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Pirates post Saturday sweep

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East Carolina's Alec Burleson high-fives teammates during the first game against Monmouth on Feb. 23, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The sky cleared as the day and night progressed Saturday at Clark-LeClair Stadium, giving way to the East Carolina baseball team’s doubleheader sweep over Monmouth.

ECU won the first game 3-1 behind Alec Burleson’s thorough performance, then the Pirates cruised to a more routine 10-0 win that featured Jake Agnos striking out 11 Hawks.

The No. 11 Pirates (5-1) will go for a second straight weekend series sweep today against the still-winless Hawks (0-5).

“We needed it and for our starters to go deep into games, because we play tomorrow and Monday and Wednesday,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said. “I was really happy for Jake to go out there and really flood the strike zone. He had his energy going.”

The momentum in the nightcap swung the Pirates’ way during the third inning when they hit five straight doubles. The first came from Ryder Giles with one out, which was followed by RBI two-baggers from Nick Barber, Burleson, Bryson Worrell and Jake Washer for a 4-0 lead. It was 7-0 in the bottom of the fifth, following Seth Caddell’s liner of a solo home run to left field.

“I had to warm up like three times that (third) inning, but that was good and that’s how you string it together,” Agnos said. “That really takes the wind out of teams.”

Agnos, who struck out the side in order in the fifth, tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts. He went seven scoreless innings, yielding four hits with one walk.

Burleson, who was 3-for-3 in Game 1 and also the winning pitcher, finished the day with six hits, three doubles and three RBIs.

“I just feel really comfortable in the box right now, and feel comfortable on the mound,” Burleson said. “It’s working out for me.”

ECU 3, MONMOUTH 1

Burleson looked in midseason form in willing East Carolina to a Game 1 victory, using exactly 100 pitches for a command performance on the mound and he also finished 3-for-3 with two walks as ECU’s leadoff hitter and offensive catalyst.

The sophomore left-hander struck out his career-high 10th batter to end the top of the seventh, then watched in the bottom half as Washer hit a clutch solo home run for a 3-1 cushion.

Burleson fanned three of the final five batters he faced, limiting the offensively challenged Hawks to five hits and one run in his seven-inning outing that included 10 strikeouts and three walks. He also picked off two baserunners.

Evan Voliva struck out two in the top of the ninth to earn his first save since 2015.

Monmouth’s only run came in third frame on an RBI groundout to cut the Pirates’ lead in half, 2-1.

Burleson led off the ECU first with a single and later scored on Thomas Francisco’s RBI single. Francisco started at first base in place of Spencer Brickhouse, who was out with an injury.

Also unable to hit still for the Pirates is Bryant Packard, who did play left field in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.

“I would say Brickhosue would be ready after Packard, if I had to guess,” Godwin said. “You won’t see either of those guys swing a bat tomorrow, and highly unlikely for Monday.”

The hosts made it 2-0 in the second inning on Burleson’s sacrifice fly that scored Turner Brown.

Giles, a freshman, made his first career start, snagging a couple of stellar defensive stops at third base and finishing 2-for-3 with a double at the plate.

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

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