Following a tough series loss against the University of South Florida, No. 11 East Carolina University’s baseball team responded with a solid all-around performance to win its 17th-straight game against No. 8 Duke University, 9-2.
“I'm really proud of the way the guys played and responded after a tough weekend,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “We played really well and it started on the mound with Jake Agnos, Ryan Ross and Gavin Williams. The defense was great, and offensively we were locked in from one through nine in the order with quality at-bats.”
Agnos gave up the first run of the game to the Blue Devils (30-8, 12-5 ACC) after facing just three batters, allowing a sacrifice fly to shortstop Zack Kone to drive in left fielder Jimmy Herron, who was hit to open the game. After that, Agnos settled in and shut down the Blue Devils’ offense, allowing no runs on two hits with two walks and four strikeouts, earning his fourth win of the season (4-2).
Over Agnos’ five innings, ECU (27-9, 5-4 AAC) took a 2-1 lead after junior third baseman Connor Litton hit an RBI double to score redshirt sophomore catcher Jake Washer, followed by Litton scoring the go-ahead run off a throwing error after stealing third base. The Pirates stole a season high six bases in the win. ECU tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 4-1.
“Tonight’s win shows we can compete with anyone in the country. The ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) and SEC (Southeastern Conference) are top notch, and we’re right with them.” Agnos said. “Coming in here against these kind of teams is awesome, and getting big weekday games is huge for us.”
ECU only used two guys out of the bullpen for the remaining four innings, throwing senior left hander Ryan Ross (3.0 IP, 2 Hs, 1 R, 1 K) and freshman right hander Gavin Williams (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R 1 K). The Pirate offense went on to blow the game open in the ninth inning, scratching across four more runs to pad their lead over one of the country’s premier teams.
With the win, ECU improves to 37-12-1 all-time against Duke. The Pirates haven’t dropped a game in the series since 1998. ECU is now 11-2 on the road, 16-2 when recording double-digit hits and 7-4 against nationally ranked teams this season.
Tuesday’s game was just the first of a five-game road trip for the Pirates, their longest of the season. They will start a three-game series on Friday against the University of Memphis (12-25, 1-8 AAC) where ECU will look to avoid back-to-back American Athletic Conference weekend series losses.
The Tigers are struggling this season, currently sitting last in the AAC. Their season includes a 10 game losing streak, and their team ranks at the very bottom in batting average, runs scored, runs batted in and earned run average. Junior right hander Jonathan Bowlan is the only Tiger pitcher with an ERA under 3.00 (2.60) in 52 innings pitched with a team-high 65 strikeouts. But the Tigers’ offense has failed to put up runs behind him, resulting in his 1-5 record in nine season starts.
ECU now finds themselves in a situation like last season when it went into a series against an inferior AAC opponent and under performed, which could cause a slide to the Pirates .
ECU has dropped games to inferior opponents already this season, losing to a then 3-6 Pepperdine University team after a 7-1 start to the year, but have since won games it was supposed to and responded well after losses. The Pirates dropped game ones against the University of Central Florida and Wichita State University by a combined score of 23-4, but went on to win both series behind a 35-13 run differential.
Other than Pepperdine, ECU hasn’t played a team where it was the clear-cut favorite to come out on top. Godwin has kept his players focused all year which has given the Pirates which may have kept the Pirates in games despite adversity. Another positive for ECU is that its injured players such as sophomore and junior outfielders Bryant Packard and Dwanya Williams-Sutton, junior shortstop Turner Brown and freshman right hander Gavin Williams from earlier this season are getting close to being 100 percent healthy.
The first pitch is scheduled for tomorrow night at 7:30 where junior right hander Chris Holba will take the mound against the Tigers.