only lasted seven innings, was moved to Saturday which led to the schools playing a doubleheader to finish the series. The game was a very slow one, as the team's only scored during the third and sixth innings. Including a third inning of loaded bases with several players being walked to home plate by pitcher in both teams. ECU then managed to extend its lead and run away with the victory during the sixth inning, ending the game 5-2.
“It all comes from preparation,” sophomore pitcher Gavin Williams said. “If you prepare good, then you will have a good outcome whether you’re a hitter or pitcher. Every inning you should give all of your energy.”
Both teams left its best play until the last game of the series, as there were a total of six home runs during the afternoon. The Pirates had four homers by three players in junior first baseman/designated hitter Spencer Brickhouse with two on his own, redshirt junior catcher Jake Washer and senior outfielder Chandler Jenkins. And the Huskies had two home runs on their own.
ECU had a comfortable lead heading into the ninth and although the opponent had a small run in the top of the ninth, they were not able to come back. The Pirates were able to win the game 9-7, and sweeping the series at home.
“We always have a standing tradition with UConn,” Brickhouse said. “They are a phenomenal team every year. They always have really good pitchers and hitters. To come in here and have a home sweep like that in front of the fans is awesome.”
Moving forward, the Pirates will not have to deal with many more nationally ranked opponents besides No. 14 ranked University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (30-11, 13-8 ACC). ECU will travel to match up with the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 8. UNC has dominated at home this season, currently carrying a 24-2 record at home. The last time the Tar Heels lost at home was on March 15 to the University of Miami, 4-6.
While UNC will be the toughest opponent the Pirates will face nationally, everyone else in the American Athletic Conference is not to be overlooked. This weekend, ECU will host the University of Tulane (26-13, 8-3 AAC). The Greenwave occupy the No. 2 spot in the AAC. They have one batter that has a .415 batting average on top of 20 home runs hit out of 168 at-bats, junior infielder Kody Hoese. Five other batters have at least a .300 batting average for the Greenwave making them a threat to ECU.
Other conference opponents the Pirates will take on include the University of Cincinnati (18-21, 8-7 AAC), Wichita State University (20-19, 5-7 AAC) and the University of Memphis (18-18, 5-6 AAC). While they may not have some of the best records in college baseball, they are all teams in the conference that ECU says they will not overlook because of its approach and what has happened when it have done that to opponents in the past.
There have been times where ECU was favored to win in each game or series against opponents and it would wind up losing in the end. For instance, earlier this year the Pirates were favored to win against Campbell University (25-14, 13-4 BSC) back on Feb. 20 after sweeping their weekend series against Radford University. They fell in the end 6-7. On Feb. 25 ECU took on Air Force Academy at home and lost a tight contest 2-3. Those losses showed that it’s not about being the best team on paper but it’s about being the team that plays the best that day.
“You’re going to have good times and you’re going to have bad times in baseball,” Brickhouse said. “Baseball is a game of taking it one pitch at a time, changing and adjusting, and whoever can adjust the best comes out with the win.”
ECU will begin its five game week against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington at home (20-21, 5-7 CAA) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. looking to sweep the season series against the Seahawks after defeating them 9-1 on the road back on April 9.