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Hot-hitting Shockers eliminate ECU

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East Carolina head baseball coach Cliff Godwin meets with players on May 18, 2019, during the series against Memphis.

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The Daily Reflector

Friday, May 24, 2019

Wichita State upset top-seeded East Carolina during the first day of the American Athletic Conference baseball tournament, and it was the Shockers again on Friday who convincingly ended the Pirates’ stay in Clearwater, Fla., for the AAC tourney.

Wichita, the No. 8 seed that needed to win on the final day of the regular season to even make the tournament field, eliminated the Pirates with a 12-5 win. Wichita, which swung early and often for hard contact against Jake Kuchmaner, led 11-1 in the third inning and advanced to the semifinal round to face Connecticut.

The Pirates (43-15) now will wait out the weekend and they are still on track to be announced Sunday as an NCAA regional host, but seeding among the 16 regional hosts will not be announced until Monday with the full NCAA bracket. ECU is in the running to be a top-8 national seed, which would also ensure being a super regional host if ECU wins its regional.

But East Carolina couldn’t solve the Shockers (28-30) in Clearwater this week. WSU beat the Pirates 6-2 on Tuesday, which was followed by East Carolina eliminating Houston on Wednesday.

Kuchmaner, an all-conference first-teamer who entered with a 6-1 record and 2.12 ERA, was charged with eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits in two-plus innings.

Fifth-year senior Mason O’Brien led the offense for the victors, hitting a grand slam during the second inning and finishing 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double and six RBIs. Wichita State out-hit ECU, 15-14.

“It’s that time of year when you just lock in a little bit more and we want to play as long as we can in this tournament,” O’Brien said during a postgame interview on the American Digital Network. “We’ve known all year that we have a lot of talent and we have a really good team with a lot of tough breaks and things not going our way, but that’s part of baseball and I’m just glad things are coming together for us in this tournament.”

The score was 0-0 when Wichita’s five-run rally in the second inning began with nobody on base and two outs. Six straight batters reached safely, including three singles, O’Brien’s slam and a Paxton Wallace double.

Zach Barnes relieved Kuchmaner during the bottom of the third and he recorded one out while allowing three runs, leaving when it was 11-1 Shockers.

Turner Brown hit a solo home run for the Pirates. Starting designated hitter Jake Washer was 2-for-3.

Starter Liam Eddy struck out seven Pirates with no walks and yielded three runs in 6.1 innings for WSU, which has scored 25 total runs in its three tournament games. The Shockers faced three of the elite pitchers in the league in ECU’s Alec Burleson followed by Connecticut ace Mason Feole and then Kuchmaner.

ECU scored first against Wichita on Tuesday and it was 1-1 in the seventh inning before the Shockers posted a late flurry of runs.

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Humans of Greenville

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ECU

August 20, 2019

No more waiting for Holton Ahlers or the rest of the East Carolina football team or Pirate fans.

With next Saturday’s noon kickoff at N.C. State getting closer and closer, first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston officially announced after Tuesday’s practice that Ahlers will be his…

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August 20, 2019

Quarterback Holton Ahlers led East Carolina’s football team in rushing last season with 592 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries.

New offensive principles are in place at ECU under a new coaching staff, leading to some intrigue about Ahlers and his run availability. Would this staff, led…

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August 19, 2019

East Carolina first-year football coach Mike Houston described the Pirates' No. 1 center, Branden Pena, as a "tough joker" on Saturday.

The football-centric praise showed how far the relationship has come between Pena and Houston since December.

"Branden Pena is a guy that I didn't know his name…

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August 17, 2019

Moments of reflection Saturday brought East Carolina first-year head football coach Mike Houston back to the spring.

The physicality he saw Saturday during the Pirates' final preseason scrimmage was vastly different from the spring Purple-Gold Game.

Darius Pinnix displayed his punishing rushing…

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August 17, 2019

East Carolina’s football players were asked about their favorite ice cream flavor Saturday and they got the opportunity to pick on teammates, but there also were serious questions pointed their way about the Aug. 31 opener at N.C. State and the rest of an important season for the Pirates…

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August 17, 2019

In an exhibition match defined by defense, Jenna Dages scored the only goal for the East Carolina women’s soccer team to top VCU 1-0 on Friday night inside Johnson Stadium.

Dages’ goal came at the 45:34 mark. From there, goalie Meaghan Haley and ECU's defense helped to maintain the lead.…

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August 17, 2019

Here are five East Carolina football players who have stepped up during preseason camp and will be looking to continue their momentum when the Pirates complete camp with a scrimmage Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium:

1. Xavier Smith, linebacker: Smith has kind of quietly morphed from a tight end…

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August 16, 2019

East Carolina’s football practice Friday morning ended with center Branden Pena snapping to quarterback Holton Ahlers in the victory formation, and then the Pirates celebrated. Kicker Jake Verity also made a 57-yard field goal during a late-game sequence.

On the day before an important…

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August 16, 2019

Jayda Hylton-Pelaia has played countless soccer matches in Canada and the United States, impressing plenty of observers with her fluid dribbling and defensive skills.

Her effect on American Athletic Conference coaches was felt Tuesday when she was named AAC preseason defensive player of the year,…

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August 15, 2019

Bruce Bivens is as vocal as ever on the East Carolina football defense, which can both excite and worry first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston.

Bivens' voice is important and it carries now in the middle of ECU's defense as he approaches his junior season and his second year as a starting inside…

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