East Carolina swept No. 18 Connecticut this past weekend to run its league mark to 11-1 through four series in 2019.
Unfortunately, if you’re following the national rankings, the sweep didn’t do all that much for ECU. The Pirates are ranked as high as 11th nationally by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. ECU is 12th by Perfect Game, D1Baseball and the USA Today.
Most importantly, however, the Pirates have their RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) up to 9th in the nation. That RPI will go a long way towards improving ECU’s chances of hosting postseason play again this season.
The Pirates were a perfect 4-0 this past week. ECU opened with a 9-4 road win at Elon before sweeping the Huskies.
The highlight of the week was on Thursday night when Pirate ace Jake Agnos shut down the Huskies, striking out a career high 14 batters in the win.
Truth is, Agnos should have gotten his 15th strikeout. The lefty spun home a nasty curve ball on a 3-2 pitch that would have ended the festivities before the fireworks. The man in blue called it a ball, and that got everyone riled up.
ECU coach Cliff Godwin came out barking at the umpire. Agnos chirped. He certainly didn’t want to leave the game. Godwin had his ace at 129 pitches and made the switch.
Words were exchanged, but the maturity of this club was never more apparent than after the game. It takes a big man to admit a mistake. Agnos was quick to take the blame.
“It was immature on my part,” Agnos said. “I should have taken a deep breath and realized where I was at. I didn’t realize I was at 129 pitches. That was my fault. I was more upset about the strike call. I shouldn’t do that to Coach Godwin. He left me out there and allowed me to do that.”
“We’ve just got to do a better job in controlling our emotions,” said Godwin. “I’ve got to protect him of his health,” Godwin said. “Every decision I make is in the best interest for our program and the health of our kids. The bottom line is that Jake loves me and I love Jake. He pitched his tail off.”
That emotion from both player and coach says a lot about this team. The emotional side of baseball is key and has parlayed itself into this 11-1 start in the American Athletic Conference.
The rest of the UConn sweep had to wait until Saturday. Game one featured a 9 a.m. start, reminiscent of the early starts in last year’s American Athletic Conference Tournament in Clearwater. The Pirates fell behind 2-0 in the third inning. That was especially critical because game one was a seven-inning game because of the American’s travel rules.
As they have done all season, the Pirates answered the two runs with a three-run frame to take the lead for good. ECU won the second game 5-2. Starter Jake Kuchmaner only made it to the third inning, but the bullpen picked up the slack from there, limiting the Huskies to just two hits in five innings.
Game three featured a pair of monster shots off the bat of Spencer Brickhouse. Brickhouse drove in five of the Pirates nine runs in the 9-7 victory.
At 11-1 on the season, the Pirates will take a 2½ game lead over Tulane into next weekend’s battle for first place in the league. The Green Wave is 8-3, but lost a game in the Memphis series because of bad weather. That game won’t be made up.
If the Pirates go .500 in the league the rest of the way they’ll finish with a league record of 17-7. Houston won the American last season at 16-8. The Pirates finished two games back in the regular season last year before winning the American tournament.
There is still a ton of baseball to be played. All the Pirates have done so far is to set themselves up for what could be down the road.
This has certainly been an amazing season to date.
The Pirates hope to continue this run and then crank things up for a strong postseason run, with lots of games in Greenville.