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Agnos delivers during emotional night

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East Carolina pitcher Jake Agnos smiles as he is congratulated by teammates during Thursday's 5-1 win over Connecticut at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

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BY RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Friday, April 19, 2019

East Carolina pitcher Jake Agnos and coach Cliff Godwin had a heated exchange on the pitcher’s mound during the ninth inning Thursday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium, which turned into a more calm and productive conversation between the pair a few minutes later after ECU completed a 5-1 win over Connecticut.

Agnos was tremendous against the Huskies to begin a three-game series, and he was aiming for the first complete game of his three-year career when a quality breaking ball was called a ball by umpire Matt McKendry on a 3-2 pitch to John Toppa with two outs in the top of the ninth.

ECU players and coaches were ready to celebrate with Agnos, who would have ended with 15 strikeouts and no walks if the pitch was ruled a game-ending strike. Instead, Godwin walked to the mound to take Agnos out of the game, and a quick sequence of arguments ensued between the umpire, Godwin and Agnos.

“I should have taken a deep breath, and I didn’t realize that I was at 129 pitches,” Agnos said of his emotional exit. “That was my fault. I was more upset at the strike call, and I shouldn’t have done that to coach Godwin.”

Agnos apologized to the Pirates’ fifth-year head coach after the game.

Godwin said Agnos’ career-best, 14-strikeout performance was the best he has ever seen from his team’s left-handed ace, but also that health is a big part of the decisions he and pitching coach Dan Roszel have to make.

“I never want to go get somebody and I didn’t want to go get Jake,” Godwin said. “Every decision I make is for the best in our program and the health of our kids. A lot of time he wants to stay out there and he was a little ticked off at the umpire’s call, and I guess he took it out on me.

“Jake loves me and I love Jake. He pitched his tail off out there.”

Agnos improved to 91 strikeouts this season with 18 walks in 60 innings, spanning 10 starts. His outing highlighted a win that gave No. 12 ECU (27-10, 9-1 American Athletic Conference) a 16-3 record in 19 home games.

“He wasn’t walking people, but during all the strikeouts everyone was engaged and talking in the infield and that’s a big emphasis we’ve had the last couple of weeks is for the infielders to be talking and keeping everything up,” second baseman Brady Lloyd said.

Morning baseball

After Friday’s game was washed out, UConn and ECU will be back at Clark-LeClair Stadium for a Saturday doubleheader that will begin with a rare abbreviated Game 2 of their series.

First pitch is set for 9 a.m. for a seven-inning game that will be followed by a full nine-inning contest for the series finale. Playing seven innings in the opener is in accordance with an AAC rule for doubleheaders on getaway days.

“I don’t think we’ve had a (9 a.m. first pitch) since I’ve been here, other than maybe the conference tournament, but it will be good and we’ll get to play two (games) in one day,” Lloyd said.

Regional projections

East Carolina is still projected as an NCAA tournament regional host by college baseball’s two major publications.

Baseball America earlier this week projected ECU as the NCAA overall No. 12 seed, with a Greenville Regional that also would feature No. 2 seed Clemson, No. 3 VCU and No. 4 Elon. D1baseball.com had the Pirates as the No. 13 overall seed, joined in Greenville by two-seed North Carolina, No. 3 Nebraska and No. 4 Campbell.

D1baseball had Connecticut as the No. 2 seed in a UCLA Regional, and Houston as the other AAC team as the three-seed in a regional hosted by Georgia Tech.

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

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