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Arm discomfort for ECU's Williams

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The East Carolina baseball team scored a big series win over North Carolina last weekend, but its bullpen also took a potential big hit during the process with Gavin Williams currently not available to pitch.

ECU coach Cliff Godwin confirmed before Tuesday’s practice that Williams, a 6-foot-6, hard-throwing freshman from Fayetteville, is having arm discomfort stemming from the end of his three-inning outing Saturday night. He is scheduled for an MRI this morning.

“I’m not a doctor and not going to try to be a doctor, but he’s having an MRI and obviously he has some discomfort in his arm and we’ll see what the MRI says,” said Godwin, whose squad is ranked No. 18 with a 6-1 record and hosts Old Dominion this afternoon.

Williams has thrown consistently in the mid- to high-90 miles per hour range during his three appearances this season without giving up a run. Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo tweeted out a picture Saturday night during the ECU-UNC game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park of Williams clocked at 100 mph on Collazo’s radar gun.

The right-hander threw 47 pitches and had his right elbow heavily wrapped and iced immediately after the game.

“He felt great when he pitched Saturday and had thrown that many pitches before in intrasquad (scrimmages),” Godwin said. “You see all the power pitchers around the country and when I say the country I mean Major League Baseball or (former Pirate) Jeff Hoffman or whoever, and it just seems that at some point in time it just happens. I don’t think your arm is made to go that fast and when you are throwing 100 miles per hour as a freshman, just stuff happens at times.”

Baseball America ranked Williams in the preseason as the No. 14 freshman prospect in the country. He is part of a Pirate bullpen that has gotten off to a great start and has helped ECU to a No. 7 national ranking in team ERA at 1.86.

Tyler Smith, Williams and Davis Kirkpatrick have been key relievers through seven games. Smith is the only Pirate with a save after he pitched the final three innings of Friday’s 2-1 defeat of the Tar Heels in Greenville.

Freshman lefty Jake Kuchmaner will start against ODU, which is 3-4 after dropping a home weekend series to Kansas State. The Monarchs, who haven’t played the Pirates since ECU swept them in two midweek games in 2015, went 37-21 last season.

Kuchmaner has made one relief appearance this year.

“He was one of the best pitchers in the state of North Carolina when we recruited him and he’s started his whole life,” Godwin said. “We’re not expecting him to go five or six innings, but he’ll be on a pitch count and hopefully can give us two or three solid innings.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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