ECU Baseball

Jake Agnos is a sophomore left handed pitcher for the ECU Baseball team.

Things couldn’t have gone better for East Carolina University’s baseball team in its opening weekend against Western Carolina University, culminating in a dominant Pirates sweep to start the season.

In games two and three, the Pirate offensive exploded in the first innings, jumping out to 5-0 leads in each. A pair of three run home runs from sophomore first baseman and designated hitter Spencer Brickhouse in game two, and junior third basemen Connor Litten in game three, highlighted the scoring of each inning.

The result of game three was never in doubt after ECU tacked on another run in the fourth inning after a WCU error. Later the Pirates scored two more runs, these in the sixth, on sophomore left fielder Bryant Packard's two-run double to help lead the Pirates to a 9-3 victory.

The Pirates went deep in their bullpen with Willy Strong, Austin Covers and Cole Beavin all making an appearance on Sunday, although it was less than an inning each. According to Godwin, he wanted to get as many guys out there as he could just so they could get some playing time.

“I thought we played well today (and all weekend) and I was impressed with our pitching staff and its depth,” head coach Cliff Godwin said. “It was good to get a bunch of guys some playing time this weekend which will help with their confidence and development as the season goes along.”

Game two was more of the same, as Burleson smacked a single to bring in second baseman Brady Lloyd earning his first run batted in (RBI) in the second inning to expand the lead to 6-0. Junior outfielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton followed it up later with a sacrifice groundout, scoring sophomore shortstop Nick Barber. ECU handled business again on Saturday, defeating WCU soundly, 8-2.

The Catamounts scored their only first inning run in Friday’s game with an RBI double from DH Andrew Bullock. The Pirates quickly responded in the second inning on Brickhouse’s first at-bat of the season, a mammoth solo shot to right-center field, traveling over the scoreboard, to tie game 1-1.

The only negative from this weekend occured in the top of the eighth inning in Friday night’s game. Senior shortstop Turner Brown came up hobbling after chasing a ground ball hit his way, immediately being replaced with Barber due to a tight hamstring, according to Godwin.

The Pirates received solid starting pitching from their weekend rotation of junior right hander Chris Holba (Game 3), sophomore left hander Jake Agnos (Game 2) and sophomore right hander Trey Benton (Game 1). The trio combined for 12.2 innings, pitching to a 2.95 earned run average (ERA), allowing 14 hits, three walks (all from Agnos) and striking out 19 batters.

Godwin knew going into the series the starters wouldn’t be able to last as long as they will later in the season. This resulted in ECU going deep into the bullpen through the series, giving a glimpse of just how devastating it can be.

“This is one of the best bullpens in the country,” sophomore right-hand reliever Tyler Smith said. “I mean the way we work everyday I don’t think anyone else is doing that so we trust any of our guys that go out there to get it done.”

The bullpen pitched lights out, combining for 14.1 innings while allowing just three earned runs, 12 hits and 11 strikeouts while not surrendering a single walk. Smith came in for relief of Agnos on Saturday and pitched four scoreless innings to pick up the win. In game three, ECU fans saw senior left hander Ryan Ross in relief for the first time, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings to take the pressure of Holba, who was dealing with arm soreness for two weeks before Sunday’s start.

“It feels awesome knowing that you have a great bullpen behind you,” Holba said. “Of course I don’t want to be taken out, but when I see Ryan Ross coming I have more confidence than anybody that he’s going to get the next guy out.”

Fans also saw the star power of freshmen first baseman and pitcher Alec Burleson and six-foot-six-inch right handed pitcher Gavin Williams. In one appearance each, Burleson struck out five batters over two innings in game one, and Williams devastated Catamount hitters with his fastball as he retired the side in the ninth inning in the series finale.

Paired with the exceptional pitching was entertaining hitting. Godwin tweaked the lineup in all three games, which didn’t matter since the Pirates kept pouring it on, combining for 30 hits and 25 runs scored in the series.

“It’s just part of our lineup, I mean from one to nine we got good hitters,” Litten said. “Even the players on the bench that didn’t get a chance to hit or play in the game, they’re good hitters too. We work on our swing for hours every day on field and in the cages, so it’s really starting to pay off.”

The Pirates will look to remain undefeated when they face Campbell University (0-3), which was swept by St. John’s University, for ECU’s first road game of the year in a midweek clash tomorrow with the first pitch scheduled at 5 p.m.

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