It all came full circle for the ECU baseball team Monday night. Jake Kuchmaner started the Regional off on the wrong foot, catcher Jake Washer went just 1-for-3 with a strikeout that game and reliever Evan Voliva gave up the two-run home run that sent ECU to the loser’s bracket after one game.
So it was like a movie ending to have Kuchmaner and Washer leaving the game at the same time with one out in the ninth inning to applause. Kuchmaner just threw 3.1 scoreless innings and Washer was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
The pitcher to replace Kuch? None other than Voliva, who made up for the loss on Saturday by getting the final two outs to win the regional.
“I knew these guys had poured their heart and soul into it before we even played the game. I was content , and I never told them this , that if we lost that we had put it all on the line. When you’re a coach and your kids give you every ounce of energy and effort, that’s all you can ask for,” ECU head coach Cliff Godwin said.
ECU capped off its fourth straight elimination game win with a 12-3 win over Campbell. With that, the Pirates win the Greenville Regional and move on to take on Louisville for the super regional round. It’s their second super regional appearance under head coach Cliff Godwin, the first since being one win away from the College World Series against Texas Tech in 2016.
“We didn’t have a doubt in our mind. Quinnipiac’s a great team, Campbell’s a good team, NC State’s a good team. But all we had to do was take it one pitch, one game at a time, and I think we did a really good job of that,” outfielder Bryant Packard said.
“We battled through a lot of adversity. People were banged up, hurt. But it didn’t matter. We were going to put everything on the line for Pirate Nation.”
The pirate nation showed up once again and gave great support with a home crowd of 5,206 people. That number is the fifth-largest attendance in Clark-LeClair Stadium history.
Jake Kuchmaner exacted redemption after going just 1.1 innings in his start against Quinnipiac on Saturday. He threw 3.1 innings scoreless and gave up just one hit. He was dominant without striking out a single batter.
ECU got a good start from Gavin Williams, who went 3.1 innings and allowed one run on three hits. Williams consistently hit 95-100 mph in the first inning. He ran into trouble in the fourth inning, and Ryder Giles came in and limited the damage ECU faced. Giles threw 1.2 innings and gave up two runs. Kuchmaner came on and was given the ballgame.
Spencer Brickhouse went 3-for-4 with four RBI and Turner Brown went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Brickhouse smashed a solo home run in the third inning and Brown lined one off the wall. He initially thought it was gone as he walked up the first base line but still made it in for a double.
The Pirates scored in each of the first four innings after scoring in each of the first five earlier Monday. They ended up scoring in six out of eight innings they came to the plate.
ECU scored 44 runs in those final four games and the pitching staff gave up only 11. The Pirates wore their black uniforms for all four games and haven’t lost in them in the regional round.
ECU catcher Jake Washer won the Most Outstanding Player award for the weekend. Bryant Packard, Alec Burleson, and Jake Agnos all also made the Greenville Regional All-Tournament Team.
Louisville won on a walk-off hit against Illinois State earlier on Monday to get out of its regional it was hosting. The Cardinals are 47-16 and won the ACC regular season title on its way to the No. 7 national seed in the playoffs
The 2019 ECU Pirates baseball team won the first four home games it played to begin the season, so it was fitting that they win the last four games of the season at Clark-LeClair Stadium. Because they did, they are moving on to the super regional round for the first time since 2016. All was right.