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Quality win for ECU, Agnos

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Jake Agnos is congratulated by teammates as he heads to the dugout at the end of his five-inning outing against College of Charleston on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Things couldn’t have started worse for East Carolina pitcher Jake Agnos on Wednesday afternoon.

A walk, wild pitch and home run during the first two batters for College of Charleston could have signaled more trouble to Agnos’ surprisingly slow start to the season, but the sophomore left-hander proved resilient and settled in nicely from there to control the Cougars for five innings as the Pirates stormed ahead in a 5-2 quality midweek win at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

No. 19 ECU (9-3) posted a four-run outburst in the bottom of the second inning and the combination of Agnos, Tyler Smith and Alec Burleson on the mound secured the victory against a hot COC (10-3) squad that swept Georgia last weekend. Tuesday’s scheduled meeting between the Cougars and Pirates was rained out, and ECU won Wednesday to improve to 7-2 at home.

“It’s been a tough three weeks and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t, but this team has done a good job of having my back and putting their best foot forward,” Agnos said. “It was frustrating not getting the results I wanted to, but I haven’t let that change for how I prepare for every start and it’s not going to change now. It’s comfortable playing behind these guys and they made a lot of plays, so it was easy to pitch when you could just fill up the zone.”

Agnos, who lowered his ERA from 8.22 to 6.39 in his fourth start of the season, bounced back immediately from Luke Morgan’s two-run home run to right field in the top of the first. The usual weekend starter retired the next six batters in order as ECU’s offense built a 4-2 lead. He gave up two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk in his five frames.

“The kid does everything right in the classroom and on the field and the weight room and his throwing stuff,” Pirate coach Cliff Godwin said of Agnos. “It’s become kind of a job for him, and I told him that he needs to go out there and feel like it’s Little League. Just let it rip and see what happens and have some fun.”

Smith provided another great relief outing with three scoreless innings and one hit allowed. The first two batters in the top of the ninth reached off Davis Kirkpatrick for the Cougars, trailing 5-2, but freshman Alec Burleson came in and got three straight outs for his first save.

Burleson also went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and two walks as designated hitter.

The win improved Agnos’ season record to 1-1.

“Today I just tried to be as simple as I could,” he said. “I guess it took for that home run to kind of lock me in, but after that it was just back to the basics and it was a children’s game.”

Jake Washer drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the second and that was followed by four straight Pirate hits, including Chandler Jenkins’ double and RBI singles by Brady Lloyd and Dusty Baker from the bottom two spots in the batting order.

“When you can string (hits) together, runs are going to come,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd and Jenkins each finished 2-for-4.

The loss by the Cougars came in their first road game of the season.

Dwanya Williams-Sutton did not play for the fourth straight game for ECU, and Bryant Packard was substituted during the contest. Both outfielders have battled nagging injuries this year.

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

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