ECU baseball set for season opener
GREENVILLE, N.C. – ECU opens the 2018 season on Friday, Feb. 16 when it plays host to Western Carolina at Lewis Field inside Clark-LeClair Stadium with a 4 p.m. (ET) scheduled first pitch.
Under the direction of fourth-year head coach, the Pirates return 20 letterwinners, including 2016 Freshman All-American Dwanya Williams-Sutton, 2017 Freshman All-American Spencer Brickhouse, 2017 AAC All-Tournament Team selection Jake Agnos, weekend starters Trey Benton and Chris Holba, as well is shortstop Turner Brown.
Also stepping onto the diamond are 15 newcomers, which features seven position players, seven pitchers and one two-way player. The 2017-18 recruiting class, which received a pair of Top 20 national rankings (No. 19/Baseball America, No. 20/D1Baseball) consists of two infielders (Connor Litton and Collin Watt), three outfielders (Chandler Jenkins, Josh Netterville and Jeremy Whitehead), one catcher (Seth Caddell), one utility player (Bryson Worrell), one two-way player (Alec Burleson), and seven pitchers (Zach Barnes, Cole Beavin, Austin Covers, Noah Jones, Jake Kuchmaner, Willy Strong and Gavin Williams).
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE WEEKEND
• The Pirates, who are set to open their 84th season of intercollegiate baseball on Feb. 16 at home against the Catamounts, won the 1961 NAIA National Championship, have claimed 24 conference titles (13 regular season/11 tournament), made 28 NCAA Regionals and advanced to four Super Regionals (2001, 2004, 2009 and 2016).
• ECU and Western Carolina have played 18 times with the Pirates holding a commanding 16-2 record … The two clubs squared off last season in the 14th Annual LeClair Classic with ECU winning 5-4 in the opener … Both schools are linked to one another through former Pirate and Catamount skipper Keith LeClair, who is enshrined in both programs' hall of fame.
PIRATE QUICK HITS (prior to game)
• Trey Benton finished his rookie season posting a 3-4 record with a 4.18 ERA ... Named to AAC Honor Roll (3/6) after tossing seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts against Appalachian State in the LeClair Classic ... Led the team in innings pithed (71.0) and strikeouts (74) ... Ranked among AAC leaders in opposing BA (.231/4th), fewest BBs allowed (19/t4th) and fewest hits allowed (62/7th) ... Struck out a career-high 10 batters twice (La Salle and Towson) ... Tallied a team-best five quality starts.
• Jake Agnos was named to the 2017 AAC All-Tournament Team following his seven-inning shutout performance against No. 24 UCF where he allowed two hits ... Posted a 3-3 record with a 3.22 ERA in 16 appearances (10 starts) ... Tallied three quality starts ... Struck out 64 in 64.1 innings ... Ranked among the AAC leaders (Top 10) in five categories ... Picked up first career win against Towson (3/24) and first league win vs. Tulane striking out 10 in a career-high 7.1 innings ... Fanned a career-best 11 in five frames vs. WCU (3/3) - all coming in relief.
• Chris Holba started six of 14 games on the mound in 2017 ... Tallied three quality starts ... Combined on a pair of shutouts (Campbell & Charlotte) ... Posted a 4-2 record with one save and a 3.38 ERA ... Missed time during middle of the season after suffering facial injury at Houston ... Fanned a career-best nine batters on two occasions (Elon & Mercer).
• Spencer Brickhouse named to three Freshman All-America Teams ... Two-time AAC Honor Roll selection (3/13, 5/15) ... Team co-leader with 10 home runs, which also ranked eighth in the AAC ... Belted multiple home runs against CofC and Memphis ... Had three homers in a two-game set at CofC ... Tallied four game-winning RBI ... Hit first collegiate home run at Ole Miss (2/17).
• Dwanya Williams-Sutton finished his sophomore season batting .286 with seven home runs, 15 RBI and 21 runs scored in 32 games (31 starts) ... Hit two home runs vs. Liberty ... Added two home runs in USF series (both two-run shots, which came in consecutive games) ... Currently batting .331 for his career with 12 homers, 42 RBI and 31 extra base hits.
• ECU's starting pitching in 2017 sported a 3.92 ERA ... Allowed 146 runs (125 earned) with 241 Ks to 85 BBs in 286.2 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .255 clip ...The bullpen surrendered 157 runs (131 earned) with 225 Ks to 116 BBs in 249.2 innings for a 4.72 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .264 ... Allowed 62 of 142 inherited runners to score (43.7 percent).
• Roster Breakdown: Seniors (4), juniors (11), sophomores (10), freshmen (10) ... In-state players (22), out of state (13) ... Pitchers (19; 14 RHP/5 LHP), infield (7), outfield (6), catchers (2), utility (2).
PROBABLE STARTERS (2017 stats)
Friday: LHP Tristan Baker (4-3, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Trey Benton (3-4, 4.18 ERA)
Saturday: LHP Taylor Purus vs. LHP Jake Agnos (3-3, 3.22 ERA)
Sunday: TBA vs. RHP Chris Holba (4-2, 3.38 ERA)
GODWIN AT A GLANCE
• Cliff Godwin, who was named the 16th head coach in school history on June 25, 2014, was a four-year letterwinner for the Pirates from 1998-2001 … He has been a part of nine NCAA Regional and two College World Series teams at the Division I level as an assistant coach and head coach …During his three years at the helm of the program, Godwin has guided ECU to a pair of NCAA Regional berths (2015-16), a Super Regional appearance (2016), an American Athletic Conference (2015) Tournament title and a 110-73-1 (.601) overall record … Three players have earned All-America honors, five were named to the Charlottesville All-Regional Team, six took home all-conference honors (five first-teamers), seven were selected as American Player-of-the-Week, while three have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams … Named 2015 AAC Coach-of-the-Year and was inducted into the George Whitfield Hall of Fame in January of 2016 … Recently he was named to the 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team staff where he will serve as the third base and hitting coach … As a player, he helped former ECU skipper Keith LeClair's teams post a 169-76 four-year ledger, including 46-plus wins in each of his final three seasons (16-16 in '99, 46-18 in '00 and 47-13 in '01) … ECU won a pair of CAA Tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Regionals every season from 1999 to 2001 … The Pirates were the top seed in their regional all three years, including a No. 7 national seed in 2001 where they advanced to the Super Regional round before being eliminated by Tennessee.