ECU Hops All Over High Point 13-1
East Carolina put quality at-bats together on Sunday in the final day of this year’s Keith LeClair Classic and managed to salvage a little something out of the weekend with a nice bounce back 13-1 win over High Point.
Two Bryson Worrell homers and a third from Alec Burleson highlighted a 16 hit effort from the Pirates. Jake Kuchmaner went five innings of scoreless baseball to improve to 3-0 on the mound.
“It felt good. The first two games didn’t go the way we wanted them to go. We have to put this game behind us and move on and play our brand of baseball,” Worrell said,
“It’s never fun to hit when the wind is blowing in and it’s sub 40 degrees outside, so today was a whole lot better day to hit. I think I’m just trying to trust in myself, not get too big at the plate and drive the ball back up the middle and if I do get a hold of the ball then that’s how it works out. It means a lot (to win). You never want to get swept in a weekend. To be able to bounce back and get that win was important.”
Cliff Godwin was encouraged with the way Worrell and Burleson swung the bat on Sunday and overall was happy to see his team have some success after two tough outings earlier in the weekend.
“Bryson’s been great so has everybody else. Some guys have been pressing. It was good to see Burly hit one out,” said Cliff Godwin afterward, “Bryson getting two, Connor Norby playing like himself today, Hoover is getting back into the swing of things, playing like himself. Our guys put a lot of pressure on themselves and it doesn’t come from me, it comes from them because they care so much about our program. When they struggle and lose, they hurt and I was really proud that they were able to play well today.”
Godwin outlined the plan going in for Kuchmaner on the mound.
“Last week Jake was supposed to go four innings but we had the long inning. Today was 75 to 80 pitches and I think he threw around 75 pitches. Really the key was the third inning. We’re up 2-0 with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count and one of the better hitters up. He’s able to get out of the jam. That’s ‘finish Kooch’ and making a big pitch when he had to.”
As Kuchmaner continues to layer more and more work on in each outing as he works he way back from an injury, his confidence continues to grow.
“lt was good. I finally got extended a little bit and we had a lot of runs scored which is always good, so it felt good to extend it a little bit, said Kuchmaner, “Some days the soreness is still there, but it’s definitely fading and that’s good. I’m starting to feel normal again and feeling like myself. It’s always good to win and I’m glad that we came out and swung like we did and played defense well.”
Joe Johnson gave up five hits and four earned runs on the mound early and ultimately took the loss for 5-7 High Point to drop to 1-1 on the season.
Godwin had a little more pep in his step after the game on Sunday on a weekend where things could have easily gone a little better with a little luck against two big time teams from the Big Ten and SEC on Friday and Saturday.
“It was really good, so all the fans can stop panicking because we lost two games in a row against two quality opponents,” said Godwin, “We’re going to be okay. As you draw up the season in eleven game segments - five of them, if you can go 8-3 each time then you get forty regular season wins. Look, we never want to lose games, but we’re 8-3 after eleven games and that’s the first segment. We’ll move on and worry about Liberty on Wednesday.”
“Coach LeClair would have been proud of the way our team fought last night in a tough loss, big crowd. We come back today and it would have been very easy for them to come back and not play to the best of their ability,” said Godwin who told PirateIllustrated.com that heading into next week, his team really needed a strong outing and a victory, “We needed to come out today and play really well so we could get a win and we did that. Tomorrow will be an off day. We’ll get a lift in and practice on Tuesday and get ready for Liberty on Wednesday.”
(17)ECU scored twice in the second inning on a Worrell’s first homer and also when Ben Newton scored after High Point tried to throw Connor Norby out at second base.
The Pirates were at it again in the third with a five run frame when a pair of base hits from Lane Hoover and Ryder Giles and a Zach Agnos walk loaded the bases. Agnos then swatted a 3-2 offering into a double play up the middle but that allowed Giles to score from third before an infield single from Seth Caddell manufactured ECU’s fourth run of the afternoon.
Caddell then scored after an error from pitcher Grey Lyttle to first base on a pickoff attempt. That was followed by a wild pitch that got past High Point catcher Justin Wilkins as the ECU third inning lead continued to grow. Connor Norby and Christian Jayne then both swatted base hits up the middle to produce two more ECU runs to give the Pirates a 7-0 lead.
Bryson Worrell’s blast over the right field wall just inside the foul pole made it 8-0 in the fifth.
Big ECU right-hander Nate Nabholz came on in relief for Jake Kuchmaner who gave up just four hits in five innings of scoreless baseball on the mound with four strikeouts and High Point eventually got on the scoreboard in the sixth on a Cole Singsank base knock to right that allowed Joe Johnson to score from third. Righty Brad Wilson quickly came on in relief of Nabholz and loaded the bases on a hit batter. But Wilson struck out Bryan Rall on four pitches to snuff out the Panther threat.
Zach Agnos’ infield grounder to the pitcher allowed Jayne to score to expand the Pirate lead to 9-1. Then Alec Burleson’s first homer of the year over the right field wall followed to make it 11-1 before RBI singles from Connor Norby and Lane Hoover in the seventh provided the final margin of victory at 13-1.
ECU(8-3) tees it up against Liberty on Wednesday. Game time is set for 4:30 pm in Clark-LeClair Stadium.