ECU Baseball

No. 18 ranked East Carolina University baseball team helped knock the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill down to No. 20, by winning the traveling series 2-1.

The now No. 18 ranked East Carolina University baseball team helped knock the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill down to No. 20 by winning the traveling series 2-1 behind impressive displays both at the plate and on the mound.

The Pirates showed their muscle in the final game, defeating the Tar Heels 12-0 on their home soil. D1Baseball.com took notice, dropping previously No. 6 ranked UNC 14 spots and putting the Pirates in the rankings for the first time. This season however, during his weekly “Cliff Godwin Show,” the Pirates' head coach said he believes the rankings are nothing but a distraction.

As for the pitching, sophomore Trey Benton and junior Chris Holba had great performances on the mound, both helping lead ECU (6-1) to the two victories on Friday and Sunday. In game two at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, sophomore pitcher Jake Agnos struggled to keep UNC (3-5) and its batters at bay. In front of 4,508 ECU and UNC fans, Agnos allowed three runs and four hits in the two innings he pitched in the lone loss of the series and season.

In game one, the only at ECU, Benton took the ball in front of 5,382 fans, the third largest in Clark-LeClair Stadium history, and outdueled Tar Heel’s starter Gianluca Dalatri in a 2-1 pitchers duel. Benton recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts, only allowing one unearned run on two hits over six innings. He threw a total of 89 pitches and while facing 21 batters.

“I did not expect anything in the game,” Benton said. “I just went out there and threw quality pitches. I felt like I kept them off balance and came away with the win.”

Holba dealt with the task of pitching in Chapel Hill in front of a raucous crowd at Boshamer stadium in game three, but also had a dynamic performance. The junior righty threw for seven innings and retired 15 straight batters before allowing his first hit of the game in the sixth inning. Holba left the mound with the shutout in tact, only surrendering two hits while striking out eight on 91 pitches.

“I was just trying to do my part in the game,” Holba said. “We preach attacking the hitters, and after getting through the first three batters, I knew that if I gave the offense a chance by the end of the fifth inning that we would be all right in the end.”

Hitting wasn’t a problem for ECU at any point in the series either. In all three games, the Pirates tallied double-digit hits while at least two batters managed at least two hits. ECU had 34 hits combined by the end of the series.

In game three of the series, the Pirates stamped their place in the national spotlight, dominating UNC in every facet of the game in front of their home crowd, culminating in a 12-0 victory. Juniors Turner Brown, Connor Litton, Chandler Jenkins and redshirt sophomore Jake Washer tallied two hits a piece. Brown, Litton and Jenkins each had an RBI while Washer drove in four and recorded his first career triple.

Even when ECU lost in game two, 5-4, it still managed nine hits, including a Brickhouse three run home run, his third of the season, pushing the Pirates ahead 4-3 in the fifth inning. ECU save the lead right back in the next inning, surrendering a home run to tie the game, then eventually another run to set the final score. ECU had opportunities to tie or win in the eighth and ninth inning, batting with the bases loaded and only one out. However, back-to-back innings ending double plays ended the game, cementing the loss.

“I think we have a good offense here, we faced some strong arms out of the UNC bullpen,” Godwin said. “They have some of the best pitchers in the country, our guys were tough, they battled and competed throughout the series.”

The streaking ECU baseball team will be back in Clark-LeClair Stadium tomorrow at 6 p.m. as it looks to bring its dominant play to the field against Old Dominion University.

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