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Agnos, Godwin win AAC awards

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East Carolina pitcher Jake Agnos (14) high-fives teammates at the home dugout of Clark-LeClair Stadium last Thursday during a win against Memphis.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, May 20, 2019

As expected, East Carolina baseball’s record-breaking season was officially recognized by the American Athletic Conference on Monday.

Jake Agnos earned the AAC pitcher of the year award, just four days after he set a new league single-season record for strikeouts with 124 in 83.0 innings this year to complement his 2.06 ERA, and Pirate coach Cliff Godwin was named league coach of the year for the second time during his five-year stint in charge at his alma mater.

The Pirates (42-13) won the American regular season for the first time, posting a 20-4 league record to top the previous AAC-best mark of 19-5 by Louisville in the American’s inaugural season in 2014.

Agnos, a left-handed junior likely to get drafted by a Major League Baseball organization in a few weeks and not return for his senior season, said after his last start that inconsistency during his freshman and sophomore campaigns fueled his motivation to put together a more complete junior season.

He enters the AAC tournament — which begins Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., with ECU facing No. 8 seed Wichita State in the first round at approximately 12:30 p.m. — on a 31-inning scoreless streak.

“I had been booed off the mound and this is just not an easy game,” Agnos said in a moment of reflection after 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings versus Memphis last Thursday at Clark-LeClair Stadium. “I never thought I would break this record, but that is what the game is about and you have to work hard every day and never be satisfied. ... You think back to those outings where you go two innings and get taken out and I remember that feeling and that’s what always drives me.

“I think that is the reason why I’ve had success this season, as well as my coaches and teammates being there by my side.”

Tulane slugger Kody Hoese earned AAC player of the year thanks to his league-best .388 batting average and 23 home runs. 

Agnos was joined on the AAC first-team by teammates Jake Kuchmaner (pitcher), catcher Jake Washer, designated hitter Spencer Brickhouse and outfielders Bryant Packard and Alec Burleson. ECU’s Turner Brown was the second-team shortstop.

Godwin also was named the American coach of the year in 2015 in his first season. He enters the AAC tourney with a 196-104-1 career record.

ECU, ranked No. 7 by Baseball America this week with an RPI of No. 5, is safely projected to be an NCAA regional host. The AAC champions also are in a group that includes Georgia (SEC), Georgia Tech (ACC), Louisville (ACC), Texas Tech (Big 12), Stanford (Pac-12) and a few others looking this week to secure a top-eight national seed among the 16 total regional hosts, which would lead to hosting a super regional series in addition to regional games.

“I believe we’re better than anybody (in the AAC), so it doesn’t matter who we play,” Packard said. “We want that national seed, so taking care of business in Clearwater would definitely carry on to the actual (NCAA) postseason.”

East Carolina played at Wichita State (26-29) during the regular season, winning two of three games May 10-12. The Pirates’ only loss was when senior righty Clayton McGinness pitched a complete game with five hits allowed in a 3-1 victory by the Shockers.

Joining the Shockers and Pirates in the top half of the double-elimination bracket is No. 4 Connecticut and 5-seed Houston, meaning one of those four will make Sunday’s championship game.

ECU will enter not only as this year’s regular season champion, but the Pirates also won the 2018 American tournament as the No. 4 seed and in 2015 as the 2-seed.

“I don’t know, I just want to go and play good baseball,” Godwin said of being the favorite to again win the tourney.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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