ECU swept American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati over the weekend, by scores of 9-4, 6-3 and 6-2. Here are five takeaways from the sweep:
- Doubleheader dominance: ECU has played in many doubleheaders this season, thanks to the weather. Friday’s doubleheader against Cincinnati made it six on the season and ECU won both games easily to make it five sweeps on those six doubleheader days. Only going 0-2 against UCLA in Los Angeles back in mid-April has kept the Pirates from being perfect in these games. That’s a total record of 10-2 for the year. If some kind of weather pops up for the Pirates in the postseason, count them down for doubleheader action.
- Versatility: The two “Jake’s” had been leading the charge in the rotation coming in. Neither Jake Agnos or Jake Kuchmaner had perfect stuff during Friday’s doubleheader games, and yet it didn’t matter. The Pirates No. 3 starter Tyler Smith turned in one of his best performances, with a career-high eight strikeouts and two runs allowed over six innings to improve to 6-0 on the season. The offense more than picked up the slack for the pitchers, and also, the bullpen more than did its part too. ECU can win games in many different ways, and that’s significant.
- Offense on a roll: ECU put up 21 runs in the three-game set against Cincinnati, so yeah, the offense is on a roll. The Pirates totaled 30 hits for the series. ECU players combined for 10 multi-hit games over the weekend, including Spencer Brickhouse, Alec Burleson, Jake Washer, Turner Brown, Brady Lloyd, and Lane Hoover. Brickhouse and Burleson accomplished the feat in all three games of the series, going a combined 14-for-26 with seven RBI. Bryant Packard didn’t have a multi-hit game, but had a three-RBI game. Burleson was even named the AAC Player-of-the-week on Monday.
- Magic number = 1: ECU’s magic number to clinch the AAC regular season title is down to just two games now after sweeping the Bearcats (and thanks to the second place Tulane Green Wave losing on Sunday). Surprisingly, it will be the first regular season title of the Cliff Godwin era at ECU. ECU is 16-2 in AAC play this season and is moving past everyone at blazing speed. ECU has just six league games left in the season, weekend series’ against Wichita State and Memphis. The Pirates are also up to five in the latest RPI rankings.
- Upcoming rivalry game: ECU has a good one coming up this week, as the Pirates travel down the road to Chapel Hill to take on the No. 13 UNC Tar Heels. It’s always good to see an in-state rivalry game, and this one even more so because it’s a matchup between top-25 teams. Maybe UNC will want some revenge for the Pirates destroying the Tar Heels on the Gridiron last football season. A fair point though is that with ECU coasting through AAC play does that translate to a lack of being challenged, which in turn could lead to not being on the edge that is sometimes required for the postseason. Allow this game to give ECU another top-25 matchup to sharpen that mental edge. Both teams are in the top-15 in terms of RPI as well.