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ECU baseball grows bond in helping Agnos family through loss

Infielder Zach Agnos lost his dad Niko this fall to COVID-19.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:07 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - ECU baseball made the NCAA Super Regionals last year. The national expectations carrying over with ECU ranked top-15 in 4 major polls.

This year’s Pirates have already overcome so much together. The preseason hype is nothing to them.

ECU baseball season is just a few weeks away. They worked hard all fall and are back at it this spring getting ready for the upcoming campaign. ECU says this offseason off the field has been one of the toughest they have had to deal with.

“Before every game I used to try to find my parents and I knew my mom was always right above the 3rd base dugout with the families in the bleachers. I always knew my dad was in right field,” says ECU infielder Zach Agnos, “I remember looking up at my mom, and she had her sunglasses on, and I could tell she was upset just by body language. I looked out to right field and didn’t see him. I came back into the locker room and I lost it.”

ECU Freshman All-American infielder Zach Agnos lost his dad Niko this fall to COVID-19. Pirate nation and others raised over 50 thousand dollars to help his family. But it was the way ECU responded in person, which is what makes this program so special.

“There’s no textbook. There’s no manual. You don’t know what to do and throughout that situation,” says ECU head coach Cliff Godwin, “After he got off the phone with his mom, obviously we were hugging and crying in my office. I said hey, go get your cell phone and stuff. I am putting you in my car. That’s all I knew what to do was to drive to northern Virginia... Sometimes you just need to be there for people. You don’t need to talk, you don’t need to say anything.”

Every level of the Pirates program stepped up for their teammate when he was down.

“He’s my roommate so we’re always pretty close but I think the team came together when that happened,” says ECU pitcher CJ Mayhue, “We helped him through a tough time.”

From the fall game Zach mentioned at liberty...

“Phil our janitor gave Turner a big hug and he gave me one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever received. He said he’s watching. Just smiling and it was one of the coolest moments of my life,” says Agnos, “Then go in the bathroom, and I’m crying, and Kuchmanor is sitting there waiting for me and he gave me a big hug.”

“Bonding moment for us because it brings everything into perspective that this isn’t the only thing that matters,” says ECU pitcher Jake Kuchmaner, “Family matters more outside of baseball and it helps you go back into that.”

..to going to the celebration of life.

“We took the team back up there that Monday for the Celebration of Life. Of course we were crammed on a bus because it’s harder to get multiple busses because of COVID,” says Godwin, “One of our freshman got COVID, a day later I got COVID, and then Colby Bortles got COVID. COVID it was hard on me the after parts of it, plus the Niko situation, but our guys did a really good job maneuvering through it.”

The Pirate family, ready for baseball adversaries, and whatever else life throws at them.

“Everybody talks about how great the fans are, how great everybody is and how it’s a family atmosphere,” says Agnos, “That truly has been 100 percent accurate this entire offseason.”

ECU opens its baseball season Friday, February 18th, at home against Bryant University.

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