Sitting at the top of the American Athletic Conference with an 8-1 record in conference play, the No. 12 ranked East Carolina University baseball team will be put to the test when it will host the University of Connecticut at home in a three game series that begins tonight and will conclude on Saturday.
Both teams will come into the series off wins. ECU (26-10, 8-1 AAC) bounced from its 0-3 series loss to No. 1 ranked University of California at Los Angeles last weekend to sweep the season series against Elon (21-16, 10-2 CAA) with a 9-4 win on Tuesday.
UConn (24-13, 7-5 AAC) on the other hand will come in with a two-game winning streak. The Huskies defeated conference foe University of Memphis 4-2 on Sunday and the University of Massachusetts 10-7 on Tuesday.
The Pirates may sit at the top of the conference and have a spot in the national rankings, but the Huskies should not be overlooked this series. They have taken on ranked opponents pulling off one of the biggest upsets to start the season.
UConn took down the No. 4 ranked Louisville Cardinals in a three game series to start the year 2-1 that started back on Feb. 15-17. They did fall to No. 19 ranked Coastal Carolina University on March 2, but bounced back to win against No. 25 ranked University of Illinois on March 3.
While both teams will enter Thursday’s series off of wins, they have had a back-and-forth history in previous matchups with each other. UConn took down the Pirates 2-1 in 2018 in Storrs, Connecticut on May 17-18 when it was ranked No. 22, but ECU came back in the AAC championship to win 4-3 and host the Greenville Regional on May 26. In 2017, the Huskies swept the Pirates in Greenville 3-0, but in 2016 ECU took the series against UConn 2-1.
The Huskies have had the Pirates’ number in recent years, but their pitchers may have their hands full with five ECU batters who have batting averages above .300. Sophomore left handed pitcher/first baseman Alec Burleson has the highest batting average at .370. Brickhouse is second behind Burleson with a .358 batting average, but he has cracked out the most home runs with nine to lead the Pirates.
While UConn’s pitchers have to deal with ECU’s bats, the Huskies may also face problems with the Pirates’ pitchers. Sophomore left handed pitcher Jake Kuchmaner, junior left handed pitcher Jake Agnos and junior right handed pitcher Tyler Smith have led the way for ECU in its weekend series so far this season proving to be a problem for conference opponents.
Kuchmaner has a 3-1 record on the mound for the Pirates yielding a 2.13 earned run average. Agnos has played well for the Pirates having a record of 4-2 on the mound producing a 3.16 ERA. Smith has a 5.08 ERA for ECU but currently has a record of 4-0 this season.
The Huskies on the other side of the spectrum have enough firepower to battle the Pirates this series. Five batters for UConn have batting averages above a .300, but one has performed better than the rest of the team. Husky senior infielder/outfielder Michael Woodworth leads the way for UConn with a .362 batting average and has hit four home runs this year, which is the most for the Huskies.
Three pitchers for UConn can prove to be tough for the Pirates’ batters. Redshirt freshman right handed pitcher Jimmy Wang has a 3.06 ERA for the Huskies, and has a 1-1 record. Junior left handed pitcher Mason Feole will bring a 3.35 ERA to Greenville while carrying a 1-2 record. Senior right handed pitcher Jeff Kersten has produced a 4.37 ERA and a 3-2 record on the mound for UConn. While records may not show possible problems for ECU, it has went 7-5 in conference play because it has found ways to win games more times than not.
Both teams are pretty even in terms of production in batting and pitching, so this series matchup can go either way. First pitch of the game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today as the Pirates look to maintain their spot at the top of the conference while the Huskies look to make a run at the No. 1 spot in the AAC.