GREENVILLE — The virus that has been going through the East Carolina team sidelined scheduled starting pitcher Chris Holba (9-0) on Friday night as Houston took a 5-4 win in the opening game of an American Athletic Conference series at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Sophomore left-hander Jake Agnos made the start and went five-plus innings. He allowed seven hits and four runs (all earned) with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Ryan Ross (0-2) was charged with the loss after working one-third of an inning in the sixth. He yielded three hits and the winning run for the Cougars.
Trey Benton pitched the last three and two-thirds innings for the Pirates (30-10, 8-5 AAC). Benton allowed one hit and walked two while striking out six.
“The margin of error is very small in this league,” said ECU coach Cliff Godwin. “They were just a little bit better on the mound and offensively than us.
“I thought we played good defense but they scored one more run. It is a tough league and we have to pull up our pants and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Game two of the series is Saturday at 4 p.m.
Benton had been in the weekend rotation earlier in the season.
“Trey was really good tonight out of the pen,” Godwin said. “He punched out six in three and two-thirds of an inning and gave us a chance to win. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have been in the situation we were late in the game in the eighth and ninth innings.”
The Pirates took a 3-0 lead in the second as Spencer Brickhouse accounted for the first run with a homer to right. Bryant Packard had a single up the middle that scored Nick Barber and Andrew Henrickson.
The Pirates led 4-2 after a sacrifice fly by Jake Washer in the fifth.
A two-run homer by Wendell Champion put the Cougars (27-16, 11-5) ahead to stay in Houston’s three-run sixth.
Packard went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and Brickhouse was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
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