East Carolina went 4-1 this past week and is perhaps playing its best baseball of the season.
The Pirates split their two games in Mississippi. ECU dropped the Tuesday game to 8th-ranked Mississippi State, 4-1, then on Wednesday beat 9th-ranked Ole Miss, 3-2.
ECU then came home and swept Marist in a three-game series.
After struggling offensively against the Bulldogs on Tuesday, Spencer Brickhouse hit a three-run home run to propel the Pirates to the win over the Rebels.
The big story was on the mound, where Jake Kuchmaner took a no-hitter into the 9th inning. Kuchmaner struck out the first two batters in the ninth, before giving up a walk and a hit.
Things got dicey as Alec Burleson came on in relief and gave up a two-run single. A walk, a wild pitch and an error later and the Pirates were hanging by a thread. Sam Lanier came on to get the final out and preserve the victory.
Kuchmaner’s performance was truly remarkable as he was only slated to go three innings or so. It was reminiscent of his win last season in the American Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament over Houston, but he was even better this time out.
For his efforts, Kuchmaner was named the American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week. He was also named as one of Collegiate Baseball’s National Players of the Week after the win over the Rebels.
The Pirates rode the momentum of the win over Ole Miss into the weekend series with a tough Marist squad. The Pirates shut out the Red Foxes 5-0 in the opening game of the series. Junior lefthander Jake Agnos worked seven shutout innings, striking out ten while giving up only four hits.
East Carolina would need 12 innings to take game two. The Pirates won it in walk-off fashion on a Christian Smallwood RBI single to left in the bottom of the 12th. ECU squeaked out a 4-3 victory when Turner Brown hustled home with the game winning run.
Brown had himself quite a week. He hit .421 (8-19) on the week. He went 3-5 on Sunday with a pair of triples in the 10-5 win in game three of the series to clinch the sweep.
“Coach (Cliff) Godwin talks to us all the time about finding a way to win the game,” said Brown on Sunday. “We wanted to come out today with a ton of energy, because on Sunday’s it’s usually the team that has the most energy that has success.”
“I didn’t want to use the word threaten, but we needed to have a lot of energy today,” said Godwin. “That was the theme at today’s team meeting. We needed to empty the tank today and finish the job. You don’t get these chances very often so when you do you have to empty the tank and take advantage of it.”
The Pirates stayed at number 14 by Baseball America in the national rankings this week. ECU moved up to 17 in the D1baseball poll and stayed at 16 in the Perfect Game rankings.
This week the Pirates play at nationally-ranked Duke at the DBAP on Tuesday and then head to Maryland of the Big Ten for a three-game series starting Friday.
The Blue Devils are ranked 24th in the nation and stand at 11-5 on the season. The Devils swept a Sunday doubleheader at Virginia to win that first series of the Atlantic Coast Conference season.
The Terps are 9-5 on the season with a loss to Campbell so far this year. Maryland plays at Delaware before hosting ECU. Maryland was picked 8th in the Big 10 in the preseason rankings by Baseball America.
“It’s going to be another big week,” said Godwin. “We look forward to hitting the road and just want to try and get better every day.”
The Pirates are back at home a week from Wednesday, Mar. 20, when UNC-Wilmington comes to Clark-LeClair. Then it’s the American Athletic Conference opening series with UCF in Greenville that weekend.
By the way, my mustache with chops is coming in slowly but surely. Mustache March is all to raise money and awareness for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The Marist baseball team thought so much of the idea that they passed a hat between their players and coaches and gave the money to ECU baseball for the cause.
Memphis baseball and Michigan baseball are also participating.
To make a donation just click here: