Pirates respond, rout at AAC tourney
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
With its record-breaking pitching ace on the mound, East Carolina’s baseball team got back on track Wednesday at the American Athletic Conference tournament to set up an off day.
Top-seeded ECU cruised in an elimination game on Wednesday afternoon, defeating No. 5 seed Houston 13-2 to remain in Clearwater, Fla., and play either Connecticut or Wichita State in another elimination contest on Friday. No. 8 Wichita State beat the Pirates 6-2 on Tuesday to surprisingly drop ECU (43-14) to the losers’ bracket.
But it was all Pirates in their second postseason outing.
They never trailed against Houston (32-24), scoring in the top of the first inning and gaining a 9-1 lead after a five-run rally in the sixth.
Jake Agnos, the ECU and American single-season record-holder for strikeouts, pitched seven innings to improve his season record to 10-2 with a 2.00 ERA. The left-hander worked around four walks with seven strikeouts and a run allowed on four hits.
“Our guys were really locked in today,” Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said during his postgame interview on the American Digital Network. “When we show up and we have that mindset to play with a lot of energy and just compete our tails off, a lot of times we win. If we come out and just kind of show up then we can be beat and anybody can beat us, and Wichita State played a lot better than us yesterday.”
Agnos’ battery mate, catcher Jake Washer, hit two solo home runs. He passed Spencer Brickhouse for the team lead with 13.
Consecutive long shots to right field with two outs in the third inning staked the Pirates a 4-1 cushion. Bryant Packard was on base after he was hit by a pitch when Alec Burleson pulled a homer to right field, followed by Washer’s first solo shot to make it 4-1.
Washer finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Hot-hitting freshman designated hitter Thomas Francisco was 3-for-3 with a double.
UH, a usual league title contender, went 0-2 in the American tourney for the first time. UConn beat Houston, 4-3, on Tuesday.
Following Agnos on the mound was Cam Colmore, who yielded a run and got one out, and Zach Barnes for the final 1.2 innings.
The Pirates still have not used weekend starters Jake Kuchmaner or Tyler Smith. Burleson started and threw 100 pitches versus Wichita State.
Wednesday at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Durham saw Louisville lose and Georgia Tech win in pool play. Those teams are joined by ECU and others trying to secure top-eight national seeds for the NCAA bracket.
The Cougars manufactured a run in the bottom of the second when Brad Burckel came home on a wild pitch to stop Agnos’ scoreless streak at 32.2 innings. Agnos had three strikeouts and three walks through the first two frames, when it was 1-1.
The first inning featured Washer hitting an RBI single for the Pirates, who then got a big strikeout by Agnos in the bottom half of the frame. A walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Agnos fanned Blake Way to keep ECU up 1-0.