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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
By Brian Bailey
WNCT-TV 9 Sports Director

Marathon season starts on right note

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

Break out the brooms. East Carolina opened the 2016 baseball season with a sweep of Longwood at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

The season is a marathon and not a sprint. Still, second-year head coach Cliff Godwin and the Pirates were more than excited to get the opening weekend sweep.

“It feels awesome,” said Godwin after ECU's comeback win in Sunday's series finale. “We had a great crowd and they really helped us out today. Anytime you can sweep a team, it’s awesome. Longwood is pretty good. You saw the 9th inning Saturday and the way they played today. It was a close game and it was good for our guys to be in that situation.”

There were several keys to the sweep. It all began on the mound. East Carolina got outstanding starting pitching in all three games.

“They are fun to catch,” said Johnny Bench Award watch list member Travis Watkins. “Evan Kruczynski, you know what you’re going to get out of him. He’s always going to compete; throwing pitches for strikes and really gets after it. Jacob Wolfe was outstanding. His fastball was an off-speed pitch this weekend, it was incredible. Jimmy Boyd gave us a chance to win on Sunday and that’s what you want.”

Also from the mound Joe Ingle picked up a pair of saves. He went two innings on Sunday to close out the 5-3 win.

“It feels awesome,” said Ingle, who was a freshman All-American last season. "It was a great team effort. They gave us their best blow late which is what we expected. Everybody is going to give us their best everyday so we have to be ready for that.”

Next up for East Carolina is a Tuesday matchup with North Carolina A&T, weather permitting. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the game was moved up in an attempt to dodge sketchy weather.

Don’t think for one minute that this Pirate team will look past the Aggies – with defending national champion Virginia next up on the slate.

“You should know me well enough,” said Godwin. “We are not going to look ahead. If we play flat then you can come talk to me. Every game matters. When you are trying to host a regional or a super regional, every game matters. I think we will play well on Wednesday.”

Still, the matchup with the Cavaliers is certainly on the Pirates' minds.

Godwin said he would go with his same rotation of Kruczynski, Wolfe and Boyd against Virginia.

The lefty Kruczynski got his first collegiate start last year against the Cavaliers, ranked second in the nation at the time. He gave up a pair of runs, scattering 8 hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched.

“I think we are all looking forward to playing them (UVa),” said Kruczynski, who will once again get the Friday start against the Cavaliers. “It’s always fun to play in Charlottesville. Hopefully, we’ll be 4-0 when we play this weekend.”

Closer Joe Ingle agreed.

“It’s pretty important,” said Ingle. “We want to win always. We’re not going to focus on them but rather ourselves and try to play our best baseball. If we do that then we are going to be fine.”

The weekend weather at Virginia looks to be in the upper 40’s with plenty of sunshine, though there is a chance of snow flurries on Sunday.

Perhaps the Pirates' hot start will warm things up against the defending national champions this weekend.


E-mail Brian Bailey

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