Every time you win a college baseball game it’s a big deal.
Those aren’t my words. They are the words of East Carolina baseball coach Cliff Godwin.
One glance at the weekend sweep at Memphis solidifies that statement. All three wins were grinders, where the tougher of the two teams came out on top.
The Pirates were coming off a big win over a Duke team that was ranked as high as No. 3 in the polls. Truth be known, each game in the Memphis series was tougher than the Duke game for the Pirates.
East Carolina beat Memphis 5-1 in the Friday opener, in what looks like a blowout when compared to the two games in Saturday’s doubleheader.
Chris Holba is on his way to an All-American type of season. The Friday night starter’s job is to give his team a chance to win every time he goes out to the mound. Holba gave up just one run in 7.1 innings in earning his 9th win of the year. That leads the entire nation in victories.
Because of the threat of bad weather in the west Tennessee area on Sunday, the Pirates and Tigers played two on Saturday. There isn’t a college coach in the country that likes a doubleheader.
Game one of the twin bill got off to a tough start for the Pirates as ECU gave up a pair of first inning runs. Freshman Alec Burleson made his weekend starter debut on the mound and gave up the runs.
After falling behind the Pirates battled back and plated four runs in the fifth inning and held on the rest of the way.
Former D.H. Conley star Davis Kirkpatrick pitched a pair of scoreless innings and got the win. Ryan Ross picked up his fifth save in a 4-2 ECU win.
Game two of the doubleheader and game three of the series was almost the exact opposite. This time ECU jumped out to the lead, and had to hold off the comeback attempt of the Tigers.
Another former Conley star, Bryant Packard, ran his hitting streak to 17 straight games with his 10th home run of the year to lead ECU to another 4-2 win in the series finale.
Packard was 3-for-5 in the victory. Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Drew Henrickson each went 2-for-4 as part of a 10-hit attack. The Pirates used those 10 hits to generate four runs in the second, 4-2 win over the day.
“I thought we had awesome pitching, played great defense and got clutch hitting today to get a pair of wins,” said Godwin after the doubleheader sweep. “I thought we played more like ourselves in game two today where guys really came out and were ready to play. We put up four runs early and then they brought in their best reliever and we couldn’t scratch any runs across. But, all our pitchers in game two were all really good out on the mound today. Anytime you go on the road and get a series win is awesome and obviously sweeping a series on the road is very hard to do.”
Those four pitchers were Tyler Smith, Gavin Williams, Jake Agnos and Zach Barnes. Smith got the win to run his record to 6-1. Barnes recorded his first save of the year.
The Pirates now face No. 2 North Carolina State in Raleigh on Tuesday night before battling with Houston in Greenville this weekend.
The Cougars and Pirates are in a virtual tie for first in the American Athletic Conference. Houston is 10-5 in the American, while the Pirates are 8-4. Both teams have a winning percentage at .667.
As the Pirates continue to win, each game seems to get bigger. Weeks don’t get any bigger than the one to come for Cliff Godwin and his Pirates.
The ECU-N.C. State game is a tough ticket, but Pirate fans are sure to flock to our state’s capital city for the game.
More importantly, though, is this weekend’s series with Houston. Football calls it the 12th man. Baseball may not have a name for it, but a great crowd at Clark-LeClair could make the difference for this Pirate team that has played so well all season.
It will be a battle for first as the Pirates host the Cougars.
But first, there’s that little scrimmage with the 2nd-ranked Wolfpack on Tuesday night.
Here’s looking forward to a great week of baseball to come.