A matchup between the top two teams in the American Athletic Conference quickly became a one-sided blowout, but ECU starting pitcher Jake Agnos is likely well on his way to history.
Agnos struck out nine in five scoreless innings and the ECU (32-10, 12-1 AAC) offense racked up 13 hits and four home runs on its way to a 14-0 win over Tulane (26-15, 8-4 AAC) on Friday night at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
That increases ECU’s hold on the top spot in the conference as the season winds down. ECU will go for the series win on Saturday at 4 p.m. Head coach Cliff Godwin downplayed the significance of the victory.
“It doesn’t matter if you win 1-0 or 14-0, it’s just one. I’m super proud of the way our guys showed up,” Godwin said.
Agnos wasn’t as good as his 8.2 innings, 14-strikeout performance against UConn. Agnos tied a career-high with five walks and had to get out of multiple jams. He did so, stranding 11 Tulane hitters on base throughout the game against one of the best offenses around. ECU is the only team to have shutout Tulane all season long.
The biggest jam he got out of was the second inning when he had runners on first and third with nobody out. Agnos promptly struck out three straight to get out unscathed.
“That’s what it comes down to, who can make plays in the clutch. I think we’re such a good clutch hitting and pitching team that it’s what separates us,” Agnos said.
Agnos recorded his 100th strikeout of the season during the win. Agnos is now just the seventh pitcher in ECU history to accomplish that and the first since 2010. The record for the most strikeouts in a single season in ECU history is 119.
Agnos has been the Friday night starter in the rotation, and ECU has three more regular season games, games against Cincinnati, Wichita State and Memphis.
“It’s cool and I couldn’t have walked up at the beginning of the season and said it would happen, because I didn’t think it could. There is a lot of hard work that this team puts in, and I’m just glad I can contribute and help out a little bit,” Agnos said.
Catcher Jake Washer went 2-for-3 with three RBI, and first baseman Spencer Brickhouse and outfielder Bryant Packard each hit two-run home runs to lead the offensive attack against the Green Wave.
Brickhouse finished 1-for-3 with two RBI, three runs scored and two walks. Packard finished 2-for-4 with two RBI. Seth Caddell and Nick Barber went back-to-back with solo home runs in the eighth inning.
“It puts a chip on your shoulder because we want to show them that we can hit, too,” Packard said.
Tulane starter Kaleb Roper went 4.0 innings despite giving up 10 runs, nine of them earned. The Green Wave used two other relievers for the next four innings, and they gave up a combined four runs.
The game was originally scheduled for 6:30 p.m. but got pushed back to an 8 p.m. start time because of lightning and thunderstorms in the area.
Agnos got the first batter out on a diving catch by Alec Burleson in left field. Then the fans were treated to another delay, this time a 19-minute delay in the top of the first inning because the lights behind home plate went out.
ECU has been used to changes all season. The Pirates have played six doubleheaders this season, and only one of them was actually intended to be a doubleheader.
The ECU players tried to stay loose, as Packard pitched to Jake Washer while Burleson was the umpire during the break (Packard struck out Garrett Saylor and Burleson toying with Brickhouse with an exaggerated strike call.
Brickhouse hit a two-run home run (12th of the year) in the bottom of the first inning.
ECU then broke the game open with a six-run third inning. Packard hit a two-run home run (sixth of the year) to make it 4-0 ECU. Washer then lined a two-run double down the first base line to make it 6-0. Dusty Baker roped an RBI single in the inning to score Washer and make it 7-0. Brady Lloyd traded places with Baker on an RBI double to push it to 8-0. Ryder Giles then reached on a fielding error.
ECU added two more runs in the fourth inning. Washer singled to score Hoover and Turner Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt to score Brickhouse.
The Pirates continued that with two more runs in the seventh inning. Connor Norby lined an RBI single to score Nick Barber and Ryder Giles hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Chandler Jenkins.
Caddell and Barber added solo home runs in the eighth inning to make it 14-0. It was Barber’s first home run of his career.
Agnos was followed up by Zach Barnes (2.0 innings pitched), Garrett Saylor (1.0) and Giles (1.0)