East Carolina Prepares for Tough AAC Test Against Tulane
With a tight race at the top of the American Athletic Conference in baseball, East Carolina prepares to host league leader Tulane for a four-game series this weekend.
The Green Wave enters at 24-14 including 13-2 in league play which currently leads the conference standings with their only AAC losses coming to Memphis 4-3 on April 1 and a 7-4 loss last Saturday at home to Houston.
The Pirates enter ranked at 13 in the nation in the latest Baseball America poll after splitting a four-game set at Wichita State including an 11-9 loss on Sunday to close the series.
The improvement of Pirate pitcher Jake Kuchmaner of late gives ECU additional optimism heading into this weekend’s play.
“It’s not like Kuch all of the sudden started pitching bad. He started having some different thoughts in his head where maybe it was, be low, maybe it was is my changeup good and it’s a slippery slope," Godwin said, "All the sudden your thoughts go down the wrong path and you’re giving up a couple of bloop hits. That’s why the game of baseball is so hard. It’s a game of inches.”
“Kuchmaner’s focus last week was on helping others. I said hey, you can do your weekly routine in your sleep. You don’t need to worry about that or refine it. He works as hard as any player that has been in our program. He is very consistent and diligent. He is a super smart young man. I said just worry about helping the other guys. If you do that it will take your mind off the other stuff previously that doesn’t matter.”
“Evan Kruczinski actually talked to him as well just with the way Kruz has been able to maneuver through professional baseball. He started out good when he first started out in the short season and then he had a couple of bad years when he started worrying about some of the wrong things," said Godwin, "Then Covid helped him get back on the right track. He was at big league spring training and pitched great and he’s at the alternate site now so it’s really impressive to me to have those older guys. They are so invested in what’s going on here. Some of those guys who were in the first couple of years in the program and now they’re giving back to the team. It’s pretty special.”
Godwin also said ECU pitcher Carson Whisenhunt will throw a bullpen on Tuesday and if he feels good, he will be available in some capacity on Sunday. Godwin outlined the overall task ahead including this week’s league challenge with the Green Wave.
“I told our guys that last weekend that it’s playoff baseball. In May every game matters and it’s going to be intense and competitive no matter who you play,” said Godwin, “You’ve got the first place team in the conference coming in and the second place team in the conference and two Friday night aces. That’s a regional atmosphere. I know it can’t be packed but hopefully it will be as many people as they will let through those gates because I’m expecting a really good game each game but especially game one.”
Last weekend Tulane won three of four games at home against Houston including a 6-5 win on Sunday. The Green Wave enters this weekend having won 13 of their last 14 contests and could prove to be the stiffest test yet in AAC play for the Pirates.
“I haven’t looked at them at all yet. I’ll look at some of their pitching as we get closer. They’ve played well. They are hot. They’ve won 12 our of their last 13,” Godwin told PirateIllustrated.com, “I knew they were going to be good. I was a little bit perplexed about why they hadn’t won as many games early in the season so this doesn’t surprise me.”
“For all the people out there with the naysaying stuff, hey we’re in second place, we’re 30-9 with the number one team in the conference coming to Greenville. We have everything in front of us that we have wanted to do,” Godwin told PI, “The ball is in our court and if we play well good things will happen and if we don’t we will lose and we will have to figure out how to get better.”
East Carolina has the best overall record in the conference to go along with a 12-4 record in American Athletic Conference play. The Pirates enter the Tulane series with a 24-3 record at home.
Stay tuned for the very latest as coverage of East Carolina baseball continues here on PirateIllustrated.com.