Array of arms available vs. UCF
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Friday, March 22, 2019
East Carolina should have a full arsenal of pitchers rested and ready for its first American Athletic Conference baseball series of this weekend.
No. 14 ECU did not play against UNC Wilmington on Wednesday because of rain. Gavin Williams was scheduled to start, but missing that game could allow him and Alec Burleson to be available out of the bullpen this weekend versus UCF to complement the Pirates’ likely starting trio of Jake Agnos, Tyler Smith and Jake Kuchmaner.
ECU also does not have a midweek game next week.
Pitching and defense paced the Pirates (15-6) last weekend in their sweep at Maryland, giving the team a 7-1 record in eight games heading into the matchup against the Knights and their matching 15-6 record.
“We are going to focus on each day as a separate entity and just try to continue to build on the momentum of what we had from the past weekend,” ECU coach Cliff Godwin said before a practice this week.
The AAC preseason poll was led by the Pirates in first place. UCF was fourth.
In addition to the quality pitching in Maryland the Pirates received from Agnos, Smith and Kuchmaner, who tossed ECU’s first-ever perfect game, combined with scoreless relief work by Zach Barnes, Evan Odum and Burleson, ECU did not commit a defensive error all weekend. In all, the Pirates outscored the Terrapins 14-1 to sweep the series.
“You are talking about 27 innings of work without an error and a lot of web gems,” Godwin said.
UCF is 5-1 in its last six games. The Knights already have midweek victories at Florida and Florida State, the latter coming Tuesday when three different Knights recorded at least two RBIs in a 9-7 win.
First baseman Tyler Osik was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, upping his season batting average to .390. Ray Alejo (.336) and Dallas Beaver each have four home runs this year.
Connecticut and UCF are the only AAC teams with top-25 RPI rankings. UCF was the leader Thursday at No. 18, UConn No. 21 and the Pirates were 52nd.
Jeffrey Hakanson, UCF: Hakanson is tied for the American lead with five saves, and his 25 strikeouts in 12.2 innings are certainly noteworthy. The right-hander also has shown some vulnerability in giving up eight runs and three home runs, equaling a 5.68 ERA in his 10 relief appearances.
Jake Kuchmaner, East Carolina: This is the easy choice after last Sunday, when the sophomore lefty spun the first perfect game in Pirate history. He comes into the weekend with a 2-0 record, 1.48 ERA, 28 strikeouts and five walks in 30.1 innings.
Contact Ronnie Woodward at email@example.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.