No. 19 Pirates take trip to Charlotte

Published 4:22 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

CHARLOTTE — No. 19 East Carolina bounced back from a one-win outing in the Keith LeClair Classic in a 5-2 victory over College of Charleston Wednesday. The Pirates now test themselves when they head to Charlotte for their first true road series of the season.

ECU, with nine wins in a dozen tries this year, will look to break double digits against the 49ers.

Jake Agnos, after struggling in his weekend-starter role early this campaign, got the midweek start for the Pirates (9-3). He threw five innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits while picking up two strikeouts in his 19 batters faced. Usually the Saturday starter, Agnos will be replaced this weekend as head coach Cliff Godwin shuffles things up for the first time after announcing the starting rotation at the beginning of the season.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for Jake (Agnos) Wednesday, but I was really proud of him after he walks a guy and gives up a home run (and) then we are down 2-0,” Godwin said. “But he came back out throwing up zeroes and could have gone out there in the sixth, but he was on short rest (three days) and then we just turned it over to the bullpen.”

The bullpen, which has been exceptional to date, will be vital in this weekend’s series. All three starters have yet to be announced. The Pirates will likely still go with Trey Benton and Chris Holba on two of the days. They have pitchers such as Davis Kirkpatrick and Alec Burleson, even though they both saw a few batters midweek, that could jump in for a few frames on whichever day the Pirates need them.

Look for Godwin to rotate Matt Bridges, Sam Lanier, Ryan Ross, Tyler Smith and others through the bullpen again against the 49ers. Smith has been outstanding in posting a 0.77 ERA in four relief appearances thus far. However, the sophomore righty also has starting experience and could slot into Agnos’ former role.

Charlotte (8-4) is coming in on a five-game win streak after a dominating four-game series win against Siena College where the lowest amount of runs scored for the Saints sat at nine (10, 12, 14, 9 respectively).

Charlotte has begun its season in a weird pattern by either sweeping or being swept in each series. After beginning the season with a three-game series sweep of Iona College, the 49ers dropped their one game with North Carolina State and three-game series with Georgia, before winning their matchup with Charleston Southern.

In Conference USA, the 49ers have three of the top six players in batting average with redshirt junior catcher Harris Yett batting .435 (second), redshirt junior infielder Jackson Mims batting .420 (fourth) and sophomore Todd Elwood batting .412 (sixth). The three also sit in the top eight in the conference for on-base percentage.

Mims also has three long balls on the season, along with eight walks and 21 hits, so the Pirates need to always be aware of his presence at the plate and his ability to make plays while on base.

Joey Cooner has three wins on the year for Charlotte with his only loss being against the Wolfpack. In his 15 1/3 innings pitched, however, he has given up roughly one hit per inning (15 total) with five earned runs on the year and seven strikeouts.

Joining Cooner with multiple wins is Josh Maciejewski. He has a pair of victories in three starts and boasts a 0.90 ERA.

Matt Brooks has two wins in three starts, as well, totaling nine earned runs on 19 hits in 16 2/3 innings pitched and a 4.86 ERA. All three guys picked up a weekend win in the Siena series, but if the Pirates can get their bats going and have more games with double-digit hits ,they should see themselves pull out wins against a team that struggles allowing lots of hits in games.

“We as a team take everything day by day,” Bryant Packard said. “We aren’t worried about our success so far, or our failure last weekend, we are just worried about winning every pitch of every game.”